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Print - Adele Dumilâtre as Myrtha in Giselle
  • Adele Dumilâtre as Myrtha in Giselle
    Bouvier, Jules, born 1800 - died 1867
  • Enlarge image

Adele Dumilâtre as Myrtha in Giselle

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    London (printed and published)

  • Date:

    20/04/1843 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bouvier, Jules, born 1800 - died 1867 (artist)
    Thomas McLean & Co (publisher)
    General Establishment (lithographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph coloured by hand

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Lady Mary Evans

  • Museum number:

    S.2613-1986

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Giselle, created in 1841, is the oldest ballet still performed and the supreme example of a Romantic ballet. The peasant girl Giselle commits suicide when betrayed by her aristocratic lover; she becomes a Wili, the spirit of a jilted girl who dies unmarried and spends eternity seeking vengence on all men. To quote Heinrich Heine, who revived the Germanic legend on which the ballet was based, 'At midnight, and in the bright moonlight, they rise in crowds, arrayed in their bridal dresses, wreathed with flowers and sparkling with jewels; their faces, though pale, have the beauty of youth, and winning smiles play upon their lips. Woe to the young man whose evil destiny leads him within the reach of their perfidious fascination! He is compelled to join their wild orgies, and to dance till, from exhaustion, he sinks down and expires.'
Adele Dumilâtre created the role of Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis. In her hand she holds a sprig of rosemary, which symbolises remembrance; garlands of rosemary were often placed on the coffins of young lovers who died of a broken heart. She has used the wand to summon Giselle's spirit, which stands in front of the cross marking her grave.

Physical description

In a setting of hills, trees and bushes, a female dancer stands on her right leg in arabesque in front of a lake, her arms curved around her head; in her right hand she holds a stem of foliage. Her hair is centre parted and smooth to the head and is crowned with a wreath of pink and yellow flowers. The small blue bodice is trimmed with a pink and a yellow flower and under is a short-sleeved, low-cut, white blouse; from the back emerge green wings. Below the green and yellow pointed waistband, the knee-length, pink-tinted skirt is trimmed with two yellow flounces and, to the left side of front, small groups of flowers; over the skirt is a diaphanous top skirt. Her ballet slippers are tinted blue. To the left, in front of a cross, stands a ghostly draped female figure.

Place of Origin

London (printed and published)

Date

20/04/1843 (published)

Artist/maker

Bouvier, Jules, born 1800 - died 1867 (artist)
Thomas McLean & Co (publisher)
General Establishment (lithographer)

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph coloured by hand

Marks and inscriptions

'Adele Dumilatre (facsimile signature) / AS MYRTHA. / IN THE BALLET OF GISELLE.'

Dimensions

Height: 468 mm, Width: 356 mm

Object history note

The lithograph shows Adele Dumilâtre as Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, in Giselle. Adele Dumilâtre created the role when the ballet was premiered in Paris in 1841 and later danced it in London. There is a strong impression of a stage performance - the mountains and lake forming a backcloth with the cross in front, the wings formed by the trees and bushes, with the dancer posed on a stage.

Historical context note

The large souvenir prints of the Romantic ballet, issued in the 1830s and 1840s, are among the most evocative images of dance in the 19th century. Lithography, with its soft quality, enhanced by the delicate yet rich hand-colouring, was ideally suited to the subject - the ballerinas who dominated ballet in the mid-century and the romanticised settings in which they performed; style and subject were perfectly matched. The British lithographs are notable for capturing individual performers and their style, often clearly in a theatrical setting. They capture dance and its interpreters at one of its greatest periods.

Descriptive line

Adele Dumilâtre as Myrtha in Giselle. Lithograph coloured by hand after Jules Bouvier, 1843

Materials

Lithographic ink; Watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Lithography; Hand colouring

Subjects depicted

Dancers

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Prints

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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