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Jean Baptiste van Moer (1819-94)

Queen Victoria's sitting room at Saint-Cloud dated 1855

RCIN 920066

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A watercolour and bodycolour drawing of Queen Victoria's sitting room at the château of Saint-Cloud. Signed and dated at lower right: B Van Moer. 1855.

In August 1855 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent ten days in Paris, on the invitation of Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie. The historic state visit was intended to celebrate the military alliance between Britain and France in the Crimean War, and followed a visit by the imperial couple to Windsor in April that year. The party stayed at the château of Saint-Cloud, to the west of Paris, which was later destroyed in the Franco-Prussian War. The apartments were those usually occupied by the Emperor and Empress, who was distressed 'at seeing how much less pretty the rooms were than those prepared for the Emperor and Empress at Windsor' (Letters of Lady Augusta Stanley, 1849-1863, London 1927, p. 73).

Queen Victoria wrote in her journal that she 'slept very well & woke to admire our lovely room...furnished with the greatest taste...the ceilings are painted to represent sky' (Journal, 19 August 1855). The bureau of Louis XV by Riesener, as well as the paintings, were borrowed from the Louvre: 'a beautiful Escritoire (at which I have been writing)' (Journal, 27 August 1855). The white and gold decoration is in Louis XVI style. A copy of the watercolour was made by Jean-Baptiste-Fortuné de Fournier in 1860, and shows the Old Master paintings replaced by flower paintings (Château de Compiegne).