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 Napoléom 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.
***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.