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Print - Print showing Marie Taglioni in L'Ombre

Print showing Marie Taglioni in L'Ombre

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph coloured by hand

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Marie Rambert

  • Museum number:

    E.5061-1968

  • Gallery location:

    Theatre & Performance, Room 106, case 6, shelf A

Marie Taglioni, greatest of all 19th century ballerinas, danced L'Ombre (The Shadow) in London in 1839. Its story was even more preposterous than most Romantic ballets - the heroine, murdered with a poisoned bouquet, haunts her former lover to prevent him marrying another. The plot was nothing more than excuse for Taglioni to display her ethereal lightness and elevation and the ballet was not a particular success.
What made it worth recording, was the sequence where Taglioni sprang from rose bush to rose bush, alighting on pointe in the centre of each. Hidden in each rose was a metal plate, about 8cm in diameter, set on springs to absorb her landing and provide a lift off as she jumped to the next. Few other dancers could have achievwed such precision and balance and Taglioni always consdered one of her most amazing technical feats.
Many Romantic ballet prints record dancers drifting on clouds, flying through the air or posed on flowers, all of which were, with the aid of technology, introduced into ballets to heighten the impression of ethereality and otherworldliness.

Physical description

A parkland, with a chateau back left, and to the front rose bushes. In the foreground is a rose bush with pale pink roses; on the topmost rose a dancer stands on point, her right leg stretched behind her, her right arm down, her hand holding a floral wreath with pink roses, her left arm bent with index finger raised level with her lips; her head is turned towards the viewer. On her head is a dense coronet of pink roses. She wears an off-the shoulder bodice with loose short sleeves and a pointed centre front; her white knee-length, bell-shaped skirt has an overskirt, split down the front, weighted with tassels.

Place of Origin

Europe (made)

Date

ca. 1840 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph coloured by hand

Dimensions

Height: 272 mm, Width: 230 mm

Object history note

L'Ombre was originally choreographed by Filippo Taglioni for his daughter Marie and danced by her at the Bolshoi in St Petersburg in 1839; it was revived Her Majesty's Theatre in London in 1840.
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 over 130 items, 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. Although it is often referred to as the Rambert-Dukes collection of Romantic Ballet prints, it includes 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.

Descriptive line

Marie Taglioni in L'Ombre. Lithograph coloured by hand, ca.1840.

Materials

Lithographic ink; Watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Lithography; Hand colouring

Categories

Prints; Entertainment & Leisure

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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