Thursday, October 6th, 2016...6:11 pm

Lost Maiden found

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It’s official: I adore the Illustrated London News [this is a Harvard resource I fear, and password-protected]. Once again, it has come to my rescue when I’ve needed solid visual clarification about a historical event. This time (regular readers will remember my earlier Crimean adventure) as a part of the clean-up after our Historical Sheet Music Collections survey, I was cataloging a series of sheet music imprints featuring Marie Taglioni (or so I thought), and after running through the usual complement of images from La Sylphide, I ran across this detached, closely-cropped cover.

Taglioni Mazurka cover

Taglioni Mazurka cover

While the image wasn’t signed, the style reminded me of John Brandard and I wondered if this image was based on his work. So I began searching various known sources for images related to Taglioni, and wait a minute, who was that other guy … well, totally by chance, I blundered upon this image in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collections, so, not originally Taglioni after all, but Adèle Dumilâtre and Marius Petipa. And it WAS based on Brandard!

Brandard Marble Maiden, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Brandard Marble Maiden, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Still I was somewhat confused, as I’d discovered conflicting information about the man in the image: was it Marius Petipa, or possibly his brother Lucien? Or some other dancer? And what was the ballet? If the original artist was Brandard, this opened up my research options, as he was known to have attended performances and sketched from life. Perhaps if I did some illustration hopping in the Illustrated London News, I would get lucky. Sure enough, searching Dumilâtre and Petipa together, I quickly discovered this image.

The Marble Maiden, Illustrated London News, 4 October 1845, page 216

The Marble Maiden, Illustrated London News, 4 October 1845, page 216

It’s Lucien (thought here, as in many places, he is referred to as “M. Petipa” for “Monsieur” which is no doubt where the original confusion was born). Identified as the 1845 performance at London’s Drury Lane, of the ballet The Marble Maiden: this seemed pretty conclusive to me. While the Brandard (and our image after the Brandard) is not a direct copy from the Illustrated London News in the way of Omer Pasha in the Crimean example, it seems clear to me that it came directly from the performance (with some artistic license). More and more I’m coming to the conclusion that sheet music illustrations can provide reliable secondary image material for staged productions. The trick is getting to know your illustrators; ah John, the more I know you, the more I admire you.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]


  • I also admire John a lot. I love how he took the chromolithograph to an incredibly high level of sophistication using half a dozen or more stones to produce a single image, printed on paper of a far higher quality than had been used for this purpose hitherto.

  • Yes, John is definitely Da Man. I wait with bated breath for a catalog of his work to appear: his performance-based illustrations are simply terrific. We have another example here:
    of a sheet music cover which I’ve compared to images in the London Illustrated News, and again, Brandard has clearly drawn from life. Great stuff!

  • Quoted: “More and more I’m coming to the conclusion that sheet music illustrations can provide reliable secondary image material for staged productions.”
    Are you trying to say that sheet music helps us with staged production, IE live music or symphony? Or were you referring to plays. I am an amateur play actor and I love learning little new tips like that! Great article though Andrea!

  • Thanks Matt, while there are instances of illustrated sheet music for spoken plays which also include incidental music, what I’m discussing here mainly refers to operas, operettas, musicals, or the wide variety of variant forms so richly represented in our performance history. But if you are interested in a specific historical play that you know includes music, by all means, have a look to see if anyone published illustrated music at some point in the run. You might well get lucky!

  • Beaumont/Sitwell, THE ROMANTIC BALLET IN LITHOGRAPHS OF THE TIME, identified the Brandard cover in 1938 (see No. 118, Plate 80) as Adele Dumilatre and Lucien Petipa in THE MARBLE MAIDEN. There’s a written description of the lithograph on p. 141.

  • Exactly right! And wouldn’t I have saved a lot of time if I had thought to look there in the first place? For those of you unfamiliar with this excellent reference work, Beaumont and Sitwell collected actual specimens of individual lithographs and sheet music covers, and issued them in a volume with full background information: