Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gone Fishin'

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Isabella and Loretta reporting,

It's nearly the end of August, and once again time for us to take our annual break from blogging, tweeting, pinning, 'gramming, and FB-ing to spend time away from our computers with friends, families, and a few good books. We hope you'll find some enjoyable ways of your own to spend these last days of summer, too.

See you again in September!

Above: Salt-cellar, made by Frankenthal Porcelain Factory, The British Museum.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bartholomew Fair in the Early 1800s

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Bartholomew Fair
Loretta reports:

Though Bartholomew Fair started out being celebrated on St. Bartholomew’s day, 24 August, calendar reform moved it to 3 September after 1752. It went on for another hundred years, until the Victorians banished it in the 1850s, maybe with just cause or maybe because ordinary people were having too much of a rollicking good time.

But as Ackermann’s Microcosm of London demonstrates, it was still going strong in 1808. I do love the description of it as “this British Saturnalia,” and yes, this is one of Rowlandson's livelier images for the book. He must have had a blast with it!

The annexed print is a spirited representation of this British Saturnalia. To be please in their own way, is the object of all.  Some hugging, some fighting, others dancing: while many are enjoying the felicity of being borne along with the full stream of one mob, others are encountering all the dangers and vicissitudes of forcing their passage through another; while one votary of pleasure is feasting his delighted eyes with the martial port of Rolla, and the splendid habiliments of the Virgins of the Sun, another disciple of Epicurus is gratifying his palate with all the luxury of fired sausages, to which he is attracted by the alluring invitation of “Walk into my parlour!” —Microcosm of London Vol 1.
(Since the Spitalfields Life blog always has superior images to what I can find in the public domain, I recommend you visit here, and enlarge.)

Along with the feasting and hugging and squeezing there were carnival rides as well as performers and other entertainments you can read about in Henry Morley’s Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair (first published in 1857).

One of the entertainers who intrigued me especially was the Fireproof Lady, but you may have your own favorites.
Fireproof Lady

Fireproof Lady

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Beautiful Bed with (Perhaps) a Political Agenda, c.1805

Sunday, August 21, 2016
Isabella reporting,

Loretta has shared many examples (such as these here and here) of furnishings from the pages of Ackermann's Repository, showing what was "on trend" for fashionable homes in early 19thc Great Britain.

I was reminded of those illustrations when I recently spotted the bed, left, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With its swooping curves, gleaming mahogany, ebony, and rosewood, brass inlay, and elaborate (reproduction) hangings, the bed could have been straight from the pages of Ackermann's. There's one difference, however. It wasn't made in London, but in New York.

According to the bed's placard:

"Following the Revolution, Americans took inspiration from the ancient empires of Greece and Rome in the establishment of a democratic republic. In turn, domestic interiors and furnishings began to resemble architecture and artifacts from classical antiquity. This bed's sweeping frame echoes the form of a Roman lectus (daybed) and the bronze plaque at the base bears the profile of a Roman magistrate or military officer."

In other words, this bed wasn't just a stylish piece of furniture: it was making a patriotic statement. Eagles and stars appear throughout American design of the period, and combined with the ancient Roman design, this bed was a thorough expression of Federalist sensibilities.

Or perhaps not. Although it was made in New York, the maker was a Frenchman, Charles-Honoré Lannuier. One of the city's foremost furniture makers, Lannuier employed his Parisian cousin, Jean-Charles Cochois, around the time this bed was made. Cochois would have brought with him the latest in Parisian designs inspired by the newly-created French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon, too, wanted to create a new country with all the trappings of ancient Rome, but of a Roman empire rather than a Roman republic. So are the aggressive eagles on this bed republican American eagles, or imperial French ones?

One more thought: to the early 19thc customer commissioning this bed, the political and bellicose overtones of its design would have been a selling point. Today's consumers, however, prefer their beds to be a bit less menacing. While this style of classically-inspired bed - without the eagles and inlay - is once again very popular, savvy modern manufacturers call them sleigh beds - conjuring up cozy images of fresh snow, warm blankets, and sleigh bells instead of stern Roman military officers plotting their next conquest.

Above: Bedstead, by Charles-Honoré Lannuier and Jean-Charles Cochois, c.1805-8. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
Photographs ©2016 Susan Holloway Scott.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Breakfast Links: Week of August 15, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016
Breakfast Links are served - our weekly round-up of fav links to other web sites, articles, blogs, and images via Twitter.
• Three hellish places from London's past that you wouldn't want to visit.
• The bridges of Old London.
• A scandalous divorce: the two Mrs. Fenollosas.
• Where is King Henry VIII buried and why doesn't he have a tomb?
• DIY fashion continues to thrive at the McCall Pattern Company, founded in 1863.
Image: Jane Austen finishes writing Persuasion on August 6, 1816 - and here's a page of the manuscript.
• "The pink of fashion": Mrs. Andrew Hamilton visits SweetBriar in Philadelphia, 1818.
• The many loves of Henry Tufts, the original colonial bad boy.
• How left-handed penmanship contests tried to help Civil War veterans after amputations.
• Paris, city of lights, romance, and urinals.
Image: 2000-year-old Greek mosaic floor accidentally discovered in Turkey (and it's a beauty.)
• Mayhew's street traders of London, 1851.
• Stunning interpretations of El Greco portraits created with yarn, a loom, and an algorithm.
Countess Leonor D'Oeynhausen, an 18thc poet and intellectual possibly involved in espionage.
• 1926 meets 1776 at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial.
• From the suffragettes to BLM: the unexpected ways that protestors have utilized fashion.
• Image: The 19thc Egyptian House in Penzance makes even the Brighton Pavilion look demure.
• The nostalgic glow of NYC's remaining historic neon signs.
• A short illustrated history of firefighting helmets.
• Occupational hazards: the maladies of early modern midwives.
• Who shot Edward Vyse? The Corn Law Riots of 1815.
Image: A Victorian anti-drowning device.
• Bonded by love and liver: the story of conjoined twins Chang and Eng.
• How many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in places other than the state they represented in the Continental Congress?
• We love a ducky story with a happy ending.
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Video: Listen to a Guitar Made by Antonio Stradivari in 1679

Friday, August 19, 2016

Isabella reporting,

Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) is arguably the most famous maker of stringed instruments of all time time. The sound of his violins and cellos is considered magical, almost mystical, and experts have argued endlessly about what exactly makes them so special. Around 650 of his instruments are known to survive today; most of these are the legendary violins.

Much rarer still are guitars made by Stradivari. Only five still survive. Of those five, only this one remains playable. Known as the Sabionari, the guitar dates from 1679.  Here Rolf Lislevand, a musician who specializes in performing early music, plays a tarantela by Spanish composer Santiago de Murcia (1673-1739.) What a wonderful way to begin the weekend!

If you received this post via email, you may be seeing an empty space or a black box where the video should be. Please click here to view the video.
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