Friday, 2 November 2007

Brilliant Europe

I don't seem to have been able to draw breath for a month, so it's a good thing we are having a 4-day weekend with the Toussaint (All Saints) holiday yesterday and "bridging" today. I therefore took myself to one of the Europalia exhibitions because although these last until February, I know that if I don't make an effort now, Europalia will have been and gone again and I won't have gone to any of the exhibitions. This year (Europalia is held every other year) instead of featuring a single country, because of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome the theme is all the countries of Europe.

The one I managed to see is called "Brilliant Europe - Jewels from the European Courts" and was very interesting although there weren't that many things I would have liked to take away with me - a game I always play at exhibitions! Top of the list would probably be the ruby engagement ring of the Italian queens - I suppose this means it "belongs" to the House of Savoy - and a ruby and rock-crystal-topped "smelling salts" bottle that belonged to the Empress Eugénie. Naturally neither of these is illustrated in the photos on the website, although there is a pretty diamond ring there that I don't remember the history of.

There were also some lovely portraits including this one of the same Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III and the famous one - or rather a copy - of Sissi (the one on the left on here); I hadn't noticed the diamond stars in her hair before, apparently she launched a fashion for them. I just checked Eugénie's real name, which was given in the audioguide as Eugenia de Montijo, and it appears she was born Doña Maria Eugenia Ignatia Augustina de Palafox-Kirkpatrick. What a splendid name!


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