Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mastery of Design: Box with Miniature of Peter the Great's Monument, 1913

Box of Gold, Enamel, Diamonds and a MiniatureHenrik Wigström forFabergé, 1913
Purchased by Queen Mary for King George V
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of:
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Made for Fabergé  by the celebrated Henrik Wigström (1862-1923), this box of gold, guilloché enamel, rose and brilliant diamonds,  and a miniature en grisaille (in a limited, mostly gray, color palette) depicts Peter the Great's Monument.  It was made in 1913 for Prince Vladimir Galitzine; from whom purchased by Queen Mary,  September 10, 1934.  Mary presented the box to King George V on Christmas Day of 1934.

The scene shows Etienne Falconet’s monument in St Petersburg which was completed in 1782, glorifying Peter the Great’s absolutism. The miniature is designed to look like a cameo.  The painting was the work of  Vassily Zuiev, a miniaturist employed by Fabergé, and is dated 1913, the year of the Romanov tercentenary.

Unusual Artifacts: Samuel Hayward's Sketchbook, 1800

Sketchbook of Samuel Hayward
Drawn in France, 1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This portable sketchbook, once owned by artist John Samuel Hayward (1778-1822) (he preferred to be called “Samuel”), contains studies of landscapes, towns and figures, notes on the artist’s travels in France and on the manufacture of the floor-cloth which was Hayward's primary business. Hayward used this sketchbook to sketch rapidly from nature. It seems that Hayward, rather abstractly for his time, did not feel bound by artistic conventions in his compositions, but, instead, worked freely from observing life, using the paper as a palette to test his colors.

Hayward was the son of a floor-cloth manufacturer and later took on his father's business despite the fact that he would have preferred to become a fulltime artist. He was a friend of the celebrated watercolorist Joshua Cristall (1768-1847), who Hayward met when Cristall first worked at the calico printing works at Old Ford in London. The two young men collaborated on painting a panorama of Constantinople when Cristall (typing this name correctly is killing me since I keep, naturally, omitting the “t” and adding an “i” to the end) came to London to establish himself as a professional artist.

Though Hayward remained an amateur, he managed to be exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1798 to 1816 and was Secretary of The Sketching Society, to which he was elected in 1803. He famously made sketching trips around Britain and to France and Italy.  One of the most prolific amateur artists of his day, Hayward promoted the growing enthusiasm for working directly from nature.  This sketchbook, showing scenes of France, demonstrates that passion.

Figure of the Day: The Staffordshire Elephant, 1866

Staffordshire Elephant
England, 1886
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This earthenware figure of an elephant with a howdah (the carriage on his back) and a figure seated on top was made in Staffordshire, England in 1886 by an unknown modeler.

The figure has been lead-glazed and is painted with a brilliant palette of enamel colors. 

I just love this figure.  It's a real treat.  And, speaking of treats, we'll have this week's "Treat of the Week" on Friday, so make sure to stop by, then.

Unfolding Pictures: A Chinese Feather Fan, 1911-1930

Feather Fan
China, 1911-1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Chinese have been producing fans from feathers for over 2000 years. These fans, with their dramatic tufts of colorful feathers, most often featured long handles made of bamboo or wood though specialty examples were made for high-ranking people with handles of ivory, jade or other carved hard-stone.

This example was actually made in modern times during a time when feathers were en vogue with contemporary fashions. Made between 1911 and 1930, this fan nods at Chinese antiquity with its brightly-colored fathers and gleaming handle made of carved hard-stone and glass adorned with a geometric pattern based on ancient Chinese bronzes 
(Ancient Chinese Bronzes, huh?). Two small red stones, possibly garnets, have been mounted on either side of the handle.

The fan was likely made in China for export to the U.K. where the Art Deco fashions dictated a renewed interest in the geometry of the Eastern arts. The color palette indicates that the fan would not have been intended for use by a Chinese woman, but rather a wealthy European lady whose tastes tended toward the trendy gold and brown colors which often dominated accessories of the era.

Donated by Lady Logan from the collection of her parents, Robert and Alexandra Everts, the fan is an excellent example of the kinds of Asian accessories which were in demand in the 1920s.

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 94

Chapter 94
Fit Enough

Mr. Punch grunted and nervously dug the heel of his boot into the thick carpet of Lennie's room.

"Steady on,"  Matthew said unconvincingly.  "You know Lennie.  She's...I say, she's the strongest woman I've ever known."

Punch nodded, looking at his sister who lay on her bed, unconscious, being examined by Robert who was assisted by Violet.

"If you'd rather, I will gladly give her my blood."  Matthew volunteered.  

"No,"  Punch frowned.  "I am not bothered by that.  I would give anything for her, I would.  Also, Robert says it should come from a relative.  I'm all she's got.  Other than Colin and Morgana, who's a blood relative.  I'm the only one, I am, fit 'nough to give of me own blood."  His gaze wandered.

"We'll find your Aunt,"  Matthew continued.

Punch scratched his ear and nodded.

"I say, Punch, I can't imagine what you must...well, what you must be thinking right now.  Your house all upset as it is."

"Worry for Lennie, Matthew."  Punch answered.  "Whatever else--whatever else has happened I've brought on myself.  I should never 'ave come back here, I shouldn't.  I should never have brought Lennie here.  I should have told her that there was nothin' here for her that I couldn't have told her.  We'd finally reached a point of peace at home and..."

"Still, you found your Aunt here."  Matthew suggested.  "That's something."


"Punch?"  Robert called out.

"Excuse me,"  Punch nodded to Matthew who remained on the other side of the room.

Mr. Punch joined Robert and Violet.  "How is she?"

"She showed signs of coming out of it for a few seconds,"  Robert answered.  "Her eyes fluttered and her lips moved, giving me hope, but now, she's become colder and, I fear that the poison has taken hold.  I think we must act quickly."

"How do we begin, Chum?"  Punch asked emotionally.

"We must insanguinate her so that we may immediately replace her blood with yours."

Punch winced.

"I know what that means to you."  Robert said softly, putting his hands on Punch's shoulders.  "I understand what you must be thinking.  Surely you must recall how your mother died.  How she was bled, and then hanged."

Punch closed his eyes.  "She deserved it.  Lennie does not deserve this."

"It's the only way I can think to save her."  Robert answered.

"When a body is bitten by a snake, they say to suck out the poison and spit it out."  Punch said quickly.  "Maybe, Chum...maybe..."

"We can't..."  Robert shook his head.  "It's already running through her body.  It's in her veins, dear Punch."

"What do ya need me to do then?"  Punch inhaled.  

"We will need Gamilla, if she's well enough."  Robert replied.  He turned to Violet.  "Vi, will you, please, go to the nursery and see if Gamilla is able to come here.  If she's not, you'll have to assist unaided."

Violet nodded and went off on her task.

"Chum," Punch began.  "We've always...ya know..."

"My dear,"  Robert interrupted.  "I make no promise.  I love Lennie, too, as if she were my own sister as well, and I will do all that I can to preserve her."

Punch nodded.  "Only, then, tell me what to do."

Did you miss Chapters 1-93 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 95.

Wednesday Wow: A Bewitching Turn at the Hollywood Palace

From 1964 to 1970, ABC ran "The Hollywood Palace," a weekly, hourlong variety show which was broadcast from the former Hollywood Palace.  Each week, a different host preceded over the festivities.

On October 1st, 1966, the lovely Elizabeth Montgomery was the host, and this bit of magic opened the show.  Did you know that the Bewitched them had lyrics?  Though they were never used on the show, it did.  Here they are:  

Bewitched, bewitched, you've got me in your spell.
Bewitched, bewitched, you know your craft so well.

Before I knew what you were doing, I looked in your eyes.
That brand of woo that you've been brewin' Took me by surprise.

You witch, you witch! One thing that's for sure,
That stuff you pitch, Just hasn't got a cure.

My heart was under lock and key, But somehow it got unhitched.
I never thought my heart could be had.
But now I'm caught and I'm kind of glad
To be bewitched. Bewitched.

The rest of the program ran as follows:

--Elizabeth Montgomery and Vic Damone - "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" duet
--Vic Damone (singer) - "Falling in Love with Love" and "I Cried for You"
--Paul Lynde (comedian)  

--Jackie Mason (comedian) 
--Morgana King (singer) 
--The Baja Marimba Band - "Portuguese Washerwoman" & "Acapulco 1922" 
--Paul Anthony's tigers 
--Sensational Parker (acrobatic act) 
--The Three Robertes (acrobats)

You'll notice, ABC got Paul Lynde and as many Bewitched references as they could in there.  the show ran on ABC, so, The Hollywood Palace was a great way to promote the networks other shows.  

I find this sort of thing fascinating.  And, of course, Lizzie was lovely.

The whole thing is on YouTube.  It's worth watching.



Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Soap

Click image to enlarge.

Here’s a very handsome die-cut trade card in the shape of an artist’s palette. This will now be the third in my collection. As was the case with the others, this one depicts the palette as if it had been painted with a scene using the paints thereon.

This one shows a lad with a fishing pole, wading through a creek. I don’t know why he needs the pole since he’s already stepping on any fish he might need.

What sets this card apart is the fact that this one was designed for a specific business. The name of the company is not over-printed, but rather, is part of the artwork.

The card was made for D.S.B & Co. of New York who bill themselves as:


Let’s see what the reverse says.

Well, I can see that the initials stand for D.S. Brown.

It reads:

-->who<-- nbsp="" span="">
Largest & most 
Complete line of 
in the country. 
Also a fine line of 
“—a special!”