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The Empress Eugénie at Prayer, Saint-Cloud

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)

Date:
1856
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 23.4 x 18.3 cm (9 3/16 x 7 3/16 in.) Mount: 23.4 x 18.3 cm (9 3/16 x 7 3/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.258
  • Description

    Le Gray's photograph of Eugénie, wife of Emperor Napoleon III, was apparently intended as an aid to Thomas Couture for a large (and never completed) painting commemorating the baptism of Eugénie's son, the prince imperial. Le Gray, or perhaps Couture himself, posed the empress kneeling at a prie-dieu in the château at Saint-Cloud, elegantly trimmed in white tulle, and set against a dark ground; she plays perfectly her public and private roles, dignified and contemplative, imperial and maternal, in a private space amid imagined ceremony.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Black inkstamp on mount verso, BL: "5531"; inscribed in black ink on original mat recto (in the hand of Abbé Misset): TL: "Autour du Prince Imperial"; TC: "S.M. l'Impératrice"; BR: "De toute rareté. // EM"; inscribed in red pencil, TL: "X"; black inkstamp on original mat verso, TR: "5531"

  • Provenance

    Abbé Misset, Paris; [Lunn Gallery, Washington, DC]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 31, 1983

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
285465

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