Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Little Mystery

It's time to dust the cobwebs off the brain,
and have a little guessing game.

A sweet friend of mine purchased this engraving a few months back. Its subject is still a bit of a mystery so the challenge is to discover the inspiration behind this endearing rendition.

The illustrator is Henri de Montaut (1825-1890). He was also the illustrator for Jules Vern's Five Weeks In A Balloon From the Earth To the Moon in 1868. The lithographers were de Bacquet frères, Lith par Ch. Barque.

Of course there is a prize for the most informative comment (an antique infant dress) and also one for the most entertaining (snippets of vintage lace). The winners will be revealed the first weekend in November.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well, this is a drawing taken from a page in the great book of Parisian love-lorn lore. The well-dressed gentleman in the box seat on the left is smitten, quite smitten, with the lovely star of the Paris opera, as evidenced by his rather moony gaze. As all of his well-studied efforts in the art of wooing have failed him, he has sold a wee bit of his soul to Cupid, a mischievious and somewhat unreliable expert in the alleviation of unrequited love. Cupid is at this moment attempting to seal the deal for his client, but is having difficulty during this obviously highly energetic dance, with the accuracy of his aim. Our love struck hero may very well end his evening by winning the hand of his operatic soprano, or he may go home with the tenor. It is all hanging in the balance.

Doreen said...

~ I would say that dear Cupid is trying to shoot an arrow into the bum of the shield holding gentleman dancer with the assistance of the Dear Ladye dancer as It looks to me like she seems to be lifting up his cape to give cupid a better aim.


Tres Belle said...

Okay Susan,

I have thought about this all day and went in search of the true story behind this drawing but could not find any answers and believe me I really tried!! So here is my take on it: It looks like a play of some sort with the orchestra playing and the strange guy (with the binoculars sitting on the box seat ledge) getting quite excited at what he is seeing. Why he's so excited that he has to rub his eyes to make sure that he is seeing what he thinks he is seeing!! "Is it really true"? Is that Cupid he sees getting ready to shoot his arrow at the young lady"? Or is it a figment of his imagination! And who pray tell is the young lady he's taking aim at? Could it be Marie Antoinette in her younger days but wait, no, the orchestra looks like they are wearing the same wigs that George Washington wears. Oh my, this must be a dream or else I'm confused about which country I'm in. Is it Paris or is it the United States? Stay tuned....


Fete et Fleur said...

At first I thought this was an opera illustration, but I have done some research and believe that this is an illustration of one of the oldest surviving ballets that we have today. It is called, The Whims of Cupid and the Ballet Master, choreographed in 1786 by Vincenzo Galeotti. I think this illustraion is his version of a scene from that ballet.

It is a ballet in one act with libretto and choreography by Galeotti and music by Jens Lolle. Premiered 31 Oct. 1786 by the Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen. This comic work is the oldest ballet to survive with its original choreography. It portrays several couples of different nationalities who come to pay tribute to Cupid but who are then blindfolded by the god (played by a child) and re-paired, with comic results. Here is the link to the description.

Henri duMontaut also illustrated a version of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper. I would love to see that.


Atticbabys said...

Oh what fun! I am quite impressed with everyones version of this lovely drawing, and am afraid I would not dare compete and look a fool!
But I cannot wait to see who wins.
Goodluck ladyes!
How very generous of you Susan & I thankyou for the invite!

Christine LeFever said...

I have divided and categorized my links of friends, and I have put you, dear Susan in the section called Knowledge. I am with Nan. I shall wait.

The best of luck to all of you who have truly striven for the answer.


Sea Angels said...

Ok Susan what about this.......Between 1830 and 1870 France saw a blossoming of a 'Romantic Spirit'( as depicted in your engraving) in all the arts especially in French romantic this end there is six volumes of music published by various musicians just for that it and have a read.......
In taking a long shot, I think this engraving is for a programme or magazine depicting the enrapturment of France with it's new love 'French Romantic Song'.....tra laaaaaaa
You really do have some excellent post's Susan, that was a real challenge......
Hugs have a super week

Country Girl said...

Henri duMontaut has depicted a play entitled "La vie aventureuse d'Antoine van Bomberghen", which was performed in Paris during the mid 19th century. As you are well aware, females did not perform on stage at this period in history and M. van Bomberghen was quite adept at playing the ladies' roles. The gentleman on the sidelines appears quite taken with the actor/actress in this little scene.

Heather said...

Oh gosh, I wish I knew! Its beautiful and I would suppose it was a scene from a french opera although I have no earthly idea. But its lovely!~

Donna O. said...

I'm ONLY playing if I have a chance to WIN this print! I am now the cupid with the arrow aiming it right towards you and your generous heart. Are ARE generous, right??

Suzanne said...

Well, I have no idea! But it is beautiful! A French Baroque opera about cupid? That's not very creative, but I'm still getting over the flu!

Karen from A`Musements said...

I haven't a clue... love the engraving, but I really love the pictures of your 'babies' and their Halloween posing!
WiShiNG YoU HapPy HauNTinGs, oH MySterIouS OnE!
HapPy HaLLoWe'EN!!!

Lea said...

What tales will unfold....????
A mystery it is!!!

Happy Halloween my dear Miss Maddie!!! XOXOXOXO

Andrea said...

Like a few before me, I too shall wait to hear the story of this gorgeous illustration.