Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sculpture of the Day: Esmeralda, 1856

Earthenware Flatback
Esmeralda, 1856
Staffordshire, England
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in 1856, this earthenware flatback from Staffordshire represents the character “Esmeralda” with her pet goat, from Victor Hugo's “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Hugo's famed novel was first published in 1831.  Five years later, it was adaptedinto an opera in Paris by Louise Bertin, and, later into a ballet by Antonio Monticium for La Scala, Milan in 1839. In March 1844 another version of the story was performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, choreographed by Jules Perrot to music by Cesare Pugni.

Following the success of the ballet, a music sheet illustrated by John Brandard was produced with a selection of its music arranged as “The Esmeralda Waltzes.”  The illustration on that cover was the inspiration for this figure which probably represents the dancer Carlotta Grisi as Esmeralda. 

Carla Grisi as Esmeralda

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