Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Crouzet Diamond and Pearl Brooch, 1860-70

Crouzet, 1860-70
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here we see an brooch of openwork gold, enameled in black set with diamonds and pearls, and dripping with pearls and diamond pendants

The brooch is attributed toCrouzet, a master jeweler who worked for all the major Parisian goldsmiths, and who was celebrated for his jewels of fine quality and unique design and his reliance on pieces in the Moroccan taste. This particular example of his work brooch seems to have been inspired by the " moresque " work of the renowned Parisian goldsmith Alphonse Fouquet. As with many of Crouzet’s pieces during this period, this brooch was designed to be worn during a period of mourning or half-mourning.

The Art of Play: Le Gai Violiniste, 1900

Le Gai Violiniste
1900, Paris
The Victoria and Albert Museum

With the dawn of the Twentieth Century, the rich would amuse themselves with playthings such as music boxes and automata. Here we see an example of such an object. This mechanical figure of a man playing a violin contains a clockwork mechanism. It is covered in cloth and features a key on the left side.

While many automata are constructed of papier mache, composition or other materials, this figure features a painted metal head, top hat and hands with metal strips for arms and legs, and black-painted lead feet. In his hand, he holds a metal violin and bow. When wound, he plays the instrument, however, curiously, there is no sound save the click of the mechanism. The automaton retains its original box which has a picture of the violinist on the outside.

Manufactured in Paris around 1900, this is the work of Fernand Martin.

At the Music Hall: The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery

I first shared this with you in 2011.  Next week, we've got an all new music hall song coming.  Well, new to the site.  You won't want to miss it.

Marie Lloyd
I'm a young girl, and have just come over,
Over from the country where they do things big,
And amongst the boys I've got a lover,
And since I've got a lover, why I don't care a fig.

The boy I love is up in the gallery, 
The boy I love is looking now at me, 
There he is, can't you see, waving his handkerchief, 
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree. 

The boy that I love, they call him a cobbler,
But he's not a cobbler, allow me to state.
For Johnny is a tradesman and he works in the Boro'1
Where they sole and heel them, whilst you wait. 

The boy I love is up in the gallery, 
The boy I love is looking now at me, 
There he is, can't you see, waving his handkerchief, 
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree. 

Now, If I were a Duchess and had a lot of money,
I'd give it to the boy that's going to marry me.
But I haven't got a penny, so we'll live on love and kisses,
And be just as happy as the birds on the tree. 

The boy I love is up in the gallery, 
The boy I love is looking now at me, 
There he is, can't you see, waving his handkerchief, 
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree. 

Written by George Ware for music hall star, Miss Nelly Power, in 1895, "The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery" was made famous by the celrbated Marie Lloyd. What makes this song stand out from others of the period is that it places the singer in the actual setting of the theatre.

The singer appears to be delivering these words of love directly to a member of the audience. This technique proved to be wildly popular with the young men who would frequent Nineteenth Century Music Halls.

Precious Time: The Jerome Gregory Coach Clock, 1660-70

Clock Watch
Silver, 1660-70
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The handsome timepiece features a silver case engraved by Hallam with a sea battle during the Anglo-Dutch wars. The movement by Jeremie (or Jerome) Gregory of the Royal Exchange. London, about 1660-70.

Larger than a typical pocket watch, this object would still have fit neatly in a gentleman’s pocket, but was also big enough that it could be seen by others riding in a coach should the clock be displayed on a hook or strap. While mostly meant to be a utilitarian device, it loses none of its attractiveness in favor or usefulness.

Which Watch?
Such Watch.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 242

Chapter 242
The Sunrise 

Hullo, Chum.” Punch smiled as Robert opened his eyes.

“How long have you been awake, dear Punch?” Robert asked, smoothing out his pillow-rumpled hair and stretching.

“All night.” Punch replied.

“Oh, dear.” Robert shook his head. “You should have awakened me. We could have stayed awake together.”

“Nah.” Punch answered. “You were that adorable sleepin’ like a babe. I watched you for a spell. Then I went and watched Colin. He slept as sound as you did.”

“I’m glad of that, at least.” Robert nodded. “It’s terribly early. Why don’t you come back to bed? Charles won’t be in to dress us for at least an hour and a half.”

“No.” Punch shook his head. “It’s almost sunrise.”

“You can sleep past the sun, you know?” Robert smiled.

“Not today.” Punch sighed.

“Why didn’t you sleep?” Robert asked, sitting up.

“Just couldn’t. Reckon I’m worried ‘bout Johnny Donnan and Mr. Stover comini’ here today. Hope we ain’t done the wrong thing in trustin’ ‘em.”

“I don’t know that we do trust them necessarily. In this case, they’re the lesser of two evils, and, frankly, our only means of combating Orpha and her filthy, little band.”

“I s’pose.” Punch nodded.

“Do come back to bed.” Robert requested again.

“I can’t, Chum. Not today. I got a funny feelin’.” Punch shook his head.

“What sort of feeling?” Robert asked. “You’re not ill, are you?”

“No.” Punch answered. “I just feel like there’s birds in me belly. Even Dog Toby feels it.” He pointed to the terrier who slept uninterrupted at the foot of the bed.

“Oh?” Robert raised an eyebrow.

“Well, maybe not now, he don’t.” Punch said quickly. “Only he did earlier. He wanted to go outside, he did.”

“After you woke him.”

“Maybe.” Punch replied. “Still, went he did.” Punch frowned. “Did you know the garden door was unlocked?”

“Surely not?” Robert exclaimed.

“It was.” Punch nodded. “When I took Dog Toby down, we went through the mornin’ room and the door to the garden was unlocked.”

“Well, we shall have to have some stern words with Speaight about that. Under usual circumstances, he’s to see all the entrances secured at all times, but, now when security is more vital than ever…”

“I don’t think it were Speaight’s doin’.” Punch answered. “At the end of the night, when he gave me ‘is final report, he said that all them doors was locked.”

“He must have missed one.” Robert grumbled.

“Don’t be too upset. There was no harm done.” Punch said gently.

“True,” Robert smiled. “I just tend to…”

Robert stopped speaking when a horrified scream cut through the house.

“Was that from in here?” Robert bolted out of the bed.

“I think so.” Punch replied, fear creeping into his voice. “Came from downstairs.”

Dog Toby began barking as Robert put on his dressing gown. The terrier leapt from the bed.

“No.” Punch said firmly. “You stay here.” The dog obediently sat, but whimpered his protest.

Robert and Punch exited Punch’s chamber and, in the passage, saw Lennie racing down the stairs from her room. She joined the men. “What was that?”

“Dunno.” Punch answered. “Maybe you ought to go back to your room.”

“No, dear brother.” Lennie shook her head. “I hear sobbing from below. Something’s happened, and I want to help.”

Punch took Lennie’s hand and they followed Robert.

“It’s come from the servants’ hall.” Robert said softly as they reached the foyer.

The three raced down the stairs to the servants’ hall to find Mrs. Pepper dissolved in a heap of tears on the floor. Georgie sat cross-legged next to his mother, trying desperately to comfort her.

“What’s happened?” Robert demanded.

Without words, George Pepper pointed toward the area door.

Robert, Punch and Lennie rushed toward the door and, there, they saw Ethel—stone-faced and wide-eyed. In her arms, she cradled Jenny’s lifeless body—her bloody apron peeking out from beneath her black coat.

Did you miss Chapters 1-241 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 243.

Unfolding Pictures: The Jannin Fan, 1840-1860

The Janin Fan
French, 1840-1860
The Victoria & Albert Museum
As printing technology advanced, printed lithographic fans became the most popular type from about 1840 to 1870, surpassing more expensive hand-painted fans. Though most of the leaves of these fans were printed, they did feature watercolor washes as decoration. These elaborate leaves were supported by ornate sticks of bone, ivory, mother-of-pearl, lacquered wood or papier maché.

French manufacturers produced the majority of these fans, and most of them were exported in great numbers to other European countries. Very often, these printed fans depicted romantic scenes set in the Eighteenth Century, as you can see in this fan which boasts a lithograph by H. Jannin. This bucolic image has been mounted on lacquered sticks. Scenes of this type imitate the Rococo style and pastoral subject-matter of many earlier Eighteenth-Century fans. These were part of the great Rococo Revival which dominated fashions for two decades.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Small Jeweled Court Sword and Sheath, 1757

Not intended to slice the ears off of enemies, this sword was designed in England in 1757 for wear as a court or dress accessory. The hilt of this small ceremonial sword is silver gilt and set with table-cut and rose-cut diamonds, rubies and emeralds in a foliate pattern.

From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared. These were created for use in the court as part of a dress uniform, and also were made in response to new fencing techniques. Such weapons were worn with both civilian clothes as well as dress uniforms as “small swords” to denote status.

These were considered items of male jewelry. By the time this sword was made, elaborate swords with gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enameling, were actually being produced by jewelers as opposed to weapon-masters. Very often these were presented by a monarch for distinguished military and naval service.

This sword has long been believed to have been owned by Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham (1726-1813). Middleton’s long career included service in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and acting as First Lord of the Admiralty during the Trafalgar Campaign (1805).

English, 1757
This and all related images:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Indian Tiara, pre-1901

Delhi Durbar Tiara
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Rubies, diamonds and pearls scintillate from the twelve gold, tear-shaped sections of this tiara.  The sections rise from a band of gold and pearls.

In true Indian style of the Nineteenth Century, the reverse of the twelve crests are adorned with portraits of enamel liked by a foliate pattern of brilliant colors.

Made in India for Queen Victoria, this tiara signifies Her Majesty's role as Empress of India.  Though Victoria did not attend her Delhi Durbar, the ceremony wherein she was named Empress, she did receive this magnificent piece as a symbol of this accession.  

After Victoria's death, the tiara was hidden away.  Successive Queens Alexandra and Mary wore different tiaras, Mary especially having one created for her own Durbar.  However, it was Queen Mary who saw that this treasure was not adapted or changed, a fate which often befell such pieces.  Mary, in 1924, saw that the tiara was placed among the Indian Collection which belongs to the Crown as part of the Royal Collection.  Because of this, the tiara has been restored and, as of 2013, is on display at the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

Friday Fun: Pulcinella e il prosciutto di Molfetta

Italian puppets. Pulcinella. Ham. It’s the perfect video for this week.  You'll find out why on Monday.  

I’ll let you figure out what’s going on.  I don't really know either.

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.  Some week, I may offer a nifty prize from our online store.  But, this week, I don't feel like it.

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...

My friend and I from home did part,
Of whom I had some way the start:
So on we ran, ten miles or more,
And I same distance was before:
Now tell me how that this could be,
As I ran twice as fast as he?

AND...the answer is...

The fore-wheel of a coach.

And, I'm most pleased to announce we have winners (of nothing).  ANGELO was the first to put the correct answer!  Hooray for you, Angelo!  And, GENE followed next.  Good for you both!  Many thanks to all who answered.  As always, it was a most amusing time!  Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles!

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.  

Drawing of the Day: "Capsize," 18th C.

Comic Illustration from the George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive
"Capsize -- To Upset or Turn Over Anything"
Eighteenth Century
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This comic illustration from the Eighteenth Century is entitled “Capsize: - To Upset or Turn Over Anything.”

Now part of the George Speaight Archive at the V&A, this illustration depicts a fit-up which has been overturned as the puppeteer is being attacked by a clearly disgruntled audience member.

The following caption accompanies the scene:

'There, I told you I'de ge you von/ if I cotebed you making game/ o'me agin' 
'Vy they ar'always taking us off'

I’m not sure what this all means from a satirical standpoint, but we get the gist of it.  As Mr. Punch is often the voice of the people and makes his fun of political or social newsmakers, the attacker  here must surely have taken umbrage at being the "punch line."

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 241

Chapter 241 
The Man in the Moon 

Mrs. Pepper would skin us like chickens.” Jenny whispered as she and Ethel paused at the padded, fabric-covered swinging door which separated them from the gleaming splendor of the foyer of No. 65 Belgrave Square.

“She ain’t never gonna know.” Ethel responded softly. “What’re you like? Are ya too scared to even open the door.”

“I don’t see you pushin’ it open.” Jenny smiled.

“There.” Ethel smirked, gently giving the door a shove.

Both sets of eyes widened as they glanced at the opulent entry hall. Even in the dark—with just the moonlight streaming through the glass dome which surmounted the four arcs of the central staircase, the fanlight above the door to the vestibule and the windows which flanked the front door--the room glittered and shone.

“Cor!” Ethel sighed as she led Jenny by the hand into the room. “I know I seen it a few times before, but, I can’t get it in me head that this is our house.”

“It ain’t, that’s why.” Jenny replied quietly.

“Sure it is. We live here, don’t we?”

“We work underneath it and we sleep above it.” Jenny shrugged. “And, even that ain’t ours.”

“The Duke said we should consider this our home, too. This and the Hall in Yorkshire and that castle on the moors.” Ethel frowned.

“Then, why ain’t we allowed in here nor any of the reception rooms?” Jenny smiled.

“That ain’t the Duke’s doin’. That’s Mr. Speaight and Mrs. Pepper what won’t let us come here. Remember, the Duke and Dr. Halifax ‘ave asked us to come upstairs ‘fore.”

“Yeah.” Jenny nodded. “They ‘ave. Us. A kitchen maid and a scullery.” She shook her head. “Even let us wear his mama’s jewels at the ball.”

“That’s why we gotta do this.” Ethel answered.

They both paused, frozen in place, as they heard a noise above them.

Slowly, the two looked up, their gazes caressing the ovoid spiral of the stairs, looking past the glimmer of the chandeliers—dripping with prisms—and up to the glass dome. Ethel blinked. She could see the moon. She could see the moon from inside the house! Simply by looking up at the ceiling. She’d never been to the palace, like the Duke and the doctor had, but she imagined that even that wasn’t as grand as their very own home.

“It were nothin’” Jenny said with relief. “Just a noise. Maybe Gamilla walking the baby to sleep up in the nursery.”

“I think it were the Man in the Moon.” Ethel smiled, still looking up. “He’s watchin’ us.”

“You’re daft.” Jenny shook her head. “Now, come on. You know Charles ain’t gonna be up with Gerard all night. Remember? The Duke told him when he finished up chattin’ with Gerry, he’s to come down and watch the ‘all.”

“I know it.” Ethel replied irritably.

“Where’s the mornin’ room? You said that’s where the garden door is.”

“It’s this one.” Ethel pointed to a tall, gilt-mahogany door, shadowed by the curve of the balcony.

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.” Ethel nodded. “Once when Vi was havin’…when Vi couldn’t work…Mr. Speaight sent me up to do the grates.”


They tiptoed to the door and Ethel gently opened it.

“Say…” Jenny hissed in awe.

“This is where they take breakfast.”

“I know it,” Jenny nodded, she turned in place to examine the dim room.

“Come on, we ain’t on the grand tour.” Ethel snorted. “There’s the garden door.”

“Ethel,” Jenny took her friend’s arm. “Are you sure ‘bout this?”

“We ain’t gonna talk ‘bout it all ‘gain, are we?”

“No…it’s just. I don’t even know where to go once we get outta the garden.”

“I do.” Ethel said. “Just follow me.”

“But, it’s…” Jenny began.

“You can stay here, Jenny. If you wanna be a coward.”

“I ain’t a coward. But, it ain’t no place for girls like us—the night.”

“Nothin’s gonna happen.” Ethel smiled softly.

“How can you be sure?”

“We got the Man in the Moon watchin’ us.” Ethel repeated.

Did you miss Chapters 1-240 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 242.

Print of the Day: Four Punchinellos Embracing a Female

Four Punchinellos Embracing a Female
Reproduction, 1953 of an original by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
The Harry Beard Collection at:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We have looked at several drawings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his family in the past. These drawings depicted one of Tiepolo’s favorite subjects—Punchinello. To be exact…Punchinellos, many, humpy-backed Punchinellos--up to no good.

Here, dating to 1953 (the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II), we see a reproduction of a pen and grey wash image in which four Punchinellos are embracing a female. Clearly this is a reproduction of one of the Eighteenth Century words of Tiepolo.

All of the plucky Punchinellos are dressed identically in tall, conical hats and loose fitting tunics and trousers which are belted at the waist. The object of their ominous affections wears an equally tall hat trimmed with lace at the brim and a loose belted dress with collar.

We all know how much I like Punchinellos. Many live here with me. However, I don’t really think I’d like to be embraced by them. Who knows what they'd do to a person?

Object of the Day: A Wonderful Theobald and Co. Magic Lantern Slide

This "Object of the Day" may appear familiar to some of you.  If it does, that's because I've shared it with you before in June of last year.  Next week, I'll be sharing with you a complete set of different antique magic lantern slides depicting Punch and his pals which I received for my birthday last December.  And, then, the following week, I'll be sharing with you a very special slide which was given to me for Christmas.

This week has not been at all what I'd planned, between recovering from the dreadful flu, power outages and work.  And, so, the end of it leaves me a little too shaky in the hands to confidently handle thin pieces of cherished antique glass.

But, next'll see some really cool slides.  In the meantime, let's revisit how my family preserves such antique magic lantern slides.

This image from the V&A shows the same slide that I acquired for my collection.

Regular readers know of my fascination with a particular set of artifacts at the V&A—a set of glass magic lantern slides made in the late Nineteenth Century by Theobald & Company which depict scenes from the Punch & Judy tradition. I adore these slides! A few months ago, I had an opportunity to purchase a complete set and missed out on it. I’m still kicking myself over it. Recently, my mom and dad gave me one from the set which they found online—along with three other assorted magic lantern slides. The slide that they found is the one featuring Mr. Punch’s meeting with Joey the Clown. It’s really quite adorable. The image above is the same slide from the V&A. I’ve shared this image since it’s nearly impossible to take a good picture of a glass slide without a professional set-up.

So, now I had the slide. But, what to do with it? How could we show it off in the best way? Well, my father devised a plan to build a lightbox into which the slide would fit. A nightlight bulb from within would illuminate the slide. I had no idea how he’s go about this, but he’s much smarter about these things than I, so I trusted him. And, he did an excellent job! He had the idea to make the box in the image of a traditional Punch & Judy fit-up. So, I selected suitable colors and, then, I went about painting it for him. Here’s the finished result. I’m quite pleased with it! It sits on a dusty turquoise base and little gold feet, and Mr. Punch and Joey just glow happily into the night. 

Forgive the blown-out pictures.  When you're trying to take a picture of something that lights up, it's rather difficult.

The text which would have accompanied this slide originally read:

Hullo! here’s my friend the clown. What cheer, Joey, what a mouth you have got to be sure. Don’t open it any wider, or I might fall down and hurt myself. 
Joey: Oh, Mr. Punch, you’re in for it. They say you’ve killed your baby. I saw the beadle coming down the street. 
Punch: Oh dear, oh dear, whatever shall I do. I say, Joey, you go and tell him I’m not at home, say I’m ill, say I’m busy, say anything, but keep him off.

Now…I need the other eleven.