The picture was included in La Belle Assemblee as "Frontispiece to Number Nineteen being the Supplement to the Second Volume". A long-winded title to a Plate that was included as an historical item of interest. The event it commemorates took place in 1802 and is described as:
...the first introduction of the Emperor Alexander of Russia to the Queen of Prussia...by the King of Prussia...The Queen Consort of Prussia was Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (born Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie 10 March 1776). She married Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1793 and born him nine children until her early death in 1810. She was a politically active consort after the Crown Prince succeeded as King of Prussia, a beautiful and intelligent woman of, by all accounts, great ability.
...the first germ of a political connection between two illustrious Princes...
I believe she is wearing the same diadem in the picture above as in the large Plate.
He is, I believe, the right-hand figure of the two central men.
And Napoleon Bonaparte was what this meeting was all about. The Prussians and the Russians entered into an alliance intended to deal with Bonaparte. In a staggeringly inept fashion, first supporting France, then opposing Napoleon's aims, occasionally protected by the French dictator then oppressed and conquered by him, the two countries reeled through the next twelve years, sometimes in concert, sometimes in opposition.
I must admit that the politics of the meeting are not of paramount interest to me. The representation of the encounter and the additional characters are. The elder lady on the far left of the Plate is noted as Countess Vonness. I have been unable to find any information about her; presumably she was a sort of lady-in-waiting. The two uniformed gentlemen on the far right are listed as Prince William and Prince Henry of Prussia, brothers of the King. Their anglicized names are more correctly Prince Wilhelm who lived from 1783 to 1851 and Prince Heinrich Friedrich Karl, 1781-1846. They both served their country ably and resolutely until their deaths.
|George, Prince of Wales|
The Plate is so evocative of its era, and offers so much history and personality in a single picture. I feel so fortunate to have found it.
'Til next time,