Mobile menu
Eugène Louis Lami (1800-90)

The supper in the Salle de Spectacle, Versailles, 25 August 1855 1855

RCIN 920097

Your share link is...


A watercolour drawing of the theatre at the chateau of Versailles used for supper during the ball on 25 August 1855. The royal and imperial party are seated in the royal box of Marie-Antoinette, under a green banner and the imperial eagle. The theatre is filled with round tables and many seated guests. Signed lower left: Eugene LAMI. 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. On 25 August there was a ball at the palace of Versailles, arranged by the Empress, and the first to be held there since the 1789 revolution. There were 1200 guests. Queen Victoria described the theatre as 'truly magnificent. The whole stage was covered in & 400 people sat down at 40 small tables, 10 persons at each, presided over by a Lady & nicely selected, all by the Empress's own direction & arrangement. The whole was beautifully lit up with endless Chandeliers, & there were many garlands of flowers. The boxes were full of spectators & a band (not visible) was playing. We sat at a small table, in the centre box, only ourselves, with the Empr & Empress, the 2 Children, Pce Napoleon, Princess Matilde & Pce Adalbert. It was quite one of the finest & most brilliant sights we ever witnessed' (Journal, 25 August 1855).

A second version of the watercolour is in the collection at Versailles, commissioned by the Emperor. There was an abortive plan to engrave the series given to the Queen, and this version was probably made for that purpose (Philippe de Chennevières, Souvenirs, Paris 1883-9, II, pp. 5-6).