Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Sparkle: A Brooch of Demantoid Garnet, Freshwater Pearls, Gold and Diamonds, 1900

Demantoid Garnet (Tsavorite), Pearls, Diamonds, Gold
United States, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This piece of jewelry was created in the United States around 1900. While English, French and Italian jewelers were more comfortable revisiting the styles of the Rococo and looking forward with abandon to the curves and scrolls of the Art Nouveau, American jewelers were markedly more cautious, knowing that American buyers were more interested in the traditional than the daring. This scrolled brooch of gold combines rococo elements with the sinuous curves of Art Nouveau. It’s a daring design for sale in the American market of the early Twentieth Century where, in the 1901 Jewlers’ Circular and Horological Review, a reviewer commented that some pieces of Art Nouveau jewelry were "more fitted for the case of the collector than for wear…"

What Americans did appreciate was the use of brightly colored gemstones. The use of green demantiod garnets (basically tsavorites) would have scored points with American buyers, especially when combined with these luxurious pearls and beautiful diamonds.

Painting of the Day: “A Highland Breakfast,” Sir Edwin Landseer, 1834

A Highland Breakfast
Landseer, 1834
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Edwin Landseer loved dogs, or at least painting them. And, I can tell you that dog’s love breakfast. So, this painting is the perfect loving combination.

In this 1834 canvas by Landseer, called “A Highland Breakfast,” we see a young mother feeding her child while the family dogs enjoy their breakfast from a large tub nearby. The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1834 when a reviewer noted, “the group of terriers and hounds... socially toiling with their teeth.... [and the] young mother giving her child the breast... the innocence of the latter, and the truth and nature of the former are equally striking.” This truth was the hallmark of Landseer’s work. The artist had an innate ability to combine a genre scene with his beloved canine studies, and does so effortlessly here in this intimate Scottish setting.

This painting was another of the many genre works collecting by the celebrated John Sheepshanks.

Mastery of Design: A Micromosaic Plaque in a Gold Frame, 1800-1840

Micromosaic Plaque
1800, Rome
Set in Gold Frame, 1840, England
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Created in Rome, circa 1800, by an unknown artist, we can see the care taken with such micromosaic pieces. This micromosaic employs tiny square pieces of glass, known as “tesserae,” to make up the background, giving the solid-color surface a natural pattern of straight lines . This fact combined with the simple perspective indicates that it’s an early example of the micromosaic technique which was in the process of being refined in Rome towards the end of the 18th century.
The frame, however, is of later creation—dated to about 1840 and thought to be made in England. Micromosaics were popular souvenirs for tourists visiting Rome as they could be easily purchased for a low cost and brought back to England and to America without effort. As was the case with this adorable canine scene, these souvenirs were often brought home by travelers who had them set into pieces of jewelry or sometimes incorporated into boxes or cases.

The Art of Play: A Wooden Pull-Along Dog Toy, 1930-1939

Wooden Pull Along Toy
A & A Peacock, Ltd.
The Museum of Childhood
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This flat, wooden toy is painted to look like a Fox Terrier who scoots across the floor on jointed legs when pulled by his string. He is the creation of A. & A. Peacock Ltd. of Newcastle upon Tyne between 1930 and 1939.

The lurching movement of the toy would have appealed to any child then or now. In fact, the dog himself looks a little bewildered as he studies the floor with his giant brown and black eyes as if wondering, “how am I walking?”

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 302

I was just a young footman.” Arthur coughed. “I caught the eye of Her Grace, the Duchess, when I was working as a groomsman. She thought my legs too good to be in the stables and asked my father to let me work in the house.”

“I remember.” Punch nodded, though he—specifically--did not remember. He did, however, recall Julian’s reaction when the Duchess had brought the rather rough young man into Fallbridge Hall. Julian had disliked Arthur on sight, despite the man’s immediate appearance of handsomeness. Julian was keenly aware that beneath the thin veneer of Arthur’s attractiveness was an ugliness that could not be ignored. The feeling had been so fierce that it had radiated through Julian upon that initial introduction and caught the attention of Mr. Punch who, at that time, was resting within their shared body.

Arthur’s body shook with a spasm of violent coughing, yet he managed to control himself enough to continue. “She liked me,” he croaked. “Promised me that I’d rise in ranks within the household, that I could be a valet to you, Sir, at the time, your Lordship, and that one day, I might be First Footman and deputize for the butler—perhaps even be butler one day. To be butler in a great house such as Fallbridge Hall, to be in the trust of the Duchess of Fallbridge—it was more than I ever could have imagined. Me, the son of a groomsman, destined to be such for the rest of my life amongst the horses and dung.”

Arthur paused as his body shook.

“None of this matters now,” Robert grunted. “Close your eyes, Arthur.”

“It does matter, Sir.” Arthur moaned.

“Isn’t it interesting how respectful you’ve become now that your light is flickering out.” Robert mumbled.

“It ain’t too late, is it, Sir?” Arthur whispered.

Marjani spoke up. “Not if you don’t think it so.”

“For all her wealth and power,” Arthur continued, “her Grace was lonely what with Sir Colin always away, and still quite beautiful given her age. She fancied me. I knew it would happen. Me da’ told me it would happen with her. All the staff knew of her love for the young men.”

“You are speaking of His Grace’s mother, no matter how brutal a woman she was.” Robert warned.

“She had plans for me,” Arthur went on, ignoring Robert. “Said I’d go far. Said all I had to do was never fail her. She said that I amused her and that she wanted me to amuse Lady Barbara, too. Lord Julian,” Arthur coughed—blood flying from his purple lips—“I mean, Your Grace, had already left for Belgravia. The Duchess wanted Lady Barbara to be around men, to know men, so she asked me to make sure she got an education in it. As, so, that’s what I gave her…”

“By making her a whore?” Mr. Punch asked. “I doubt that the Duchess of Fallbridge would have condoned that—not as determined as she was for Barbara to make a good marriage within the peerage or better. Barbara could have married a Duke or better, she could have married a Prince and, while a morganatic marriage would have been out of the question—though such things don’t matter to Her Majesty Queen Victora-- she could have at least been a proper Duchess and earned the rank of Royal or at least Serene Highness. This she could not have done if not a virgin, and certainly, the Duchess of Fallbridge would not have jeopardized such a smart match.” Punch scratched his head, unsure of how he knew of the complicated details of noble marriages, but figured that, somehow, Julian was coaching him from within.

“You don’t understand, Your Grace…” Arthur rattled.

“I bloody well do!” Punch spat. “Listen, I see you’re trying to blame your sins on a woman what’s dead. She was no prize, I’ll say that for me master’s mum, but it ain’t fair that you should try to lie your way out of Hell by pinnin’ your crimes on her lifeless breast!”

“Was your mother without sin?” Arthur coughed. “Didn’t she arrange for the murder of your father, Sir Colin?”

Punch was silent.

“Didn’t she?” Arthur rasped.

“Don’t speak of things you know nothing of.” Punch warned.

“Artie, just quiet down,’ Gerard urged.

“No!” Arthur snapped weakly. “If I’m goin’, I’m takin’ her with me!”

At that very moment, Charles and Barbara Allen huddled together behind the Baptismal font in St. Louis Cathedral. The child slept soundly on Barbara’s lap and Barbara shivered as he back rested against the church’s cold wall.

“Take my coat,” Charles suggested.

“No, thank you, Charles.” Barbara smiled. “When the rain lets up, we’ll go somewhere warmer.”

“It may be awhile.” Charles whispered.

“I’ll be fine,” Barbara shook her head. She gazed at Charles. “You think I’m quite mad, don’t you?”

“Perhaps you’re braver than you are mad.” Charles smiled.

They paused as they heard the cathedral doors grind open. Charles peered around the side of the font.

“Who is it?” Barbara whispered.

Charles face blanched. “The man who carried you from the river.”

“Marie’s husband’s brother.” Barbara muttered. “Somehow I knew she’d find us.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-301? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, July 25 for Chapter 303 of Punch’s Cousin.

Card of the Day: The England to Australia Air Race, 1934

Organized by the Royal Aero Club in 1934 for the Melbourne Centenary Celebration, the MacRobertson Air Race was organized by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and sponsored by the MacRobertson Confectionary Company who offered a prize to the winner—the first to arrive in Melbourne from Mildenhall, England.

The dramatic launch of the race was attended by King George V, Queen Mary and their son, The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor). The event is commemorated in a card by Wills’s Cigarette Company produced in honor of the 1935 Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

The reverse of the card reads:


On October 20th, 1934, the eve of the Air Race from England to Australia for a 10,000 pound prize, the King, the Queen and the Prince of Wales appeared at Mildenhall, where mechanics laboured to have the machines ready for the start at 6:30 the next morning. Seconds were so precious that special permission was asked for repairs to the D.H. Comet (flown by Cathcart Jones and Waller) to continue while the Royal party were shown round the sheds. The Queen-behind whom stand Mr. and Mrs. Mollison-had never stepped inside an aeroplane until this visit to Mildenhall. Scott and Black, the winners of the race, covered the 11,323 miles in the astonishing time of 71 hours.

This interesting video shows the events:

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Contrary Winds by Thomas Webster, 1843

Contrary Winds
Thomas Webster, 1843
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A few weeks ago a shared with you an engraving from my collection. The engraving is a reproduction of a painting, but I was unsure as to what the painting was and/or who it was by. I’ve since, accidentally, discovered the original in the collection of the V&A.

The original painting upon which the engraving was based is called, “Contrary Winds” and is the work of Thomas Webster from 1843. Typical of the time, it shows a domestic interior scene with children.

The original painting—oil on mahogany board--by Webster was purchased by collector John Sheepshanks who amassed an impressive array of canvasses, mostly of similarly sentimental scenes. According to Sheepshank’s records, preserved in the V&A when the painting was exhibited at the British Institution in 1844, “the critics noted that the game [of sailing boats in a washtub] had not yet become very animated and the whole picture was really a study of a cottage interior with admirably painted figures in rather a Dutch style.”

Thomas Webster (1800-1886) began his career as a portrait painter, but devoted the bulk of his career to small-scale genre painting. Charles Dickens was a notable fan of Webster and thought him such a good a painter of children that he commissioned him to paint scenes for his novel Nicholas Nickelby.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Diamond Circle Pendant, 1860

Silver, Diamonds
English, 1860
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Silver set with gorgeous European-cut diamonds this pendant would have been made for an upper-class lady for use as an evening accessory. Diamond jewels such as this were the stuff of evening dress only and were often worn with an assortment of other similarly styled jewels.
In the late Nineteenth Century, Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary). was often celebrated for her creative arrangements of jewels, covering her gowns with as many as possible—a trait she inherited from her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. Of Princess May it was often said that she could wear more jewels than anyone else without looking weighted-down or overwrought.

A pendant such as this one would have been accompanied by a matching necklace, several brooches, pins or stars, a tiara, numerous bracelets and an assortment of rings.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Punch’s Wedding Polka, 1850

Punch's Wedding Polka
Nineteenth Century
Metzler & Co.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
 We all know that Mr. Punch is married to Judy. Leaving aside the fact that they’re puppets for a moment (a fact of which, historically, Mr. Punch seems aware), it is presumed that Punch and Judy enjoyed some sort of wedding celebration.

The British always love a Royal wedding (don’t we all?) and following the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, for several years the nation was crazy for wedding-related themes. This trend influenced numerous art forms, including music. So, it was only a matter of time before the popular Mr. Punch’s wedding would have been explored.

In the mid-Nineteenth Century, J.W. Cherry wrote “Punch's Wedding Polka” which was published by Metzler & Co. Here’s the sheet music cover for the song. It depicts Mr. Punch looking as much like a human person as possible as he marries a decidedly human woman (certainly n ot Judy, perhaps Pretty Polly) who looks suspiciously like Queen Victoria.

It’s quite dear and odd and I love it. This cover is part of the massive collection of Punch-related materials amassed by the great George Speaight throughout his long lifetime.

Sculpture of the Day: A Staffordshire Figure of Queen Victoria, 1840

Staffordshire, England, 1840
Young Queen Victoria
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Earthenware figures such as this one were called “flatbacks.” Such figurines were designed for display on a mantelpiece. They’ve long been associated with Staffordshire, England, where they were first made in the late 1830s. This Staffordshire figure depicts the young Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and was made to commemorate her marriage to Prince Albert. A figurine of Prince Albert was created as a mate to this one.
The earliest datable Staffordshire figures seem to all be depictions of Queen Victoria and date to the time of her 1837 coronation, By the 1840’s, this trend gave rise to the design of many other royal figures by Staffordshire, especially to celebrate the birth of the royal children of Victoria and Albert.

By 1905, production had slowed considerably. However, they were especially popular during the reign of Victoria.

Friday Fun: Professor Mark Poulton by the Seaside

Mark Poulton
This week’s “Friday Fun,” is another Punch & Judy show—this time performed by the talented Professor Mark Poulton. Professor Poulton brings decades of experience to the art form. Enjoy his version of Mr. Punch as “Old Red Nose” is introduced by Joey the Clown.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 301

Help me,” Arthur choked as he continued to hack up black fluid.

“Ain’t nothin’ more we can do for ya, Arthur,” Marjani whispered. “Now, just quiet yourself and let me bathe your face and head.”

“No.” Arthur moaned.

“You must be still, Arthur,” Robert added, peering down at the dying man as he tried to conceal his utter contempt for the person who’s tried, so many times, to harm him and his loved ones.

“You gotta listen to me,” Arthur groaned hoarsely.

“There’s nothing that you need to say,” Robert shook his head. “Save your strength. You’ll need it.”

“Maybe you should go to your chum,” Punch said, gently pressing on Gerard’s arm.

“You think so?” Gerard asked.

Punch nodded.

“It ain’t him I want,” Arthur sputtered.

Gerard looked back at Mr. Punch who shrugged.

“What is it that you want, Arthur?” Robert asked, his loathing for Arthur creeping slightly into his voice.

“I know ya hate me.” Arthur coughed feverishly.

“Yes, I do.” Robert nodded. “But, we’ll still see to it that you die with some sort of dignity.”

“But, you don’t understand.” Arthur protested.

“I think I understand quite well.” Robert replied. “You may go to Hell, Arthur, but while you’re here with us, I am obligated to see that you’re comfortable.”

“I’ll go to Hell, all right,” Arthur coughed. “I know that. But, I want you…”

“What is it?” Marjani asked.

“I want you to know why I’m goin’ to Hell.” Arthur said, spraying blood and thick black droplets onto his shirt-front.

“We know why,” Marjani responded.

“But, you don’t know why I done what I done. Why I bothered Lady Barbara. Why I tried to kill the Duke and the Doctor. Why I…” His words dissolved into a fit of coughing.

“Because you’re wicked,” Marjani shook her head.

“Sure, I am.” Arthur gasped. “But, you don’t know what made me so. I gotta tell ya.”

“Go on, Gerry,” Punch urged.

“I don’t want Gerry!” Arthur snapped weakly. “It’s you I want, Your Grace.”

“Why?” Punch growled.

“Because I gotta tell ya.” Arthur drooled.


“It were yer mum,” Arthur moaned. “She made me do it all.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-300? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Duke of Gloucester’s Australian Tour

My father was frightened of his mother (Queen Victoria); I was frightened of my father (King Edward VII), and I am damned well going to see to it that my children are frightened of me.
--King George V

King Edward VII with his son; George, Duke of York
(later Prince of Wales, later King George V), and George's
sons: Prince Edward of Wales ("David," later King Edward VIII,
later Duke of Windsor) and Prince Albert of Wales ("Bertie", later
Duke of York, later King George VI)
The Royal Collection
Prior to their accession as King George V and Queen Mary, Prince George, Duke of York and Cornwall and Princess May of Teck, Duchess of York and Cornwall had six children: “David” (later King Edward VIII and, later still, the Duke of Windsor), “Bertie” (later King George VI), Mary (the Princess Royal, later Countess of Harewood), Prince Henry (later Duke of Gloucester), Prince George (later, Duke of Kent) and Prince John.

Some in the court considered the King and Queen to be detached and cold parents. This wasn’t necessarily the case. They loved their children fiercely. Queen Mary spent a good deal of time in the nursery at the end of each day, reading to the children and telling them about the Empire. However, there was naturally some distance. Their positions dictated that they make frequent voyages and they were separated from their offspring quite frequently. Despite the fact that both of them came from large families, neither of them had much exposure to children, and they both, admittedly, had no idea what to expect from a child. For that reason, they often found themselves at a loss as to what to do with their children and were frequently amazed when their progeny acted in the ways that children naturally act.

George, Duke of York (later Prince of Wales,
later King George V) with three of his children:
Prince Edward of Wales (later Duke of Windsor),
Marr the Princess Royal and Prince Albert of Wales
(later King George VI) aboard
HMY Osbrone
The Royal Collection
When George was created King, Mary’s utmost goal was to support her husband. The one thing that Mary loved more than her husband was the Monarchy and when her husband became King, he became—in her mind—imbued with all of the perfection and dignity assigned to the position. From his accession until his death, Mary’s only want was to ensure that her husband was taken care of. Because of this, she had that much less time to spend with her children. To make matters worse, at an early age, Prince John showed signs of having ill health. John was epileptic. As I’ve mentioned before, Queen Mary had a strong dislike for illness and quickly realized she had no idea how to care for her ailing child. For this reason, Prince John was set up in his own household, removed from the court. He had his own staff who doted on him and companions were brought in for his amusement until his death at the age of thirteen.

Prince Henry
Later Duke of Gloucester
The Royal Collection
As their other children grew, King George and Queen Mary (though they never quarreled) often differed on the best ways to direct their children. Mary thought George was too firm with their sons, and often wrote him long, gentle letters, urging him to lighten up a bit. By the time their sons had reached adulthood, King George insisted that they be pressed into public service. Some of the boys were better suited to this than others. “Bertie” much enjoyed public service and though he dreaded speaking in public, he took his duties seriously and proved to his father that he was an able Prince/Duke. “David,” not so much. Though the future King Edward VIII served his country and often acted as a proxy for his busy father, he much preferred the pursuit of pleasure, as did Prince George, the Duke of Kent, whose many liaisons with both women and men proved to create a lot of trouble for the King and Queen. Prince Henry showed himself as being a steady and able young man. For this reason, he was dispatched to Australia in the King’s place.

This event is depicted in one of the final cards in the series produced by Wills’s Cigarette Company for the 1935 Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

The reverse of the card reads:


In the autumn of 1934 the Duke of Gloucester began a deeply interesting but arduous tour of Australia and New Zealand, and he is seen landing at Fremantle on October 4th, from H.M.S. Sussex. The chief object of the Duke's voyage was to be present at the Melbourne Centenary celebrations, and to attend the dedication there on Armistice Day of the imposing "Shrine of Remembrance." Intent on observing the rural life of the Common wealth as well as the populous State Capitals, the Duke passed right across the vast Continent. The beginning of 1935 saw him loyally greeted in New Zealand.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: An Antique Tea Caddy, 1740-1770

Tea Chest
French, 1740-1770
The Victoria & Albert Museum
One year and three days ago, in the early days of Stalking the Belle Époque, I posted an article about an antique tea caddy in my own collection.
Tea caddies or tea chests were important items in an Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century home. Tea was a precious commodity. It was therefore kept securely in elegant locking cases so that servants would not be tempted to steal the valuable leaves. Very often, these chests often contained several compartments in which different kinds of tea or, even, sugar were kept safe.

This tea caddy of japanned wood is lined with pale pink silk and contains multiple compartments. Made in France between 1740-1770, it shows the ebonized color-scheme which was popular during the period.

Caddies were often adorned with Chinese motifs, demonstrating the source of the tea. Since actual Asian lacquer was prohibitively expensive for most households, the look was replicated by European artisans who painted the chests and applied translucent varnishes to imitate proper lacquer. In England, this process was known as ‘japanning’.

This caddy is by Martin Brothers of Paris. According to the V&A, “In 1730 the Martin brothers of Paris were granted a monopoly on their particular recipe for such varnishes and the term ‘vernis Martin’ or ‘Martin’s varnish’ is now the common term in France for any decoration of this type, whether or not made to their recipes.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: An Old Woman Prevented From Tea

“Put down the bellows, Camilla, Duchess of Cornball. You’re gonna have to put your kettle on to boil elsewhere today.”

For a Full-Size Picture, Click the Image. Click the Link to the V&A below to see the original.

Image: A Cottage Interior: An Old Woman Preparing Tea, William Redmore Bigg, 1793, The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mastery of Design: A German Mother-of-Pearl and Jeweled Box, 1730-1740

German, 1730-1740
Mother-of-Pearl, Gold, Diamonds, Rubies, Hyacinth, Emeralds
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Made in Germany for export to Austria between 1730 and 1740, this box was designed to hold small personal items. Such boxes were the pinnacle of opulence and were considered symbols of enormous wealth and social standing.
This particular box is crafted from mother-of-pearl, mounted in piqué with gold, and set with brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, emeralds, jacinth (hyacinth) and garnets. It was exported from Vienna to England in 1806 where it was quickly appreciated for its workmanship and reliance on organic design themes.

Precious Time: A Scotch and French Clock, 1610-1615

Scottish Works, French Case
Gold, Silver, Enamel
1610-1615 with alterations from the Nineteenth Century
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here’s a rather unusual timepiece—the work of a Scotch clockmaker and a French case designer. While the case is much the same as it was in the early Seventeenth Century when it was created, the movement of this spring-driven, striking table clock has been drastically changed over the centuries.

One of the most intriguing features of this domed clock is that the base plate—which no one would ever see—is extensively decorated and engraved--signed by David Ramsay. Additional decoration added to the clock was carried out by the French clockmaker Louis David as evidenced by a brass plate bearing his name. This plate cleverly was placed to cover Ramsay’s signature. Though unusual to modern eyes, the case was typical of a particular type of domed clocks from France. A variety of French clocks from this period have similar square bases and domed bell-covers, pierced with such openwork.

The scene on the engraved base shows King James I with his two sons Henry and Charles. They are holding the Pope's nose to a grindstone—as one doees. Also pictured on the right is a Cardinal accompanied by three friars who watch the scene in terror. This queer little scene is inspired by a settlement made in 1609 between Spain and the Estates General of the Netherlands which formed an alliance between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant state.

The top of the clock—which holds the dial, seen from above is set with silver and enamel which matches the four inset silver panels which adorn the ornate sides of the case.

Painting of the Day: A Miniature by Augustus Toussaint, 1800

Ivory, Enamel, Watercolor, Gold, Copper, Diamonds
Augustus Touissaint, 1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum
An attractive oval bust-length portrait, this glittering miniature depicts an unidentified English officer. The curators at the V&A suspect that he may be one Captain Richard Lloyd. Like Lloyd, the handsome chap has short fair hair and a distinctive jaw line. He is shown wearing his uniform.
As was the case with most miniatures of the early Nineteenth Century, this portrait is rendered in watercolor on ivory. Set in a frame of gold, blue enamel and diamonds in the form of military flags, the miniature is backed in copper and gold and still retains its original blue leather case.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 300

Marie Laveau triumphantly looked around the wet charred mess in her front room. With the help of Louis and several of the men in her employ, but especially because of the torrential rain which beat down upon the French Quarter, the fire had been extinguished.
“Ain’t so bad,” Marie smiled. “Just smoke. Ain’t nothing that can’t be covered over.”

“We got bigger problems that the smoke, Miss Marie,” one of the men said.

“Don’t fret ‘bout that. Iolanthe will be back."

“No, ma’am.” The man shook his head.

“You mean the baby?” Marie winked. “Don’t you worry none. I know where that Barbara Allen went. Like all white women, I’ll bet ya, she done took herself to the cathedral. They always look to God when they’re in trouble. Go there now and fetch ‘em back for me.”

“I’ll go, Marie,” Louis nodded. “Let the men stay here and help you clean up.”

“You’re a prize, Louis. How I missed ya!” Marie laughed.

“Miss Marie,” the man insisted. “We still got a problem.”

“I know, that red-headed Ulrika carried the Italian man out. No matter. He’s her problem now.”

“No.” The man shook his head. “It’s Nellie.”

“What about her?”

“Young Marie done found her in the pantry.”

“So?” Marie shrugged.

“She’s dead, Miss.”

Meanwhile, Ulrika Rittenhouse carried Giovanni through the rainy streets of the Quarter—attracting much attention from the men and women who hurried past with their heads covered.

“Where are you taking me,” Giovanni asked, marveling at Ulrika’s unusual strength.

“Home.” Ulrika grinned.

“Your home?” Giovanni grinned, looking up at Ulrika as she carried him effortlessly through the torrent.

“Ultimately.” Ulrika answered. “For now, I’m staying here in New Orleans with friends of my family.”

“”Won’t they object to your bringing a strange man into their house?” Giovanni asked.

“They’ll do what I say.” Ulrika laughed. “Everyone always does.”

“What about your companions—that painted woman?”

“Iolanthe will find me. You can count on that.” Ulrika sighed.

“I owe you my life,” Giovanni smiled.

“Yes, you do.” Ulrika chuckled. “And, I’ll never let you forget it.”

At that very moment, Robert and Marjani leaned back as Arthur coughed violently, sending droplets of blood flying into the air.

“It’s comin’ quick.” Marjani whispered.

“He must have been ill for days and ignored it as best he could.” Robert nodded.

“Serves him right,” Marjani nodded. “Hate to say it.”

“It does.” Robert agreed quietly. He turned and looked to Gerry who stood nervously by Mr. Punch.

“You may not want to watch this,” Robert said.

“If you don’t mind, Sir, I’d like to stay.” Gerard replied.

“As you wish,” Robert shrugged. “But, it will be quite ugly.”

“I need to see it.” Gerard whispered. “I feel it’s my due.”

Robert nodded.

“Sir?” Gerard interrupted. “Well, sirs? And, you, too Miss.”

“What’s the matter, Gerry?” Mr. Punch asked.

“Do you think there’s any hope for me?” Gerard asked.

“I don’t know,” Robert raised his eyebrows. “You’ve been in close quarters with the man. It’s quite possible that you’ve been infected as well. Do you feel ill? Any chills?”

“No.” Gerard shook his head. “That’s not what I mean, Sir.”

“What do you mean?” Punch asked.

“I mean hope, Your Grace.” Gerry answered sheepishly. “Hope for me soul? I don’t want to die like Artie—destined for Blazes.”

“Ah, I see.” Punch nodded.

“Is there hope for me to be a better man, Sir?”

“There’s always hope for that, Gerard,” Marjani smiled.

“’Course there is, Gerry.” Punch added.

“If you want our help,” Robert grinned. “You have but to say the word.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-299? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Launch of the Queen Mary

King George V and Queen Mary
at the Launch of the RMS Queen Mary
On May 26th, 1936, the RMS Queen Mary sailed her maiden voyage in honor of her namesake’s birthday. The ship was launched in September of 1934. Construction on the great vessel had begun in 1931 and the name of the ship was closely guarded. Executives at the Cunard Line had intended to name the ship the RMS Victoria. Of course, they had to first ask the permission of King George V before naming the ship. Upon their request, they asked the King if they could call their ship after “Britain’s greatest Queen” (referring to the King’s grandmother, Victoria), he responded to the vague request, that, of course, his wife would be delighted to have the ship named for her. King George V was forever in love with Queen Mary, and, in his eyes, she was, in fact, “Britain’s greatest Queen.”

The representatives for the Cunard line couldn’t really back out of the situation by saying. “No, Your Majesty, we meant your grandmother,” and, so, they quickly and quietly changed their plans and named the ship after the reigning Queen Consort.

Upon the 1934 launch of the ship, Queen Mary happily christened the massive vessel, laughing with girlish delight when the champagne bottle didn’t break, and instead, bounced right back to her.

This event is chronicled in one of the series of Silver Jubilee cards produced by Wills’s Cigarette Company in honor of King George V and Queen Mary.

The reverse of the card reads:


"I am happy to name this ship; 'Queen Mary'." Having bestowed her own name on the great vessel, formerly known as "534," Her Majesty the Queen launched the world's largest liner on the Clyde on September 26th, 1934. A quarter of a million people in Messrs. John Brown & Co.'s shipyard watched the huge shape gather momentum, cleanly take the water, and send a white wave foaming over the opposite shore. The King (who is seen with the Queen acknowledging the cheers as Their Majesties approached the launching platform) described the liner-the first built for the combined Cunard-White Star Fleet-as "the stateliest ship now in being."

And, look, it’s been filmed!

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Thomastown Chapel Chandelier

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Over the past year, I’ve shown you some of the antique chandeliers that adorn my home. I have a fondness for crystal chandeliers and always like when they have some age to them.
Here’s an example of a lovely crystal chandelier which is housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Made in England between 1760 and 1765, this chandelier of blown glass over a metal frame was presented to the Thomastown Chapel, County Kilkenny, Ireland, by Sir John Power, slightly after it was created.

After the switch to electricity, the chandelier was not electrified as many were. Instead, it was removed and replaced with a more modern fixture in the Nineteenth Century. The glittering masterpiece was purchased by one Major W.H. Mulville, who presented it to the V&A in 1931. Consequently, the chandelier remains as it was in 1760—outfitted for candles and totally unaltered.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Emanuel Harry Brooch, 1850-1873

Enamel, Gold, Pearls, Crystal, Hair
1850-1875, Emanuel Harry
The Victoria & Albert Museum
We’ve looked at several pieces of jewelry which serves as symbols of love. This brooch of gold, enamel and pearls shows yet another symbol of eternal affection. Designed by Emanuel Harry between 1850 and 1873, the brooch relies on the “language of flowers,” employing enameled blue Forget-me-nots as a symbols of love. These surround an embossed scene of a bird protecting her nest of eggs—representatives of home and married life.
Eternal love and marriage were expressed in a variety of ways: hearts, cupids, flowers, hands, anchors, knots, musical instruments or animals. Jewels with such a message were quite popular with Victorian shoppers who often chose such gifts as tokens for anniversaries or during courtship. These pieces of jewelry often concealed compartments in the reverse into which a lock of hair could be placed.  This brooch contains a lock of hair behind an ovoid sheet of crystal.  The hair curls gracefully against a blue background which matches the enameled flowers on the front of the brooch.

Painting of the Day: The Opening of the Great Exhibition by Queen Victoria on May 1, 1851

The Opening of the Great Exhibition by Queen Victoria, 1 May 1851
Henry Courtenay Selous, 1851
This and all related images:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were overjoyed by the Great Exhibition of 1851. Not only was it an opportunity to showcase the unceasing talent of the British people, it was a pet project of Prince Albert’s who had hoped to encourage a greater appreciation of the arts and humanities.

It was only fitting that the opening of such an illustrious event should be recorded for posterity. Large commemorative oil paintings of significant events were often commissioned during this era. This large canvas by Henry Courtenay Selous was just one of many paintings of the Great Exhibition that were created. Selous initially created this painting for commercial purposes, so that the public could buy prints and reproductions of it as a souvenir of the occasion. This was quite an amazing opportunity for Selous who stood to make an exceptional amount of money from the reproduction rights—more, in fact, than he would have from the sale of the original work.

Henry Courtenay Selous (1803-1890) was celebrated in London as a painter of genre, landscape, historical and literary subjects. Born and raised in London, Selous came from an artistic family. The son of the painter George Selous, as a young man he was a pupil of the painter John Martin, and by 1843, his work was attracting much attention and already winning major awards.