Boulogne-sur-Mer, Hauts-de-France, France
18th August 1855
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A watercolour and bodycolour drawing of the royal yacht in the harbour at Boulogne, greeted by crowds on the shore. Queen Victoria is disembarking from the boat, greeted by Napoléon III. Signed at lower right: Morel-Fatio and with an anchor pictogram. 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. The party set off from Osborne House on the Isle of Wight on 18 August, arriving at Boulogne at about 1. 15pm. The steam powered royal yacht was accompanied by a squadron of ships arranged by the admiralty. Napoléon III greeted the royal party in the harbour before the group travelled onwards by train to Paris. Antoine Léon Morel-Fatio travelled to the Crimea in 1854 as part of an expeditionary force. He was appointed conservator of the Musée de la Marine, the naval section of the Louvre Museum in 1852. He had made watercolours of the Queen's arrival at Le Tréport for Louis-Philippe in 1843. Morel-Fatio was paid 500 francs on 10 December 1855 (arch mus. nat. 2dd25, dp164) for a watercolour of the Queen's arrival at Boulogne. That watercolour was removed, possibly after 1870, from the album sent to Queen Victoria at Christmas 1855, and framed and hung at Osborne House (RCIN451380). This watercolour is a copy commissioned by Queen Victoria to replace the original, and is possibly not by Morel-Fatio himself, who died in 1871. Queen Victoria did commission other artists to make copies of her souvenir album watercolours. Another copy was made by Princess Louise (RCIN451135).