Music sheet cover. La Traviata. Printed by John Brandard (c.1860). V&A.
Scene from Verdi’s popular 1852 opera La Traviata (The Courtesan). It was based on The Lady of the Camellias, Alexander Dumas’ fictionalised account of his affair with the courtesan Marguerite Gautier. This illustration shows the scene where, believing courtesan Violetta has betrayed him, Alfredo publicly throws money at her as payment for her services. The subject was considered so shocking that, when the opera was first produced in London, the setting was transferred to the 16th century.
Mrs Barney Williams (1828-1911), American actress, featured on the cover of ‘My Mary Ann Polka’ by Louis-Antoine Jullien (1812-1860) (colour lithograph music sheet cover by John Brandard (1812-1863), printed by M. & N. Hanhart, the music printed by T. Sharp, 16 Great Tichfield Street, Oxford Street, London, 1856/57)
Jullien dedicated his popular 'My Mary Ann Polka’ to Mrs Barney Williams, probably in 1856, at the time of her and her husband’s tour of the United Kingdom, during which they appeared at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on various occasions between 1855 and 1857. 'My Mary Ann Polka’ was described shortly after its publication as 'a sprightly piece of music, in which the Yankee melodies of “Bobbing Around,” “My Mary Ann,” and “Sing Song Polly,” are very happily introduced and adapted to the Polka step.’ (Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 15 January 1857, p. 3b)