Not currently on display at the V&A

Mlle Lucile Grahn / La Cracovienne

Print
20 August 1844 (published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

National dances and settings were popular in the 1840s as audiences became increasingly aware of 'abroad' and exotic locations. Scotland, Spain, Hungary, Poland and the Balkans were all popular settings and some ballets were set as far afield as India, giving the opportunity for balleticized versions of national dances, like the Cachucha, mazurka, polka, polonaise, tarantella or Cracovienne.
The yellow flashes on the dancer's heels are metal trims or small spurs that 'chime' when the heels are clicked together, a characteristic movement in Polish folk dance and the Cracovienne in particular.
Lucile Grahn was the first Danish ballerina to achieve international fame. After she gave up dancing, she choreographed the ballets in Wagner's operas.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lithograph coloured by hand
Brief Description
Lucile Grahn in the pas, La Cracovienne, (L'Opéra, No. 9). Lithograph coloured by hand by E Desmaisons after a drawing by Guérard, 1844
Physical Description
Against a floral 'hedge' stands a female dancer, looking down, moving towards the left, standing on her right foot with the left pointing to the front; her right hand is on the hip and the left is raised with the hand by her face. On her head is a little blue military cap, edged in which and decorated with corded braids, topped with a feather plume and with long ribbons ending in decorative motifs flying from the back. Her hair is severely dressed into two very long thin plaits, tied with ribbons. Her low-necked white blouse is glimpsed under her knee-length blue fitted coat, the edges, pockets and hanging sleeves edged with white fur; the long white sleeves fitted sleeves are trimmed with fur at the wrist. Down the open skirt of the coat is a calf-length skirt with narrow white and blue stripes. On her feet are calf-length fitted boots with small heels.
Dimensions
  • Height: 331mm
  • Width: 254mm
Credit line
Given by Dame Marie Rambert
Object history
The print is No. 9 in the series Les Annales de l’Opera; the series comprised twelve prints, published in Paris and London in 1844.

Lucile Grahn was the first Danish ballerina to achieve international acclaim. She created the leading role in Bournonville's (as opposed to Fillippo Taglioni's) Sifiden. Several ballerinas danced versions of the Polish Cracovienne after Fanny Elssler introduced it into the ballet La Gipsy.

The print is part of the collection of dance prints amassed by Marie Rambert and her husband, Ashley Dukes in the first half of the 20th century. Eventually numbering 145 items, some of which had belonged to the ballerina Anna Pavlova, it was one of the first and most important specialist collections in private hands.

Rambert bought the first print as a wedding present but could not bear to give it away. As the collection grew, it was displayed in the bar of the Mercury Theatre, the headquarters of Ballet Rambert, but in 1968, Rambert gave the collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum; seven duplicates were returned to Rambert, but these are catalogued in Ivor Guest's A Gallery of Romantic Ballet, which was published before the collection came to the V&A. Although often referred to as a collection of Romantic Ballet prints, there are also important engravings of 17th and 18th century performers, as well as lithographs from the later 19th century, by which time the great days of the ballet in London and Paris were over.
Summary
National dances and settings were popular in the 1840s as audiences became increasingly aware of 'abroad' and exotic locations. Scotland, Spain, Hungary, Poland and the Balkans were all popular settings and some ballets were set as far afield as India, giving the opportunity for balleticized versions of national dances, like the Cachucha, mazurka, polka, polonaise, tarantella or Cracovienne.

The yellow flashes on the dancer's heels are metal trims or small spurs that 'chime' when the heels are clicked together, a characteristic movement in Polish folk dance and the Cracovienne in particular.

Lucile Grahn was the first Danish ballerina to achieve international fame. After she gave up dancing, she choreographed the ballets in Wagner's operas.
Collection
Accession Number
E.5014-1968

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record createdSeptember 23, 2004
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