Quadrille at a Costume Ball at the Tuileries Palace
Spectators look on as a quadrille of dancers entertain them at a costume party in the Tuileries palace when Napoleon III ruled.
A spectacular ball given by Empress Eugénie at the Hotel d'Albe in 1860 was described this way, "An army of artisans worked day and night for a month. Merante of the Opera was responsible for the principal quadrilles, such as one representing the elements in which only ladies took part. Miraculous toilettes were designed for the occasion... An avalanche of silks and laces, of muslins and brocades, filled the magnificent ball room specially built in the courtyard of the palace. After the event the guests discussed the incandescent jewels of Mlle. Erazzu, who represented the goddess of fire, and whom they had seen bathed in the light of her resplendent rubies. They spoke of diaphanous costumes that seemed to be made of white vapor fringed with azure, and studded with adamantine stars, which were worn by Mme. de Metternich and three other ladies, whose quadrille represented an allegory of the air... The Countesses Walewska, de la Beydoyere, and de Gretry, and Princess Chtwerlinska,representing water, were clad as water sprites, with bodices made of scales in mother of pearl and silver, trimmed with seaweed, short skirts of water-green, and sashes made of pearls and marine plants. Their headdresses consisted of a shell made of gold and mother of pearl... It was a gathering unsurpassed in its wonderful display of oriental and barbarian luxury, temprered by modern refinement. Thousands of precious stones refelected a thousand lights in their dazzling rays, and shone forth from the lace trimmings of gauze skirts, whose generous transparency afforded a good view of shapely limbs; diamonds and rubies studded bodices of white satin embroidered with foliage of gold filigree and trimmed with swansdown; while sapphires and emeralds darted their ardent, searching rays upon a velvet corsage that imprisoned a stately bust. Oriental mosaics vied with turquoise gems in adornment of another dress, while huge emeralds fastened feathers upen a flame-colored mantle with a deep gold border..." From Charlotte Gere, Victorian Jewelry Design pp. 90-91.