Monday, February 24, 2014

Portrait de la comédienne Harriet Smithson (1830)

Édouard Dubufe: Portrait de la comédienne Harriet Smithson

Harriet Smithson was an Anglo-Irish actress, the first wife of the composer Hector Berlioz, and the inspiration for his Symphonie Fantastique. The story is quite romantic: Berlioz discovered her at the Odéon Theatre performing the roles of Juliet and Ophelia and immediately fell in love with her, sending her letters despite never having met her. This continued until the 1832 performance of Lélio, a sequel to his Symphonie Fantastique, when he discovered a mutual acquaintance and offered her a box of tickets. She came to the performance, realizing that the symphony was about her (as was strongly suggested by the program notes) and they married in 1833 at the British Embassy in Paris.

Dubufe learned the art of painting from his father, Claude-Marie Dubufe. He became a celebrated portraitist during the Second Empire.

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