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Gabriel Ravel as Babilas

Alfred Jacob Miller1855-1859

The Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States

Baltimore artist Alfred Jacob Miller is known primarily for his paintings of the American West, but his interests extended beyond this subject. A prolific sketcher, he filled many journals with drawings and captions from the time he was studying in Paris and Rome (1833) until the 1870's. The interests of Miller are clearly reflected in these sketches: the theater (a large portion being quick figure drawings of the Ravel Pantomime Troupe), studies of works by the Old Masters, literary illustrations, childhood memories, Baltimore scenery, and witty scenes of characters.

Depicted here is one of the original members of the Ravel PantomimeTroupe, a french family that toured America in the middle of the 19th century. The french pantomimes performed in multiple theatres in Baltimore. The shows included tight-rope dancing, ballet, and balancing acts in addition to the pantomime. The plots were so complex they were compared to those of the Italian Opera. As someone who frequented the shows, Miller has provided a view that is almost otherwise unrecorded.

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