Friday, August 16, 2013

Back on Monday

Hello all,

I had intended to get back to weekend posts and had planned on spending time on Friday afternoon preparing them. Then, I went to physical therapy and discovered that in addition to my neck being injured in my recent car accident, my ribs and sternum were compressed and are out of alignment. Then, he pressed and pulled and pushed on my torso. So, now I'm crabby and want to sit on the sofa with Bertie and watch "Hazel." And that's what I'm going to do. I trust I'll get the crabbiness out of my system by Monday. See all of you, then...

Head smacks to all irresponsible drivers,


Mastery of Design: The Hull-Grundy Hair Ornament

Hair Ornament
c. 1760
This and all relayed images from The British Musuem

Another jewel from The British Museum's Hull-Grundy Gift, this hair ornament is made in the form of a floral spray with leaves of chased silver and gold settings for the foiled rose-cut diamonds.  Four pear-shaped pendant drop diamonds and two baroque pearls join the four diamond drops.

The ornament was made in Russia, circa 1760 and shows the Eighteenth Century taste for asymmetrical aigrettes in the Rococo fashion.  The style was especially popular in Russia and Italy, adapted from a Spanish style which relied heavily on shimmering pendant drops.  

A brooch set with emeralds from the same time period and place of creation is frequently associated with this hair ornament.  

Antique Image of the Day: Eckstein's Punch and Judy, 1798

Punch and Judy Show
Johannes Eckstein, 1798
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Johannes Eckstein (active 1770-1802) created this beautiful work of pen and ink and watercolor in 1798. This highly detailed image shows us a crowd engaged by a Punch and Judy show.

Look at Mr. Punch. Isn’t he just adorable? This would have been a wooden relative of the Punchinello famously recorded nearly twenty years later by George Cruikshank.

Today, this image is part of The Royal Collection. 

Unusual Artifacts: The St. Cloud Cane Handle, 1730-1740

Click on image to enlarge.
Cane Handle
Saint-Cloud Porcelain Factory
c. 1730
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Sorry gang, but I've got a busy day, so we'll have to wait until next week to have another of "Mr. Punch's Puzzles."  In the meantime, let's take a look at this.

This unusual cane handle is made of porcelain and takes the form of a man wearing a rather Punchinello-like cap. He is, in fact, quite like Mr. Punch in appearance.

The work of the Saint-Cloud Porcelain Factory, the handle is painted in enamels. It was made in France between 1730 and 1740 and is one of several similar cane handles in the collection of the V&A. All of them have lost their canes. 

Drawing of the Day: Mr. Punch and the World, 1843

Click image for larger size.

Punch and the World
John Leech or After John Leech
Britain, 1843
The British Museum

Since Friday’s tend to be “Mr. Punch” days, I’ve been trying to find new Punchinello related antiques to share with all of you. Here’s a drawing by John Leech (or in the style of John Leech) which dates to 1843. Of course, we know that Leech, among his many other successes, was known for his work withPunch Magazine. It’s possible that this drawing was created “after Leech” to match other illustrations in the publication.

Created for a November, 1843 edition of 
Punch, this study for an original drawing depicts Mr. Punch and the world—literally. Punch stands next to a figure with a globular head. The exact meaning of this satirical scene is somewhat lost to modern eyes, but, as with all Leech or Leech-inspired works, it is brimming with charm.

This pencil version was later inked and refined for publication.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 368

Chapter 368
Something New

"If that's Gerard, let me tell ya,"  Gamilla said through the door, in response to the gentle knocking, "I know we already done saw each other, but, we ain't gonna take no more chances today.  I''ll see ya at the church!"

"It's not Gerry, Gamilla."  Mr. Punch laughed.  "It's just me and Lord Colinshire."

"Oh!"  Gamilla hurried to open the door.

"Hope ya don't mind, I'm still in my dressing gown.  Miss Lennie and Vi was doin' my hair."

"You two are going to have to be quick,"  Lennie joined Gamilla at the door of the new suite.  "We have important things to do.  Bride things.  Don't we, Violet?"

"That we do."  Violet smiled, coming up behind Gamilla and Lady Fallbridge.

Robert chuckled.  "We won't keep you from your bride things."

"Oh, Vi was just teasin', Your Lordship."  Gamilla said.

"We know, Gamilla."  Mr. Punch grinned.

Gamilla paused, "Don't you two look handsome?  Like men of wax, you two.  I am so proud to have Your Grace escort me down the aisle, and you, Dr. Halifax, Your Lordship, you'll be more handsome than the groom, standin' at his side with Charles.  Well," She  blushed slightly, "almost as handsome."

"We thank you,"  Robert nodded.

"Tick tock, my dear brothers."  Lennie teased.

"Right,"  Punch nodded.  "We only came to give Gamilla this token of our affection.  See, I remember when I...when we...was a little boy and a Yorkshire and one o' the girls from downstairs was wed, the other ladies spoke a poem, they did.  An old poem, maybe from Lancashire.  It starts, "somethin' old, somethin' new,"

Gamilla tilted her head to one side.

"It''s 'bout what a bride should wear to see that she has a happy life.  Somethin' old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in 'er shoe."

"How pretty."  Gamilla smiled.  "I already got somethin' new--that beautiful gown what you had made for me."

"That don't count."  Punch shook his head seriously, "Can't be the dress."

"What about the silk that Marjani gave me?"  Gamilla asked.  "That's new.  She made it special for me to wear on my marriage day.  There's still some of it in the gown."

"Can't be the dress, Gamilla."  Punch repeated.

"Oh,"  Gamilla smiled.

"So, here's something old."  Punch reached into his pocket, offering a small red leather box to Gamilla.

"Your Grace..."  Gamilla protested.  "You already done so much."

"It's tradition!"  Punch shook his head.

Gamilla grinned and opened the box to reveal a diamond ornament in the shape of a floral spray.  It was hung with pear-shaped diamond pendants and baroque pearls which shimmered as she removed the ornament from the box.

"It's to wear in your hair."  Punch said proudly.  "We wanted to give it to ya before Vi finished with your coiffure so she could add it in.  Quite old, it is.  Made in the Eighteenth Century.  It were once worn by our ancestors.  Now, I want you to have it."

"Your Grace, I couldn't."

"You can and you will."

"It's all too much."

"Gamilla, I know I speak for His Grace and Her Ladyship when I say that we all feel that you're an important part of this family.  I know His Grace was very excited to give this ornament to you."

"I am."  Punch nodded, his eyes wide and happily wild.

"Thank you, Your Grace.  I'm very humbled."

"Now,"  Robert spoke up, "Here's something new."  He, too, reached into his pocket and removed a box of black leather.

"Oh..."  Gamilla began to protest again.

"Now, now."  Robert shook his head.

Gamilla giggled, and opened the box to find a gold locket in the shape of a heart, a small diamond was set in the center.  

"This is from young Colin."  Robert explained.

"Look at the reverse!"  Punch chirped.

Gamilla turned over the locket and read:  "To Gamilla on the day of her wedding, with affection, C.M. 2 August 1852."

"When the man with the photography...ummm...things and here later, he can take pictures what we can put in there.  Pictures of you and Gerard so you can wear 'em in the locket."  Punch grinned.

"That's so sweet.  I don't know how I deserve this."  Gamilla said humbly.

"You deserve much."  Lennie spoke up.  "Now, gentlemen, we really must return to our tasks."  She winked.

"Lennie, we've two more things."  Robert winked back.

"Do you now?"  Lennie teased her "brother."

"We'd planned this before..."  Robert explained to Gamilla.  "None of us had planned on the events of this morning."

"No, Sir."  Gamilla exhaled.

"You go, you go."  Punch tickled Robert's shoulder.

"Very well."  Robert said.  "This is to be your something borrowed."  Robert took the stickpin from his own cravat.  The pin was surmounted by a circle of turquoises around a small diamond, meant to represent a forget-me-not.  "This pin was the first gift that Punch...His Grace...ever gave to me.  "I thought you might wear it on the ribbon of your sash."

"I will take very good care of it, Your Lordship and make sure it is returned to you safely."  Gamilla said gratefully.  "And, look, it's also blue."

"No, no.  That's cheatin'."  Punch shook his head.  "Gotta do it right; that's the way to do it."  From his other pocket, he removed another red leather box.  "Now, when Her Majesty was married, I...well, these hands made for Prince Albert a brooch which he gave to his Royal bride.  I sent the very same design to my workshop and they worked very hard to make sure this were done for ya on time."


"It's my gift to you for all ya done for us.  Please."  Punch held up his hand.

Gamilla opened the box and gasped at the large blue sapphire, surrounded by brilliant-cut diamonds.  

"It'll look fine on your gown."  Punch smiled.

"Your Grace, Your Lordship, I'm so...grateful."

"And we are to you."  Punch nodded.

"Very much so."  Robert added.

"One more thing,"  Lennie held out her hand.  "A silver sixpence to put in your shoe.  My contribution to the tradition."

"Oh, thank you, Lady Fallbridge."

"Now--you men out!"  Lennie demanded playfully.

"Can't we stay in the nursery with Colin?"  Punch asked.

"No!"  Lennie pushed the men into the day nursery where Ethel sat with Colin.  "Ethel has everything in her control."

Gamilla followed Lennie and the men.

"Sirs?  You might go and check on my Gerard for me."

"Charles has got him."  Robert smiled.  "But, we'll see how he is."

Just then, the door to the nursery opened and in walked Fern carrying a small spray of yellow rosebuds.

"I...I...think these were put in the wrong room."  Fern said softly.  "I can't imagine they're for me."

Did you miss Chapters 1-367 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Chapter 369.  

Print of the Day: Mr. Punch's Fancy Ball, 1844

Click image to enlarge.

Mr. Punch's Fancy Ball
Unknown Origins, 1844
The British Museum

The oversized comic scene shows traditional Punchinello characters gathered for a fancy ball and dance. The engraving is printed on two folding sheets and dates to 1844. We’re not sure who produced this wood engraving. Though the title is printed along the bottom, there’s no mention of artist, engraver or publisher. Even the date is not printed, but rather was added later in pencil.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Votaries of Fashion in the Temple of Folly, 1808

Click Image to Enlarge
Votaries of Fashion in the Temple of Folly
Tegg, 1808
The British Museum

This satirical print dates to 1808 and is entitled, “Votaries of Fashion in the Temple of Folly.” The hand-colored print was made by Thomas Rowlandson after an original by George Moutard Woodward, and published in London by Thomas Tegg.

The print served as the frontispiece to The “Chesterfield Travestie; Or, School for Modern Manners. Embellished with Ten Caricatures, Engraved by Woodward from original Drawings by Rowlandson [sic] . . . 1808.”

In the composition, Folly, a woman of fashion, is enthroned beneath a canopy. She has donned a fool’s motley and holds the bauble of a jester. She’s joined by a Punchinello as a crowd forms to stare at them in the sumptuous room.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Hull-Grundy Forget-Me-Not Tiara

From the Hull Grundy Gift at The British Museum

Click image for detail.

Another brilliant piece from the Hull-Grundy Gift to The British Museum, we see this French-made tiara which was constructed of three-color gold.  The gold has been worked into elaborate swags of leaves and flowers.  These are surrounded by a large crest of forget-me-nots mounted in turquoises with diamond-set centers.

Originally, this piece was worn as a frontlet ornament.  In 1805, the French jewel was altered, probably in Italy, into its present form as a tiara.

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Bubble Boy

"Can I, at least, wear your hat?"

Image: A Boy at a Ledge Blowing Bubbles, After Frans van Mieris the Elder (1635-81), Inscribed 1663, Oil on panel, Acquirer: George III, King of the United Kingdom (1738-1820), Provenance: Acquired by George III in 1762 as part of the collection of Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice, Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection, Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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. 

Out There in The Dark: Autumn Leaves, 1956

Everything clicked on Autumn Leaves. The cast was perfect, the script was good, and I think Bob [Aldrich] handled everything well. I really think Cliff did a stupendous job; another actor might have been spitting out his lines and chewing the scenery, but he avoided that trap. I think the movie on a whole was a lot better than some of the romantic movies I did in the past...but somehow it just never became better known. It was eclipsed by the picture I did with Bette Davis.

--Joan Crawford

This little-known, infrequently-screened Joan Crawford film actually features one of her most subdued and sympathetic performances. InAutumn Leaves, Crawford plays a spinster named Millie who falls in love with a much younger man, Burt (played by Cliff Robertson). When Millie and Burt marry, she realizes that her new husband suffers from a debilitating mental illness. As Millie struggles to get Burt the help he needs, she worries that his love for her will be erased along with his troubles.

Originally, the film was to be called, “The Way We Are,” but director Robert Aldrich and executives at Columbia Pictures wanted to capitalize on the popular song by Nat King Cole, “Autumn Leaves” which they had licensed for the picture. The change in title proved to be a good move. Due to the song’s wide-spread adoration, people flocked to the picture. Though it was panned by many critics, others noted Crawford’s fine performance in what she called, “the best older woman/younger man picture” in history.

The script was actually written by Jean Rouverol and Hugo Butler, but the two had been black-listed as suspected communists and so, the film’s screenplay is credited to Jack Jevne. For some reason, despite its solid acting, the film never really caught on. Crawford was quite proud of the picture. In the quote above, we can see her rightful pride and some slight bitterness that her later picture,
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, was more of a blockbuster sensation.

Watch the whole film below.

Bertie's Pet-itations: The Chronicles of Terrier

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:

I'm always ready for an adventure and can get excited about doing anything as long as we're together.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 367

Chapter 367

Mr. Punch stood, his fatigue showing, and smiled as best he could at the group who had gathered in the front hall.

"I just wanna say,"  Punch began, "that I'll be brief.  'Specially since Gamilla and Gerard need to get into their weddin' clothes.  In fact, I s'pose, we all do."

The staff, Lennie and Robert chuckled.

"We all been through a terrible time, we have."  Punch continued.  "Not just this mornin', but these many long weeks.  And, I must say, I'm awful proud of all of ya--the way you all supported one another, and me and His Lordship and Her Ladyship.  Today, Charles and Vi did a fine, fine job, they did, of keepin' Ruthy under control while the rest of us was out findin' Gamilla.  I want all of you to know, Ruthy's been taken away and will be put in gaol.  We ain't never gonna see 'er again.  But, that leaves us with somethin' o' a problem, it does.  That means we ain't got a nursery maid, and that, while Gamilla and Gerard are on their weddin' trip, there'd be no one to look after young Colin."  Punch smiled and looked at Robert.  "Chum..."

Robert nodded.  "While His Grace, Lady Fallbridge and I are perfectly capable of looking after Colin ourselves in Gamilla's absence, we do think it best that Gamilla have assistance when she returns, and, in fact, we should take on a new nursery maid while Gamilla and Gerard are away.  We've spoken with Mr. Speaight and Mrs. Pepper about this.  And..."  Robert looked to Lennie.

"We feel, based on Mrs. Pepper's recommendation and with Speaight's approval,"  Lennie began, "that our Ethel should be promoted to the position of Nursery Maid."

"Me?"  Ethel's eyes widened.

"Yes, if you'll agree to it."  Robert smiled.

"You see, Ethel," Punch spoke up, "Mrs. Pepper said that you were very good with Colin this morning and, I 'ave seen how he likes you me-self.  So, we think it's time you're out of the scullery and into a place where you'll be able to 'ave more freedom and thrive as well as be a good influence on our son."

"I..."  Ethel's eyes filled with happy tears.  "I...I...I'm happy to, Your Grace!  Thank you!  All of you, thank you!"

The other staff offered happy noises of congratulations.

"Oh, but..."  Ethel exclaimed, "what about Mrs. Pepper's scullery?"

"Speaight has already lined up a new scullery maid through the service."  Robert answered.

"Is she good?"  Ethel asked.

"She comes highly recommended."  Speaight said dryly.

"Well, then..."  Ethel grinned.  "When do I start?"

"Today, if you like."  Punch answered.

"Cor!  I'd like very much!"  She looked worried for a second.  "But, does that mean I don't get to go to the weddin'?"

"No."  Punch shook his head.  "We're bringing Colin to the church with us and he can stay for a bit during the wedding breakfast and reception.  We'll take turns with him.  But, this evening, you'll begin."

"If you come upstairs with me while Vi and Lady Fallbridge help me dress, I'll be able to tell ya a bit of what you'll need to know."  Gamilla volunteered.

"You wouldn't mind?"

"Not at all, honey."  Gamilla chuckled.

"Now,"  Punch clapped his hands, "we all best get ourselves ready for the weddin' and I know Speaight wants us all out of the hall so he can start gettin' the caterers and servers we've hired for the day into their right spots.  I expect to see everyone out here and ready to go in an hour and a half.  Remember, we've hired carriages to take all of us to the church."

The hall filled with happy chatter and Punch sighed, leaning into Robert as everyone hurried to their rooms.

"Do ya think we might finally have some..."  Punch began, but shook his head.  "Oh, I daren't think it."

"You should indeed dare."  Robert nodded.  "Peace?  Yes, let's hope it's nigh."

"There's no harm in 'opin'."  Punch agreed.

"No harm at all."  Robert smiled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-366 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 368.

Unfolding Pictures: The Cabriolet Fan, 1755

In the 1750’s, the French went quite mad over the introduction of the cabriolet—a new type of carriage which was so lightweight that it could be pulled by only one horse. The cabriolet was the height of fashion, so much so that it became iconic of the era. Ladies designed patches shaped like a cabriolet to adorn their faces, and atop their heads, they wore elaborate wigs and hats fashioned to resemble this popular means of transportation. Men even had images of cabriolets sewn into their stockings.

The Cabriolet Fan
French, 1755
Acquired by Mary of Teck
Paper, Ivory, Mother-of-Pearl
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
This obsession, of course, irritated the English, who thought the French people excessive, but nonetheless mimicked them. Cabriolet fans were crafted with scenes of merry people riding in the contraptions. Very often these fans were quite elaborately assembled with not simply one leaf on the sticks, but several concentric leaves.

This fan with carved ivory sticks, paper leaves and mother-of-pearl guards shows a scene of courtiers riding in a cabriolet. It is listed in the official documents of the Royal Collection as having been purchased in 1915 by Queen Mary. Other records, however indicate that this fan, for decades, belonged to Ida, Lady Bradford—one of Mary of Teck’s closest friends and “Extra Lady of the Bedchamber.” It is documented that Mary of Teck had long admired this rare antique fan, and that to oblige her friend, Lady Bradford gave the fan to the Queen. Regardless of how she came to own it, Queen Mary proudly displayed the fan in a gilt case in her bedroom at Marlborough House for many years.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Bow Porcelain Sheep, 1765

Bow Porcelain Factory
England, 1765
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made at England’s Bow Porcelain Factory, this figure of soft-paste porcelain sates to about 1765. This little sheep is painted with enamel colors. He’s shown standing beside a stump which is adorned with large leaves and flowers with yellow centers and white petals. As sheep tend to do, he is eating the grass and plants around him. This is a great example of the sort of figure which was popular during the Rococo movement. Even the base is Rococo with its six, low feet which have been picked out in green and purple. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mastery of Design: Carnet-de-Bal With Miniatures of an Unknown Lady and Gentleman

Circa 1790
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This carnet-de-bal (case for a dance card) was made between 1790 and 1795.  Many years later, on Christmas Day of 1937, the case was given to Queen Mary by Sir Philip Sassoon.

Her Majesty cataloged the carnet case as featuring portraits of "an unknown lady and gentleman."  

The case, constructed of gray enamel over gold is mounted with chased colored gold rims and, on the front and back, oval miniature portraits in enamels, set in diamond frames adorned with birds and flowers.  Inside, the case is fitted with an ivory tablet and pencil upon which a lady could write the order of the men with whom she would dance that night.

The gentleman can be identified vaguely as a Knight of St Louis.  In this bust-length portrait, he is facing forward and wearing a short gray wig, the blue uniform of his order with a breast-plate and the badge of the military Order of St Louis.

On the other side, the portrait of a lady presents her, also bust-length, facing forward.  She is wearing a pale blue dress with a large white bow.  Her powdered hair is tied with a blue ribbon.

We can deduce that the carnet case was made in France as The Order of St Louis was instituted by Louis XIV in 1693 as a means of rewarding officers distinguished either in military action or for long service. The style of the case and painting and the dress of the figures in the portraits suggest a date of the early 1790s.

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

Painting of the Day: A Portrait Miniature of Mary, the Princess Royal, 1912

Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary
The Princess Royal
Aged Fifteen Years
Turrell, 1912
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Painted in 1912 by Charles Turrell, this watercolor on ivory miniature shows the King George V’s and Queen Mary’s third child, Mary, the Princess Royal around age 15.

Wearing the Garter of the Order of Victoria and Albert, Mary looks quite a lot like her mother. With her creamy skin and wheat-colored curls, she carries herself with the same dignity that Queen Mary did.

Oddly enough, Turrell painted this miniature and never presented it to the King and Queen. Instead, he kept it. His widow presented the piece to the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1932.

Unusual Artifacts: A Miniature Vinaigrette, 1800

Miniature Vinaigrette
The Victoria and Albert Museum

Here we have a miniature vinaigrette which is designed to resemble a coffee table (in gold) with a coffee service of six coffee cups with saucers and spoons, a sugar bowl with spooon and a coffee pot (in parcel gilt) attached to the top. The wee table featues cabriole legs and a hinged top.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “vinaigrettes” were boxes designed to hold scented sponges. These were used by both men and women to prevent inevitable fainting fits and counteract the myroad unpleasant smells inherent to life in the city.

When the Victoria & Albert Musem acquired this miniature vinaigrette it contained a card from the donor which offered the following story:

This vinaigrette was the property of Princess Charlotte (daughter of George IV) who died in 1817. An ancestor of mine, name probably Wyatt, was librarian to the above King and saved the vinaigrette when the princess threw it into the fire in a fit of temper. I cannot verify this account but I think it probably correct.

According to the V&A, research indicates that there never was a royal librarian with the name of Wyatt. However, the architect James Wyatt and his son Matthew Cotes Wyatt were frequent visitors to the palaces during this period.

I imagine that Princess Charlotte—throughout her short, unhappy life—had many reasons to throw a variety of objects into the fire. So, I like to think that this story is true.