|Prince Richard de Metternich was the Austrian ambassador to the court of Napoleon III, and his wife, Princess Pauline de Metternich, was the life and soul of the Second Empire. A close personal friend of the Empress Eugenie, she was a regular attendant at all the balls at the Tuileries and a frequent house guest at Compiègne. Her memoires, published in two volumes, offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of life at court. Possessed of exquisite taste, although unfortunately not the most beautiful of women, she was known as 'the best dressed monkey in Paris', a soubriquet she coined herself.
This particular carte-de-visite was copied by Degas for a portrait of the Princess (cropped at the waist, and with her husband omitted altogether) that now hangs in the National Gallery, London, and is one of the earliest examples of an artist directly copying a photograph.
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