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Jean-Baptiste-Fortuné de Fournier (1798-1864)

Queen Victoria's drawing room at Saint-Cloud Aug 1855

Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour | 32.7 x 47.1 cm | RCIN 920064

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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). As part of the preparations for the royal visit, paintings and furniture were brought from the Louvre. On the far right is Murillo's Holy Family, now in the Louvre. An urgent request was sent by the Empress on 20 August to Alfred-Emilien, Comte de Nieuwekerke, surintendant des Beaux-Arts, for a selection of ‘interesting, rich and pretty albums’ to be placed in the Queen and Prince’s sitting rooms (Archives Nationales, 20150044/148).