Saturday, December 1, 2012

At the Music Hall: “She’s My Daisy,” Sir Harry Lauder

She is my Daisy, my bonnie Daisy,
she's the sweetest sugar candy and she's very fond of Sandy,
And I weary 
For my dearie,
I would rather lose my spurs than lose my Daisy.

Scottish performer and songwriter, Sir Harry Lauder, popularized Scottish-themed songs as he trod the boards of U.K. music halls. Many of his songs concerned fair Scottish ladies and were rousing ballads about the joys of loving these plucky lasses.

His song, “She’s My Daisy,” became instantly popular and was featured in many films. Here’s a clip of Greer Garson singing the song in her 1942 film, Random Harvest.

Mastery of Design: The Cory Floral Bodice Ornament, 1840-1850

Click Image to EnlargeHair Ornament/Brooch
Enameled Gold, Garnets, Foiled Rock Crystals, Pearls
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This gem, from the monumental collection of Lady Cory, began its life as a hair ornament around 1840 to 1850 when naturalism in jewelry was at its most fashionable. Pieces like this were usually made in pieces so that they could be worn as a large, dramatic jewel for formal occasions or broken apart to be worn on a daily basis as smaller gems.

This ornament of foiled rock crystals, pearls and garnets set in enameled gold has been altered over time. The individual sections of this jewel were merged, removing some segments to use the gemstones for other pieces of jewelry. What remained was made into the brooch that we see today. 

Gifts of Grandeur: The Meissen Shepherdess Snuffbox, c. 1750-1850

Snuff box with a Meissen Porcelain Plaque
Jeweled Thumpiece Features rubies, emeralds and diamonds.
The Gilbert Collection
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Since the design of the goldsmith's work of this snuffbox is so timeless, the dating of the piece is very difficult, however, the cut and setting of the stones in the floral thumb-piece (used to open the box) suggest that it dates from the second half of the 19th century. Clearly, the box was made to provide a setting for an earlier porcelain plaque which was produced at Meissen around 1750.

The rectangular gold snuffbox features plain bombe walls and a plain base.  The cover is set with a hard-paste porcelain plaque, painted on the outside with two shepherdesses and a shepherd in a landscape.  On the inside, there is a scene painted with the bath of Venus, within a reeded border. The scrolling floral thumb-piece is set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

Masterpiece of the Week: “A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal,” 1670-2, Johannes Vermeer

A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal
Johannes Vermeer, 1670-1672
The National Gallery, Britain
Though he’s recently come back into the public eye, Johannes Vermeer’s brilliance was largely overlooked for centuries. He produced a comparatively small number of paintings, however, what he did create was remarkable.

Born in Delft in 1632, Vermeer struggled to make a living as a painter despite his enormous talent. By 1653, his skill was recognized and he was named a master of Delft Painters’ School. His exquisitely detailed domestic paintings showed a masterful handling of light. Each painting was filled with meaning and symbolism—very often communicated through a painting within the painting as seen in this example, A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal. Despite the recognition of his work, he continued to have financial troubles and by 1672 was quite destitute. He died young in 1675—leaving his wife and many children penniless.

Despite the sad end to his life, Vermeer left behind some of the finest treasure of Art History. Here is one of them. A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal was painted between 1670 and 1672. Many of Vermeer’s painting were set in the same room—presumably his studio with its intricate marble floor and leaded windows. The landscape painting on the wall appears in other works by Vermeer. The painting of cupid is meant to represent the young woman’s fidelity and sweetness. The painted interior of the virginal mirrors the landscape on the wall. The whole of the scene demonstrates Vermeer’s typical filtered light. While the painting is poorly documented, stylistically, it is doubtlessly attributed to Vermeer. Such a pity that such a talented man had to die in poverty. Perhaps future generations will be a little kinder to their artists.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 202

Chapter 202
This Place 

What is he doin’?” Punch whispered.

“He’s getting himself dismissed.” Robert replied.

“Please, Sir.” Hutchinson spoke through the trapdoor at the top of the carriage.

“No.” Robert spat. “Proceed to the palace at once!”

“We won’t be long, Sir.” Hutchinson shook his head. He, then, climbed down from the top of the carriage.

Hutchinson then opened the carriage door.

“Your Grace,” Hutchinson offered his hand to the Duke.

“I’m not getting out.” Mr. Punch shook his head, affecting the voice of the Duke of Fallbridge.

“I think you are, Sir.” Hutchinson smiled coolly.

“What is this place?” Robert asked.

“Just a brief delay. Then you can be on your way.”

Robert peered out of the carriage door and his face went white.

“Look familiar, Sir?” Hutchinson asked.

“Close that door at once!” Robert shouted. “And, then, take us to the palace! After that, you’re dismissed!”

“No, I ain’t.” Hutchinson shook his head.

“Where are we?” Mr. Punch asked Robert.

“Eudora Stover’s hovel.” Robert growled.

Mr. Punch’s eyes widened with anger. He turned to Hutchinson. “Just who the hell to you think you are? Is this meant as some kind of joke?”

“No, Your Grace.” Hutchinson replied. “Not at all.” He looked over his shoulder as Eudora Stover swept out of the mean, filthy house—followed by Hortence.

“Well, look who come to see us!” Eudora shouted.

“If it ain’t me ol’ employers.” Hortence snarled.

Mr. Punch reached forward to close the door of the carriage before the women could get to him and to Robert. Hutchinson grabbed the Duke’s arm.

“You’re hurting!” Punch shouted.

“Don’t mean to, Sir, only there’s some what wants to see ya.”

“We’ve seen them.” Robert snarled.

“No, no, not these ladies. Another one.”

“Who?” Robert asked.

“The Duke’s former sister.” Eudora grinned.

Did you miss Chapters 1-201? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 203.

Unusual Artifacts: A Claude Glass, 1775-1780

Claude Glass
The Victoria and Albert Museum

A Claude Glass is ostensibly a small, blackened mirror which is contained in a box. The device acts as a portable drawing and painting tool which was popular in the late Eighteenth Century with the amateur artists who embarked on international “sketching tours.”

The device was especially meant for us in rendering landscapes by reflecting a landscape so that it could be copied by the artist. The reflections of the landscape, it was said, resembled some of the characteristics of the Italian landscapes by the famous Seventeenth-Century painter and sketcher Claude Lorrain from whom the instrument gets its name.

The instrument consists of a slightly convex blackened mirror. The artist would hold the glass up to his or her eye, allowing the scenery behind the viewer to be seen as opposed to that in front. The convexity of the mirror served to reduce the dimensions of extensive views into those more suited for a small drawing. The mirror was blackened (as opposed to a normal silvered mirror) served to produce a somewhat weaken the reflection, making only the most prominent features stand out. This also reduced the intensity of the colors. The resulting image was thought to be a more picturesque view of the landscape.

Object of the Day: T.W. Hunt Dry Goods

I adore this die-cut trade card which has been designed to resemble an Eastlake style ebonized easel. It’s just too wonderful with its landscape painting and spray of flowers. The card was likely selected from a catalog for overprinting, but I must say that Mr. T.W. Hunt did an excellent job of choosing.

The card has been printed:

Compliments of: T.W. HUNT 
1071 & 1073 Pearl St. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gifts of Grandeur: A Ruby and Diamond Brooch

Gold, Metal, Diamonds and Rubies
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This beautiful brooch is caught between two eras. The upper portion is clearly rooted in Art Nouveau sensibilities with its symmetrical curvilinear crest. The lower part of the brooch, however, speaks of Art Deco ideals with its gently tapered, angular base—long and pointed, and set with contrasting diamonds and rubies.

The brooch was made sometime between 1910 and 1920—thus accounting for its combination of styles. It truly is a transitional design, and, really, quite an attractive one. Backed in gold, the diamonds and rubies are set in what is described simply as “white metal.” The maker of the brooch is unknown and there’s some debate as to whether it comes from the U.S. or from Europe. It is housed in Jewelry Room Ninety-One at the V&A.

The Art of Play: The Albert Smith Mr. Punch, 19th C.

The V&A
Albert Smith's Mr. Punch
Nineteenth Century
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This gorgeous carved wood glove puppet of Mr. Punch was created by Albert Smith (1886-1963), a famed Punch and Judy Professor, in the late Nineteenth Century.  Hair of artificial fur frames his carved and painted face.  Punch wears his traditional stuffed crimson corduroy hat trimmed with embroidered braid and a crimson velvet tunic to which is attached a crimson velvet sleeve to cover the Professor's arm. The sleeves of Punch's robe are a medium blue velvet edged with metallic braid while his little breeches are of a matching blue velvet .

Though clearly well-used, his face is still lively and the figure seems imbued with that special life that only Mr. Punch can possess.  After a life well-spent slap-sticking and squawking, he now resides in the Victoria & Albert Museum.  

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.

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...

 I had a little sister, They called her Pretty Peep; She wades in the waters, Deep, deep, deep! She climbs up the mountains, High, high, high; My poor little sister, She has but one eye.

And...the answer is, A STAR. Thanks for your patience today. Next week will be more normal. Your answers were great! Especially Darcy! Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles!

 Have fun!

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.  

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 201

Chapter 201

Did you smell something sweet out there?” Punch asked, wrinkling his nose.

“I did.” Robert nodded. “Cheap cologne.”

As the carriage rattled out of Belgrave Square, Punch sniffed. “You know what it reminded me of?”

“Iolanthe Evangeline?” Robert asked.

“Yeah.” Punch nodded. “Her whole house smelled of that kind of cologne. Here, you don’t think Hutchinson’s taken to wearing such a tawdry scent?”

“No.” Robert shook his head. “It was probably just left behind by a woman walking on the square.” He recalled what Speaight had told him before breakfast. “Incidentally, Speaight mentioned to me that the staff had seen Hutchinson in the mews last night, talking with two women.”

“I thought he had his eyes on Vi.” Punch frowned.

“As did I.” Robert agreed. “However, I think it’s Vi that has her eyes set on him. Or, did, at any rate.”

“Do ya think Hutchinson was…ya know…with them kind of women?”

“Not really. He doesn’t seem the sort. I’m sure it was innocent enough. But, I didn’t want to forget to mention it to you.”

“Thanks, Chum.” Punch nodded.

“You seem in better spirits than you did last night.” Robert smiled.

“Breakfast helped.” Punch chuckled. “But, most of all, you made me feel better. I got to thinkin’ ‘bout it, and I’m kinda excited to see if the diamond we’re looking at for Her Majesty is really our pa’s diamond.”

“To be honest, I’m hoping that it is.” Robert replied.

“I am, too, Chum. I thought ‘bout what you said last night, and, well, I like the idea of the Queen havin’ it. I just hope it ain’t been cut down.”

“If it has, will you still recognize it?”

“Oh, sure.” Punch nodded.

Robert grinned, but his smile faded quickly as the carriage rolled to a stop.

“Why are we stoppin’?” Punch looked out of the window. “We’re not at the palace.”

“I’m not sure.” Robert answered.

Hutchinson lifted the hatch at the top of the carriage.

“My apologies for the delay, Your Grace.”

“What’s the matter?” Robert asked.

“We need to make a stop, Sir.”

“I didn’t authorize any stops!” Robert replied angrily. “We’ve important business at the palace! Now, go!”

“No, Sir. There’s someone more important what wants to see ya first.” Hutchinson answered.

Did you miss Chapters 1-200 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 202.

Print of the Day: Sheet music cover for "The Punchinello Quadrille," c. 1850

Punchinello Quadrille
Britain, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

“The Punchinello Quadrille" was written by Henri Bohlman Sauzeau. Dating to about 1850, this sheet music cover for the popular song was published by W. Strange & Co. and the Musical Bouquet Office. The front cover depicts a scene of a Punch and Judy show above the music for the quadrille. The verso contains the first page of music for "The Magistrate" and "The Dog."

Object of the Day: A Punch Magazine from the 1937 Coronation

A new addition to my growing collection of Punch Magazines, we see here the Coronation Number from 1937 and the unexpected coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) following the Abdication Kerfuffle (TM). Filled with beautiful images—both color and black and white—Mr. Punch guides us through the Coronation celebrations with his usual style. Aided by Dog Toby, we get Punch’s take on the new king and the dawn of a new era.

Of course, in many ways, the advertisements take center stage and give us a glimpse into the fashion and technology of London in 1937. I’ll let it speak for itself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Bertie Kotb

"Get my leash. I want to walk like an Egyptian."

Image: A Room in the House of Shayk Sadat, Cairo; also known as Kaah in the Harem of Sheykh Sadat, Cairo, 1875, Frank Dillon, RI (1823-1909), Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Friends of the V&A and Shell International, The Victoria & Albert Museum. 

You know you want to have a Bertie Dog mug, tee-shirt, tote bag or water bottle. You know you do. So, take a look at our online store. 

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Fan, 1897

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Fan
June, 1897
English--The Worshipful Co. of Fanmakers
The Royal Collection

A gift from the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, this fan is crafted from the finest Irish lace, gold thread, and carved and pierced ivory.

Amongst the beads and spangles which adorn the fan are symbols of Victoria’s long reign. When it was presented to her, the fan shimmered with hundreds of diamonds which were woven amongst the pale-colored glass beads. At some point in the Twentieth Century, the fan was stripped of its diamonds. Still beautiful and an excellent example of the ingenuity of English fanmakers, I can’t help but think it would have been a little more magnificent if left alone.