Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Sparkle: The Pugin Brooch, 1848

Part of a Parure (see below)
A.W.N. Pugin
Gold, Enamel, Garnet, Rubies, Turquoise, Pearls
This, and all related images:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
If the V&A ever has a garage sale or “jumble,” I have dibs on this brooch of enameled gold, set with a ruby, cabochon garnets, turquoises and pearls
Not only is it extremely beautiful, but, it’s got an interesting provenance. It’s one of the few pieces of jewlery designed by the English architect A.W.N. Pugin (partially responsible for the Palace of Westminster). Part of a large parure of jewels by Puding, designed in the Gothic style that he favored, this delicious brooch is inspired by medieval ecclesiastical adornment.

Pugin had a motive for designing this brooch. He designed it for the lady whom he proposed to make his third wife. That marriage was not to be, however, and, in 1848, he offered the parure to one Jane Knill who not only accepted the big box of sparklies, but also agreed to be his third wife. Considered excpetionally spectacular—the jewels, not Jane--in 1851, the complete parure was displayed at the Great Exhibition in London as part of the Medieval Court.

The Art of Play: An Italian Marionette Theatre, 1734

Marionette Theatre
Italian, 1734
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Isn’t this truly astounding? Here, we have an Eighteenth-Century Italian marionette theatre. This masterpiece features a center stage with two side panels which had previously been used to as doorways onto the backstage area.
The theatre comes with two settings on the interior: one featuring card playing figures, and another with a scene of the Plaza at Venice.

Part of a set that includes twelve puppets in all, this is the height of the Commedia dell'arte, and shows us the kind of setting in which our Mr. Punch’s ancestor, Pulcinella, had some of his earliest performances. The suite also includes several pieces of furniture and assorted as props.

Painting of the Day: The Two Daughters of Thomas Gainsborough, 1758

The Painter's Two Daughter
Thomas Gainsborough
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This intriguing painting from 1758 depicts the two young daughters< Margaret and Mary, of acclaimed English artist Thomas Gainsborough.

Gainsborough’s daughters sat for him on a number of occasions. Both daughters attended Blacklands School in Chelsea, London where they each studied art. Daughter Margaret also became an accomplished musician, and, later, Mary married the oboe player Johann Christian Fischer in 1780, but the marriage as short-lived. Mary soon developed “eccentricities” which would lead to ultimate total insanity.

Margaret and Mary remained close throughout their lives, and, in fact, after their father's death in 1788, the two sisters lived together.

Mastery of Design: A German Diamond, Ruby and Emerald Pendant, 1700

Germany, 1700
Silver Gilt, Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Early Eighteenth Century German jewelers were known for their impressive metalwork, especially their ability to create exceptional pieces in silver.

This pendant of gilt silver, set with emeralds, rubies, rose-cut and table-cut diamonds is the epitome of such work. Embellished with an engraved reverse—this pendant is a treat from all angles. It’s important to note that the central emerald is a later addition, most likely a replacement for a missing stone.

This exceptional work of the jeweler’s art is part of a grand suite of jewels bequeathed to the V&A by Dame Joan Evans.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 296

Mama Routhe looked to Adrienne and Robert with an expression that said, “What should I do?”
Adrienne and Robert exchanged glances.

“Open the door, Mama.” Marjani smiled. “Ain’t nothin’ bad.”

Robert nodded.

Adrienne gasped with glee as Mama Routhe opened the door—rushing forward with a happy squeal and wrapping her arms around her husband, Cecil, who grinned as his wife’s arms encircled him.

Robert exhaled audibly.

“Sorry to intrude,” Cecily joked.

“Oh, thank Heavens,” Adrienne sobbed into her husband’s shoulder. “I’ve missed you so terribly.”

“Hullo, Chum,” Mr. Punch chirped. “We’re all back together, we are.”

Robert turned away from Mr. Punch so the man would not see his wistful expression as he privately thought, “Not all of us. Not Julian.”

“I’m sorry.” Cecil said. “I couldn’t stay away. I was careful to make sure that Edward Cage’s men didn’t spot me. Meridian kindly gave me a route here that kept me out of sight.”

“I’m so glad you’re here.” Robert nodded. “We need you.”

“Is something amiss?” Cecil asked.

“Much.” Adrienne said, still sobbing as she held her husband. “Nellie—she came with two men and took baby Colin.”

“Nellie did?” Cecil exclaimed. “How does this concern her? However did she enlist two men?”

“I ‘spect she’s got a lot o’ men who’d be willin’ to do what she wants.” Punch grumbled. “Only this time, I think it’s because she’s got the influence of someone a mite more powerful.”

“Not Iolanthe?” Cecil groaned.

“No.” Punch answered. “Nellie’d be loathe to do anything for that one. I’m thinkin’ it’s that Marie Laveau.”

“What would Marie want with the child?” Cecil growled.

“Revenge,” Marjani shook her head.

“We’ve got to get him back.” Cecil said firmly, rubbing his wife’s back.

“That’s what we were jus’ talkin’ ‘bout.” Punch nodded.

“Have you got a scheme?” Cecil asked.

“Of sorts,” Robert nodded. “But, this one is considerably less daring than our usual methods.”

“Or is it?” Punch sighed. “In some ways, perhaps, it’s all the more daring.”

“How so?” Cecil asked.

“See, Chum, Mr. Punch is gonna go fetch the Constable.” Punch grinned.

Meanwhile, in Marie Laveau’s cruel little house, Barbara snarled at Ulrika as the red-headed trouble-maker continued to shout for Marie.

“Can’t you just leave us alone?” Barbara hissed.

“Apparently not.” Ulrika shrugged. “Don’t you know by now, Barbara, that the things we want most to go away never really do?”

“Come, Barbara.” Charles said, tugging on the woman’s arm. “Let’s flee before…”

“Too late,” Marie Laveau smiled as she entered the room. She was followed by Iolanthe. In Marie’s arms, she held the child, Colin, who wriggled uncomfortably.

“My son!” Barbara shouted. “What are you doing with my son?”

“He ain’t your son no more, Girl.” Marie smiled.

“He’ll always be my son!” Barbara growled.

“No. He’s mine now. Mine to do with as I please.”

“Marie,” Iolanthe whispered. “We had an arrangement. This child is to be returned to Edward Cage.”

“That was before I got tricked—again!” Marie shouted. “These people need to be taught a lesson. And, the only way to do that is to destroy the one thing they really love!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-295? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, July 18, for Chapter 297 of Punch’s Cousin.

Card of the Day: The Opening of the World Economic Conference, 1933

After the Great War, King George V and Queen Mary tried to bolster the people of Britain, but many factors continued to cause problems, not just in England, but worldwide. The Great Depression didn’t just effect America, all major world powers suffered its effects. In 1933, the King opened the World Economic Conference in London--a meeting of representatives of sixty-six nations. The intensive conference lasted from June 12 to July 27, 1933, and was held at the Geological Museum in London. The goal of the conference was to win agreement on measures to fight global depression, revive international trade, and stabilize currency exchange rates. However, the conference was considered a failure as U.S. President Roosevelt, in early July, denounced currency stabilization.
The event is immortalized in the thirty-ninth card by the Wills’s Cigarette Company.

The reverse of the card reads:


Never until the King opened the World Economic Conference on June 12th, 1933, had any Monarch faced an assembly at which the nations of the entire world were represented. His Majesty's speech-partly in English, partly in French-was transmitted to unnumbered millions all over the globe. At that date there were 30,000,000 unemployed, and sixty-six nations participated in this effort to restore prosperity. The Prime Minister Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, who is seen on the rostrum, presided over the Conference, which took place in the new Geological Museum, South Kensington.

Here are some images from the historic meeting.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: An Illustration by Cecil Aldin, 1900

Cecil Aldin, 1900
Rudge and Whitworth Cycles
The Victoria & Albert Museum
I’ve shared with you several of the Cecil Aldin drawings in my own collection. Aldin was a celebrated illustrator in the early Twentieth Century, particularly known for his sporting and animal drawings. However, like most artists, he did work as a commercial designer and produced several successful advertising campaigns.

This one, in the Victoria & Albert Museum, is an advertisement for Rudge and Whitworth Cycles and dates to 1900. This is a slight departure from Aldin’s usual style, but is equally as attractive as his usual work, if not a little bolder and brighter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Jane Morris Brooch, 1820-1830

Gold Filigree, Citrine, Emeralds, Rubies
British, 1820-1830
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This gold filigree brooch set with a large citrine and small emeralds and rubies was presented to Jane Morris as a gift from her husband, the celebrated artist and designer William Morris. Jane Morris, known as “Janey” to friends and family, was a frequent subject of her husband’s artist friends, including the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
This brooch is among the number of jewels that she bequeathed to the V&A. Many of the others were gifts from her celebrity acquaintances including Rossetti himself.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: “Mr. Polichinel,” 1870-1871

Mr. Polichinel
French, 1870-1871
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Mr. Punch, being rather satirical in his own right, was often employed as a satirical device. For example, here’s a French caricature which paints French ruler Napoleon III as the iconic puppet. The Emperor is depicted with Mr. Punch’s features, wearing a brightly-hued costume and a bi-cornered hat. The smoking leader is leaning upon a wooden sword.

This print is from a set of caricatures, broadsheets and illustrations which was published in ten volumes. Also included in this unflattering group is a caricature of Emile Olivier on the right. This French official is depicted as a monkey, who hangs from a post by his tail. We also see, on the ground to the left, is the Prince Imperial, who is shown as a monkey as well.

The politics of the whole thing are rather too complicated to sum up in one blog post. But, as a work of art, it’s most alluring.

Royal Pets: An Embroidered Portrait of King Edward VII as a Child, 1860

Embroidered Picture
Britain, 1860
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Based on a work by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, this embroidered portrait of the young Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) dates to 1860 and is the work of an unknown British lady.

The entire piece has been embroidered in wool tent-stitch and Berlin Woolwork on canvas. The young Prince is dressed in traditional Scottish attire. It was around this time that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert began to realize that their eldest son was no intellectual, and that he much preferred just about anything else to education.

Also seen here is one of Prince Albert’s dogs, who, by all accounts, the Queen probably preferred to the company of her adult son.

Friday Fun: Justin Tai’s Punch and Judy Show

Justin Tai
For today’s “Friday Fun,” we feature a clip from a performance by Professor Justin Tai who has been performing Punch & Judy shows since the age of nine. Today, Justin and his show are a fixture on the Broadstairs Beach in Kent.

Justin offers up some interesting shtick that I’ve not seen before. His puppets are also quite different with their rather wild hair. I wonder who made them.

Enjoy Professor Justin’s performance from this video from 2008.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 295

As Nellie left in search of Marie Laveau’s daughter, Charles waited a moment and, then, attempted to slip out into the corridor.

“Is it worth it, Carlo—this bland English rose?” Giovanni taunted as Charles walked to the door. “Their blooms quickly wilt, you know. Wouldn’t you be better off going home and finding a sturdy Italian girl whose fruit won’t rot on the vine?”

Charles scowled. “I’ve long given up questioning your choices, Giovanni, I’ll thank you to not question mine.”

“Such arrogance.” Giovanni shook his head weakly.

“Not nearly as much as yours.” Charles spat.

“And, so, you’ll leave your brother here to die without so much as a kind word or prayer?” Giovanni sighed.

“You—you’ll never die. Not in my lifetime. And, even when your body expires, brother, your evil will live on forever.”

With that, Charles quietly opened the door and crept into the hallway, finding a small recess into which he could tuck himself while he waited.

From the floor above, Charles could hear the irritated voice of the younger Marie—clearly annoyed by Nellie’s intrusion.

“Why don’t you tell her yourself, then?” Young Marie growled. “The sickness of some Italian doesn’t bother me none!”

“I can’t,” Nellie lied. “Your mother is entertaining guests. It would be wrong of me to interrupt. But, you—you’re your mother’s equal—she wouldn’t mind if you intruded.”

“I am her equal,” Young Marie said, clearly pleased by the thought.

“Besides,” Nellie continued. “To have a man die in your house would bring unwelcome attention. We don’t want that. Do we?”

“No.” Young Marie replied. “Fine, you go on back to the man and I’ll fetch Mama.”

“Thank you,” Nellie said sheepishly.

Charles heard Nellie’s footsteps on the stairs. She swept past him as she walked to Giovanni’s room and as she did she whispered. “It’s done.” Charles could see her scowl and the pinch of her scars. He shivered as he thanked her. And, then a thought occurred to him.

“You’d best hide yourself, too.”

Nellie turned quickly. “Of course.” She paused. “You’re not a bad man. Are you?”

Charles shook his head.

Nellie changed courses, slipping into a nearby door. “I’ll wait in the larder. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Nellie.”

He held his breath as Young Marrie rushed down the stairs. Luckily, she took a turn to the left at the corridor and went into the front room, by-passing the nook in which Charles had hidden himself.

Loud voices from the front room showed Charles that Marie and company were not pleased by the intrusion. However, Charles quickly heard Iolanthe’s curious coo—intrigued and probably aroused by the thought of a dying man.

The door to the front room opened and Charles heard Ulrika grumble. “I’ve seen men die. I’ll wait here and reacquaint myself with my former maid.”

Charles pushed his body further against the wall as he listened to the footsteps of the three women—the two called Marie, and Iolanthe hurry toward Giovanni’s room. As the door closed behind them, he exhaled and hurried toward the front room, flinging open the door.

With one swift motion, he grabbed Barbara’s arm.

“Thank God!” Barbara gasped. “Hurry, they’ll be back in a moment and that man is in the room next to us.”

“What’s this?” Ulrika chirped.

“Shut up,” Charles snarled.

“That was unwise.” Ulrika shook her head. “Marie,” she shouted. “Louis! You’ve been tricked!”

Meanwhile, in the apartment above the Routhe’s dress shop, Mama Routhe brought a cup of tea to Mr. Punch as he explained the scheme that he and Julian had secretly concocted to Adrienne, Robert and Marjani.

“Not until you’ve rested a bit. You’ve had a rough time.” Adrienne said softly.

“Time is the problem, Lady Chum.” Punch shook his head. “We ain’t got a lot of it. Now, you know it were Nellie what took little Colin. You say she’s loathe to return to Iolanthe. Where else could she have gone but to Marie Laveau? We gotta get to them before them witches…”

He paused as they heard a knock at the door.

“Dear God, what now?” Robert groaned.

Did you miss Chapters 1-294?  If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Opening of the New Lambeth Bridge

We’ve talked about the Lambeth Walk, know let’s talk about Lambeth Bridge. The Bridge was necessary in order to allow both predestrian and motor traffic across the Thames in an east-west direction from Central London. The Bridge was opening in 1932 by King George V.

This event is depicted in the thirty-eight card in the 1935 series of commemorative Silver Jubilee cards by Wills’s Cigarette Co.

The reverse of the Card reads:


In 1879, King Edward, then Prince of Wales, opened Lambeth Suspension Bridge; and on July 19th, 1932, his son, King George V, declared open its 936,000 pound successor. A great throng watched the barriers lift at the Royal touch, and to the sounds of sirens and cheering, the King and Queen, escorted by Life Guards and outriders, passed ceremoniously across. The graceful steel structure, carried on granite piers, is ornamented at either end with pylons each topped by a gilded pineapple. Heavy traffic was slow to make use of Sir Reginald Blomfield's fine new bridge, but in July, 1934, 10,222 vehicles were recorded within twelve hours.

The bridge still stands today, but has been reduced from four lanes of traffic to three.

Lambeth Bridge Today

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Fenton Plate for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

Fenton, 1887
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This Fenton plate is not in my collection of Royal souvenirs, though I have seen an example of it at a Dallas antique shop recently. This particular plate is housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Made—among a huge array of other souvenir items—for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, the plate shows portraits of the Queen and Prince of Wales (the Heir Apparent at the time, the future King Edward VII) amongst symbols of the Empire, its imports and exports and a map of the world showing the depth of the British Commonwealth.

After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria shunned public life and preferred to stay at Windsor, Balmoral, Sandringham and Osborne House over living in Buckingham Palace. However, at the time of her 1887 Jubilee, she reemerged to the public to greet hundreds of thousands of well-wishers. After that and until her Diamond Jubilee, her public appearances were more frequent, but still limited.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Young Bertie at Versailles

“So, you’re telling me that the snails on the buffet are supposed to be there?”
(click image to enlarge)

Image: The Young Louis XV at Versailles, Félix Henri Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1870s, The Victoria & Albert Museum

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Mary’s Coronation Vase, 1896-1903

Michael Perchin for Fabergé
Inscribed and Presented in 1911
The Royal Collection
King George V and Queen Mary, much like George’s grandmother and grandfather (Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) delighted in giving gifts to one another. These were often presented for no reason whatsoever, but, on special occasions, they were always quite grand.

Take this vase of rock crystal, gold, enamel, cabochon rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, for example. This work by Michael Perchin of Fabergé was originally purchased by Leopold de Rothschild from Fabergé's London branch, 1911 (thought it had been made a little over twelve years earlier). Rothschild presented the vase to King George V, who in turn gave it to Mary of Teck, his Queen Consort, on their coronation day, June 22, 1911

King George V wrote in his diary, “Today was indeed a great and memorable day & one which we can never forget…There were hundreds of thousands of people who gave us a magnificent reception.”

Created in the Renaissance style, the vase is engraved with stylized fire-birds and is inscribed with the date of the coronation and the royal arms. The inscription, obviously, was added later. The rest of the design is defined by polychrome enamel set with cabochon rubies, sapphires and emeralds upon the gold mounts. When King George V presented this to Queen Mary, he filled it with orchids grown in his hot houses at Gunnersbury Park.

Precious Time: A French Ebony, Glass and Ormolu Cabinet Clock, 1650-1824

Cabinet Clock
Mosaics by Gobelins 1650-1700
Case by Robert Hume, 1824
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This clock and cabinet is a marriage of almost two hundred years worth of parts. The ornate cabinet was made by Robert Hume in London in 1824. This architecturally grand cabinet is set with mosaics which were made in Paris between 1650-1700 in the Gobelins workshops.

The unfortunately named Gobelins was officially called, “The Manufacture des Gobelins” and was not in the business of manufacturing goblins, but rather, was a dye works founded in the mid-Fifteenth Century by Jean Gobelin.

In 1662, French King Louis XIV purchased the Gobelins Factory, as one does. Under new direction, a series of Royal artisans were joined together. Therein, a new royal tapestry and furniture works was established.

By the Nineteenth Century, works by Gobelins were falling out of style as a whole, but individual components of some pieces were still quite in vogue, and, therefore stripped and reused. Such is the case of the mosaics in this clock which were made by Florentine craftsmen working at the Gobelins . The main recycled items are the six rectangular panels of flowers and birds which are quintessentially late Seventeenth Century in style. These six panels were reset by Robert Hume in England as he designed this clock cabinet for Hamilton Palace--the Lanarkshire home of Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton.

I’m unable to find any explanation of the ornamental ormolu pieces which sit atop the cabinet. These, obviously, are removable. I suppose they can be added to give the clock case a little extra flare. After all, it’s so plain without them.

Mastery of Design: King Louis-Philippe’s Diamond Ring, 1840

Gold, Enamel, Diamonds
French, 1840
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This attractive ring of enameled gold, rose-cut and European-cut diamonds was created for French ruler Louis-Philippe in 1840. While it was made for the King, it was not intended for him to wear, but rather to present as a token of esteem.

It was (and still is) common practice for sovereigns to present rings (or boxes) which featured their portrait or cipher as a symbol of friendship or as a reward for loyal service. As we can see, this sparking ring bears the cipher of Louis-Philippe of France (reign: 1830-48).

Louis-Philippe was always quick to reward loyalty. He had many detractors as the last member of the Bourbon monarchy to reign in France. Plagued by troubles, Louis-Philippe abdicated as part of the 1848 Revolution. Napoleon III rose to power immediately after.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 294

Cecil stormed about their borrowed house on Royal Street, rummaging through drawers and cursing loudly.
Meridian, hearing the man’s ire, hurried into the drawing room and politely cleared her throat. “Anything I can do for ya, Sir?”

“Is it too damned difficult to keep my snuff box in the same place that it always is!” Cecil spat.

“I’ve not seen your snuff box, Sir.” Meridian smiled.

“Haven’t you. It was a gift from a particular member of the peerage. Enamel and gold set with gems! Perhaps one of those groomsmen has come in here and stolen it.”

“I doubt that, Mr. Halifax,” Meridian replied calmly. “They ain’t got no use for such a thing.”

“I wonder.” Cecil growled.

“Have you checked your pockets, Sir?” Meridian asked.

“My pockets! Of course, I’ve bloody checked my…” he patted the side of his coat. “Oh.” His face fell as he reached into his pocket and withdrew the glittering snuff box. He blushed. “I’m terribly sorry, Meridian.”

“Ain’t no matter, Sir.” Meridian smiled. “You got a lot of troubles weighin’ you down.”

“As do we all.” Cecil sighed. “How’s Gamilla?”

“Much better.” Meridian said. “She’s back at her duties. Right now, she’s upstairs with Fuller and little Columbia.”

“Poor children,” Cecil shook his head. “I’m sure Columbia is wondering where her grandmother is. And, I know that my son misses his mother.”

“You miss her, too, Sir.” Meridian nodded.

“I do.” Cecil said sharply. “I’m beside myself.”

“Then, go to her, Sir.” Meridian smiled gently. “I can take you to where the Routhes live.”

Meanwhile, in Marie Laveau’s angular and cruel house, Charles narrowed his eyes at Nellie. “So, then, you’ll help me?”

“Do I have a choice?” Nellie asked.

“No.” Charles replied firmly. “Tell me, who else is in this house?”

“I don’t know. Some of the men, I’m sure.”

“Any other women?”

“The daughter,” Nellie answered quickly. “The other ‘Marie.’ She’s upstairs.”

“Go to her.”

“What for?”

“Go to her and tell her that Mr. Iantosca has taken a turn for the worse.” Charles replied.

“Don’t bring me into this, Carlo.” Giovanni spat.

“You owe me this,” Charles hissed. He turned to Nellie. “Tell her to inform her mother that Giovanni is asking to see Marie. That he needs her. And, that he needs someone with a true knowledge of the human body. I guarantee that both Marie and Iolanthe will come quickly. Iolanthe Evangeline never misses an opportunity to see a man suffer. I can deal with Ulrika on my own and spirit Barbara away.”

“I can’t give orders to young Marie!” Nellie said. “She’d never take it from me.”

“It’s not an order.” Charles answered. “It’s an urgent request.”

“Listen,” Nellie began.

“Do it!” Charles interrupted her. “Go, now!”

At that very moment, in the tidy, but small apartment above the Routhe’s dress shop, Robert gasped.

“What is it?” Adrienne rushed to Robert’s side. Marjani joined them.

“His eyes are moving,” Robert replied, still gazing at Julian’s unconscious body.

Suddenly, Julian’s eyes sprung open.

“Good evening,” Robert smiled.

“Hullo, Chum.” Mr. Punch answered weakly. “Sorry to scare ya, but, we made some decisions me master and I.”

“Did you, now?” Robert said with relief.

“Sure did.” Punch said, sitting up. “And, we need your help.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-293? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Prince of Wales at Stratford on Avon

Today, in my effort to share these little historical tidbits with you, I spilled my own blood. And, I blame the Duke of Windsor. The cards that I present to you each day are displayed sandwiched between two pieces of glass so that I can see the front and reverse. Today, for some reason, I was having difficulty reading the small type on the card’s reverse, so I removed the back piece of glass so I could get a better look. I placed the glass on my desk chair, thinking, “Okay, Joseph, don’t sit on this.” And, then, of course, I did. Glass doesn’t like to be sat upon and the weight of a thirty-seven year old man, even a thin one, doesn’t agree with it. A large mess ensued. Bandages were applied and, now, all is well.

Now, on to the business of history. By 1932, King George V was not making as many trips as he used to, due mainly to his continually failing health. Sometimes, he’d send Queen Mary in his place, but more often than not, he would deputize his sons—especially the Prince of Wales (later, King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor) and The Duke of York (later, King George VI)—to attend in his place.

One such occasion is presented in the thirty-seventh card in the series by Wills’s Cigarette Company which was produced for the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

The reverse of the card reads:


The American and French Ambassadors, and seventy other representatives of the world's homage to Shakespeare's genius attended the opening of the new Memorial Theatre at Stratford by the Prince of Wales on the poet's birthday in 1932. Arriving by aeroplane, the Prince found the town thronged with Warwickshire country folk, some of them decked out in Elizabethan dresses that gave delightful colour to the celebrations. The Prince is greeting Miss Elizabeth Scott, the architect of the new theatre. The exterior is somewhat severe, in the modern style, but within it is the perfect playhouse.

Now, I need a new piece of glass.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Medal from Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, 1887

Silver, 1887
Originally Presented for Queen Victoria's
Golden Jubilee, a bar with the date of the
Diamond Jubilee was added ten years later.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A few weeks ago, I shared with you a medal from my own collection. That medal was made for the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

Today, I’d like to show you a similar medal from the V&A—this one was made for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. This medal was cast in silver, and was presented to Ministers of State and other dignitaries who attended Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Celebration. Since Victoria’s reign lasted a good while longer, in 1897, for the Diamond Jubilee, a silver bar bearing the date was given to those who had received the 1887 decoration. The bar was meant to be added to the medal’s ribbon. This particular medal was awarded to John Charles Robinson (1824-1913), a curator, scholar and collector, whose work at the V&A in its earliest stages contributed greatly to the enduring success of the institution. Robinson was integral in the formation of the collections. In addition to his work at the V&A, Mr. Robinson was the Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures from 1882 to 1901.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mastery of Design: An Indian Tourmaline Brooch, 1860

Tourmaline, Emerald, Diamonds, Pearls, Gold
India, 1860
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A gorgeous pink tourmaline is the centerpiece of this fantastic brooch which also includes rose-cut diamonds, emeralds, and river pearls set in gold. The carved emerald drop is detachable.

This brooch was made in India for the Western market and bears trademarks of both English and Indian sensibilities. In 1851visitors to the Great Exhibition had become enamored of the displays of Indian jewelry, marveling at its opulent appearance and vivid colors.

By 1860, Indian jewelers learned that their good would sell quite well in England and began producing works in their traditional methods with an eye for English tastes. This brooch is an excellent example of that interesting artistic trend.

Unfolding Pictures: The Barbier Fan, 1911

Hand Fan
Georges Barbier, 1911
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The celebrated Georges Barbier was the foremost fashion illustrator in early Twentieth Century Paris. Many yearned to work with him, and he ended up collaborating with some of the most avant garde designers of the era: Paul Poiret and Madame Paquin.

The female figure painted on this paper and silk-leaf fan is adorned with a headdress identical to one famously designed by Madame Paquin. With its simple bone sticks, the style of the fan is a sign of things to come with the styles of the 1920s and the Art Deco.

Unusual Artifacts: A Floor Tile from the Palace of Westminster, 1847 – 1850

The Victoria & Albert Museum
This beautifully-colored encaustic tiles (meaning tiles with decoration of contrasting-colored clay inlaid into their surface) were mass-produced starting in the mid-Nineteenth Century. The firm of Minton & Co.—the producer of this tile between 1847 and 1850--was one of the major manufacturers.

This tile with its fleur-de-lis pattern in heraldic colors was made for the new Palace of Westminster. London’s old Palace of Westminster was almost completely destroyed by a horrendous fire in 1834. As plans to rebuild were underway, a competition was held to design a suitable new building for the official seat of Parliament. Charles Barry (1795-1860), with the assistance of A.W.N. Pugin, won the competition with his Gothic Revival design. Construction began in 1840. Each and every detail was carefully considered—even down to the intricately patterned floor tiles.

This example is one of a surplus that was not used in the building and was given to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 293

Who’s this handsome boy?” Nellie purred as she stroked Giovanni’s arm.

“My brother, Carlo” Giovanni smirked. “I’m rather surprised to see him climbing through a window. He much prefers to use the servant’s entrance.”

“Giovanni, you’re…” Charles began.

“How trite,” Giovanni scowled. “Surely, you’re not going to say, ‘You’re alive!’ Couldn’t you decide upon something more clever.”

“Why aren’t you in Hell?” Charles asked.

“That’s more clever,” Nellie laughed, her scar crinkling as she smiled.

“Because I’m in indomitable.” Giovanni shrugged, wincing from the pain of his fresh wound. “Now, answer a question for me. Why are you climbing through windows?”

“My friend,” Charles replied softly. “She’s in trouble.”

“Here?” Giovanni raised one eyebrow. “With Marie?”

“Which friend?” Nellie asked.

“Miss Allen,” Charles answered.

“That sow?” Nellie moaned. “Is she here? Worthless…”

“I’ll thank you to cease that line of thought.” Charles said warningly.

“Will you, now?” Nellie rose and tied her dressing gown around her waist. “Forget about her, Carlo.”

“Charles. My name is Charles.”

“Not according to your brother.” Nellie purred.

“He ceased to be my brother long ago.”

“Such talk.” Giovanni grunted. “And, me, lying here in this bed, barely alive.”

“You were well enough to entertain this scarred woman of ill repute.”

Nellie pulled back her hand and slapped Charles across the face.

Rubbing his cheek, Charles smiled, “Well, aren’t you fierce? Would you be as fierce if you knew that Iolanthe Evangeline is in the other room with Marie and Ulrika Rittenhouse?”

“What?” Nellie stepped backward.

“Wasn’t it the doing of one of those two women that you came by your scar? And, isn’t the other surely looking for you after you fled from her ‘business?’”

“You’re lying!” Nellie spat. “Marie would never have those two here.”

“I saw them through the open door when I passed through the alley.” Charles nodded. “If you don’t believe me, I’ll take you to them right now.” He grabbed Nellie by the arm.

“Let me go!” Nellie shouted.

“Yes, do scream. I’m sure the sound of your voice will attract their attention.”

“No.” Nellie whispered.

“Then, help me rescue Miss Allen.” Charles said firmly.

Meanwhile, Punch’s shoulders sagged a little as he stood across from Julian in the long, imaginary passage which existed only within their shared minds and body.

“I know what you’re gonna say, Master. I do.” Punch sighed.

“I don’t think that you do.” Julian responded gently.

“You’re gonna tell me to forget ‘bout the child like Naasir said to do, and that I should go back to Marionneaux with Robert and Cecil and Adrienne and Fuller. I already got rid of Barbara. Ain’t no savin’ her. Ain’t no getting’ the diamond, I don’t think. You want me to forget the whole thing and go to Marionneaux and rest before we sail to England.”

“That’s not what I want,” Julian shook his head.

“It ain’t?”

“No.” Julian smiled. “I want you to fight for what you believe in, and, what’s more, I’m going to help you.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-292? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose

While other members of the Royal Family (especially Queen Alexandra who, at first, resented her son’s closeness to his new wife) contended that Princess Mary of Teck was a cold and distant mother, there’s much evidence to the contrary. In fact, she was quite involved and close to her children, and, later, to her grandchildren. As Queen Mary, she was endlessly devoted to the eldest daughter of her son, “Bertie,” the Duke of York (later King George VI). Queen Mary’s relationship with Princess Elizabeth lasted until her death in 1953, just around the time of Elizabeth’s accession to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II.

The thirty-sixth card in the series of Silver Jubilee cards by Wills’s Cigarette Co. shows Princess Elizabeth with her younger sister, Margaret Rose.

The reverse of the card reads:


“The Little House” was the gift of Wales to Princess Elizabeth on her sixth birthday. This fascinating present is not a doll’s house, but a completely equipped phone, two-fifths of normal size into which a grown-up can only creep, but in which the Princess, her sister and friends of their own age can move freely. There are six rooms, stairs with treads about four inches in height leading to the upper floor. Our picture shows the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose at the door of the Little House in 1933.

Object of the Day: An Engraving of a Portrait of Princess Eugénie of France, 1873

On Monday, I posted a page from a book which depicted an engraving of Queen Victoria. At the time, I didn’t know the title of the book from which the page had come, but, now, thanks to my father, I do. The book was: Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America: Embracing History, Statesmanship, Naval and Military Life. Philosophy, Drama, Literature and Art. It was published in 1873.
Here’s another page from a torn-apart copy of that old book. Here, we see Princess Eugénie. María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales; 5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo was the last Empress consort of the French from 1853 to 1871 as the wife of French Emperor Napoleon III.

The marriage of Napoleon III to Eugénie was quite controversial for the French—much to the amusement of the English—for a variety of political reasons. Nevertheless, Napoleon insisted upon marrying the woman he loved. Ultimately, the people of France embraced Eugénie if only just as a style-setter and fashion icon. Her cutting-edge fashion sense changed women’s attire throughout Europe.

I’m rather fond of this print because it reminds me of the portrait from the film, Rebecca.