Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mastery of Design: Queen Mary’s Emerald and Diamond Choker, c. 1920

Diamonds, Emeralds, Platinum
circa 1920
The Royal Collection
This shimmering choker of emeralds and brilliant-cut diamonds was originally set in yellow gold and contains several of the Cambridge emeralds from the Delhi Durbar Parure. In the 1920’s, the always fashionable Mary of Teck commissioned Garrard’s to re-set the stones in a platinum setting as was fashion of the Art Deco.

This was one of the special pieces of jewelry that were bequeathed to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II upon Queen Mary’s death in 1953. This choker was famously worn by Diana, Princess of Wales who adapted it into a headband when she borrwed it from Queen Elizabeth.  The Princess of Wales also wore the piece as a choker as well.

Sunday Morning Special: Three Little Kittens, 1933

I picked this screen capture just for your viewing pleasure.

Scary Van Beuren cartoon from 1933.  Also with a decidedly bad rip-off of “The Sun has Got His Hat On”  at the start.  Enough said.  

Happy Sunday!

The Home Beautiful: The Meissen “Chinese Man” Sweetmeat Stand, 1735

This and all related images:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made for the Meissen Porcelain Factory by modeler Johann Joachim Kändler in 1735, this large sweetmeat stand features a figure of a Chinese man in hard-paste porcelain mounted on gilt bronze. The figure—which is removable—is surrounded by ten dishes of porcelain mounted on gilt bronze. The dishes were meant to hold sweetmeats. 

At the Music Hall: Champagne Charlie, 1867

I've seen a deal of gaiety through out my noisy life
With all my grand accomplishments I ne'er could get a wife,
The thing I most excel in is the P. R. F. G. game,
A noise all night in bed all day, and swimming in Champagne.

For Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name.
Good for any game at night, my boys.
Good for any game at night, my boys,
Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name.
Good for any game at night, boys, who'll come and join me in a spree?

The way I gain'd my title's by a hobby which I've got
Of never letting others pay, however long the shot.
Whoever drinks at my expense are treated all the same;
From Dukes and Lords to Cabmen down, I make them drink Champagne.


From Coffee and from supper rooms, from Poplar to Pall Mall,
The girls on seeing me exclaim "Oh! what a Champagne swell!"
The notion 'tis of ev'ry one, if 'twere not for my name.
And causing so much to be drunk, they'd never make Champagne.


Some epicures like Burgundy, Hock, Claret, and Moselle,
But Moët's Vintage only satisfies this Champagne swell.
What matter if to bed I go, and head is muddled thick?
A bottle in the morning sets me right then very quick.


Perhaps you fancy what I say is nothing else but chaff.
And only done, like other songs, to merely raise a laugh.
To prove that I am not in jest each man a bottle of Cham.
I'll stand fizz round - yes that I will, and stand it - like a lamb.


“Champagne Charlie” is a music hall song composed by Alfred Lee with lyrics by George Leybourne. It was popularized in the Nineteenth Century by the celebrated performer George Leybourne who first performed at the Sun Music Hall, Knightsbridge in 1867. Leybourne  famously made his entrance in top hat and tails—in the style of a "swell" with the requisite dress gloves, cane, and scarf.  As Champagne Charlie, he carried a bottle of vintage Moët et Chandon.

The Music Hall business was full of fierce competition between acts.  Leybourne's main rival, Alfred Vance, that same year introduced a similar number called “Cliquot” much to the continued chagrin of Leybourne. 

The song has had a long and varied life.  It’s melody was later adapted by the Salvation Army for their song “Bless His Name He Sets Me Free,” intended for the exact opposite purpose of the original good-times-loving version.  The original song became the centerpiece of the play “Champagne Charlie” and the subsequent film of the same which featured Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway. Leon Redbone featured the song, with altered lyrics, on his album of the same name in 1978. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 270

Chapter 270 
Trust the Quiet 

Mr. Punch smiled at Robert. “It’s quiet.”

“For a change, it is.” Robert nodded. “I’m not sure what to make of it.”

Punch rose from his spot at the library table and neatly covered his work—the brooch of colored diamonds in the shape of three butterflies—with a velvet cover. He joined Robert on the settee, pushing aside a stack of books.

“It’s a stunning pin, dear Punch.” Robert grinned. “Are you satisfied with the goldsmiths’ work?”

“Very,” Punch nodded. “I were just checking the mounts. All nice and secure, they are. I think I’ll send it to Prince Albert—only to borrow, mind. It’ll let ‘im know I been workin’ on them items for the Museum what we talked ‘bout. Do ya think he’s still angry that I didn’t get ‘im anythin’ for the American Exposition?”

“I’m sure he’s forgotten it,” Robert shook his head. “His Majesty’s German temper seems to burn hot and fast. Nevertheless, Her Majesty will always favor you, so, the Prince Consort is rather powerless. Even if Prince Albert were to hold a grudge, you’re still the Queen’s favorite. He’ll have to hold his tongue.”

Punch sighed and put his head on Robert’s shoulder. “The Queen’s favorite. It’s nice, it is. Only as long as I’m your favorite, I got all I want.”

“No need for worry on that account.” Robert set down his book and tousled Punch’s auburn hair. “You’ll always be my favorite.”

“And you mine.” Punch smiled. He sat up. “Coo! It is quiet, then. Too quiet.”

“I rather like it.”

“Normally I do, too. Only this time, with all what’s been appenin’, I don’t trust the quiet. Is everyone where they ought to be?”

“Well, Lennie is in the morning room with Fern and Ethel. Gamilla and Gerard have the afternoon free so they might prepare Gamilla’s trousseau. Violet is watching Colin, Mrs. Pepper is preparing tea, Charles is sorting through our wardrobes and Speaight is teaching Georgie the ‘proper’ way to polish the silver. Violet’s cleaned the reception rooms, Georgie’s done the grates, the house is in order, and, for a pleasant change, no one is knocking on our door.”

“What of Lady Lensdown?”

“She is watching her children nap in the jade room.”

“And, Dog Toby’s here with us.” Punch shrugged. “So, I wager everyone really is where they ought. Huh…”

“What is it, Dear Punch?”

“This is the first time that’s been the case since we came back here from The Grange.”

Robert nodded. “We should enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Maybe we’ll get tea without interruption today. What do ya ‘magine?”

“It’s possible.” Robert winked. “I’d not count on it. But, it is possible.”

“’Bout tea? And, dinner? Do ya think Lady Lensdown and her two will want to join us.”

“I doubt it. She seems keen on keeping her children to herself. Of course, we’ll ask her.”

“I don’t blame ‘er. Gertrude just wants to be with her little ones. If she don’t wanna come down, we’ll ask for trays. Poor Mrs. Pepper havin’ to make up all them trays, too.”

“Speaight told me that he’ll be interviewing kitchen maids tomorrow. The agency is still looking for candidates for the other position.”

Punch sighed. “Good.”

“You’re thinking of Jenny.” Robert patted Punch’s knee.

“I am.” Punch responded. “At least Ethel’s on the mend.”

“Thanks to you.” Robert answered.

“I didn’t do nothin’.”

“I knew you’d say that.”

“Truly, Chum. It’s just I think Fern and Ethel will be a help to one another. Here, speakin’ of Fern, what’s to be done regarding dinners and such? Will she take her meals in the nursery or with us?”

“In the nursery, I trust. She’s too young to come down for dinner.”

“I figured.” Punch frowned. “Only I don’t want ‘er to feel like she’s bein’ kept separate from the family.”

“I’m sure she understands. The girl’s been scuttled around most of her life. I know she’s spent time with Lady Constance most recently, but, Constance had previously sent her from school to school as soon as she was old enough.”

“Still, we should ask ‘er to come down after supper. Maybe you could read to us.”

“I’d like that.” Robert replied.

“What are you readin’ right now, anyway, Chum?”

“I was just doing some research.”

“On?” Punch picked up one of the books. “Deformities of the Human Body.”

Robert smiled sheepishly.

“Don’t read this to us later.”

“I won’t.” Robert chuckled.

Just then, Speaight entered the library. “Pardon me, your Grace.”

“What is it, Speaight?” Punch asked pleasantly.

“Mr. Donnan is downstairs, Your Grace. He wishes to see you.”

Punch looked at Robert. “We weren’t to see them today, were we?”

“No.” Robert shook his head. “We’d told him to come at the end of the week unless he saw Orpha and carried out our plan.”

“Perhaps they saw ‘er.” Punch’s eyes widened. “Maybe he convinced her to go. To ‘kill’ Orpha Polk and change her name again and just go away.”

“Speaight, is Mr. Donnan alone or is Mr. Stover with him?” Robert asked.

“He’s alone, Sir.”

“How peculiar.” Robert muttered.

“I think you’d best come quickly, Your Grace.” Speaight urged.

“There’s trouble?” Punch stood up.

“Mr. Donnan informed us that he and Mr. Stover found Eudora Stover and Hortence…dead.”

“Oh…” Punch lowered his head.

“Did he say anything else?” Robert asked.

“That upon the sight of his daughter’s…pardon me…remains, Mr. Stover went running off into the streets. Mr. Donnan is not sure where the man went. It seems the house was otherwise empty.”

Robert rubbed his forehead. “Tell Mr. Donnan, please, that we’ll be down momentarily.”

“It’s gonna take more than gettin’ this woman to change her name and go away to make this stop, Chum.” Punch said. “She’s taken the lives of too many people. A bribe and a plea from us ain’t ‘nough.”

“Dear Punch, you know that it was meant to be a trap. Our request to ‘kill’ her Orpha persona and start anew was simply a means to lure her to the authorities.”

“It won’t work.” Punch shook his head. “Now she’s got Ulrika on ‘er side, she’s more dangerous than ever. It’ll take more than Scotland Yard to stop the two o’ them.”

“I know.” Robert mumbled. “I also know what you’re suggesting. I won’t let you do it.”

Punch took a deep breath.

“No.” Robert said firmly.

Punch nodded. “Let’s just go to Mr. Donnan. Never thought I’d feel sorry for ‘im.”

“Nor I.” Robert bit his lip. “Perhaps he saw something which can afford us some idea where Orpha went.”

“I knew this quiet was too good.” Punch sighed.

“We shall have it back.” Robert said gently.

“Not for awhile, Chum.” Punch shook his head, “not for awhile.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-269 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 271.

Sculpture of the Day: A Bronze Sculpture of Aesculapius, c. 1600

Francesco Fanelli, 1600-1650
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The famed Italian sculptor Francesco Fanelli created this bronze statuette of Aesculapius (also spelled Asclepius or, in Britain, Asklepius)  between 1600-1650, possibly while in Florence. Aesculapius was the ancient Greek God of medicine and healing and the son of Apollo and Coronis. His artistic attribute is a staff with an intertwined snake, the rod of Aesculapius--which is still a symbol of medicine today.

 Though he was prolific, we don’t know much about the life of Francesco Fanelli (b: about 1577 - last documented in London c. 1641). Fanelli was first recorded in Genoa in 1608, and presumably stayed there until about 1631. There, he produced religious works in marble, silver, ivory and bronze.

By 1635, somehow, Fanelli was in Britain, working at the English court.   He referred to himself  as the “sculptor to the King of Great Britain,” but, it is unclear if this title was officially conferred or if it’s just something he liked to call himself.

The V&A owns several bronzes which were attributed in the Seventeenth Century to “Francisco, the one-eyed Italian”  as listed in an inventory of Whitehall Palace in 1639.  Okay.  Why did he have one eye?  Was this the same man?  We’ll never know.  But, the works do, in fact, look like the style of Fanelli who relied on detailed musculature and fluidity of pose to make his creations seem more alive.  

When this figure was originally collected by the V&A, he was outfitted with a fig leaf which was meant to prevent our Victorian forebears from accidentally spying anything scandalous.
  That has since been removed since people are slow to scandalize these days.  

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A French Bronze and Alabaster Mantel Clock, 1860

Mantel Clock, 1860
Alabaster, Bronze, Ormolu
Victoria & Albert Museum

Everyone in my family has an affinity for antique clocks. We’d be quite pleased to own this one. However, The Victoria & Albert Museum got to it first.

With a movement created by the famed French firm Japy Frères, this clock dates to 1860. The clock case—set atop an ebonized base and under a glass dome—was most likely crafted for the retailer, H.Y. Marc of Paris. The alabaster case features a shimmering bronze and ormolu sculpture of a warrior atop a charging stead. The timepiece is an excellent example of the singularly fine craftsmanship of the French clockmakers of the period.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Brooch of Demantoid Garnet, Freshwater Pearls, Gold and Diamonds, 1900

Demantoid Garnet (Tsavorite), Pearls, Diamonds, Gold
United States, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This piece of jewelry was created in the United States around 1900. While English, French and Italian jewelers were more comfortable revisiting the styles of the Rococo and looking forward with abandon to the curves and scrolls of the Art Nouveau, American jewelers were markedly more cautious, knowing that American buyers were more interested in the traditional than the daring. This scrolled brooch of gold combines rococo elements with the sinuous curves of Art Nouveau. It’s a daring design for sale in the American market of the early Twentieth Century where, in the 1901 Jewlers’ Circular and Horological Review, a reviewer commented that some pieces of Art Nouveau jewelry were "more fitted for the case of the collector than for wear…"

What Americans did appreciate was the use of brightly colored gemstones. The use of green demantiod garnets (similar in color to tsavorites, but of a different chemical structure) would have scored points with American buyers, especially when combined with these luxurious pearls and beautiful diamonds.

Figure of the Day: The Callot Dwarf, 19th C.

Porcelain Figurine
French, 19th C.
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The work of an unknown modeler at an unknown factory, this figurine is one of a series which was produced in Nineteenth-Century France , modeled after engravings by the artist Jacques Callot (1592-1635). The engravings were printed in 1622 and depicted a troupe of grotesque dwarf entertainers who were known as “Les Gobbi.”

“Les Gobbi” famously performed in Italy for the Medici Court during the period in which Callot was working as a court artist for the powerful family. His task was, essentially, recording court entertainment. Such novelty acts were quite popular throughout Europe at the time and few were as sought-after as “Les Gobbi.” French-born Callot studied art and printmaking in Florence, Italy where he was discovered by the Medicis who instantly recognized his talent and offered their patronage. During his stay with the Medicis, Callot developed a reputation as a master of capturing expressions and for his distinct ability to create scenes of both great joy and grotesquerie. Upon the death of Cosimo Medici, Callot returned to his native France where he embarked on an ambitious series of engravings depicting the tradition of the Commedia dell’Arte.

In the Nineteenth Century, Callot’s work was rediscovered and became the inspiration for many figurines ranging from his representations of Commedia dell’Arte figures to these comic dwarves.   This white porcelain figure shows the Italian influence on the costumes of "Les Gobbi" who modeled their masks and garments after the Commedia characters.  This particular, little fellow has a distinct resemblance to Pulcinella.  

Friday Fun: "Pulcinello"

I shared this animated short with you a couple of years ago, but I like it, so I thought I'd dig it out again.

As I’ve mentioned 
previously, our Mr. Punch has his roots in the Seventeenth Century Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte and the character of Pulcinella (also known as Pulcinello or Punchinello). The character’s long nose was equated to a beak, giving him a nickname that translates to “chick.” Much like his descendant, Mr. Punch, Pulcinella’s main mode of defense was to beat people, however, Pulcinella also exhibits a rather clumsy personality played for comedic effect.

This lovely bit of digital animation tells the story of the puppet, Pulcinella and features a typically Italian, over-dramatic ending. It’s a beautiful little film, masterfully created. I hope you enjoy it.

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, again, 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...

I am always hungry,
I must always be fed,
The finger I touch,
Will soon turn red.

And the answer is...


Congratulations to Shawn for coming up with the right answer.  As for the rest of're just too, too clever.  Thanks for all the chuckles!  Come back next Friday for another of "Mr. Punch's Puzzles."  Hooray!

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 269

Chapter 269
Uncle Punch 

She were there!” Ethel screeched, pointing at Fern who stood, wrapped in one of Lennie’s dressing gowns which trailed behind her like a train. “She were there when our Jenny…our Jenny!” Ethel was standing upon Lennie’s bed, the bedclothes pulled around herself like pale pink armor.

Fern, seemingly unfazed by this display, looked up at Violet. “Might we please just find the slippers?”

Lennie, Punch and Robert stood in the doorway of Lennie’s room, watching this curious scene.

“I…I only brought Miss Fern to Miss Lennie’s room to find somethin’ to put on her feet, Your Grace.” Violet explained anxiously. “I didn’t think of Ethel still bein’ in here.”

“It’s quite all right, Violet.” Lennie replied. “There in the wardrobe…my lavender slippers, those should be small enough.”

Violet hurried to the wardrobe, grabbed the silk slippers and rushed back to Fern.

“She were there!” Ethel screamed again, pointing at Fern. “There with that…that…that…’orrible, ‘orrible thing. It drank our Jenny’s blood, it did! Took drops of it off the knife--like feedin’ a baby bird! Two mouths, two ‘ungry mouths! And, three…three…hands.”

“I was afraid she’d seen it.” Punch whispered to Lennie.

“No wonder the poor thing is still in shock.” Lennie replied softly, recalling the child which Robert and Punch had explained to her the previous night.

Fern obviously overheard Lennie. “It’s name is Marduk.” She said dryly.

“Miss!” Ethel screamed. “Miss!”

Lennie rushed to Ethel’s side. “Do come down, Ethel. Please…” She said soothingly, extending her hand.

“Miss!” Ethel screamed. “Miss! She were there! She were with the thing!”

“I know, dear, but you mustn’t be afraid. Fern won’t hurt you. She’s not one of the bad people who harmed our Jenny.”

“Miss Lennie, please…” Ethel began to sob.

Lennie looked over her shoulder to Punch and Robert who were aware that it was the first time which Ethel seemed to recognize anyone in the house, or, at least speak their name.

“We must do somethin’, Chum.” Punch said quietly.

“I could sedate her.” Robert responded helplessly.

“No, that ain’t gonna do a thing. Not really. Only draw out the pain.” Punch whispered.

“I can’t think what else to do.” Robert replied softly. “Still, the girl shouldn’t see this.”“Violet, if you’ve gotten what you needed,” he spoke up, “please take Miss Fern back to her room.”

“Yes, Sir.” Violet replied.

“Wait.” Punch shook his head. “Not yet.”

“Dear Punch, I’m not sure…” Robert said gently.

“Chum, we can’t keep everyone locked up in their own private pain. When a body does that, it only makes the hurt worse. Like it done for Julian. Only most folk don’t have a Mr. Punch in ‘em to take care. Most folk…it just destroys ‘em. Look what it done to…” He paused. “Some folks we’ve known.”

Robert took a deep breath. “My dear, I trust your instincts implicitly.”

Punch winked at Robert and knelt down next to Fern. “Listen, my girl, you had a terrible time of it. Haven’t you?”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Fern nodded.

“So, ‘as our Ethel. You remember seein’ Ethel?”

“Yes. The night that the poor servant girl was killed by Orpha’s knife.” Fern replied calmly.

“You saw all what she did?” Punch said gently.


“It was a horror, I’m sure.”


“I’m awful sorry, I am, that you ‘ad to see any of that.” Punch looked into the girl’s eyes.

“So am I, Your Grace.” Fern mumbled.

“Now, you see, you’re a strong girl. I can tell. But, Ethel, she ain’t quite as brave as you. Still, she’s a good girl. Maybe you can help her to be as brave as you.”

“Isn’t she a maid?” Fern asked.

“Sure, she is. And, an important part of the household. Why, if it weren’t for Ethel, we’d have no clean china or anythin’ to eat off of. We need her, and we respect all she does. Dr. Halifax and I…we value all the folks what work in the house because they live here with us. Each one has an important place in the house, and, in our hearts. We trust ‘em, and we like ‘em, and we’re like a family even though we’re all from different places. Ain’t that right, Chum?”

“Indeed it is.” Robert nodded, watching in awe as Punch orchestrated this moment.

“See…everyone’s from a different place. And, everyone is different. I’m a Duke , but I’m also not like any other Duke. Ya know? I’m Mr. Punch, too. I make jewels for the Queen, but I like to play with me puppets and such, too. Dr. Halifax helps sick folk and does serious work, but, he also likes to play games and read poems. He comes from a different place, too. Lennie has had a different sort of life than me, but she’s me sister. We’re all different. What a body does, what their name is—none o’ that matters as much as who a person is. That’s the way we run this house. We’re all a family even though we’re different. Same goes for Ethel, and Violet, and Speaight and Charles and Gamilla and Gerard…and all the others…” He smiled. “You see?”

Fern replied, “I see.” She looked a bit more relaxed.

Even Ethel had calmed down at the sound of Punch’s voice and, thought she still stood rigidly atop the bed, had stopped crying.

“Fern, you’re part of that family now.” Mr. Punch said. “Dr. Halifax and me, we’re gonna look after you and you’ll live here with us. We’ll call you Fern Halifax. Dr. Halifax wanted you to take his name. I know this all must be confusin’, and I know you miss your mama what’s in heaven now, but do ya understand?”

“I do.”

“Would you like to be here with us?”

“I would, Your Grace.” Fern said.

“I’m glad of it, I am. I’m glad you’ll be part of the family. Since you will, you must call Dr. Halifax ‘Uncle Robert,’ and Miss Lennie, you can call her ‘Auntie Lennie.’”

“What shall I call you, Your Grace?”

“When it’s just us in the ‘ouse—our family, you may call me ‘Uncle Punch.’ When other folks is about or we’re out, you may call me ‘Uncle Molliner.’”

“I see.” Fern nodded.

“I know you’re sad right now.” Punch said. “We’re all sad for ya, we are. We’re sad also because we lost someone what we cared for, and we’re sad that you had to suffer. But, we’ll all survive it, together, if we look after one another. See?”

Fern nodded.

“That includes the staff because they’re our friends. Ethel’s seen some o’ them terrible things what you saw, she has. And, she’s scared, and she’s sad. Our Jenny were like her sister, she was. You just lost your mama, and she just lost a sister. Understand?”

“Yes, Uncle Punch.” Fern replied, her face softening a bit.

“You trust your Uncle Punch, then?”

Fern nodded again.

“Then, will ya take me hand?” Punch offered his hand.

Fern reached up and put her small hand in Punch’s.

“Come with me, and we’ll sit on the edge of the bed and talk to Ethel.”

Fern stood still.

“I promise you that nothin’ bad is gonna ‘appen.” Punch smiled.

Fern allowed Punch to lead her.

They sat on the edge of the bed at such an angle as they could both look up at Ethel.

“Hullo, Ethel.” Punch smiled at the girl. “I stand on the bed, too, sometimes. Sometimes, I crawl under it, too. Don’t I, Chum?” Punch looked to Robert for encouragement.

Robert walked over and stood by the bed, followed by Lennie. Both of them were mesmerized by Punch’s handling of the situation. Violet, too, stood silently watching with tears in her eyes.

“You do, dear Punch. I’ve found you many a time under the bed playing with Dog Toby.” Robert responded.

“When I was a girl,” Lennie added, “I would do the same.”

“I’m glad to see ya up, Ethel,” Punch began, “only, like Dr. Halifax is always tellin’ me, it ain’t so steady to stand on the bed. Maybe you oughta come down and sit with us.”

“She were there!” Ethel groaned.

“I know it, Ethel.” Punch said encouragingly. “She’s seen all them same awful things what you have. Her name is Fern, and, she’s come to live here. Fern and you…you got much in common in many ways. Her mama is gone. Maybe she’s scared and sad, too, is Fern. Maybe you two can be friends and talk to one another ‘bout them things what scared ya.”

“I remember when I was your age Ethel,” Robert joined in. “My mother and father had both died and all I had in the world was my brother Cecil. When we were frightened, we’d talk to one another. Even though it didn’t change the things which frightened us, or make them go away, we didn’t feel as frightened of them anymore because we knew we were together.”

“Sure,” Punch nodded. “And, that’s what Dr. Halifax and me do. When we’re sad or whatnot, we talk and help one another. Miss Lennie, too.”

“Just being here in this house,” Lennie smiled at Fern, and, then looked up to Ethel. “Just knowing I have these wonderful people to love and to love me has taken away so much of the pain which weighed me down all my life.”

Ethel’s shoulders sagged.

“Take my hand, Ethel.” Lennie smiled again. “Take my hand and come and sit with us. Come and meet Miss Fern. She needs someone like you with whom she can talk. She’s a little girl and needs someone a little older in whom she can confide. Only you know what she’s seen, and only she knows what you’ve experienced.”

Ethel reached out and took Lennie’s hand. Lennie gently helped Ethel down, and seated her next to Punch.

“Now, then.” Punch grinned. “Here’s our Ethel. Ain’t that more comfortable?”

“Y…yes, Your Grace.” Ethel whispered.

“We miss hearing your happy chatter waftin’ up the stairs from the servants’ hall, Ethel.” Punch replied. “I’d like to hear it again.”

Ethel began to cry.

“You cry all you want, then.” Punch said.

Lennie sat next to them, and put her arm around Ethel’s shoulders.

“Ethel, this young lady is called Fern. She’s…she’s to be our niece, mine and Dr. Halifax’s.”

From his spot near the bed, Robert added. “Fern Halifax.”

Finally, Fern smiled—even if just very slightly.

Mr. Punch stood up. “Why don’t you sit next to our Ethel, Fern?”

Fern nodded and moved over slightly.

“Sometimes when I’m frightened, I will take Mr. Punch’s hand in mine.” Robert urged the girl. “It comforts me. Perhaps you could do that for Ethel.”

“Good morning, Ethel.” Fern said quietly. “May I take your hand?”

Ethel nodded, reaching for Fern’s hand.

“You’re both safe now.” Punch said firmly. “You’re safe here in your home and nothin’ is gonna get to ya here.”

Lennie rose to stand next to Robert and Punch. “We won’t let it.”

“We promise.” Robert added.

They watched the two girls look at one another. Both sobbed, but held tightly to each other’s hands.

“It was awful!” Fern wailed.

“It was.” Ethel sniffed.

Punch turned slightly and over his shoulder whispered to Violet. “Get some tea, will you, please? And, tell the others that we’re all going to be all right.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-268 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 270. 

Painting of the Day: Pulcinella and Lucretia, 1742

Pulcinella and Lucretia
Portion of a Mural of Sixteen Panels
by Andien de Clermont , 1742

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Wealthy landowners in the Eighteenth Century (as now) always sought ways to show their status. One of the best ways to do this was to adorn their grand homes in the most fashionable manner. Mural painting in a grand house was a sure indicator of wealth and status. Noble and wealthy families would commission artists (usually from France, The Netherlands or Italy) to decorate the walls of their homes with fantastical scenes which demonstrated the owner's learning, allegiance and sophisticated taste.

Here, we see a portion of a mural comprised of a series of 16 panels which were originally commissioned by Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, in 1742 to decorate the “Scaramouche Parlour” in his house, Belvedere, in Kent.

The panels show scenes from the Commedia dell'Arte, depicting a number of the tradition’s stock characters which included Scaramouche; the Capitano, a swaggering, blustering coward; Arlecchino (who became the Harlequin of pantomime); Pulcinella (who inspired the English Punch); Pedrolino (later Pierrot); and Colombine (a serving maid with an amorous association with Harlequin or Pierrot).

The scenes were the 1742 work of the French artist Andien de Clermont (active 1716-1783) who was considered the most avant-garde and highly-inventive artist working in Britain during the Rococo period.

This scene depicts Pulcinella and Lucretia. We see a man in a blue shirt and a woman in a pink skirt in foreground. To the right of the woman is a large urn filled with flowers. In the background, we see a scene of buildings and a woman chasing a man, trying to beat him over the head with a club (these two figures are dressed identically to the two main figures in the foreground). Clearly, this is meant to show the love/hate aspect of most romantic entanglements and one of the main themes associated with Pulcinella. Evidence of the development of Punch and Judy is quite clear in the depiction of violent romance and potential clubbing.