Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans "Dove of Peace" Brooch, 1755

Today’s sparkly thing is rather unrelated to our day’s theme, but I liked it, so here it is. Here, we see a brooch, made of silver which as been set with brilliant-cut diamonds. It takes the form of a dove carrying an olive branch in its beak with emeralds for leaves, a ruby for an eye and diamonds as feathers.

The brooch was made in 1755 in England and was altered in the Nineteenth Century. This comes from the glorious collection that Dame Joan Evans bequeathed to the V&A.

Sculpture of the Day: Mrs Freeman as Isis, 1789

Mrs. Freeman as Isis
England, 1789
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Just smaller than life-size, this bust is both a portrait of one Mrs Freeman, a good friend of the artist who lived in nearby Fawley Court, Buckinghamshire, and an allegorical depiction of a priestess of the Egyptian god Isis.

The sculptor, Anne Seymour Damer, curiously signed the bust in Greek lettering, which can be translated as “ANNA S. DAMER THE LONDONER MADE IT.” Anne Seymour Damer was the wife of the Hon. John Damer from 1767 until his suicide. After this shock, she trained as a sculptor.

Damer was a cousin of Horace Walpole (1717-1797), who encouraged his cousin’s artistic inclinations/. Walpole bequeathed his country house, Strawberry Hill at Twickenham, to Damer and her sister.

Damer practiced as an amateur--being an aristocratic woman, unable to pursue a real career in the arts. Because of this, she was not given the recognition she deserved. However, she did exhibit at the Royal Academy from 1784 to 1818 and also entertained “careers” as a novelist and stage performer.

The model here--Damer's good friend Mrs was mentioned in the diary of a contemporary - the artist Joseph Farington (1747-1821) - as the mistress of the author and engraver Samuel Ireland.

Painting of the Day: Madame de Pompadour, Mistress of Louis XV, 1758

Madame de Pompadour
Mistress of Louis XV
Boucher, 1758
The Victoria and Albert Museum
This stunning portrait is the work of François Boucher (1703-1770) who was born in Paris and most likely trained as an artist under his father who was a painter. Boucher went on to attend the Académie de France in Rome. In Paris, he gained royal favor and of private collectors, producing a tremendous range of artworks from pastoral paintings, porcelain and tapestry designs to stage designs. He was one of the foremost influences on the Rococo Movement.

As a perfect example of his work, this painting also serves to demonstrate the dominant Rococo style of Seventeenth-Century France. The subject is the Marquise de Pompadour who became in 1745 the favorite mistress of King Louis XV. Madame de Pompadour is depicted in a garden, clad in an elegant white silk dress which blends into the green of the garden. This sort of subtle artificiality combined with just enough naturalism was a hallmark of Rococo artists.

At the Music Hall: Hello! Hello! Who's Your Lady Friend

Jeramiah Jones, a lady's man was he, Every pretty girl he liked to spoon
Till he found a wife and down beside the sea
Went to Margate for the honeymoon;
But when he strolled along the promenade
With his little wife just newly wed,
He got an awful scare when someone strolling there,
Came up to him and winked and said-

Hello! Hello! Who's your lady friend?
Who's the little girlie by your side?
I've seen you with a girl or two
Oh! Oh! Oh! I am surprised at you;
Hello! Hello! Stop your little games
Don't you think your ways you ought to mend?
It isn't the girl I saw you with at Brighton
Who, who, who's your lady friend?

Jeremiah now has settled down in life,
Said goodbye to frills and furbelows;
Never thinks of girls except his darling wife,
Always takes her everywhere he goes
By jove, why! There he is you naughty boy!
With a lady too, you're rather free
Of course, you'll stake your life, the lady is your wife
But tell me on the strict Q.T.-

Hello! Hello! Who's your lady friend?
Who's the little girlie by your side?
I've seen you with a girl or two
Oh! Oh! Oh! I am surprised at you;
Hello! Hello! Stop your little games
Don't you think your ways you ought to mend?
It isn't the girl I saw you with at Brighton
Who, who, who's your lady friend?

A popular and somewhat risqué song, “Hello, Hello, Who’s Your Lady Friend?” was a favorite during the First World War. It featured music by Harry Fragson, with lyrics by Worton David and Bert Lee) and was famously sung by Mark Sheridan and Ted Yorke. Yorke’s version is featured below.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 392

“Mother of God,” Giovanni gasped when he saw Ulrika. “What’s happened to you?”

“I’ve had a bit of a spat with my former maid.” Ulrika sighed.

“It looks as if she beat you.” Giovanni exclaimed.

“She got as good as she gave. If not worse…” Ulrika waved her hand. “Now, how’s the child?”

“He’s sleeping.” Giovanni nodded. “Is a good baby.”

“Of course he is.” Ulrika smiled though her cheeks hurt from the bruises which colored them. “He’s a Rittenhouse now.”

“What is next for us?”

“I’ve hired a carriage and driver.” Ulrika winked. “He’s just outside.”

“We leave now?” Giovanni’s eyes widened.

“Well, yes.” Ulrika spat.

“What of my things? What of yours?”

“We’ll get new things in Marionneaux.”

“But, my…”

“No.” Ulrika commanded. “Remember, I’m very wealthy. There’s nothing that I can’t get for you. Besides, I have a little something special put away for emergencies.”

“The diamond?”

“Never you mind,” Ulrika smiled, picking up little Fuller Halifax who remained asleep. “We must go now.”

“I’m not accustomed to taking orders from anyone—least of all a woman.”

“I suggest that you become accustomed to it.” Ulrika growled. “That is, if you wish to survive. You do have a choice. However, you must make it now.”

Giovanni grinned. “Of course, I will come.”

“I rather though you would, really.” Ulrika laughed. “Now, hurry.”

At that very moment, at the Cage House on Royal Street, Edward Cage bellowed. “Conspiracy! You all colluded to get me away from the boy so that you could take him!”

“How could we have done that?” Robert argued. “You hadn’t even admitted that the child was here!”

“You and your slave and your idiot friend and your brother and his whore wife!” Edward hissed. “You colluded!”

Marjani struggled as the officer shoved her against the wall.

“I need something to bind her with!” The officer shouted. “She’s vicious!”

“Let her go!” Robert screamed.

Surprisingly, the man took his hands off of Marjani.

Robert exhaled. “I don’t know what’s happened down here, Edward. I truly don’t. However, I do know that someone must attend to that man.” He pointed to the younger officer who lay on the floor of the foyer.

“What, so you can finish what your friend started?” The elder officer snarled.

“So, I can save his life!”

“Don’t trust him,” Edward bellowed.

“If you want this man to live, you’ve got to let me take care of him.” Robert shouted.

The elder officer looked at Edward Cage who shook his head.

“The more time we waste, the closer he’ll be to death!” Robert snarled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-391? If so, you can read them here.

Obscure Book of the Day: A Royal Family Album from the Days of Queen Victoria to H.R.H. Prince Charles of Edinburgh

This Pitkin Book is just what it’s title suggests—it chronicles the lives of the Royals from the days of Queen Victoria until 1948 with the birth of Prince Charles of Edinburgh. It’s important to note that while most of us know Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales, at the time of his birth, since his mother was not yet Queen and his father was the Duke of Edinburgh, he had not yet been granted the title of “Prince of Wales.”

As with the other Pitkin Guides, this one relies on pictures more so than text to tell its tale. And, it really is a lovely book filled with reproduced paintings and photographs following the lives of six generations of the Royal Family.

Let’s take a look inside…

Queen Alexandra while Princess of Wales

George V and Queen Mary on their wedding day while Duke and Duchess of York

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII

Queen Mary and King George V attend the wedding of their daughter, The Princess Mary

King George V and Queen Mary at the 1911 Delhi Durbar

Queen Mary didn't want much to do with her eldest son, The Duke of Windsor, following the whole Abdication Kerfuffle.  However, he did return to England just before his mother's death and they shared a last, tense visit.

Prince Charles' Christening Cake

Queen Mary and Prince Charles--the last of the old guard and the first of the new.

Object of the Day: "Do I get the feeling there are three of us in this marriage...", 2005

Editorial Drawing
The Victoria and Albert Musem

We’ve looked at a lot of old drawings and caricatures. So, today, let’s look at a more recent one—from 2005. Here, we see the “Charles and Camilla Wedding Stamp.” This cartoon appeared in the “Evening Standard” on March 7, 2005, and is the work of the artist called “Marf.” This is the original drawing that was reproduced for publication. As Marf describes it: “As the debate continues as to where Prince Charles and Camilla, both divorced, will be allowed to marry ... [t]he Queen makes her disapproval clear when she announces that she will not be attending the wedding. The late Princess Diana, in her Panorama interview in November 1995, famously said, ‘There are three of us in this marriage,’ making a thinly veiled reference to her husband's lover, Camilla.”

“Marf” was known for her daily topical/editorial cartoons for the “Evening Standard” between March 2002 and August 2005. The Evening Standard is London's only evening newspaper, and publishes up to five editions a day. In light of that, the cartoonist was called upon to be constantly creative. As Marf herself put it, “The cartoonist needs to keep up with the rapid pace of event.”

In this black and white line drawn cartoon we see a mock first class stamp commemorating the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall who are portrayed as a half length portrait. Camilla shows off her engagement ring and her newly acquired jewels. While the couple smile adoringly at one another, above them are some droplets of perspiration as the Queen gazes down upon them with what can only be described as utter distaste and annoyance.

Evidence of an earlier version of the drawing has been covered over and is still faintly visible.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Bangalore Parrot Earrings, 1880

This unusual pair of earrings with parrot motifs (gili ole) was meant to by worn in the lobe which sounds terribly uncomfortable. They were made in Bangalore in 1880 and were added to the V&A's magnificent collection of international jewelry. Made of gold, they are set with rubies and pearls.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Four Pulcinellos in a Wood

There isn't much to say about this beautiful engraving from the V&A's George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive except that I just adore it for reasons which are quite obvious.

The engraving portrays four pulcinellos in a wood. Produced by an unknown publisher at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, this delightful image must have had some significance which is now lost.

History's Runway: The Harrods' Tassel Bag, 1790

This beautiful item had been collected by the Messrs Harrods Ltd. Who donated it to the Victoria & Albert Museum. This Bag or pocket features drawstrings and is embroidered with flowers coming out of a Grecian or Roman urn with a parrot motif in the center. It takes its name from the pink tassel and pink tassel string straps.

The bag is important historically in that it shows the transition between hidden pockets and the external reticule. Though it is embroidered for show and is closed with drawstrings, the bag still resembles a pocket.

Painting of the Day: Farm Birds with a Macaw and a Tom-tit in a Tree, 1700-1750

This oil painting from the first half of the Eighteenth Century shows that exotic birds were quite the fashionable subject matter of the era. Depicted is a scene of domesticated waterfowl and other farm birds. They seem to gave appointed a large parrot and smaller colourful wild birds perched in a tree as their leaders.

Painted in Great Britain, this is the work of Jacob Bogdani who was born in Eperjes, Hungary, probably in 1660, the son of a landed gentleman. Bogdani travelled west, perhaps via Vienna, to Amsterdam between 1684 and 1686 and was residing in London by June 1688.

In this painting Bogdani has grouped together domestic British birds including a Tufted Duck, a Mallard and a Great Tit with the more exotic species of a Blue-and yellow Macaw, a Common Cardinal and a Red-faced Lovebird. Not only did this composition allow Bogdani to demonstrate his ability at painting a variety of textures, but it satisfied the demand for such scenes.

This painting is part of the collection of The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 391

"Mr. Punch!" Adrienne gasped as she and Cecil looked down at the body of the young officer--his head bloody.

"Aw," Punch huffed. "He ain't dead. Least I don't think so."

"How can you be sure?" Cecil stammered.

"Well, I can't," Punch shrugged. "But, this ain't me first time hittin' a bloke on the head. I think I gave it the right weight. But do ya really want to wait around to find out?"

"No." Cecil sighed.

"Listen, we came here to get the boys. You got one right there in your arms, Lady Chum. We can find your son and get on that ship tomorrow like we planned. But, we gotta get out of here if we're gonna do it." Punch explained breathlessly.

"Yes, but what about Robert and Marjani?" Adrienne asked.

"They'll find us," Cecil whispered.

"Coo!" Punch coughed in frustration, "Let's go, then."

Without another word, they hurried from the house, Adrienne carrying Colin--leaving the officer on the floor.

Moments later, Robert, Marjani, the elder officer and Mr. Cage started down the stairs.

"This isn't over." Robert grumbled.

"Officer, please explain to the doctor that it is over. The child is our property and I aim to retrieve him from the Duke so that the doctor and his..."

Edward stopped talking when he saw the body of the young officer on the floor below.

"Dear God, what did that madman do?" Edward gasped. "Where's my son?"

Robert started toward the young man followed by Marjani.

"Stop!" The elder officer shouted. "Both of you are under arrest."

Did you miss chapters 1-390? If so, you can read them in the Chapter Archive.

Treat of the Week, Bonus Edition: Cassis Crisps

This week, we have an extra treat with a wonderful mellow flavor and an exotic flare. My mother whipped up this batch of beautiful cookies to add a little excitement to the week. Thin and crispy, these aren't just your average sugar cookies. They are infused with a quarter of a cup of Creme de Cassis--a black-currant-flavored liqueur which gives them a lush, mild, rich flavor. They are adorned with colorful sanding sugar.

We enjoyed them with tea and chocolate pudding surmounted by whipped cream rosettes.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Meissen Parrot, 1742

The famous Meissen modeller, J.J. Kändler was recorded in historical annals as having visited the menagerie housed at the royal Saxon hunting palace of Moritzburg briefly after joining the celebrated porcelain factory in 1731.

Kändler took great care in copying from life the rare and unusual creatures that were housed in the menagerie. The menagerie's magnificent aviaries afforded him an opportunity to produce models of all kinds of parrots, parakeets and cockatoos among the more vicious birds of prey which had been collected.

In the Eighteenth Century, exotic birds were admired not only for their exotic beauty, but their rarity. Such birds could only be seen in zoos or in the collections of very wealthy families. Therefore, these animals were considered symbols of extreme wealth. Rare birds were often included in artistic compositions to indicate vast riches and the wonders of the world.

So, it's only natural that Meissen would encourage Kändler to produce figures of the birds he had studied. Here we see one of these endeavors in this hard-paste porcelain parrot. It is very realistically modeled as it sits perched on a white tree stump with applied leaves and nuts or seeds. Its glorious plumage is painted in green, yellow, blue, puce and red enamels.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Bertie's Goat

"So, are we gonna eat that thing or...?"

Image: Count Brühl's Goat, Carl Wilhelm Anton Seiler, 1892, The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mastery of Design: The Spencer Perceval Ring, 1812

Mourning Ring
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A gold mourning ring, enameled in black, this jewel is inscribed on the outside RT.HON: SPENCER. PERCEVAL OB:11.MAY.1812 .AE.49. Inside, it is inscribed, “died by the hand of an Assassin. It bears London hallmarks for 1812-13 and the Maker's mark “SG.”

This ring commemorates Spencer Percevel, who was Prime Minister from 1809 to 1812 and the only British Prime Minister to ever have been assassinated. Percevel was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons by a man named John Bellingham who blamed his financial problems on a casual remark made by Perceval.

History's Runway: A Gentleman's "Teddy Boy" Ensemble, 1951

Suit, 1951
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This three piece suit is made up of a single-breasted jacket, waistcoat and pants of dark grey herring bone wool. The jacket features three buttons, and an inside pocket. It is lined in dark gray twill rayon. The trousers taper to turn up and have buttons for braces. The waistcoat is single breasted with six buttons, stepped lapels and four pockets. It is lined with striped silk and has a dark gray silk back. It was meant to be worn with a bowler hat and waisted overcoat with a velvet collar. This was the epitome of men’s fashion in England in the early 1950s and was adopted as the preferred style of dress by a particular group of fashion-conscious men known as “The Edwardians” because of this throwback to the styles of the early Twentieth Century when Edward VII was reigning. These fashionable men were also known as “Teddy Boys.”

This particular suit was made for a young man in 1951 who ordered it to be an exact copy of one worn by Winston Churchill in 1911 at the end of the Edwardian Era and the accession of King George V.

Antique Image of the Day: A "Vanity Fair" Cover by "Spy", 1900

"Spy," 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We’ve talked about “Spy” before. The son of two of my favorite artists (E.M. Ward and Henrietta Ward), Sir Leslie Ward used the name, “Spy” when he created his famous caricatures for the cover of “Vanity Fair.”

Here, we see a print entitled “Winston” depicting Winston Churchill, which graced “Vanity Fair” in September of 1900. This is one of a series of portraits published by “Vanity Fair” under the title “Men of the Day.”

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 390

What?” Edward Cage spat. “She’s feverish! She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”

“Yes, she does.” Robert smiled. “Do you see, Officer?”

“I’m beginning to.” The officer replied gravely.

“Tell them!” Edward snapped at his ailing wife. “Tell them that you gave birth to the boy!”

Corliss Cage was silent.

“How could you do this to me?” Edward roared.

“Mrs. Cage,” Robert began gently. “From where did you get the child?”

“Iolanthe…” Corliss rasped.

“She has no idea what she’s saying!” Edward moaned nervously. He reached for Corliss’ throat, but Robert and the officer restrained him.

“We bought him…” Corliss sputtered.

“Is it true, Mr. Cage? Did you buy the child?” The officer asked, releasing Edward.

His face red with rage, Edward Cage groaned, “Yes! I bought him!”

“We’ll be leaving now,” Robert nodded.

“Not so fast,” The officer stopped Robert.

“Why not?”

“If Mr. Cage paid money for the child, it seems to me that the child is his property.”

Edward’s face registered surprise, and, then, he began to grin.

“What are you saying?” Robert asked. “Are you suggesting that selling a human being is legal?”

“I don’t sound so good when you say it.” The officer shrugged. “But, Mr. Cage paid for a service and for goods and those goods belong to him.”

“A child is not ‘goods.’” Robert snarled. “Though I shouldn’t be surprised! This comes from a man who works for a government which freely supports the sale of human beings into painful lives!”

“You need to leave my home,” Edward Cage hissed.

“I’m taking that child,” Robert said firmly.

“Try it, Sir,” The officer shook his head, “and you’ll end up in prison.”

Meanwhile, downstairs, Mr. Punch handed his nephew to Adrienne who cradled him while Cecil and Punch spoke to the younger officer.

“When me chum comes back, you’re gonna see that that boy is mine.”

“I don’t want an argument, Sir.” The Officer frowned. “We’re just trying to uphold the law.”

“The law?” Cecil sighed. “Or are you trying to line your own pockets? How much did Mr. Cage pay you?”

“You’re pressing your luck, Sir.” The officer warned.

“Is he?” Punch asked as he paced the foyer, pausing at a sideboard laden with bronze sculptures. He nodded a greeting to the figures.

“He’s a loon, ain’t he?” The Officer laughed.

“He’s a nobleman, and I’ll thank you not to speak ill of him.” Cecil squinted.

“Look at him,” The officer grinned. “He’s talking to the statues.”

Mr. Punch picked up one of the figures and studied it, pausing to look up at the officer. “They got more of worth to say, they do, than you got.”

“I see why Mr. Cage didn’t want him holding the baby.” The officer said to Cecil. “Still, I wonder if the two of you ain’t much better.” The officer looked toward the sideboard and noticed that Punch was no longer standing there. He felt the blow to his head as he slumped to the floor and the room went black.

Mr. Punch dropped the bloody bronze figurine next to the officer’s body.

“Come with me!” Punch said quickly, opening the door as Adrienne and Cecil looked on in horror. “Come on!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-389? If so, you can read them here.

Obscure Book of the Day: Winston Churchill

Here’s another Pitkin Guide. It chronicles the long and interesting life of Winston Churchill and is titled, “Tribute to Churchill: His life, His passing. His State funeral..” This one’s easy to date since it includes photos from Churchill’s funeral which are said to be “recent,” thereby making the publication date 1965.

Among the usual images of Churchill looking grim amongst other politicians and at the scene of battles, it is also peppered with casual images of a jolly Prime Minister with celebrities, Royalty and, as a young man, with his bride. It’s an interesting look into the life of one of the most famous men in the world.

Let’s take a look inside…