Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012, ya Doozie!

But, my dear, I knew when I was a baby what I wanted to do, and I'll tell you, kiddo, if you don't do what your heart tells you, you'll never be real. 

--Shirley Booth 

Columbia Pictures

Now, let's close out 2012 with a collection of the closing credits from Hazel.  Why?  Because I want to and it's my web site and I like Hazel.  Happy New Year!

The Bomb

Marijuana is the flame, heroin is the fuse, L.S.D. is the bomb.
--Joe Friday

Let's hope 2013 ISN'T like this.

Having a Ball

Don't put that drumstick up your nose. 
--Shirley Partridge

Let's hope 2013 is like this...lots of happy people, doin' things, havin' a ball...together.  Havin' a ball.

Happy New Year!

We'll be back with new posts and new chapters of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square on January 3, 2013.

Thanks for making this a great year.  I'm looking forward to the next one!  So, on behalf of Bertie, Mr. Punch and Stumpy Cat, we wish all of you a very happy end of 2012 and a joyful start to 2013!

Image: Fête Champêtre, France, 1725-1735, 
Jean-Baptiste Pater (born 1695 - died 1736), The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

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

Brooch of silver, diamonds, emeralds and a ruby
England, 1755
The Victoria & Albert Museum

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. 

Film of the Week: Lola, 1961

C’est moi. C’est Lola.

The ease with which “Lola” identifies herself belies the confusion in the soul of this young, French “Dance Hall girl” (to phrase her profession gently). Lola is a lost soul. She’s in love with an ideal—a strapping blond sailor who left her alone with a child to raise in the French coastal city of Nantes. Lola is not without her amusements. She takes delight in the simplest things—adding some fringe to what seems to be her one, rather brief, costume, having a nice glass of wine, leaving her son unattended at night, and taking American sailors to bed. Lola’s not a prostitute, per se. She doesn’t get paid for her company. Sure, she gets whiskey and cigarettes and an increasingly large collection of toy trumpets for her son, Yvon, but that’s not legal tender. She’s got a good heart under all that fringe. She’s not really “Lola.” That’s just the name she adopted for the stage. She’s really Cecile—a sweet French girl whose heart has been broken.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Nantes, Roland Cassard is having an equally difficult time. He just can’t find himself interested in anything. He doesn’t care about his job—which he promptly loses. He doesn’t care about his music anymore. He craves adventure—something he finds in books, and he craves love. He fondly remembers a girl from his childhood—Cecile. When Roland stumbles across Cecile as the newly-transformed Lola, he thinks that this might mean his life makes sense. But, alas, this is a French film. So, no. What follows is an interesting tale of broken hearts, yearning, jewel smuggling, amorous sailors, peculiar dancing, and youthful angst.

Lola marked the directorial debut of the celebrated Jacques Demy and also serves as the first entry of his beloved trilogy which includes Les Parapluies De Cherbourg, and Les Desmoiselles de Rochefort. While the latter two films are strictly musicals set to lavish scores by Michel Legrand, Lola is, as Demy described, “a musical without music.” Legrand provided the orchestral themes—music which was adapted for Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. The character of Roland Cassard played by Marc Michel, appears as a lead character in “Parapluies,” taking the story of Lola to Cherbourg along with his own theme tune.

Anouk Aimée plays Lola and gives what could be a very one-note character a considerable amount of depth and subtle emotion. She’s nicely matched with Marc Michel who delivers a similarly brave performance.

This film is something of a New Year’s tradition with my family. It would be odd not to ring in the New Year without our favorite French stripper and her many loves. Of course, the film is in French, but you don’t really need to read the subtitles to know what’s going on. It’s incredibly interesting to watch, and, if you’re a fan of Jacques Demy, a must-see film.

Sunday Morning Special: New Year's Play

Well, of course, we should start 2013 with some animated weirdness...

How about some Popeye?

Another favorite.  Why would flies go to a place called the Spiderweb Hotel?

This one is quite nice, really.  Odd, but nice.

Painting of the Day, “The Music Party,” Philippe Mercier, 1733

The Music Party
Philippe Mercier, 1733
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Philippe Mercier, painter and librarian to the Prince of Wales from 1728-1738, often sketched and painted scenes of daily life at the royal residences. This scene of a music party from 1733 shows a typical day in the life of the Royal Family of the Eighteenth Century. Here, we see Frederick, The Prince of Wales playing the cello. He is accompanied by his sister, Princess Anne, playing the harpsichord. Anne had been taught by Handel himself and by all accounts was just as skilled a player as he instructor. Also with them are Princess Caroline on the lute and Princess Amelia who reads aloud from a book of Milton’s poetry.

This painting was criticized for a number of reasons. First of all, Frederick’s love of playing the cello was considered unseemly and not appropriate for a man of his station. Similarly, the princesses are attired in costumes which were considered common and not the stuff of royalty. Still, Mercier argued that he depicted the scene as it actually happened.

One of three versions of this same scene, the other two, painted after this one, show the sitters in a more opulent outdoor setting and in costumes which were generally considered to be more fitting to their royal dignity.

Gifts of Grandeur: A Pair of Enameled Ruby, Diamond and Pearl Earrings, 1860

Rubies, Diamond, Pearls, Enamel, Gold
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This stunning pair of earrings of enameled gold is set with brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, and pearls. Chances are, these earrings were most likely adapted from pendants from a matching necklace which is still in existence in the Victoria & Albert Museum. This is evidenced by the fact that the central stones are not of equal size and probably came from pendants mounted a different locations on the necklace.

Though the design of these earrings is decidedly Indian, the construction is most likely European, particularly French. French jewelers and English jewelers alike tried, for awhile, to emulate the look of the Indian jewelry which had been so admired at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Indian jewels of the era were characterized by their rich appearance—a look that was achieved by combining enameled gold with heavy settings of pearls and dense patterns of thinly cut colored stones.

New Year, New Style

Once a year, I allow myself some shameless plugging.  And, so, here it is.

Start the new year off in style with some of our exciting designs--available only in our online shop.  We've got many attractive designs which are available for use on a huge range of great products.  Make sure to check it out!

Or, if you're a literary type, take a look at The Garnet Red.  

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A New Year Card, 1894

The Victoria & Albert Museum

The front of this handsome greeting card from 1894 depicts a girl in French Revolutionary costume, with a bicorne hat, blue coat and pink skirt. The card is printed with the words: 


This card is signed "With Julia's love to dear Amy Xmas /94.” It comes from a collection of cards given to the V&A by the mother of the “Amy” in question—Amy Piercey (b. 1882). The card was printed in Germany for export to the English market.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mastery of Design: A Pair of French Gemstone Earrings, 1820-1830

The Victoria & Albert Museum
In June of 2011, we looked at the necklace that forms a suite with these earrings. Fashioned of gold filigree with cannetille (thin gold wires) and grainti (bumpy grains of gold) decoration, these earrings are set with emeralds, citrines, sapphires, garnets, rubies, aquamarines, peridots and pearls.

I’ll repeat what I said when I discussed the necklace. I believe that these earrings were made later than the necklace. The necklace was created around 1820—a fact very much reflected in the style of the piece. However, I’m guessing the earrings came about a decade later. There’s something about the workmanship that doesn’t exactly match. However, they’re quite attractive and very nice examples of the style of the early to mid Nineteenth Century. This is the sort of thing that a young Queen Victoria would have worn—or at least admired.

Saturday Silliness: The Russian Boy, 1959

I was introduced to this animated short from Russia over my Christmas vacation and it is now amongst the other beautifully horrid and bizarre cartoons which top my list of things to watch over the holiday.

It's known as "The Christmas Visit," "The New Year's Visit" and "The Russian Boy," depending on the translation and who is distributing it.

And, it defies explanation in a variety of ways.  


Painting of the Day: Ballroom at the Shire Hall, 1940

Ballroom at the Shire Hall
Bayes, 1940
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This relatively modern watercolor painting dates to 1940 and depicts the grand English tradition of an opulent ball. Here, we see a luxurious celebration in the County Room of Chelmsford's Eighteenth-Century Shire Hall.

This is the type of scene which would have been readily seen at the Shire Hall--men in white tie and tails and women in elegant evening dresses. However, there are strong, individual personal scenes of interaction as well. For example, in the left foreground, a woman in a green gown appears to be either shouting at someone or laughing loudly—not uncommon in either case at such an event.

Designed in the Neoclassical Style, the County Room in Chelmsford's Shire Hall was a frequent location for balls throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Here, the artist Walter Bayes depicts the sort of event which characterized the location.

Shire Hall is also famous for being the scene of one of the strangest events in Early Twentieth Century Society history. In 1938, a woman departing such a dance was killed when her crinoline caught fire on the steps. Curiously, the Coroner's inquest was unable to find the cause of the fire and under subsequent tests, the same dress failed to ignite. Thankfully, we don’t see that scene depcited here.

Gifts of Grandeur: An Enameled Figural Snuffbox, 1760-65

English, 1760-65
The Victoria & Albert Museum
We’ve looked at many snuffboxes at Stalking the Belle Époque, but this is the first portrait head we’ve seen. This box of enamel, gold-mounted hardstone and soft-paste porcelain is formed as a girl's head atop a base of agate mounted in gold.

The words, “Je te connais beau masque” (“I know thee, beautiful mask”) are enameled around the base with a scrolled thumb-piece at the front. The mount is chased with scrolls and flowers. The enamel work shows a masterful hand as the head is painted with red lips, flesh tones, black patches and mask. Her eyes are set with diamonds.

The English preferred snuffboxes of precious metals or stone, so very few porcelain and pottery snuffboxes were ever made, making it exceptionally rare. Though it’s labeled as a snuffbox, others have conjectured that it was made, instead, to hold sweetmeats or pills. Though the porcelain box itself implies German (Meissen) manufacture, the mounts were made in England, possibly Birmingham.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 222

Chapter 222 

As Good a Time as Any 

I heard walkin’ ‘round out there.” Punch said as Robert came into his bedchamber. “Were it you?”

“In part,” Robert smiled. “Don’t worry, my dear. Everything is as it should be.”

“Good.” Punch sighed, lying back on the bed.

“Charles was just going in to visit with Gerard.” Robert continued.


“Speaight is watching the entry hall.” Robert interrupted with a wink.

“Oh.” Punch nodded. “As long as someone’s keepin’ watch.”

“Charles looked a little rattled,” Robert explained. “I told him I didn’t mind if he went up to spend some time with Gerard.”

“Poor man,” Punch shook his head, propping himself up on an elbow. “He’s been doin’ too much. Even with Georgie’s help.”

“I don’t think it was fatigue.” Robert squinted thoughtfully. “He looked as if there was something weighing on his thoughts.”

“He’s sensitive though he tries not to show it, he does.” Punch nodded.

“The other footsteps you heard were likely mine. I went to kiss Colin goodnight.”

“How’s our boy?”

“Sleeping quite soundly.” Robert smiled. “Gamilla’s watching him. I told her to get some sleep. She seems so thrilled with her room in the nursery.”

“I ‘s’pect she is.” Punch grinned. He chuckled.

“Yes?” Robert asked.

“I was just thinkin’, ain’t it too bad that it ain’t really Christmas?” he gestured toward their “Christmas tree” with his chin.

“Rather.” Robert nodded.

“Then, we could tell Gamilla to leave little toys and such for Colin and we could tell him that Father Christmas came for ‘im.”

“By the time Christmas comes, our Colin will be better able to appreciate the notion of Father Christmas.”

Punch sighed. “True. But, then, I could give you a present, too.”

“Oh? Well, I wouldn’t mind that. What have you got for me?” Robert laughed.

“Nothin’.” Punch sank back onto the bed.

The two laughed.

“You’re present enough for me, dear Punch.”

“Gonna have to be.” Punch chuckled. He rolled over. “And, then, see, it would be a New Year and such. Eighteen hundred fifty-four.”

“It’ll be here before you know it.”

“Imagine,” Punch continued his chatter. “It won’t be long before our Colin is a man himself. Maybe he’ll marry.”

“Perhaps he will.” Robert nodded.

“Or maybe he’ll be like us.”

“Maybe. Only time will tell.”

“Do ya think he’ll have babies?” Punch asked.

“Who could say?” Robert shrugged. “Did you ever think you’d have a son?”

“Well, chum, I never thought I’d be livin’ life this long. Remember, I’m newer than Julian.”

“Still.” Robert smiled.

“I reckon I never did think of it.” Punch admitted. “Maybe Colin will take in a child like we done. I’d like to think he would. He’ll be the tenth Duke of Fallbridge, you know.”

“I know.”

“Maybe he’ll give us an eleventh, and so on.”

“We shall just have to see.”

“He could take care of us when we’re old.” Punch continued.

“That would be pleasant.” Robert replied as he climbed into bed. “However, dear Punch, we have quite awhile before we must worry about it.”

Punch nodded. “Still, it’s be nice if we could have a new year now—just to rid ourselves of all the old rubbish and trouble.”

“Chaos doesn’t fade when the calendar changes.” Robert answered, settling in next to Punch.

“No.” Punch answered softly.

“Cecil, when he and I were quite young, always looked forward to the changing of the year.” Robert began. “I imagined that it was because he was anticipating something grand to happen when the date changed.”

“Is that so?”

“No. He confessed to me…I imagine I was about ten years of age at the time…”

“He was what? Fifteen?”

“Thereabout.” Robert replied, “He told me that it wasn’t so much that he was anticipating a renaissance, but that he liked to have the chance to celebrate all that he—that we—had survived.”

Punch smiled. “That sounds like Cecil.” He put his head on Robert’s shoulder. “I guess we don’t need a special day to do that.”

“No. We can do that whenever we wish.” Robert answered.

“How ‘bout now, Chum?”

“As good a time as any other.” Robert winked.

Did you miss Chapters 1-221? If so, you can read them here

I’ll be taking a brief hiatus over the holiday, so the next chapter will be available on January 3, 2013. 

Happy New Year!

History's Runway: A Theatre Costume by Dior, 1958

Costume, 1958
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This fully-fitted, front-fastening jacket of carmine wool and mohair fastens edge to edge at bust level and is embellished with false buttonholes and self-covered buttons to either side of the V neckline which is trimmed with ivory lace. It features full-length sleeves trimmed with self covered buttons. The jacket is worn over a curved skirt adorned with bold satin bands in sand and beige silk which cascade to floor level. The ensemble is finished with a small natural straw hat trimmed with beige and reddish net.

While this outfit looks like a true Nineteenth Century gown, it is, in fact, a theatrical costume which was designed for the role of Paola in “Duel of Angels” in 1958. It was originally created by the celebrated couturier Christian Dior for the noted French actress Edwige Feuillère. The gown was recreated for Vivien Leigh when she took over as Paola in the London production of the show. By the time Leigh took the part, Dior was dead and so the costume was recreated by the London costume firm Bermans.

Dior was careful to imbue the costumes with the accurate details of the period in which the play was set - 1859 - while reinventing the period style in his own taste. Dior incorporates touches that could only be of the 1950s. For example, the box pleats in the skirt are solely characteristic of the mid-Twentieth Century. Care was taken to assure the actress’ comfort. Instead of forcing them into actual period corsets, Dior devised the jacket to have a built-in shaping structure which gave the illusion of corseting without actually binding the performers.

Object of the Day: New Year's Eve at the Savoy Hotel, 1925

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a menu card from London’s famed Savoy Hotel which days to 1925. The front bears an illustration depicting a group of clowns emerging from behind a curtain which is presently being drawn open by a chubby cherub, flying above. The drawing is signed “Kennedy North.”

The menu was printed specifically for the Savoy’s opulent New Year’s event and was meant to be taken as a souvenir.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mastery of Design: “The Oriental Circlet,” 1853

The Oriental Circlet
R. & S. Garrard & Co., 1853
Commissioned by Prince Albert
Gold, Diamonds and Rubies
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Following the Great Exhibition in 1850, Queen Victoria was presented with magnificent jewels from the East India Company. Both Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert were enchanted by the exotic designs of the gems she was given. Those gems inspired Prince Albert to commission the Royal Jewelers at R. and S. Garrard and Co. to create this diamond and ruby tiara for his wife. The circlet features a design of diamond-encrusted “Moghul” arches in an Indian style which surround diamond lotus flowers set with rubies.

Prince Albert often supervised the design of Queen Victoria’s jewels. She once wrote in her diary, “Albert has such taste and arranges everything for me about my jewels.” Having researched Queen Victoria’s enormous collection of jewels for many years, I will concur with the Queen’s assessment. Albert did an excellent job.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: G. Hadfield’s Sheffield Champion Punch & Judy

G, Hadfield's Sheffield Champion Punch & Judy
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This print is a mid-Nineteenth Century reproduction of a pen and ink sketch titled “G. Hadfield's Sheffield Champion, Punch and Judy.” Depicted is a Punch and Judy fit-up (booth), within which are suspended a row of gentleman hanged from their necks--evidently unconscious or , worse, dead. Well, that’s not very cheerful. Is it?

No, but it is somehow fitting. After all, Punch was able to beat Jack Ketch, the hangman, as well as the Devil, but these gents seem to have not been so cunning. Oh, speaking of the Devil…

To the left of the chandelier of corpses is the Devil himself with his lovely pitchfork. Before the Devil, downstage, we see another figure. This bloke wears our Mr. Punch's cap and has affected the famous “punchinello hump” which has been marked “TELEGRAPH.”

Ah, we’re making a statement, are we? It seems we are. You see, this is also fitting. Despite his slapstick antics and anarchic glee, Mr. Punch has always been a way of communicating social issues and a need for reform of one sort or another. In fact, the basis of the show has always been something of a satire on current conditions.

So, let’s look at our faux-Punch a little more closely. This ersatz Punchinello carries a club marked 'Truth and Honesty under his left arm. He is depicted smoking a cigar as he states "We have settled them all, Tear'em.”

How odd. What could it mean? This comment is addressed to a dog-like who is meant to be Punch’s canine chum, Toby. But, he’s no more Toby than this fellow is Punch. This grotesque figure is smoking a pipe and wears a collar marked “TEAR'EM.”

The two figures perform for I a group of living gentlemen in top hats and caps who have gathered to watch. Some of them comment, "Look at Bobby Stainton and Little Nadin" and "It's all o'er lads".

So, what’s it all about, Punchy? The Punch-like figure marked TELEGRAPH is meant to resemble the editor of the “Daily Telegraph” newspaper, Edward Levy-Lawson, 1st Baron Burnham (28 December 1833 - 9 January 1916). Levy-Lawson acted together with Thornton Leigh Hunt, as editor of the paper from 1855-1873.

To be quite honest, I’m not sure to precisely what this is referring because it’s undated and by an unknown artist. My guess, however, is that it is an editorial cartoon which makes light of the change of the “Daily Telegraph” from a Liberal point of view to a Conservative point of view in 1879 under the leadership of Levy-Lawson and Thornton Hunt. I could be wrong. Similarly, this seems to involve the alignment of the Telegraph with radical politician George Hadfield who had a reputation for being a troublemaker. I don’t quite know about the reference to Bobby Stainton.

This print, like most of the Punch & Judy ephemera at the V&A, is part of the George Speaight Punch & Judy Collection.

Friday Fun: “Popeye in Goonland,” 1938

In this early Popeye cartoon by Max Fleischer, we learn some valuable information about our favorite squinty sailor. 

To begin with, he’s forty years old in 1938. Next, we learn that his father abandoned him at birth. Poor Popeye. In search of his “Pappy,” he travels to Goonland—something that does not seem to faze him at all. There, he encounters some unusual beings with extremely large ribcages. Enjoy!

Mr. Punch's Puzzles: The Riddle of the Week

Once, again, Mr. Punch, with my help, is offering up a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  

So, here's this week's riddle.  We ask that you don't Google the answer.  Mr. Punch would not find that sporting at all.  Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.  Here we go... No cheating...

Of flesh and blood sprung am I ever; But blood in me that find ye never. Many great lords bear me proudly, With sharp knives cutting me loudly. Many I've graced right honorably: Rich ones many I've humble made; Many within their grave I've laid

And...the answer is...

A pen, presumably a feather quill.

Angelo was right, it was too long. Matt was close. Darcy, April and Dashwood were humorous and, the rest of you were typically clever. Many thanks. Make sure to come back next Friday for Mr. Punch's first riddle of 2013.

Happy New Year...that's the way to do it!

Mr. Punch wants you to always know “the way to do it,” so why not check out our “That’s the way to do it!” products which are available only at our online store.