The early nineteenth century in Europe produced some astounding art and literature. I had the pleasure of seeing The Second Republic exhibition at the Musee Dorsay in Paris in 2016. What a revelation! Rich artwork, beautiful sculpture and splendid objets d’art. The aristocracy and the wealthy indulged money and time seeking to record and immortalise themselves. Napoleon 111 and Empress Eugenie influenced this trend and the Franz Winterhalter portraits of them are magnificent.
As Jane Mary (Thorn) de Pierres was a member of Eugenie’s retinue – one of her ladies in waiting – she can be seen immortalised in various forms. The most famous is Franz Winterhalter’s painting of Eugenie and her ladies. Jane Mary is in the foreground with the blue ribbon in her dress. I spent a few hours at Palais de Compiegne just staring at it, wondering what she was like. Interestingly, my niece bears a striking resemblance to her. This post focuses solely on those artworks, and I will discuss her life and personality in a separate article.
Jane Mary de Pierres is also represented in sculpture in La Salle des Preuses in Chateau Pierrefonds. On one side of the room there is a double-fired fireplace, which is monumental and adorned with a cloak representing nine female statues named the preuses. They evoke courtly love. The faces of the “preuses” (warrior women) are inspired by Empress Eugenie and her ladies-in-waiting. From left to right: Thamaris (Maréchale Canrobert), Cinopé (Princess Murat), Lampetto (Duchess of Malakoff), Hipolyté (Baroness de Pierres), Semiramis (Empress Eugenie), Penthesilea (Duchess of Cadore), Teuca (Duchess of Bassano), Déiphyle (Comtesses de la Poeze) and Ménalippe (Madame Carette).
Hippolyta was the Amazonian Queen who wore a magic girdle. Hercules killed her to obtain it.
Jane, who was considered the finest of horse riders at court, was also captured in a bronze by French sculptor, Paul Gayrard. This is the piece that I mentioned in my very first post.
This photo really doesn’t do it justice. Gayrard had a talent for sculpturing animals and the musculature of the horse is most striking. Jane looks both accomplished and graceful, and it is a nice touch to have her stroking the horse’s neck. At the base you can see the de Pierres family crest.