Monday, April 1, 2013
Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Queen Mary's Siamese Monkeys, pre-1896
Carved of rare buff chalcedony by Gustav LeMaire, this pair of monkeys has an interesting history. They were originally made for Queen Alexandra while still Princess of Wales. Her Majesty had long been a fan of LeMaire's work and, after seeing a novelty monkey act at London's Hippodrome, commissioned the master carver to create a pair of figures to represent the many hours she had spent, amused by "Churlicuff and his Famous Monkeys of Siam."
However, when LeMair delivered the figures personally to York House on the Sandringham Estate, the future Queen Alexandra discovered that LeMaire was a "soft talker." Suffering from increasing hearing loss, Alexandra thought that LeMair was not responding to her questions, and worse still, mocking her. And so, she tossed LeMaire and his monkeys into the cold.
In 1935, the "Siamese Monkeys" were discovered by Queen Mary while visiting the London household of Lord and Lady Snardgarten. Queen Mary recalled her mother-in-law's many rants about the duo, and, figuring that she was owed some sort of gift from the Lord and Lady in honor of her Silver Jubilee, picked up the pair and tossed them in her reticule. They are now on display in the "Albert Room" at Windsor Castle.
Not. APRIL FOOLS! This merry pair sits on the window sill above the tub in my parents' bathroom. I really don't know what they are.