Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Ring Containing the Hair of King George III, 1816




Ring
Enamel, Gold, Diamond, Rubies
Containing the Hair of King George III
1816, English
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This ring of enameled gold contains bezel-set rubies and a brilliant-cut diamond in the shape of a crown. The band is dated, 1816. Behind the crown, a locket is cleverly hidden upon which has been inscribed, “Hair cut from the head of George III, 1 Apr., 1816.”


Items of jewelry, especially during the Nineteenth Century, frequently held lockets of hair—often behind rock crystal or glass as a memento of a loved one or in memory of a person who has passed away. To have a lock of a Regent’s hair was quite extraordinary. It’s unknown who made the ring and for whom it was made. However, the fact that it has remained intact with its original contents is nothing short of miraculous.



Her Majesty’s Furniture: A Neoclassical French Secretaire, 1815




Secretaire
Bernard Molitor, 1815
Oak, mahogany, ebony, lacquer,
gilt bronze, and marble.
Purchased by George IV, 1817.
One of a pair.
The Royal Collection
King George IV, like his mother, Queen Charlotte, had very particular tastes and a desire to own the finest possible objects and furnishings. Also like his mother, George IV, had an affinity for the designs of French artists and craftsmen. So, it’s no wonder that these magnificent secretaire by Bernard Molitor appealed to the young Prince Regent who was handling the empire while his father, King George III, was “indisposed” due to—shall we say—mental strain.


Molitor was known throughout France for his unyielding Neoclassical style furniture. His pieces were very highly regarded and his reputation led him to furnish the most important homes in France during a forty year period. This secretaire by Molitor of oak, mahogany, ebony, lacquer, gilt bronze, and marble is actually one of a matching pair which were purchased by the Prince Regent’s Clerk/Comptroller of the Kitchen and all-around chum/personal shopper, Jean-Baptiste Watier. George IV relied on Watier to make many purchases and trusted the man’s taste. These were among the items that George IV sent to his funhouse/palace, the 
Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

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


Unusual Artifacts: King George IV’s Uniform Pouch, 1814



Pouch
1814-1816
Made for George IV
The Royal Collection

As I’ve mentioned before, King George III forbade his son from participating in any actual military maneuvers and insisted that he never carry a weapon. Nevertheless, the future King George IV always had a keen interest in the military and, while he couldn’t actually do anything with his soldier friends, enjoyed wearing the uniform bestowed upon him by his honorary title of “Colonel.” Not only did George like wearing the uniform, he enjoyed collecting extravagant uniforms as well.
This pouch—designed to be worn on the uniform’s belt—seems to have never been worn. In fact, it appears to have been made for the purpose of display more so than anything else. An ornate creation of wood, leather, velvet, silk, silver thread, and brass, the pouch is far fancier than those which were actually used in battle.

One of the many uniform accoutrements collected by George IV, this pouch is part of a matching suite of items which are on display as part of the Royal Collection.

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

Click image to enlarge.



Gifts of Grandeur: A Pendant with Tassie Cameos of George III and Charlotte, 1780

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



This delicate pendant gold, enamel, glass cameo and pearls bears the likenesses of King George III and Queen Charlotte. The cameos are referred to as “Tassie Cameos” because they are made in the style of William Tassie who perfected a means of crafting sparkling silhouettes in glass of famous people.
Pendant with Tassie Cameos
of King George III and
Queen Charlotte
1780
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II
The pendant, created in 1780, was given by King George III and Queen Charlotte to the Honorable Georgiana Townsend, daughter of the 1st Viscount Sydney—the Leader of the House of Commons who was largely responsible for reaching terms of peace with the United States in 1783 following the American Revolution. It was interesting the Sydney was so instrumental in smoothing things over with the Colonies considering that the whole kerfuffle started with the Stamp Act of 1765—an act passed by Sydney’s cousin, Charles Townsend.

Georgiana had spent most of her life in the favor of the Royal Court and was a favorite of Queen Charlotte. Later in her life, Georgiana was appointed to the sinecure of State Housekeeper at Windsor, a position she held until the end of her life. She lived in the Norman Tower at Windsor Castle until her death.

In 1915, most of the items in the Sydney collection were auctioned off. Mary of Teck purchased this pendant at that auction as part of her quest to return as many Royal objects as possible to the Royal Collection.




Precious Time: King George III’s Barometrical Clock, 1763-5

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




Barometrical Clock
1763-1765
Scot Alexander Cumming
For King George III
The Royal Collection


George III’s keen interest in science led him to amass an impressive collection of scientific instruments and clocks in the early part of his reign. The barometrical clock from 1763 to 1765 was made for the King by Scot Alexander Cumming who included an exquisite clock mechanism, a month-long calendar and a barometer in the design.


The gorgeous case is of unknown origin, but features inlaid shell and exceptionally sculpted ormolu mounts of flowers, volutes and a figural group of “Time” assisted by Cupid. King George III kept the clock along with several of his favorite devices in his private suite at Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace).





Unfolding Pictures: A Fan Depicting King George III and His Family Visiting the Royal Academy, 1789





Fan Depicting King George III and his Family
Visiting The Royal Academy
English, 1789
The Royal Collection
In 1768, King George III established the Royal Academy, and, in 1780 provided the Academy with a permanent home in Somerset House. Before his first major illness in 1788, King George III and his family visited the Royal Academy in their new home. The famous visit was recorded in drawings and paintings. A favorite painting of event was one created by J.H. Ramberg in 1788. An engraving of this painting by P. Martini became a popularly purchased print.


In 1780, the Martini engraving was incorporated into the leaf of this fan. The image had to be somewhat altered in printing so that it would fit neatly on the paper fan leaf. Supported by japanned bamboo sticks and guards, the finished fan became a model for several reproductions—some of which survive in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The original fan ended up in the collection of Queen Mary who had, by the time of her death, amassed a tremendous collection of antique fans—most of which had significance to the Royal Family. 


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

Click image to enlarge.




Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Statuette of Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden, 1625



Equestrian Statuette of
Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden,
Daniel Lang, 1625-1635
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
King George III seemed to enjoy collecting things.  He amassed a rather substantial collection of unusual and attractive artifacts during his lifetime.  This equestrian statuette is a lovely example of King George’s love of fine art.  Constructed of twenty-nine individual pieces of silver which have been chased, cut or wrought depending on the texture it’s trying to duplicate, this partially gilt sculpture was made in Augsburg between 1625 and 1635 by Daniel Lang and depicts Hapsburg leader Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden. 
What’s most intriguing about this piece is that the horse’s head is removable. Without its head, an interior cask serves as a drinking vessel, albeit an awkward one. Though no one’s drinking out of it these days, this sculpture is certainly an attractive piece of art and an interesting glimpse into the kinds of things that King George III liked to have around him.

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




Friday, February 28, 2014

Mastery of Design: Pendant with Charity and Two Putti


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



Pendant with Charity and Two PuttiCrown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
This magnificent pendant dates to approximately 1880 and is housed in The Royal Collection.  Here, we see a semi-nude figure of Charity flanked by two putti (cherubs).  The putti are modeled in the round in émail en ronde bosse.  The figures are showcased in a niche of gold, and black and white enamel.  This niche is framed in gold set with rubies and scroll work of the finest green, blue and red enamel. 
This superb Renaissance Revival pendant also features two flawless diamonds and a variety of natural pearls.  A cherub's head dangles from a gold and enamel clasp at the base of the pendant.  “Charity” personified, was one of the most popular themes of Renaissance Revival design of the late Nineteenth Century.  The reverse of the piece is entirely in gold with carved lines mimicking the front design.  Acquired by Queen Mary in 1932, the maker of this English piece remains unknown.  Nevertheless, the fineness of work and detail speak to an unrivaled mastery of design.
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II




The Home Beautiful: A Wedgwood "Punch" Punch-Bowl, 1878

The British Museum

Click image to enlarge.





Look!  Look at this!

I've seen other Majolica Punch punch-bowls, but I've never seen this one before.

I love it.

I want one.

You see, this Punch punch-bowl of lead-glazed earthenware is supported by four feet which are modeled to look like Dog Toby!  Ha!  Meanwhile, the bowl itself is ornamented with four applied Punchinello heads, each decorated with colored glazes.

The interior of the bowl is painted lilac and the exterior is painted a deep blue with a rim of azure and graduated cream disks.

It was made by the Wedgwood Factory in 1878.




Drawing of the Day: An Invitation for Bachelor's Lodge, 1820-25



Click Image to Enlarge
Invitation to Bachelors Lodge
Edward Hull, 1820-25
The British Museum





Here’s an interesting drawing by the celebrated early Nineteenth Century illustrator and watercolorist Edward Hull. Dating between 1820 and 1825, it’s an invitation to “The Bachelor’s Lodge.” I’ve been doing some hunting and I can’t seem to figure out what exactly “The Bachelor’s Lodge” was, but I’m guessing it was a university gathering place for young men. I don’t suggest doing a search of “bachelor’s lodge” by the way. The results are not helpful.

The design depicts Mr Punch carrying enormous punch-bowl on his head. I think Mr. Punch would enjoy doing that. I don’t think, however, he’d be willing to serve the punch once he carried it. Most likely, he’d dump the whole thing on someone and smash the bowl over their head.



Friday Fun: Emanuele Luzzati’s “Punch and the Magic Fish”


Previously, I've posted films animated by the painter, scenic designer and director, Emanuele Luzzati which depicted scenes from the daily life of Mr. Punch’s Italian cousin, “Pulcinella"--this one included.

Still, after a couple of years,  I can't help but repost this enchanting film by Luzzati and Giulio Gianini entitled, Pulcinella e il pesce magico (Punch and the Magic Fish).  Based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm and retold with Pulcinella as the lead, this adorable film was also translated into a picture book of the same name.  

Enjoy!  Again!



A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 68





Chapter 68
The Scavenger


"May I come in?"  Robert asked.

"Certainly,"  Morgana nodded as she tucked her pincers under her blankets.

"I was feeling a bit envious.  Everyone else has had a chance to sit and chat with you today, so, I thought I'd steal a moment to do the same."  He smiled.

"You're...you're all so kind to me."  Morgana replied.

"Did you enjoy your dinner?"

"Oh, yes."  Morgana answered.  "Your Mrs. Pepper is such a fine cook.  Never before have I had such...such delicious.  Oh, yes.  Violet brought up a lovely, lovely tray for me.  I enjoyed it very much."

"If there's anything special you'd ever like, do let one of us know, and we'll be sure to let Mrs. Pepper know, Auntie."  Robert began.  He cleared his throat.  "I hope you don't mind if I call you 'Auntie.'  I know that you're not really my aunt, but..."

"I am to understand that you and Punch are to be thought of as the equivalent of wedded people.  Yes?"  Morgana smiled slightly.

"Well, yes."  Robert responded shyly.

"And, you consider Lennie to be like your sister?"

"Yes."

"Then, why should I not be your Auntie?"  

He grinned.  "I am glad.  Thank you."

"It is I who should be glad.  Never before have I been..."  She shook her head.  "So...wanted."

"You're very much wanted.  You see, my brother and his wife and my nephew--they are in America.  Until Punch and I found one another, I had no family left here."

"Now you have a large family.  You've Punch, your boy, Lennie, me, and that girl ward...everyone has a particular way of calling her."

"She's called Fern."  Robert answered.

"No, no.  There's a way of calling her."

Robert blushed.  "We tend to refer to her as 'poor, sad, strange Fern.'"

"That's it."  Morgana nodded.  "Why is that?"

"Because even by our standards--which are fairly generous--the child is strange."  Robert chuckled.

"Oh dear."  Morgana laughed a little, too.  "I suppose I shouldn't be amused."

"It's quite all right.  Fern finds it amusing herself.  It's one of the things which helps to make her so odd."  Robert shrugged.  "Now, I suppose I should leave you to your sleep.  It is late."

"I'm not tired.  Still...I...I... imagine Punch is waiting for you."

"He's chaperoning the post-dinner tete-a-tete of Lennie and Matthew.  I have no doubt he'll want rescuing soon.  I'd been sent up to look in on the nursery and thought I'd take the opportunity to look in on you as well."

"I'm glad you did."  Morgana sighed.  "Robert, you know she's coming for me?  My sister."

"I know."  Robert inhaled.  

"Talking of strange!  I never knew her!"  Morgana laughed.  "And, she's dead."  She shook her head.  "I'm the one they put in the freak show.  Imagine."

"Auntie,"  Robert leaned in.  "There's something else.  I didn't want to worry you tonight with it..."

"Oh, I already know."  Morgana shook her head.  "Ivy Blessum has gotten free."

Robert's eyes widened.  "How did you know?  I only just discovered it!  I haven't told anyone at all.  Not even Punch!  I went up to inspect the cell before I went to the nursery."

Morgana took a quick breath and help up her pincers.  "Robert, do you see the scars on my...on my...whatever you'd like to call them?  On my skin?  Half of these scars were made by Miss Blessum.  Burns and lashes, the bled and became infected.  I can feel her in every one of them.  When she's near, they itch.  I knew she was free.  They burned."

Robert nodded slowly.  "Whoever could have released her?  Jackson?  Gregory?"

"No, dear boy."  Morgana shook her head.  "No human hand did that."

"I didn't think so."  Robert sighed.  "I was afraid to say it."

"The same hands which locked you in that crypt freed Ivy Blessum."   Morgana continued.

Robert rose and pressed his hands together.  "I just want all of us to return to London."

"It will only follow us."  Morgana replied.

"Do you think so?"  Robert asked.

"The scavenger never stops until it is satiated."   Morgana sighed.



Did you miss Chapters 1-67 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back Monday for Chapter 69.









Figure of the Day: A Punchinello, 1750




Punchinello
Bow Porcelain Factory
England, c. 1750
The British Museum


Made in Bow at the Factory of the Bow China Works, this glazed figure of soft-paste porcelain dates to 1750 and depicts Punchinello. He stands, almost in profile, on a shallow, square base. Punchinello’s hunchback is supported by a tree trunk. This bit of the figure is unglazed to contrast the texture of the tree with the shimmer of Mr. Punch. In a way, this serves to make the grayish white figure all the more alive.


Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Punch and Muffins Academy



The British Museum



I would like to attend the "Punch and Muffins Academy," especially if the Punch in question is Mr. Punch.  Here, from between 1820 and 1825, we see a design for a card which features a drawing of Mr. Punch seated on inverted bowl, at a table eating from another bowl.

The work of pen and gray ink was drawn by Edward Hull and is inscribed: 

"Punch and Muffins Academy by NED HULL Poplar Grove, Oval, Kennington."




Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Heart Beat?



"I don't think that's where you check for her pulse."







Image: The Lovers, Creator: Attributed to Titian (c. 1488-Venice 1576) (artist), Creation Date: c. 1510 Materials: Oil on canvas, Acquirer: Charles I, King of Great Britain (1600-49), Provenance: Acquired by Charles I; recovered at the Restoration.



Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection.  Image via the Royal Collection Trust and courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

To learn more about this important masterpiece, visit its entry in the online catalog of the Royal Collection Trust.








You could have some gratuitous Bertie Dog every day.  Just pop over to our online store to check out our exclusive Bertie Dog Designs.  


Unusual Artifacts: Nécessaire and Watch, 1770







James Cox, 1770
 Nécessaire and Watch
Gold, Silver, Enamel, Paste Gems, Pearls, Glass
The Royal Collection
James Cox, an Eighteenth Century jeweler and clockmaker, was responsible for creating some of the most unique and exceptional watches and automata of the period. For instance, he crafted a terribly realistic, life-size automaton of a swan with silver plumage which became one of the most viewed objects in London at the time. Cox opened a museum of automata in Spring Gardens, Charing Cross which instantly became a popular attraction.

Cox created several unusual watch cases. This one, for instance, is a combination nécessaire and watch case. A nécessaire is exactly what it sounds like—a case for necessary things. In this instance, perfume bottles and other cosmetic items. The case is adorned with enamel, fanciful gold work of animal figures, silver, colored paste, glass and pearls. When opened, a watch and automaton are revealed. Ten jeweled bands spin around the face of the watch as the watch’s frame spins in the opposite direction. This was a favorite trick of James Cox who employed the same mechanism in a series of other watches and clocks.

Mary of Teck was a tremendous fan of Cox’s work—quite antique by her lifetime—and collected several pieces of his design. This one was gifted to her by King George V, her husband, in 1925.

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

Click image to enlarge.

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

Click image to enlarge.



Mastery of Design: The Lady Bettine Abbingdon Pink Pearls, 1900-1910



Pink Cultured Pearls, Japan, 1900-1910
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This necklace of four strands of pink pearls of graduated size closes with a gold clasp set with sapphires and diamonds. It was made in London between 1900 and 1910 using Japanese pearls. By the early Twentieth Century, the Japanese had perfected a technique for cultivating pearls which imitated the process by which a natural pearl is formed. The process involves inserting a small irritant into a farmed oyster. The oyster, then, slowly coats the foreign particle with layers of iridescent nacre (mother-of-pearl), eventually producing a perfect pearl.

The necklace was made for Lady Bettine Abbingdon who bequeathed this exceptional piece to the V&A.