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, July 30, 2014

The Empress Eugénie in eighteenth-century costume, by Winterhalter, 1854

The Empress Eugénie had a great attachment to the aesthetics and royal artifacts of the eighteenth century French court and, especially, a fascination for Marie Antoinette.  She would frequently appear at costume balls wearing gowns based on or inspired by those to be seen in portraits of her tragic royal predecessor.  This theatrical image of Eugénie was painted only a year after she became empress, and is one of the lesser known of Winterhalter's paintings of her.

Below is a photograph of the Empress wearing the same costume as she wears in the painting.  Since this obviously isn't a portrait photograph, it's likely that it was taken for Winterhalter to use as a reference for details of the costume.


  1. Fascinating that both the painting and the photograph exist in tandem. And interesting too, how much the mid 1800's aesthetic influenced the costume. It certainly nods to the prior century, but holds to the shape and styling of the 19th.

  2. I seem to be having problems commenting, I wondered if the theatrical lighting evident in the painting is based on the photograph? It gives the painting an ethereal quality thats unlike other work of the time period. When it comes down to it so much art really is all about the light.

  3. Hello ! I'm searching this photograph for an exhibition in France.
    Do you know in which collection or museum I can find it ?
    thanks !
    (sorry for my bad english...)

    1. I'm sorry, but I don't. I just did a search - including the website of the Réunion des Musées nationaux - and couldn't find it. I think it must be in a private collection.

      Vous ne devez pas vous inquiéter de votre anglais - il est bien meilleur que mon français! : )