Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Cartier Encrusted Emeralds Necklace and Earrings

Diamond Rope Necklace and Earrings; Hung with Encrusted Emeralds
Necklace and Earrings:  Diamond Mounts, London Cartier, c. 1935
Emeralds:  Indian, Moghul, 18th-19th Centuries
Image Courtesy of the British Museum
Click on Image to Enlarge.

A magnificent necklace and earrings of platinum, brilliant cut diamonds and baguettes are hung with cabochon emeralds inlaid with ruby and diamond flowers.  These enchanting  emeralds are Indian, Mughal, set during the 18th-19th centuries while the diamond mounts, clearly in the western style, are later additions by Cartier, dating to the mid 1930s.  

The front piece of the ravishing diamond necklace forms a tasselled rope which loops into a double strand of diamonds round the back.  There, the clasp is formed by a large circular encrusted emerald.  The parure is still contained in its original fitted red leather Cartier case.

The encrusted emeralds were found when Cartier travelled throughout India.  The trip was initially to attract wealthy Indian clients who desired to have their jewels reset in platinum in the Western taste of the 1920s.  While there, they found and purchased vast amounts of Indian stones and pearls which they brought back to London to mount for the fashionable society ladies of Paris and London who clamored for jewels in the Indian style.  The grass is always greener.  Of special impact were the many emeralds with which the Cartier team returned.  The Cartier showpieces at the 1925 Paris International Exhibition featured many of these emeralds.  This set of exquisite flower-set emeralds was reserved specifically for this important parure.

I insist that you click on the image above to see the detail of this masterpiece.  

Painting of the Day: Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent

Portrait of a Baby, Possibly Prince Edward
c. 1769
Francis Cotes
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Painted by Francis Cotes (1726-70), circa 1768-1769, this work of oil on canvas was first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of Queen Victoria.  

The identity of the infant sitter has long been something of a mystery, however, most believe that the child is Prince Edward since his 1767 birth coincides with the creation of the painting.  Furthermore, Eighteenth Century inventories of the palaces at Kensington and Kew refer to portraits of Prince Edward by "Coates."

Regardless of his identity, the baby is a cheeky boy, impersonating Cupid--complete with faux wings, a quiver of arrows and a theatrical floral garland.  During this period, artists such as Reynolds were employing this sort of "mock-mythology" in portraits of young ladies, but, if the attributed date of the painting is to be trusted, we can see that Cotes was among the first to adopt the idea in the representation of infants. 

Precious Time: The Edward East Watch, 1635

Edward East
Britain, 1635
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Edward East (1602-1697) was apprenticed to the Goldsmiths' Company’s Richard Rogers in 1618, becoming a Freeman in 1627. By 1632 East was created one of the first Assistants of the Clockmakers' Company (founded 1631), serving as “Master of the Company” in 1645 and, again, in 1653. East’s work was so admired by the aristocrats of London Society that, in 1660 he was appointed as Chief Clockmaker to the king.

East’s watches, especially, were coveted and treasured. We can see why when we look at this handsome timepiece which East made in 1635. With its architectural overtones, exquisite movement and hour ring adorned with inlaid figures in black enamel, the watch is a true masterpiece. The watch case takes the form of a gourd made of rock crystal which has been mounted in gilt brass.

Depicting on the dial (inside the hour ring) is an engraved and inlaid scene of the birth of Christ. Above this, a nude representation of “Time” displays his typical attributes of a scythe and an hour glass.

We should note that Seventeenth Century watches—accessories only available to the most wealthy—typically only had one hand. 

Masterpiece of the Day: The Dinglinger Box, 1705

Enameled and Jeweled Box
Dresden, 1705
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I am always amused by this name. “The Dinglinger Box. Say it with me, “Dinglinger.” Love it.

So, here’s the Dinglinger (ha!) Box. This cylindrical gold and silver box has a cover which has been enameled and set with rose-cut diamonds in silver settings and four rubies.

The box is the work of Johann Melchior Dinglinger (1664-1731). Dinglinger was the court jeweler to Augustus the Strong of Saxony, Germany.

History's Runway: An Enamel and Ruby Bow, circa 1600

Enamel, Rubies, Pearl, Gold
The Victoria and Albert Museum

Little is known about this beautiful little bow. It was made somewhere in Europe between 1600 and 1660. A masterpiece of enamel work, the bow is beautiful from both sides. The front of the piece is set with sparking rubies in gold mounts while the reverse is hand-painted with enamel flowers.
Throughout its life the bow has been worn as both a pendant and a brooch. The dangling pearl at the bottom may be a later addition. 

Unusual Artifacts: Scent Bottle with the Cipher of Queen Charlotte, 1805

Scent Bottle
With the Cipher of Queen Charlotte
Crystal, Silver Gilt, Colored Paste, Enamel
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Wife of King George III, Queen Charlotte had a taste for fine, exotic fragrances. Her vanity was frequently said to be lined with glittering scent bottles. Very often, the fragrances were sent to her from India as gifts from the Nabob of Arcot along with a host of unusual jewels and luxurious fabrics.

This scent bottle was made in England specifically for the Queen and was meant to hold one of the fragrances which the Nabob had gifted to her. Its design is inspired by the jewels that the Nabob had sent to Queen Charlotte. The crystal bottle is adorned with paste “rubies,” “diamonds” and “emeralds.” The base of the bottle is engraved with Queen Charlotte’s crowned cipher and the peculiar motto, “Patent Paratout.” This is unusual since those words usually only appear on a particular type of umbrellas made in the early 1800’s.

By all accounts, Queen Charlotte favored this bottle and used it often. After her death, it was included in a collection of the Queen’s things that were saved. Somehow, in 1934, it was acquired by Mary of Teck. Queen Mary had a way of collecting all manner of interesting objects. The exact method she used to return this little masterpiece to the Royal Collection is unknown.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: An Italian Micromosaic and Gold Diadem, 1840

Italian, 1840
Gold, Glass
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in 1840, this masterpiece of gold and glass micromosaic has been made in a traditional Roman style and depicts a scene of Roman ruins—a popular subject worldwide during that era. There’s some debate as to the origin of the piece as a while. The gold and mosaic work is clearly Italian, however, some feel that the diadem itself was assembled into its present form in France.

Using only the smallest pieces of colored glass, the medallion centerpiece of the tiara contains more than 5000 pieces of glass per square inch. A diadem such as this would have been worn atop a lady’s upswept hair. This particular piece would have been an interesting visual contrast to the many pieces of diamonds and gemstones which dominated the time period and would have caused the wearer to stand out from the crowd like a Roman goddess. 

The Reverse (showing the unfortunately-placed Museum Item Number)

The diadem retains its original presentation case.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: The Carew Spinel, Seventeenth Century

The Carew Spinel
Seventeenth Century
Spinel, Gold, Diamonds, Silk
The Victoria & Albert Museum

For centuries, red spinels were often confused with rubies. Though they are gemmologically similar, the two are different stones with different properties. This impressive red spinel is inscribed with the titles of the Mughal emperors Jahangir (r.1605–1627), Shah Jahan (r.1628–1658) and Alamgir (r.1658–1707.

Made in the Seventeenth Century in Tehran, this necklace features the monumental red stone set on a gold pin and adorned with two diamonds. It is suspended from a red silk cord. The necklace was purchased by an ancestor of Julia Mary, Lady Carew, sometime before 1870. Lady Carew bequeathed the necklace to the V&A in 1922.

Antique Image of the Day: Mr. MGrimaldi and Son, as Clowns

Mr. Grimaldi and Son, as Clowns
Early Nineteenth Century
Byn and Arliss
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Little is known about this print from the late Eighteenth to early Nineteenth Century except that it depicts Joseph Grimaldi and his son. Grimaldi, senior, known professionally as “Joey the Clown” was celebrated for his work in pantomime as was the younger Grimaldi. Both, however, met sad ends after struggled with alcoholism. Printed in London, this is the work of an artist known as “Byn” and was printed by Arliss & Co. 

Print of the Day: Grimaldi and the Alpaca, 1813

Click on image to try to get your own alpaca.

"Grimaldi and the Alpaca"
London, 1813
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Dated 11 January, 1813, this chromolithograph published by Rudolph Ackermann depicts a scene from the Popular Pantomime of The Red Dwarf which was performed at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden. The panto starred Joseph Grimaldi as “Joey the Clown.

Part of Grimaldi’s routine at this 1813 show involved “Joey’s” interaction with a man attired as an Aztec. The clown would try to trick the Aztec into giving away his Alpaca. I must confess, I never thought I’d be typing the words “Grimaldi and the Alpaca” together. But, that’s what the print is entitled. The image was drawn by one R. Norman. 

Friday Fun: The Start of a Punch & Judy Show

David Wilde's Punch & Judy

Hello all, sorry, we won't be doing a "Mr. Punch's Puzzles" today since I've got a day full of appointments, and Bertie is having a play date with his friend Oscar Cat.

So, I thought we could have some video fun...

Apparently, Mr. Punch doesn’t care for monkeys. With good reason, it would seem.

This short video clip shows the musical start to David Wilde’s Punch & Judy show. As if often the case, “Joey the Clown” starts the proceedings with a dance which highlights his peculiarly articulated neck. “Joey the Clown” is a traditional Punch & Judy character. Often, Joey tries to get the better of Punch. It’s usually Joey’s question of “Who wants dinner?” which elicits the display of the famous sausage links. Typically, Joey will act as Master of Ceremonies.

And, so, here we see Joey doing his thing, followed by a feather-dusting monkey and the introduction of Mr. Punch.

“Clap with Mr. Monkey.”

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 47

Chapter 47
To Be Welcome

"Come...come in."  Morgana said.

"Miss Morgana,"  Gamilla smiled as she entered the Vermillion Suite.  "Oh, Violet.  I didn't know you were still here."

"I have been having such a lark chattin' with Miss Morgana..."  Violet smiled.  "We've been fixin' her hair."

"And, don't she look jus' beautiful?"  Gamilla nodded.


"You really do, Miss."  Violet nodded.

Morgana studied herself in the glass.  "I've never had my this."

"I think the curls suit you."  Violet smiled.  "And, M'Lady's tea-gown looks ever-so fine on ya."

"It does."  Gamilla agreed.

"You could barely see that I...I have a...hump."  Morgana's smile faded.  "Now, if we could just hide...these..."  She held up her pincers.

"Ain't no need to hide 'em, Miss."  Gamilla shook her head.  "They're part o' ya.  Don't bother no one here."

"His Grace always says it's them things what's different about a body what's the most beautiful."  Violet added.

"He would say something kind like that."  Morgana looked down.

"Gamilla, have you come to measure for dress patterns?"  Violet asked.  "I can help ya.  M'Lady wanted me to fetch her when we started."  Violet grinned.  "Miss Morgana, when Gamilla was married to Mr. Gurney, Her Ladyship and I, and Maudie and Ethel, we helped with her first wedding gown.  We like to work together on these things."

"First gown?"  Morgana asked.

"I had two."  Gamilla nodded.  "The first was ruined."

"How?"  Morgana asked.

"Miss Fern."  Violet frowned.

"Fern?"  Morgana asked.  "Oh, yes, she's the other child that my nephew and Robert adopted.  The one who is away at school."

"Fern went through a spell when she was doin' some naughty things, Miss Morgana.  Her mama done just died and...well, it all worked out as it should 'ave.  Poor girl."  Gamilla explained.

"My nephew seems to collect poor souls."  Morgana nodded.

"He collects folk he loves,"  Gamilla smiled.

"I'll go and fetch Her Ladyship."  Violet inhaled.

"Not quite yet, Vi."  Gamilla shook her head.  "That ain't why I came."


"No."  Gamilla continued.  "His Grace and His Lordship just come up to the nursery.  His Grace is gonne sit with Colin and Dog Toby for a spell and His Lordship has asked for Gerard and Charles to help him with somethin'.  They wondered if you wouldn't mind goin' to see Her Ladyship in her rooms."

"Has something happened?"  Violet asked.

Gamilla just smiled.

"Something has happened."  Morgana shook her head.

"Miss Morgana, I come to have that talk with you.  The one we spoke of last night."  Gamilla continued.

"About my...sister?"

"Yes."  Gamilla nodded.

"Is Her Ladyship all right, Gamilla?"  Violet asked nervously as she straightened her apron.

"She'd benefit from your steady voice and sweet manner."  Gamilla replied.

"Thank you."  Violet said.  "I'll go to her.  Oh, and with the Earl comin' today..."  She took a final look at Morgana, "Oh. Miss, I so enjoyed our morning."

"I, too...thank you...for...for talking with me."

"It was my pleasure."  Violet nodded.  "I shall look in on you soon."

Nodding her good-bye to Gamilla, Violet hurried to Lennie.

"Now...that...that the child has left,"  Morgana began, "You can tell me.  I trust you will tell me...what is wrong."

"I don't know exactly.  His Grace did not say.  I know only that the masters and her Ladyship are most upset.  This, I can tell you, Miss Morgana, there was evil in this house to begin with, and now, it is more powerful than ever.  Greater, and stronger!  It's coming for you, Miss.  You, His Grace, Miss Lennie and young Master Colin."

"We cannot let them be...harmed.  I do not care what...what happens to me.  I will not have the innocent be...harmed."

"You are just as innocent."

"I have lived my life...and...and I have no..."  She paused.  "Gamilla, were I to die today, I would do so happy.  For once, I know what it is be loved and...welcome.  I will give my life to protect those who gave that to me.  You will tell me how to do that."

"I will see no harm come to you either, Miss."  Gamilla shook her head.

"Mr. Punch was...accurate.  You are loyal."  Morgana nodded.  "What is this evil, then?"

"It is Pauline, the late Duchess of Fallbridge."

"My sister."  Morgana squinted.  "She's...dead."

"She is here, Miss.  In this house.  I feel it."  Gamilla explained.  "She will overpower you.  It is you, Miss, that she will take first."

"Let her...let her, if it will spare the others."

"It will not."  Gamilla shook her head.

"Well, then."  Morgana stood.  "How do we stop her?"

Did you miss Chapters 1-46 of A Recipe for Punch?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Chapter 48.  

Figure of the Day: Joseph Grimaldi (Joey the Clown), 1840

Staffordshire Flatback, 1840
Joseph Grimaldi (Joey the Clown)
The Victoria & Albert Museum

1837 saw a new trend in production for the porcelain makers of Staffordshire when they introduced lead-glazed earthenware flat-back figures of Queen Victoria. These figures were painted in enamels on the front while the back, (which was, you can guess, flat) was left white. In tended to be displayed on a mantelpiece, sideboard or any location where the reverse of the piece was against a wall, these figures quickly became popular.

Flatbacks were soon produced depicting a variety of subject from Royalty and historic figures to actors and celebrities. The modelers often referred to popular prints of the day in order to find subjects and depict them somewhat accurately.

This one is modeled after a print of the famed Regency Panto clown Joseph Grimaldi (Joey the Clown, 1779-1837) who found much success with “Mother Goose” in 1806 at Covent Garden. Grimaldi was revered as a comic singer, a daring acrobat and as a performer who could make dozens of unexpected costume changes during his routine. He was so renowned that, to this day, the name “Joey” is often used as a nickname for a clown. This Staffordshire figure is dated to about 1840, but, sadly, we have no way of knowing the name of the modeler.

Object of the Day: A Scrap of Joey the Clown

A young man goes to see his doctor to report that he is overcome by a terrible sadness and doesn't think anything will assist him. 
The doctor says, "Why not do something happy, like going to see Grimaldi the clown?". 
The young man answers, with a knowing look, "Ah, but Doctor", he says, "I am Grimaldi." 
                                    --Popular English Joke, circa 1820 

Joseph Grimaldi
John Cawse, pre-1862

Here’s Joey. Readers of this site are familiar with Joey the Clown as a puppet figure who acts as Mr. Punch’s friend, and sometimes, the master of ceremonies of the show. Joey even serves occasionally as Punch’s conscience, but, mostly, he revels in tormenting and egging on Old Red Nose.

But, why is the famed puppet clown so named? Joey, in the Punch and Judy tradition, is an homage to the original Joey the Clown—the pantomime creation of performer Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) who is credited as the creator of the “white face” clown which is the archetype for all modern clowning.

Grimaldi entered the theatrical world at the age of three—the son of a performer and his mistress. Within a few years, he was wowing audience with his acrobatic performances and comic antics. Truly, Joseph Grimaldi was the father of clowning as we know it, and, certainly, one of the most important figures in the development of Pantomime.

Joseph Grimaldi was also the first “sad clown.” His life was, in large part tragic. After his father’s passing, he dealt with terrible poverty. Later, the loss of his first wife in childbirth clouded Grimaldi’s life and led him to alcoholism. A popular joke of the 1820s—see above—makes the depression of the man behind Joey quite clear.

And, so, because of this, Red Skelton made a second career scaring generations of people with paintings of sobbing clowns.

Nevertheless, Grimaldi’s later years were marked by more sorrow as he lost the ability to walk due to the torture he’d inflicted upon himself with his often-dangerous physical comedy. He was forced to retire, and, upon doing so, quickly became impoverished. Benefits were held in his honor, but it didn’t help. As his own son died from alcoholism, Joseph Grimaldi died as well. His last wish was to be decapitated before burial because of a lifelong fear of being buried alive. Well, that would have done the trick.

But, clowns are fun! Yes? 

Click image to enlarge.

This scrap from the 1860s-1890s is teeny tiny. It was stuck in with a bunch of ephemera which I recently bought and, at first, I almost didn’t notice it. If he’s not Joey the Clown, he’s certainly one of the many who were inspired by Grimaldi—complete with Joey’s trademark wig and makeup. I like to think he’s Joey, at least. And, so, we devote today’s Punch-Friday to Mr. Punch’s friend and sometimes tormentor, Joey the Clown, and his creator, Joseph Grimaldi.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Duchess Crab

"Do you think your could move your robe so MAYBE I could have a little more room?"

Image:  Elizabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orleans (1652-1722),  Creator: Guillemard (active 1714) (artist)  Creation Date: Signed and dated 1714, Materials: Oil on canvas, Provenance: First recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection, Original Image via the Royal Collection Trust and courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  To learn more about it, visit the painting's entry in the 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.  

Royal Gifts: A Ruby Ring Given to Queen Victoria at her Wedding, 1840

Ruby and Diamond Ring
French, 1840
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Little is mentioned about Queen Victoria’s half-sister, Feodora, Princess Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Feodora was the second child of Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and her first husband, Emich Carl, Prince of Leiningen.

Despite the differences in their lineage, Victoria and Feodora enjoyed a very close relationship. On the eve of Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert, Princess Feodora presented her sister with this attractive ruby and diamond ring. The gold band is inscribed with “Unis à jamais” (‘united forever.”) and features a ruby which signifies love and a diamond representing eternity.

The Queen wore the band on her right hand and was said to have cherished it until the end of her life. We can see by the wear pattern that it was a much-loved piece of jewelry. 

Bertie's Pet-itations: Don't Diet. Live it!

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 think this whole idea of sensible eating is over-rated.  To me, sensible eating is eating when your stomach senses it wants to eat.