Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Jenkins Bracelet, c. 1880

Europe, c. 1880
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Bracelets were the most fashionable accessories of the 1850s-1890s. Worn in stacks, bracelets were combined to suit any outfit and time of day. “Daytime” bracelets were considered by the French connoisseur Edmond Joly de Bammeville as the “main feature of national dress” in England. Not only would a woman stack her bracelets, but, often, she’d wear up to seven or eight different designs at the same time between the wrist and elbow on both arms—even over gloves. 

This silver gilt bracelet is set with half-pearls and rose-and brilliant-cut diamonds. The jewel is adorned with pierced scrolls and a decorative border. It days to the 1880s. 

At the Music Hall: “Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy” by C.W. Murphy

Hold your hand out, naughty boy.
Hold your hand out, naughty boy.
Last night, in the pale moonlight,
I saw you, I saw you;
With a nice girl in the park,
You were strolling full of joy,
And you told her you'd never kissed a girl before:
Hold your hand out, naughty boy.

Much as she popularized songs such as Down at the Old Bull and Bush, music hall singer, Florrie Forde made Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy into a public hit. This rousing song about the silliness of men where women are concerned, was perfectly suited to Miss Forde’s flirty style. Enjoy this recording of Miss Forde singing this cheerful song.

Saturday Sparkle: A Turquoise and Diamond Bracelet, 1862

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here we have a truly stunning bracelet of gold, enamel, half-pearls, rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds and turquoises. Made in 1862 by T. & J. Bragg, this bracelet was exhibited by the firm firm at the International Exhibition of 1862, where it was immediately purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum.

This bracelet is further evidence of the English national craze for arm adornments which began in the 1850’s. Fashion expert Edmond Joly de Bammeville declared at the time that the “daytime bracelet was the main feature of national dress” in England. Since this one was snatched up by the V&A before it had a chance to be sold, it never served its purpose, but, rather, was elevated to a higher calling—representing its bangle brethren for eternity. 

Unfolding Pictures: The National Progress Fan, 1877

The National Progress Fan, 1877
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The National Progress Fan
Commissioned by Queen Victoria, 1877
The Royal Collection
Commissioned by the Queen after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, “The National Progress Fan” commemorates an event which took place in August of 1850-- Prince Albert’s speech at the laying of the foundation stone of the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. The fan is inscribed with passages from the speech, along with other phrases which expressed the Prince’s many, varied interests and causes, including the “education of women.”

Women’s education was a cause of great importance to the fan’s maker--Marianne, Viscountess Alford who took great care in creating the fan. The Viscountess represented the Prince’s speech through an allegorical image depicting “Art personified” on the left, with a representation of Science on the right. Both figures point towards the central building, described by Lady Alford as a “Temple of Instruction.” The fan also features intricate mother-of-pearl sticks and guards with a pin of silver and pearls. 

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

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 297

Chapter 297 

Gerry! Gerry!” Gamilla exclaimed as she hurried into the room in the attics Gerard shared with Charles. “Did she hurt ya, my love?”

“No, no.” Gerard said quickly.

“I’m sorry to just bust in, Charlie.” Gamilla apologized to Charles who sat next to Gerard on the bed. “But, I done heard what happened and I…”

“It’s all right, Gamilla.” Charles smiled. “I can leave you two alone.”

“You don’t have to.” Gamilla shook her head.

“Who told ya, ‘Milla?” Gerard sighed. “Did you see Dr. Halifax?”

“No. Miss Rittenhouse tol’ me and Miss Lennie when we was walkin’ home.”

“You saw her?”

“She was on the street. We done had a scuffle with the Baron Lensdown on the way home and we had to walk past her.”

“What kind of scuffle?” Gerard stood up. “Did he hurt you?”

“Just grabbed my arm.” Gamilla shook her head. “Ain’t nothin’.”

“I’ll kill ‘im!” Gerard barked.

“Now, honey, it ain’t as bad as all that.” Gamilla stood, too, putting her arms on Gerard’s shoulders. “Didn’t hurt me at all. He was teasin’ us and Miss Lennie’s had ‘nough. So, she told him all ‘bout Orpha bein’ his sister and how that poor, sick, deformed child is his son.”

“I imagine he didn’t take it well.” Charles shook his head.

“No. Got his back all up. Told Miss Lennie she was a liar and she dared him to go look at the baby’s faces for his own self. Well, he got even madder still, and grabbed me.”

“Ain’t nobody gonna hurt my wife!” Gerard growled.

“Ain’t nobody did.” Gamilla smiled. “Miss Lennie, she punched him right in the jaw.”

“Did she?” Gerard laughed.

“Knocked him on his…well, knocked him down. In front of a bunch of men, too.” Gamilla answered. “A nice gentleman…Earl of somethin’ or other, walked us home. I think he took a shine to Miss Lennie.”

“Is that so?” Charles smiled.

“’Bout time someone did,” Gamilla nodded.

“You sure you ain’t hurt, then, ‘Milla?” Gerard asked.

“No, honey. I’m just fine.”

Gerard sighed and settled back on the bed next to Charles.

Gamilla joined them.

“Honey, I’m just worried ‘bout you. Is it true you cut off that Orpha woman’s hand?”

“I did.” Gerard confessed, tears welling up in his eyes. “I didn’t even know I was doin’ it ‘til after it happened. She was sayin’ awful things.”

“Like what?”

“Don’t matter.” Gerard shook his head. “I just wanted her to be quiet. I saw the cleaver on the floor and I…”

“What was you doin’ in that house to begin with?”

“That’s my fault.” Charles answered. “I…I convinced Gerry to come with me. I wanted to scare them into leaving. I’d seen my brother earlier and Miss Rittenhouse and they were so cruel.”

“I know.” Gamilla nodded. “But, I didn’t know you were going over there.”

“It wasn’t until after you and Miss Lennie left. It was stupid, I know. I regret I ever thought of it, and I regret most of all that I brought Gerard.”

“Charles, all them wicked folk, they’re makin’ all o’ us do things we wouldn’t do usual. Remember how I was in Scotland with Finlay? That wasn’t me…that was just because I…I wanted him to stop. I understand.”

Gerard wiped his eyes. “Can you forgive me, ‘Milla?”

“What’ve I got to forgive you for, honey?” Gamilla brushed a tear from his cheek.

“For bein’ bad. For hurtin’ a woman.”

“That ain’t no woman.” Gamilla shook her head. “She’s as much of a monster as that poor child o’ hers.”

“That’s…” Gerard began to shake.

“Is that what troubled ya? That I’d be upset with ya?”

Gerard nodded.

“Oh, my love, she done stabbed ya. I almost lost ya, Gerry. If you’d died, well, I just don’t know what I’d have done. My lamb, you’re my whole world. You didn’t hurt her nearly as bad as she hurt you. I ain’t sayin’ that revenge is the way, but it ain’t like you just jumped upon some poor, innocent lady who never done you or no one else no harm.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt her.” Gerard sighed. “I swore when Arthur died and the Duke took me in that I’d never, ever do nothin’ to hurt nobody ever again.”

“It ain’t your fault.” Gamilla said confidently. She looked at Charles. “And, it ain’t your fault neither.”

“I just wish it was all over and they’d all go away.”

“Maybe they will.” Gamilla replied.

“I don’t see it happening any time soon.” Charles shook his head.

“Could be though. Miss Lennie done tol’ Miss Rittenhouse that the baron was back. That Italian man…” Gamilla paused. “Sorry, Charles. Your brother. He done went and got the baron and brought him to Hamish House. Miss Ulrika said there was to be some kind of ‘ritual.’ Maybe it’s the thing that’ll make ‘em all go ‘way.”

“Or make them stronger.” Charles sighed.

“Where’s Miss Lennie now?” Gerard asked.

“I left her talkin’ to that gentleman what walked us home. But, I ‘spect by now she’s gone to talk to the Duke and Dr. Halifax.”

“Good.” Charles nodded. “They’ll know more than we do about what to do next.”

At that very moment, Lennie had, in fact gone inside to speak to her brother and Robert. Not finding either of them in the morning room or drawing room, she went upstairs to the library where Punch spent most of his time. She searched the room and, not seeing anyone, decided to go to Robert’s study on the floor above.

However, as she walked out of the library, she noticed the Duke’s shoes sticking out from under the center table. Knowing her brother often liked to crawl under furniture, she knelt down to address him.

First, she saw Dog Toby who looked up at her and let out a low whimper.

The terrier crawled out from under the table and whined again.

“What is it?” Lennie asked gently.

Peering under the table, Lennie said, “Punch?”

He didn’t respond.

“Brother, dear.” She said again, a little louder, thinking he’d fallen asleep.

Still, Punch did not answer.

Lennie began to feel a nervous sweat rise on her brow.

Shaking one of Punch’s feet she said more loudly, “Mr. Punch! Wake up!”

But, Punch did not move.

“Dear God!” Lennie gasped, rising.

Followed by Dog Toby, Lennie ran from the library shouting, “Robert! Robert!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-296 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 298.


History's Runway: A Costume Design for Wendy Hiller, 1935

Dress Design for Wendy Hiller, c. 1935
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Wendy Hiller (1912-2003) was trained at the Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1930 and made her West End debut, to exceptional acclaim. In 1935, at the apex of her illustrious carrer, Miss Hiller appeared as Sally Hardcastle in “Love on the Dole.”  Later, she went on to star in countless roles on the stage and, then, in film and television.  Her grand career led to being awarded a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 1975.

Here, we see a pencil and watercolor costume design for Dame Wendy Hiller. The drawing shows a side view of an elegant lady with her auburn hair swept back into a low bun. She is depicted wearing a pink dress with cap sleeves trimmed with pearls, a row of pearls, and elbow-length white opera gloves.

The costume sketch is unsigned, but it is inscribed “Miss Wendy Hiller. Heavy Silk Dress Flamingo Pink. Organza Pleated Insets. Large Chiffon Scarves in Three (underlined) Pinks.”

The drawing dates to about 1935.
  It’s not certain which of her shows the costume was for.  Perhaps it was a drawing for a gown for her to wear personally.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Dame Joan Evans Quatrefoil Ring, 1810-20

Pearl, Diamond, and Emerald Ring
The Victoria & Albert Museum

A gold ring with a quatrefoil bezel set with a brilliant-cut diamond and half pearls, this exceptional piece featuires forked shoulders set with emeralds and half pearls.

It was made in England between 1810 and 1820 and found itself in the important collection of jewels amassed by Dame Joan Evans.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mastery of Design: A German Mother-of-Pearl and Jeweled Box, 1730-1740

German, 1730-1740
Mother-of-Pearl, Gold, Diamonds, Rubies, Hyacinth, Emeralds
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Made in Germany for export to Austria between 1730 and 1740, this box was designed to hold small personal items. Such boxes were the pinnacle of opulence and were considered symbols of enormous wealth and social standing. 

This particular box is crafted from mother-of-pearl, mounted in piqué with gold, and set with brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, emeralds, jacinth (hyacinth) and garnets. It was exported from Vienna to England in 1806 where it was quickly appreciated for its workmanship and reliance on organic design themes. 

Mr. Punch's Puzzles: The Riddle of the Week

Each Friday, Mr. Punch, with my help, presents a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  Be on the look-out!  Sometimes--not today, because, frankly, I don't feel like it--the winner will receive a fabulous prize from our online store.

So, here's this week's riddle.  And, for the love of Punch, don't Google the answer.  That's not cool, and most of all, it's very un-Victorian.  Must be sporting, Chums, what.

Though of great age,
I'm kept in a cage,
Having a long tail and one ear,
My mouth it is round,
And when joys do abound,
O, then I sing wonderful clear.

And, the answer is...

A Church Bell

Very amusing answers today with special mention to Matty, Darcy, and Dashwood.  Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles!

And, remember Mr. Punch wants you to never forget that, "That's the way to do it!"  A good way to recall that is with one of our exclusive Mr. Punch products, available only in ouronline store.  

Drawing of the Day: Punch Composing a Polka, c. 1850

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This beautiful hand-colored lithograph is undated and has no provenance. I’d place it circa 1850. Part of the massive collection in the V&A in the George Speaight Punch & Judy Archive, we see a polychrome Punch composing a Polka—as he would. Punch, as the voice of the people, was often associated with music and found himself the subject of many a polka and dance song.

Frankly, I wish I knew more about the origins of this piece, the artist and the publisher, but, I’m really just glad it has survived. If the utmost fascination is the intelligent, thoughtful look on Mr. Punch’s face as he works. Anyone could associate with Mr. Punch in some way—from noblemen to the laborer on the street. He managed to rise above his comical tragedy and his impish (and murderous) misbehavior, to become a true icon of the arts and society.

Print of the Day: A Punch and Judy Show in Naples

A Punch & Judy Show in Naples
G. Torino
Late Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Of course we know that our Mr. Punch has Italian roots and is descended from the black-masked Commedia dell’ Arte character Pulcinella. By the time Pulcinella had become a marionette—far easier to control than a pesky actor—and traveled to the U.K. his name had become Punchinella and, later, Punch as he took the form of a glove puppet.

But, Pulcinella and his ancestor haven’t been apart. By the early Nineteenth Century, as travel abroad became quite fashionable for high society Londoners, Punch went along with them. Once returned to Italy, Punch—courtesy of his intrepid professors—began to perform on the streets of Italy as he did in London. Sometimes, a professor would join forces with a Pulcinella performer and the two puppets would enjoy a brief reunion.

Such a scene is depicted in this late Eighteenth Century hand-colored lithograph signed G. Torino which is entitled “A Punch & Judy Show in Naples.” Here, we see Mr. Punch in his red costume alongside his ancestor, the white-robed Pulcinella. I’m sure it was a joyful reunion indeed. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 296

Chapter 296 

What on Earth 

This is the child, then?” Lennie said.

Ulrika stared blankly at Lennie, at first not recognizing the woman she taunted in the Duke’s house.

“Oh!” Ulrika’s eyes flashed as she placed Lennie’s face. “Yes! We’ve just come from your brother’s house and found him quite rude.”

“He doesn’t like you.” Lennie replied plainly. She studied Marduk. “The wretched thing needs the attention of a physician.”

“Why do your people keep saying that to me?” Ulrika snapped.

“Please, Miss Molliner.” Matthew whispered.

Lennie ignored him. “Miss Rittenhouse, I think you should know that the child’s father is just up the street. You might wish to inform Orpha.”

“Oh, how delicious.” Ulrika cooed. “Finally! Something productive has come of this day.”

“I’ve told him all about his son.” Lennie continued.

“Oh?” Ulrika frowned. “I wish you hadn’t done that. I was so looking forward to the look on his face when he was told.”

“Don’t fret, Miss Rittenhouse. There’s much more agony upon which you might feed.”

“True, dear.” Ulrika smiled. “Thank you.” She snapped her fingers. “Giovanni. Go fetch the man, would you? There’s a lamb.”

“Which is he?”

“The one on the ground.” Lennie smiled.

“On the ground?” Ulrika’s eyes widened with delight. She looked at Gamilla. “Did you work some of your voodoo magic on him?”

“No, Miss.”

“Pity.” Ulrika sighed.

“Go get him, darling.” Ulrika snapped at Giovanni who quickly scurried off.

“Well, then.” Ulrika continued. “If the African didn’t do it, why is he on the ground? Is he ill?” She asked expectantly.

“I struck him in the jaw.” Lennie answered.

“Did you?” Ulrika’s face brightened. “You?”

“I did.”

“How delightful!” Ulrika laughed. “Perhaps you’re not as dull as your well-meaning brother and his fancy man. How delicious. You must come to tea.”

“I don’t think so.” Lennie shook her head.

“Oh, yes. You don’t care for Orpha.” Ulrika nodded. “It had to be done, you know. It was all meant to be, my dear. And, look how it worked out for you…pathetically well, I’m afraid.”

“Sorry to disappoint.” Lennie replied dryly.

“Still, you might enjoy knowing that she’s lost a hand.” Ulrika continued.

“Orpha has?”

“Oh, yes. One of the men from your brother’s house did it.”

“Oh?” Lennie’s eyes widened.

“The Australian one.” Ulrika nodded. She glanced at Gamilla. “The one you’re to marry, you Nubian delight.”


“Chopped it right off.” Ulrika chortled. “I’ve got it inside if you’d like to see it.”

“No.” Lennie answered quickly. “We’d best go.”

“Yes, yes.” Ulrika answered wildly, catching sight of Giovanni dragging the baron toward Hamish House. “Look, Marduk, there’s your daddy. Which arm do you want to use to wave at him? I think the third one is the best…”

“Miss? Could it be true what she said?” Gamilla whispered to Lennie.

“It could, I’m afraid.” Lennie replied softly.

“But, Gerry would never do…not somethin’ like that…”

“I’m afraid that Orpha can drive any man to act in ways he normally wouldn’t. Don’t fret, Gamilla. We’ll see that your Gerard is unharmed.”

“Oh, he’s fine. Sadly, he’s repentant. I just can’t stomach that sort of thing.” Ulrika moaned. “Are you sure you all wouldn’t like to stay? We’ve a wonderful reunion of father and son planned. And, there’s to be a stunning ritual.”

“No, thank you.” Lennie answered.

“You…man.” Ulrika smiled coyly. “Did you know that Marduk here is the messiah?”

“I…” Matthew began.

“We should leave you to it.” Lennie interrupted.

“I’m not one for social niceties, but, thank you for bringing the Baron to us.” Ulrika smiled.

“Miss Rittenhouse, truly, it is my pleasure.” Lennie smiled.

Without another word, Matthew hurried Gamilla and Lennie away.

“What on earth was that?” Matthew gasped once they were out of earshot.

“That was Ulrika Rittenhouse.” Lennie replied.

“Is that the woman or the…thing.”

“The woman. She’s American. My brother and his companion met her in America.”

“What a shame. She’s quite mad .”

“Indeed.” Lennie nodded.

“That creature is the offspring of the Baron Lensdown?” Matthew asked.

“It is.”

“Oh…oh, dear.” Matthew shook his head. “What is it exactly.”

“My brother’s companion says it’s an accident of nature—twins which were joined together before birth.”


“I feel sorry for it.” Lennie sighed.

“Of course.” Matthew nodded. “Is the American its mother?”

“No.” Lennie said. She paused. “She’s just an aficionado.”

“What was that foolishness about it being the messiah?”

“Sir, it would not make any more sense if I explained it.” Lennie sighed. “Ah, here we are. Thank you for escorting us home.”

“May I escort you inside?”

“Not today.” Lennie shook her head. “Gamilla…you may go inside and see to Gerard.”

“Thank you, Miss.” Gamilla replied, rushing past them to go down the area stairs to the servants’ hall.

“I am most appreciative.” Lennie continued. “I do hope you will call on us soon.”

“I should like to.” Matthew blushed again. “I hope His Grace wouldn’t mind. I know how private and shy he is.”

“Pun…” She stopped herself. “Julian? Private? Shy?” She chuckled. “I’ve never thought of him as such.”

“Well, I do hear His Grace is quite changed since returning to America.”

“Do you know my brother?”

“Not really, no. We’ve met once or twice, but I can’t say we spoke more than a few words to one another.”

“I’m sure His Grace would be thrilled to see you again. I would invite you in, it’s just that…”

“It seems there’s a great deal happening in your household today. I understand completely. Matthew replied.

“Well, then. Good afternoon, Miss Molliner.”

“And, to you, Lord Cleaversworth.”

“Do call me Matthew.” He replied. “Unless you find me impertinent.”

“Not at all.” Lennie smiled. “And, please, call me Lennie.”

“I look forward to seeing you again.” Matthew replied sincerely. “Any woman who can fell a man with one punch is one I’d like to know.”

Lennie blushed. “I’m afraid that’s the first, and, hopefully the last time.”

“That you did it at all makes you all the more fascinating.” Matthew answered.

They stood awkwardly for a few seconds, looking at one another.

“Isn’t it silly?” He asked.


“I can’t seem to make myself say goodbye.”

Lennie blushed deeper still.

“Though, since we are chaperoned, I’d best. I shall call tomorrow. Good evening, Lennie. Thank you for a most interesting walk.”

“Thank you…Matthew.”

They nodded at one another once more.

“Extraordinary.” Lennie whispered as she climbed the stairs to the front door. “Utterly extraordinary.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-295 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 297.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: An Eighteenth Century Italian Pulcinello

Pulcinello Performer
Carlo Lasinio

As we know, our Mr. Punch is a close relative to Italy’s Pulcinello. While the two characters aren’t identical, they’re clearly related and have the same sawdust running through their veins (pardon my love of puppet humor). In this Italian painting from 1780 by Florentine painter Carlo Lasinio, we can get a sense of Punch’s transformation.

The figure shown in this painting is more “Punch” than he is Pulcinello. Though the costume is Pulcinello’s traditional white robe, the face is clearly that of Mr. Punch. By this point (as of 1662, in fact), Pulcinello shows were being performed in Britain as Punchinello, (shortened to Punch) and had already begun to take on the form we know today. During the Eighteenth Century, Punch was still a marionette. The figure shown in this Italian painting is a glove-puppet. So, again, we see some evolutionary puppet stuff going on. It’s hard to say who is influencing whom here. The puppet’s Punch-like face may be an influence of the British on the Italian, and the glove-figure may be the future influence of the Italian on the British. Regardless, it’s all related, and I think this a charming painting.

Object of the Day: A Victorian Mr. Punch, c. 1890

This puppet recently came from England to live at my house with the other assortment of Punchinellos who share the place with me.  He's quite old.  I'd say he dates between 1890 and 1900.  Still wearing his original costume of velvet, he retains traces of metallic gold-silk adornment and trimmings, and even has a  bit of his original wig.

His head is constructed of papier mache, rather odd for a professional Mr. Punch puppet, yet, he shows all the characteristic signs of having been used in Punch and Judy shows--wear from slapsticks and such.  I do think, even, this is his original paint job.  His little hands and feeties are of carved wood and the sleeve which conceals the Professor's arm is constructed of striped cotton.

I am quite pleased that he's come to live here and like him quite a lot despite the fact that he's something of a mystery.  By that I mean, I'm not sure who made him.  Usually, the puppet-maker would leave a mark inside the puppet, often around the base of his neck.  This one, however has no sign of such a mark or signature.  

My guess, and it's only a guess based on his physical characteristics, is that he's the work of Victorian Punch and Judy man, Albert Smith.  Compare my little fellow to this example of Smith's work on this Punch and this Joey the Clown and see what you think.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Whan That Aprill with his Shoures Soote

"When you said, 'pilgrims,' I was expecting there to be turkey legs."

Image: A Roman Princess Washing the Feet of Pilgrims, Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841), Signed and dated 1827, Oil on panel, Acquirer: George IV, King of the United Kingdom (1762-1830), Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection.  Image courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  

You, too, could have a cup of tea with Bertie. Or, you could wear his picture proudly. Visit our online store to see our range of Gratuitous Bertie Dog products.

Mastery of Design: A Sapphire, Diamond and Chalcedony Pendant, 1925

French, 1925
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This platinum and enameled gold pendant is set with brilliant-cut diamonds, carved sapphires, stained chalcedony and jadeite. Hung from a ribbon, it dances as the wearer moves, catching the light. The pendant is attributed to Parisian jeweler Janesich.

Janesich created a masterful work in a combination of styles—capitalizing on the icy contrast of gemstones which had become popular in the mid 1920s, but also incorporating the ideals of past ages with the florid folliage. 

Bertie's Pet-itations: Declaration of Dependence

Here's Bertie's weekly opportunity to share his ideas for creating our new "Beautiful Age."  Bertie's advice, I'm sure, can be applied to many different areas of our lives.

And, so, I happily hand the computer over to him.

Bertie says:

Your pets aren't your property, we're your companions.  Animals don't belong to people.  People and animals belong to each other.

Unfolding Pictures: The Trompe-l’oeil Lace Fan, 1750

Trompe-L'Oeil Lace Fan
French, 1750
Prvisouly owned by Queen Charlotte
Presented to Queen Mary, 1939
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Mary (of Teck) in addition to her usual curiosity about all art and artifacts and her overall passion for collection, had a keen fascination with Queen Charlotte (the consort of King George III) who had a similar penchant for collecting gorgeous objects. Whether or not Queen Mary knew about the existence of this fan in advance of it being given to her is unclear, but what is known is that she was thrilled with the gift of the magnificent piece was it was presented to her by the Honorable Claude Yorke, in 1939. She was even more overjoyed upon learning that the fan with mythological scenes once belong to Queen Charlotte and was one of the objects which had been stripped from the Royal Collection by the auction of Charlotte’s possessions in 1819.

The fan is an exceptional work of art in the style of mid-Seventeenth-Century French fan-makers who took great care in creating their fans. The French preferred that fans were mounted with two leaves, instead of one as was the custom with English fan-makers. Carved tortoiseshell sticks and guards with a silver, garnet-head pin support the leaves which have been painted in a trompe-l’oeil style (literally, “fool the eye”) which is meant to give the impression that the entire piece has been overlaid with a sheet of delicate lace. The lace has been painted onto the fan as if it had been applied and glued and is rendered in such a way that it appears to have been carefully cut around the two painted scenes. The scenes may depict Dido and Aeneas, but their exact subject matter is unknown.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 295

Chapter 295 
Quite a Punch 

It wasn’t until the baron hit the ground that he knew what had happened. Rubbing his jaw, he looked up at Lennie, stunned. “You struck me!”

“I’ll do more if you ever touch my friend again.” Lennie growled. She turned to Gamilla. “Run home and get Dr. Halifax to look at you arm.”

“I ain’t leavin’ ya here, Miss. Not with him.” Gamilla shook her head. “I’m jus’ fine.”

The baron began to rise from the banquet, but Lennie narrowed her eyes at him. “I suggest you stay where you are, Baron.”

“I’ll go for the constable.” The baron threatened though he remained on the ground.

“Please do.” Lennie shrugged as people gathered around the scene. “Tell them how you were felled by a woman half your size.”

A few gentlemen who had joined the group laughed.

“There’s much you can tell the constable.” Lennie continued, glad to have an audience. “Where shall we start? Do you remember Roger Barrett? Light ginger hair, a gentle smile…well, he had a gentle smile. Once. He was my favorite brother. Though, he’s not really my brother. Is he? I suppose you could call Roger my cousin now. Do you recall him? Do you know what he is now? You want to speak to me of madness? And why? What happened to Roger to make him that way. You know. You could tell that to the constable. What would we next tell him? Would we tell him about your sister, Baron? Would we tell him about your children? All of them?”

One of the gentlemen in the crowd stepped forward. “Miss, are you all right? Did this man harm you?”

“Yes.” Lennie nodded, slightly taken aback by the gentleness in the man’s voice. “He did. He attacked this woman.” She pointed to Gamilla.

“Shall I fetch the beadle?” the man asked.

“I’ll leave that up to the Baron Lensdown.” Lennie smiled. “If you’ll excuse me, Gamilla and I must go home. My brother is waiting.”

“Your brother?”

“The Duke of Fallbridge.” Lennie nodded at the stranger.

“Ah, yes, you’re the Duke’s sister who’s been away. Barbara. Oh, but I’d heard she was dead.”

“No, I’m the Duke’s other sister. I’m called ‘Lennie.’”

“I wasn’t aware His Grace had two sisters.”

“I’ve been in Scotland,” Lennie fibbed slightly.

“May I call on you later to see that you’re quite well?” The man asked.

Lennie blushed. “If you like, Sir.”

“Oh,” The man blushed slightly, too. “I should introduce yourself. Matthew, Earl of Cleaversworth.”

“Charmed.” Lennie nodded. She looked over her shoulder at the Baron Lensdown who remained on the ground in the middle of a circle of men ranging from footmen to Lords who laughed at him.

“I must say,” Matthew continued. “You’ve quite a punch.”

Lennie giggled. “In many ways. You could say that a good ‘punch’ is a family tradition.”

Matthew nodded, confused.

“May I escort you home, Lady Fallbridge?” Matthew asked. “You and this young woman.”

“If you like,” Lennie nodded. “Though I’m not known as Lady Fallbridge.”

“No?” Matthew asked.

“I prefer Miss Molliner,” Lennie said quickly.

“As you wish, Miss Molliner.” Matthew answered. He looked at Gamilla. “I heard Miss Molliner say that the baron attacked you. Are you harmed.”

“No, Sir.” Gamilla shook her head.

“This is Gamilla, my nephew’s nurse.”

“Oh, I saw His Grace with his young son in the garden just the other day. What a fine and handsome lad the boy is.”

“Thank you.” Lennie smiled. “We’re quite proud of him.” She looked over her shoulder again.

“Leave the baron to the ridicule he’s earned.” Matthew smiled. “There’s not a man in that group who hasn’t been wronged by him, one way or another. They’ve each earned the freedom to make him their fun.”

“I’ve no doubt of that.” Lennie nodded firmly.

They began to walk toward No. 65. Gamilla followed behind them. She rubbed her arm, but despite the horrible scene they’d just endured, she couldn’t help but smile a bit. She could tell that this man, this Earl of whatever he’d said, was taken by Miss Lennie, and, they idea pleased her. He wasn’t a bad-looking man, probably in his mid-forties with curly dark blond hair. He was trim, and looked as if he enjoyed being out in the sun. Gamilla recalled how she’d overheard Miss Lennie speaking to the Duke and the doctor once about how she’d resigned herself to spinsterhood long ago. Gamilla nodded to herself. Maybe hers would be the first of the weddings to come to the occupants of No. 65.

As they approached No. 65, they, of course had to pass Hamish House where Ulrika Rittenhouse and Giovanni still stood in front of the portico, Marduk still in Ulrika’s arms. They were so wrapped up in their own drama that they’d not even noticed the commotion at the front of the square.

Just as Matthew was about to nod a polite hello to the newcomers to the square, he caught site of the creature in Ulrika’s arms. His tanned face grew pale.

“Don’t look, Miss Molliner.” He whispered.

“It’s quite all right, Sir.” Lennie shook her head. She paused and turned to Ulrika and Marduk.

“But, it’s…” Matthew said in a hushed voice. “…it’s something of a monstrous…I don’t know.”

“I assure you, Sir. This is nothing I cannot handle.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-294 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 296.

Precious Time: An Empire Trophy Clock, 1810

French Case, 1810
Gilt Bronze, Chased and Cast
English Movement
The Victoria and Albert Museum

Clocks in the form of trophies with military themes were popular during the “Empire” period of France. This period’s tastes relied heavily on military motifs with classical styling.

This particular clock of cast and chased gilt bronze has been polished to a mirror-like shine. Dating to 1810,the maker of the case is unknown thought the movement is suspected to have been the work of John Moore & Son. The clockworks were updated later in the Nineteenth Century and replaced with an English movement though the French case remains unaltered.

In the clock’s central shield, the clock face is nestled within a wreath of oak leaves and is supported by the figure of an eagle holding a thunderbolt. Similar leaves adorn flanking figures of a griffin and an eagle as well as two plumed helmets—all symbols of military victory.