Friday, December 20, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Gala Performance at the Paris Opera, 1855

A Gala Performance at the Paris Opera
Dieterle and Lami, 1855
Commissioned by Napoleon III
Presented to Queen Victoria, Christmas, 1855
The Royal Collection

In 1855, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert traveled to Paris for an official State Visit and were greeted by the French people and Emperor Napoleon III with warmth and opulence. In their honor, a special evening was planned at the Paris Opera which included a sampling of what Napoleon considered the finest of France’s operatic and ballet stars. While Queen Victoria very much enjoyed the architecture of the opera house and was enchanted by their luxurious box, she was less than impressed by the performance itself finding it too long and rather dull.

As a gift for the Christmas of 1855, Napoleon III presented Queen Victoria with an album of paintings which he had commissioned to chronicle their visit to Paris. Among them was this watercolor of their evening at the Paris Opera. The Queen and Prince Albert can be seen entering their box on the right. The architectural portions of this watercolor were painted by the Paris Opera’s scenic designer known as Dieterle. The figures were painted by celebrated French society painter, Eugene Lami.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


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