Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Gilbert Micromosaic Necklace, 1820

Micromosaic Necklace
Circa 1820
The Victoria & Albert Museum





Part of the important collection of Arthur and Rosalinde Gilbert, this necklace features micromosaic panels which has been imported from Rome.

Constructed around 1820, the necklace consists of twelve oval micromosaics set in ovals of red glass and linked by double festoons of gold chains. The necklace supports a pendant cross of five smaller micromosaics. The panels illustrate alternating floral bouquets and Roman ruins and two show reclining dogs. Meanwhile, the central mosaic of the pendant cross depicts a ruin, and the other four show floral bouquets.




Figure of the Day: The Duesbury Cupid, 1780

Derby Porcelain Figure of Cupid
William Duesbury & Co., 1780
The Victoria & Albert Museum





This figure in soft-paste porcelain is painted with enamels and gilded.  Depicting Cupid with a dog, the box shows the cherubic love monger with a gilt hunting horn slung over his right shoulder and a spotted scarf thrown about him.  He reclines against a tree on a flower-covered mound, caressing the black and white terrier which is affectionately licking his chin.

The piece comes from the Derby, England porcelain concern of  William Duesbury & Co. and dates to about 1780.



Gifts of Grandeur: The Neuber Bonbonnière, 1780



German Sweet Meat Box
With Roman insets
1780
The Victoria and Albert Museum





This bonbonnière of colored hardstone, including carnelian, turquoise, jasper, and lapis lazuli, has been attributed to the workshop of Christian Neuber who, in 1780, when the box was made, was working in Dresden.

The handsome lid and base of the box are set with micromosaic panels of a dog and a butterfly which appear to be based on the mosaics of Giacomo Raffaelli--one of the most talented Roman mosaicists.  In fact, some believe that Raffaelli or someone in his workshop may have made the micromosaic panels which were set into this German sweetmeat box--demonstrating the popularity of this medium in Europe in the 18th century.

At the Music Hall: It's Part of a Policeman's Duty, c. 1907




“It’s Part of a Policeman’s Duty” was made famous in 1907 by the celebrated British Music Hall Performer Vesta Tilley.  The song was composed by E.W. Rogers.

Matilda Alice Powles (May 13, 1864 – September 16, 1952), was an English male impersonator who performed under the stage name Vesta Tilley, starting when she was eleven years old.  She went on to become the most famous and well paid music hall male impersonator of the period and starred both in England and the US for over thirty years.






Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 23



Chapter 23:
Quite a Coincidence

Mr. Punch slowly climbed the stairs, running his hand over the smooth curve of the railing.  The cool wood felt good under his overheated hands and he savored that moment of peace.  He looked up to Charles who still stood in front of the library door.  “He still in there?”

“Yes, Sir.”  Charles whispered, nodding.

“Any noise?”

“No, Your Grace.”  Charles responded.  “The only talking I heard was when Mr. Geddes told Gerry that he knew Gerry was staying in there to watch him.”

“Nothin’ after that?”

“No, Sir.”  Charles shook his head.

“I got that Lady Constance outta here.”

“I saw, Sir.”

“She wanted to invite me and Dr. Halifax to dinner, she did.” Mr. Punch grumbled.

Charles frowned.

“It don’t sound too pleasant, do it?” Punch chuckled.

“Not to me, Sir.” Charles responded, a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

“Well, I’d best get this over with, then.” Punch said sadly.  “Wish me luck.”

“Good luck, Sir.” Charles replied, stepping aside so that he could open the door for the Duke/Mr. Punch.  “I’ll announce you, Sir,” Charles whispered.

“His Grace, Julian, Duke of Fallbridge.”  Charles said grandly as Punch stepped into the library doorway.

Mr. Punch felt his ears go hot.  The man—with his shock of bright orange hair above pale, freckled skin—did not rise from the armchair where he sat in Punch’s library.  Instead, he scowled as Mr. Punch entered the room.

“I don’t appreciate being kept waiting so long,” Victor Geddes spat in a low, deep voice.

“And, I don’t appreciate the intrusion of uninvited strangers interrupting my household before breakfast.” Punch replied in Julian’s voice, shocking himself with the forcefulness of the statement.  Feeling bold, he continued.  “I’ll thank you, since you’ve already been so rude, to not compound it with further impudence as I’ve been kind enough to honor your request despite the fact that you are unknown to me, Sir.”

Charles, who still stood at the door, and Gerard, who stood at attention by the papier mache screen at the corner of the room, exchanged startled, yet proud, glances.

Mr. Geddes’ face fell and his pale cheeks flushed.  “I apologize, Your Grace,” his voice was not as deep that time.

“Well you should,” Mr. Punch responded, still speaking as Julian.  He glanced at Charles and then at Gerard.  “You may leave us, but stay at your posts, please.”

Gerard nodded, exiting the room.  Charles closed the door behind them and the two men chuckled.

“Well done, Mr. Punch,” Gerard whispered.

Charles nodded as they stood outside the library door.

Meanwhile, inside the library, Mr. Punch frowned, remaining standing.  “For what reason have you insisted on seeing me today, Mr. Geddes?”

“Sir,” the man replied nervously.   “I have come to inform you of a danger to your household.”

“Continue,” Mr. Punch said firmly.

“You have, in your home, Sir, a fallen woman.” The man answered weakly.

“Have I?” Mr. Punch scowled.

“Yes.  Your governess, Miss Ellen Barrett.”

“What proof have you of this?” Mr. Punch growled, still maintaining his Julian voice.

“Sir, the woman was involved in an inappropriate relationship with her former employer, the Baron Lensdown.”

“Is that so?” Mr. Punch leveled his eyes at the man.  “Again, I ask you what proof you have.”

“I cannot tell you that, Sir.”

“Then, why have you come?”  Mr. Punch asked.  “Is your interest in protecting my household or is your interest in furthering some slanderous scheme of the Baron Lensdown?”

“I wish to protect the reputation and sanctity of your home, Sir.”  The man replied weakly.

“How interesting.” Mr. Punch answered sarcastically.  “I’d have thought your answer would be the latter.”

“Why, Sir?”

“You share a name with the Baron.  Do you not?”

“Sir?”

“You gave your name as ‘Victor Geddes.’  Did you not?”

“Yes.”

“Isn’t that the name of the Baron Lensdown?”

The man looked confused, his face growing redder and redder.

“I…”

“Well, then, man?  What is your name?  Out with it!”

“Victor Geddes.”  The man answered in a curiously high-pitched voice.  “I am called Victor Geddes.”

Mr. Punch began to feel quite ill-at-ease though he couldn’t quite tell why.  “Yet, you are not the Baron Lensdown.”

“No.”  The man replied, his hands trembling terribly.

“However, you share a name?  That’s quite a coincidence.  Don’t you think?”

“I don’t know, Sir.”

“And, you’ve come here to inform me of some slander against my governess?  Yet you have no proof.”

“She’s a fallen woman, Sir.” The man shouted, his voice shaking queerly.  “Fallen and disreputable.  She’s evil!”

“Don’t you think you’d best explain yourself?”

“I cannot, Sir.”

Mr. Punch considered, again, striking the man with a nearby figurine, but thought better of it.

Meanwhile, outside in the hall, Ellen came down the stairs from the nursery and spotted Charles and Gerard standing in attention outside the library door.

“What’s this?” Ellen asked, squinting.

“Miss, you’d best go back to the nursery.”

“Why?”  Ellen asked nervously.

“His Grace is in there with a visitor.  We’re not sure what he’s about, this man, Miss.”

“Whatever do you mean?”  Ellen asked.  “Is this man dangerous?”

“We don’t know.”  Charles responded. 

“Who is he?”

“Said his name was…” Gerard paused, recalling the flowers that Ellen had received. “Victor…Victor Geddes.”

“Pardon me?”  Ellen’s eyes widened.

“Yes, Miss.”  Gerard nodded.  “That’s the name he gave.”

“Let me in there.”  Ellen said plainly.

“Miss?”  Gerard’s eyes widened.

“Please.”  Ellen begged.

“We can’t, Miss.” Charles said.

Suddenly, from within the library, they heard Mr. Punch shout.  “Let me go!”  He screamed, “Charles!  Gerard!  Help me!”

Gerard opened the door quickly and he and Charles rushed in to find the man who called himself Victor Geddes with his hands around Mr. Punch’s throat.  Punch swatted at the man, striking him around the head and neck.

Ellen screamed from the doorway.  The man looked at her and grinned.

“Roger!”  Ellen screamed.  “Stop this at once!”

“I can’t, Ellen.”  The man moaned.  “I gotta do it!”

“Roger—let him go!”  Ellen wailed.  “You must listen to me!  I’m your sister!”




Did you miss Chapters 1-22 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Chapter 24.


Painting of the Day: A Jack in Office, 1833

A Jack in Office
Sir Edwin Landseer, 1833
The Victoria & Albert Museum





Ha!  Early Nineteenth political humor (humour).  You see, when this painting was finished, a slang expression for a pompous government official was "a jack in office." And, that’s what this painting is called.  But, it's not a governmental official...no, it's a doggie.  A Jack Russell Terrier!  Ha!  Oh, Edwin Landseer, you slay me with your canine antics. 

All teasing aside, I do like this painting by the always wonderful Landseer and I think it's quite clever.  Completed in 1833, a critic at the time  described how "the well-fed and much caressed dog…keeps others from testing the food of which he has had too much." Sounds like a politician to me.

The painting was given to the V&A by John Sheepshanks in 1857

This is one of Sir Edwin's most clearly anthropomorphic treatments of human matters in canine terms.  A other critic said that the piece was "enormously popular, providing fable, parody, humour, and narrative in a single image." 






Object of the Day: A Trade Card for a Chicago Show Store




The Smith-Wallace Shoe Company of Chicago obviously had some extra funds for advertising.  

This adorable trade card with a cheerful image of plucky terriers wasn’t one of the mass-produced cards which were printed for the purpose of being stamped on the reverse with a store’ information.  This card was designed and printed specifically for the shoe store.  Along with the image on the front, the text reads:


COMPLIMENTS
OF
SMITH-WALLACE
SHOE CO.

237 to 243 FRANKLIN ST.
     (COR. OF JACKSON)
          CHICAGO





Friday, April 27, 2012

Mastery of Design: A German Gnadenpfennige, 1572


German Gnadenpfennige
1572
The Victoria & Albert Museum



Sixteenth Century German medals of sovereigns which were mounted in gold were called Gnadenpfennige.  These were traditionally presented by the rulers depicted on the medals as a token of their appreciation, trust and affection. Such gnadenpfennigae first appeared in the 1560s in Tyrol and Bavaria, and soon the tradition spread very quickly to all the German kingdoms. The fashion for these gold-framed medals faded in during the first quarter of the Seventeenth Century.  However, for a good fifty years, they were worn by both men and women on long gold chains.

Here’s such a gold enameled medal set in an enameled gold openwork frame with enamel ornaments on both sides. The medal’s frame hangs onto three suspension chains joining at the top in a ring. Three pearls are suspended from the openwork frame at the bottom. The scroll work decoration is adorned with green trefoils and four alternating white and blue rosettes, and eight alternating red and white C-scrolls.

On the obverse, a portrait bust of Wilhelm V in profile faces right on a dark blue enamel background surrounded by an inscription. On the reverse, the coat of arms of Bavaria is depicted with an inscription.

The piece was made in Germany in 1572 by Valentin Maler (1540-1603).   It bears the marks:

WILHELMUS D: G COM: PALA: RHE: BA: DUX
VINCIT VIM VIRTUS ANNO 1572  (“Virtue Defeats Violence - Year 1572”)






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...



Why cannot the man in the moon get married?





UPDATE:


The answer is...



Because he gets only a quarter a week and he needs that to get full.

Congratulations to Shawn for coming the closest to the answer!  Thanks to all who participated.  You've made this a fun feature.  Check for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles on next Friday!


And, while  you’re solving Mr. Punch’s Puzzle, wouldn’t you like remind yourself of our Punch’s favorite phrase?  Check out our online store to see our exclusive line of Punch-related merchandise.  

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Victor Herbert's "Punchinello," 1900


Victor Herbert

Born in Ireland and raised in Germany, Victor Herbert (1859-1924), remains one of the most celebrated American composers, cellists and conductors. Herbert, despite his other talents, is best known for composing a host of successful operettas which debuted on Broadway from the 1890s through World War I.

One of the most influential of New York’s “tin pan alley” composers, Herbert was also a founder of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).  He is credited as  composing two operas, a cantata, 43 operettas, incidental music to 10 plays, 31 compositions for orchestra, nine band compositions, nine cello compositions, five violin compositions with piano or orchestra, 22 piano compositions and numerous songs, choral compositions and orchestrations of works by other composers, among other music.

In 1900, Herbert produced this beautiful concerto inspired by Mr. Punch and entitled, “Punchinello.”  Enjoy this antique Ampico piano roll of Herbert performing the piece himself.







Antique Image of the Day: St Stephen's Review Presentation Cartoon December 22nd 1888



St. Stephen's Review Presentation Cartoon
December, 1888
The Victoria & Albert Museum



This colored lithograph is entitled “St Stephen's Review Presentation Cartoon December 22nd 1888,”  It was both engraved and drawn by one Tom Merry and depicts a stage on which a group of puppets perform an elaborately choreographed dance routine. The puppets resemble key figures of the day, dressed in vibrant costumes, most of whom are depicted as characters from the Punch and Judy tradition (the policeman, Mr. Punch and Judy).  Some of the others are stock theatrical figures.

The identities of the performers are shown on name plates which are attached to a set of strings being manipulated by two black-suited figures seated under the stage. One of the puppeteers wears a black half mask and is shown next to a dagger and pistol (both discarded on the ground beside him). Two additional puppets wait in a box beside the mysterious puppeteers whose names are marked as O'Shea and O'Donnell. The names of the puppets appear to be Labby, Granville, Trevelyan, Gladstone, Harcourt, Herbert, Sir W Lawson, Bradlaugh and Morley—contemporary Members of Parliament.

The caption below the image, “Parnell's Puppets,” is best explained as a reference to Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891), an Irish Protestant landowner, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.
The piece was published on December 22nd 1888 and now resides in the George Speaight Punch & Judy Collection.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 22


Chapter 22:
A Way to Ruin

Speaight volunteered to go downstairs to the morning room to offer Lady Constance refreshment while the Duke readied himself for his visitors.  On his way from the Duke’s bedchamber, Speaight narrowed his eyes at Charles, letting the Duke’s valet know that his superior disapproved of the overly-familiar way in which the man had spoken to the master of the house.

Nevertheless, Charles and Gerard stayed behind after Speaight had left.  The two men could sense their master’s panic and, for a moment, both dispensed with the usual protocol and addressed the Duke as their friend.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea for you,” Gerard warned, adding, “Your Grace” to the end of the statement.

Mr. Punch shook his head, glad to be able to speak as himself instead of as Julian, if only for a moment.

“What choice have I got?” he shrugged.

“We could just send them both away.”  Charles suggested.  “That had been your first instinct, Sir.”

“When it was just the man,” Punch nodded.  “He’s an un-titled stranger what just barged into me house, he is.  It’s easy ‘nough to dismiss him, it is.  Only the woman—she’s a lady, the daughter of a Countess, and part of Society.  I know that Countess Hamish, I do.  She’s a talker, that one.  If I send her daughter away without receiving her, that’s all the countess will need to say terrible things ‘bout me—if she ain’t already.  I know they’re talkin’ all over the City of Westminster.  Even Prince Albert himself has heard it.  And, don’t you know, Countess Hamish has spoken a lot of what’s been said?  How can I tell Speaight to send Lady Constance home without her bein’ all hurt and offended and runnin’ to her mum?  Then, won’t she talk?  And, not jus’ ‘bout me, but ‘bout Robert and Colin, too.  We don’t need people wonderin’ where I got Colin.  It’s gonna be hard ‘nough when he grows up and folk start noticin’ he looks an awful lot like a Fallbridge for bein’ adopted.  Don’t you think they already think he’s me sister’s son?  I can’t give folk anymore chances than they already got to gossip by what goes on in this house.”

“But, Sir,” Gerard urged.  “We can simply tell her you’re not able to receive her now and that she could come back another time.  That way, Dr. Halifax can be there, too.”

“Or, we could wake the doctor,” Charles suggested.

“No.”  Mr. Punch sighed.  “Poor man watched ol’ Lord Glencaron breathe his last but a few hours ago.  Let the poor fella sleep.”

“But, sir.”

“I ‘preciate it.  I really do.”  Mr. Punch interrupted.  “Only there’s things what you don’t know.  See, yesterday I got a letter I did—unsigned, it was—statin’ that someone was gonna go to the papers and the Crown and tell ‘em I’m mad.  We can’t ‘ford no more ill words ‘bout this household.  Not now.”

“All the more reason not to see this woman, Your Grace.  And, especially that Victor Geddes.  Maybe he’s the bloke what sent the letter.”

“Dr. Halifax thinks it was Hortence what sent it.”  Mr. Punch whispered.

“She can’t read, Sir.”  Gerard groaned.  “How could she send a letter?”

“With the help of that bloke in the vestibule.”  Charles frowned.  “I’ll throw him out on his ear.”

Mr. Punch smiled at the thought.  But, then, he shook his head.  “I gotta see him.  If he’s gonna threaten me and me family, I gotta see him.  ‘Sides, maybe he’s just some fella what’s come for charity or some such…  We don’t know.”

“Please let me awaken the doctor,” Charles urged again.  “At least let him talk to this Geddes man while you chat with Lady Constance, Your Grace.”

Mr. Punch sighed.  “I can’t.  I’m a man.  I ain’t a puppet no more.  And, what’s more I’m a Duke.  If I can make jewels for the Queen and run a household, I can do this.  I’m the head of this household, I am—whether I want to be or not—and as such, I gotta take care of things what’s difficult.”

“You won’t be convinced otherwise, Sir?”  Gerard asked.

“No.” Mr. Punch smiled.  “But, I truly do ‘preciate that you two fellas is so loyal to me.”

“We owe you everything, Your Grace,” Gerard said softly.

“And, I owe you two a lot, too.” Mr. Punch replied.  “Now, Gerry, how ‘bout you go down and take the Geddes fella into the library less Speaight gets on ya.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Gerard nodded.  “I’ll stay with him until you come down.”

“And, I’ll stand just outside the library door.”  Charles offered.

“Good of ya.  Speaight’s gonna want ya to carry, he is, only, tell ‘im I asked you to guard the door if he asks.”

“Yes, Your Grace.”

“Now, go on, I’ll be down in a tick.”  Punch said.

The two footmen scurried downstairs.

Mr. Punch took a deep breath and studied his reflection in the mirror.

“Look at that chap in the glass, then.” He muttered to himself.  “Looks like a Duke.”  He grunted.  “Feels like a puppet.”  He wandered over to his writing desk and picked up the small porcelain figure of Harlequin which sat on the corner.

“You got a fine life, don’t ya?”  He said to the colorful figurine.  “Just sittin’ there on  your wee porcelain stump—smilin’.  Ain’t got to worry ‘bout nothin’ do ya?  Well, I gotta go talk to folk, I do.  And, I gotta pretend to be me master when all I want to do is…”

Punch grinned, feeling the weight of the figurine in his hand.  “Could just knock ‘em both on the head with ya.”  He snorted.  “Ah—you’d break. Porcelain ain’t no good for hittin’.” Frowning, Mr. Punch set down the figurine.  “Wouldn’t solve nothin’ anyway.”

Exhaling, Punch made his way down the stairs, passing the library door where he waved at Charles who had taken his post.  Down the last remaining flight to the morning room, Punch muttered softly to himself.  “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”

He paused at the morning room door, fixing his face into his “Julian expression,” and, then, slowly opened it.

Lady Constance stood in the middle of the morning room—dressed in a frothy day gown of pink lace which Punch thought rather clashed with the color of her dull blonde curls.  He disliked her immediately.

“Well, Your Grace, good morning,” Lady Constance cooed.  “I’m terribly sorry to come unannounced, but I was just passing by and I thought, ‘I’m simply dying to see the Duke and what he’s done with Fallbridge House.”

“Good morning, Lady Constance,” Mr. Punch answered with as much enthusiasm as he could muster while still maintaining Julian’s manner of speaking.  “I actually call it Molliner House after my late father, Sir Colin Molliner.”

“Oh, how…loyal.”  She smirked.  “This room is just charming.” Lady Constance continued.

“Thank you,” Punch replied dryly.  “Please, make yourself comfortable.” He gestured as regally as possible to the settee in the center of the room.

“Who did you contract as your decorator?”  Lady Constance asked.

“I did not employ a decorator.”  Punch answered.

“You devised this scheme on your own?”

“Yes.” Mr. Punch nodded, still mimicking Julian.

“How unusual for a man, but your kind are very clever with these things.” 

“My kind, Lady Constance?” Mr. Punch raised an eyebrow, trying his best to maintain his composure.

“Well, I mean, of course, because you’re a jeweler…and artist.  And, then, there’s your people.  As I recall, your late mother, the Duchess, was always so clever with interiors.”  She said quickly.

“Of course,” Mr. Punch answered.

“I do hope I’m not keeping you from anything,” Lady Constance continued.

“Breakfast,” Punch muttered.

“Pardon me?”

“Of course not.” Mr. Punch quickly covered, returning to his Julian voice.  “To what do I owe the honor of your visit, Lady Constance?  Surely you didn’t come just to see the house when your own home must, certainly, be similar.”

“If only it were.  Our house is so drab compared to yours.  I love this scheme.  I may copy it.”

Mr. Punch nodded.

Lady Constance looked slightly pained and terribly uncomfortable.  She took a deep breath. “Well, I do have something I’d like to discuss with you, Your Grace.”

“Yes?”

“Is your…well, I understand that you have a companion.  Is he about?”

“He is not receiving at the moment.”

“Pity. I’d like to meet him.  I hear he’s a very good physician.”

“Yes, he is.  Thank you.”

“You see, I’ve come on something of a mission.”

“Yes, Lady Constance.”

“You and your…friend…have not been to any events this Season.  In fact, no one has hardly seen you at all since you’ve returned.  When we read that you’d visited the Prince Consort, Mother said to me that we should really extend a neighborly invitation to you and Dr. Halifax.  So, we concocted a little scheme, Mother and I.”

“Oh?”

“At the end of this month, we’d like to host a dinner party in your honor.”

“How kind,” Mr. Punch replied.  He glanced around the room quickly and took inventory of all of the things with which he could strike Lady Constance across the skull.  No, he wasn’t actually going to do it, but the idea both comforted and pleased him.  “We’d be delighted.”

“Of course, you’ll receive an official invitation, but as I said, I was passing by and thought I would just love to ask you in person.”

“Certainly.  Thank you, Lady Constance.”

“I must say, you’re looking very well.  I thought, since we hadn’t seen you, that perhaps you were ill.”

“I’m not ill at all.”

“Clearly, though I must say you look different than I remember you.”

“How so?”

“I can’t really say,” Lady Constance responded, looking over the sharp edge of the long, pointed nose which sat crookedly in the center of her pinched, equestrian face.  “You just look different.”

“Time abroad will do that.” Mr. Punch nodded.

“I suppose.”  She rose.  “Well, I won’t keep you any longer.  I’m sure you must have dozens of important duties ahead of you today.  Knowing that you’re so eager to come to our little dinner, Mother and I will finish the guest list today.”

“How wonderful,” Punch replied, rising as well and walking to the bell push, eager to be rid of the woman.  He rang quickly.

“I think we’ll also invite the Baron and Baroness Lensdown.  Do you remember them, Your Grace?”

“I can’t say that I do.” Mr. Punch stopped in his tracks, looking sideways at Lady Constance.  “Not well.”

“I understand that you’ve just taken on their old governess.”  Lady Constance said slyly.

“Ah, yes, of course.”  Mr. Punch nodded, again growing uncomfortable, but trying his best to maintain his impersonation of Julian.

“I’m sure you and the baron will have much to discuss.”

“I have no doubt.” Mr. Punch forced a smile.

He nearly chirped with excitement when Speaight appeared at the door.

“Speaight, will you escort Lady Constance to the door, please?”

“Of course, Your Grace.” Speaight nodded.

Lady Constance looked a little miffed to have had her line of questioning cut short.

“Good day, Lady Constance.  Thank you so much for your visit.” Mr. Punch smiled, this time genuinely relieved.

“Yes.  Good day to you, Your Grace.” The woman responded tersely as Speaight showed her out.

Mr. Punch lingered behind the open morning room door for a moment after glancing up the stairs to the library door where Charles still stood at attention.

“Bugger,” He muttered in his own voice.  “Now I gotta go to a dinner in someone else’s house.  What a queer way to ruin such a fine thing as eating.”

He snorted, shaking his head. 

“Well, that’s done.” He grumbled.  “Now, on to the fella.”




Did you miss Chapters 1-21 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 23.  

Print of the Day: The National Punch and Judy Show, 1882


The National Punch & Judy Show
From "Truth," December, 1882
The Victoria & Albert Museum




From the George Speaight Punch & Judy Archive at the V&A, we see a double-sided cutting from the periodical “Truth.” In fact, it’s the “Christmas Number,” which was entitled “The National Punch and Judy Show.”  The magazine was published on December 25, 1882.
Both sides of the cutting depict illustrations which are intended to “reproduce a series of the incidents which figured in the scenes profuse” of a Punch and Judy Show which the publication states was prepared at the wish of (Prime Minister) Mr. Gladstone.

The scenes feature caricatures of various contemporary political figures in the role of Punch, including Mr. William Gladstone himself. It uses these satirical scenes to comment on issues of the day such as the demand for Irish Home Rule, the fight for Civic Reform, the consequences of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, and the negotiations between the Russian Count Schouvaloff and the Marquis of Salisbury (then Conservative leader in the House of Lords and previously Foreign Secretary).  Many political figures are depicted including: William Gladstone (1809-1898), the Marquis of Salisbury, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, (1830 -1903) and Sir Stafford H. Northcote (1818 -1887).

A short verse accompanies each illustration, referring to the events depicted, and written in a form which parodies the style of operetta which was famously popularized by Gilbert and Sullivan. 






Object of the Day: A Victorian Trade Card with Metallic Ink




Some Nineteenth Century publishers and printers produced attractive cards which were not intended for specific companies or advertisers.  These more generic cards were just as handsome and collectible as their branded brethren, but could be printed or stamped on the reverse for independent concerns, shops or retailers.  Every so often, I’ll come across one that had been purchased, probably with others in bulk, to be used by a shop owner, but was never stamped on the reverse.  Here’s one.

I chose this card for today since Fridays are always devoted, in large part, to the history of Mr. Punch and his puppet kin.  While this image is not directly Punch-related, it does depict a scene of a boy and his dog which puts me in mind of our Mr. Punch and Dog Toby.

This is an excellent example of the use of metallic inks which had become quite fashionable in the late Nineteenth Century.  Silver, gold and copper-toned inks added shimmer to the printing process and I appreciate that the silver background of this card still retains its sheen.  Metallic inks such as this silver gave depth to a chromolithograph and, when combined with a primarily monochromatic composition like this one, added an illusion of dimension which is just as alluring today as it would have been in the 1880s.  






Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Pancake Bertie

"This could not be any better."














Image:  The Pancake Woman, Willem van Mieris (1662-1747), 1710-1719, The Victoria and 

Albert Museum.









Bertie wants you to buy his shirts, mugs, bags and other fun things.  Check out our online store.

Mastery of Design: The Schindler Chatelaine, 1760

Enameled Gold Chatelaine
Part of a set by Philipp Ernst Schindler
1760
The Victoria & Albert Museum





While Eighteenth-Century Viennese goldsmiths were widely heralded for their exceptional gold boxes, they also produced a wide range of other luxury items which would have been found in Europe's most affluent households.

The lady of a fine house would always have had a superb chatelaine--a pin from which she could suspend a watch and other necessary household items.  Even cherished housekeepers would sometimes be gifted such extravagant items.  Take this glorious chatelaine, for example, which represents the best of the Viennese tradition of  enameled gold objects.

The Schindler Chatelaine, made by Philipp Ernst Schindler II, forms part of an exceptional set designed to neatly cater to the necessities of elegant life.  The set comprises an étui (or small case) with a knife, snuff spoon, toothpick and ear pick, watch and châtelaine (from which the watch hung) and a matching snuffbox. The chatelaine was worn at the waist either on a belt or apron.




Print of the Day: Mlle.Noblet in La Paysanne Supposee, 1822

Mlle. Noblet in La Paysanne Supposee
1822
The Victoria & Albert Museum





This full-length  etching from 1822 depicts the dancer "Mlle. Noblet in La Paysanne Supposee," a celebrated ballet of the 1820s.  Noblet ("You can't un-fry things, Jerri.  You can't be something you're not.") wears a pale yellow calf-length lightweight gown with a crimson front-lacing bodice.  She holds the edge of a delicate white apron in her left hand.

A similar hand-colored version of this image is held in the collection of the New York Public Library though the gown in that print was left white.

The print is dated "14th March 1822" and is the work of the engraver Robert Cooper.  The piece is based on an original painting by F. Waldeck.  It was published by H. Berthoud, Jr.