Orléans, Centre-Val de Loire, France
5th September 1843
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The imperial hunt gathering outside the château de la Muette in the forest of Saint-Germain. Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Napoléon III, Vicky and Albert Edward are standing in front of the hunting lodge, met by the Grand Veneur and colleagues all wearing green hunting coats, red waistcoats and high boots, three-cornered hats, with a pack of hounds and buglers. Signed lower right: Hte. Bellangé. In August 1855 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent ten days in Paris, on the invitation of Napoléon 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. On 25 August there was an imperial hunt in the forest of Saint-Germain. Official coursing had been encouraged by Napoléon I and continued under the July Monarchy, its associations with the Ancien Régime asserting the legitimacy of successive regimes. Queen Victoria wrote in her journal how 'the Hounds with the Huntsmen were then brought up & they played a "Fanfare" on horns' (25 August 1855), although the occasion appears to have been largely ceremonial: the royal party greeted several local children, including a girl who repeatedly forgot her words, before lunching in the Château. Queen Victoria then recalls listening to the Bande des Guides and sketching in the grounds. Hippolyte Bellangé was hugely popular and much admired by the Emperor. This is reflected by the fact that this was the most expensive watercolour among those commissioned by the Queen to remember the visit.