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  3.19 The Ambassadors and Their Entourage Walking in the Park at St. Cloud  


©Archives de la Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres
The Ambassadors and Their Entourage Walking in the Park at St. Cloud 1788;

Gouache 1789
66 x 98.5 cm

CHARLES-ELOI ASSELIN (1765-1804)

he dark-skinned ambassadors, accompanied by M.Monneron and an interpreter, M.Ruffin, walk towards a tall arbour where muslins, prints and sheet music are displayed. Muslins from India were just becoming fashionable, and would be in great demand as dress fabrics for the next two decades. Sheet music and engravings are also hung up for sale.

It is probable that the visit to the Park and its fountains was hastily added to the ambassadors' programme, to amuse them while they awaited a royal audience. A contemporary observer reported 'Heads were spinning as everyone tried to get tickets to gain entry to the palace on Sunday, and see what happens at the reception of the ambassadors. They say that there will be 3 casks of diamonds to be rolled about in the galleries……' At the Opéra, the ambassadors admired the Junoesque figure of the Duchesse de Mazarin, and were described as 'wonderfully picturesque' by Mme Vigée Lebrun, one of the most fashionable portrait artists of the day.

The ambassadors were completely unsuccessful in wooing French military aid - unlike two other visitors to Paris at this time, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. In 1776, their fight for independence in America had succeeded - with French support. Without significant numbers of French arms and men, Tipu's campaigns in India had little chance of success.


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