L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fête de nuit aux Tuileries, le 10 juin 1867, by Pierre Tetar van Elven, 1867

This painting commemorates a fête given on the occasion of the visit of foreign sovereigns to the International Exposition of 1867. Walking in the garden, the Empress Eugénie is on the arm of the Emperor Alexander II of Russia while, behind them, the French Emperor Napoléon III is engaged in conversation with King Wilhelm I of Prussia. Only four years later, France will lie defeated - her emperor in German custody, her empress fled to England - and Wilhelm of Prussia will be proclaimed Emperor of a united Germany in the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, while the venerable Tuileries Palace will be a burned out shell.


Pierre Henri Théodore (Petrus Henricus Theodorus) Tetar van Elven (30 August 1828, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean - 5 January 1908, Milan), Dutch painter, watercolorist, and etcher.

The dramatic staircase connecting the gardens with the salle des Maréchaux - the palace's primary ballroom - was a temporary construction, built for the occasion. I was very happy to see this painting - not at all technically adept, but very evocative, and which I've known in reproduction since childhood - at the recent Tuileries Gardens exhibition at the Portland Art Museum.


  1. I keep hearing mutterings that the French intend to rebuild the Tuileries. I don't know if it has any substance, but I'd love to see it happen.

    1. They've been talking about it for-ev-er! It's beginning to seem more hopeful, since they've begun to view the project as less of a reconstruction of an important historical landmark, than as an extension of Louvre wall space. I, of course, would love to see it happen, but I would certainly worry about the execution. I adore the French - bien sûr! - but their record of proper scholarly restoration is not what it should be; witness the dubious fabrications and overzealous gussying-up at Versailles.