Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The "Victorian Blood Book", 1854

 And now, for the "you can't make this up" files...

Yes, this is a real book.  

It is dated September 1854.  And was a gift from father to daughter, possibly as a wedding gift.  

The pages are images from engravings, lithographs and such, cut out and decoupaged onto the page, then embellished with diluted red India ink.  The various natural and religious images seem to be conveying various Christian imagery, heavily laced with possible Freemason and/or Knights Templar themes. 

Here, you can read the collections information as well as I can:


Alternate Title: Victorian Blood Book; "To Amy Lester Garland--A legacy left in his lifetime for her future examination by her affectionate father"

Creator: Garland, John Bingley; Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966, former owner

Date:   September 1, 1854 (inscribed)

Evelyn Waugh, whose manuscripts and 3,500-volume library are now at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, was an inveterate collector of things Victorian (and well ahead of most of his contemporaries in this regard). Undoubtedly the single most curious object in the entire library is a large oblong folio decoupage book, often referred to as the "Victorian Blood Book."

Its decoupage was assembled from several hundred engravings, many taken from books of etchings by William Blake, as well as other illustrations from early nineteenth-century books. The principal motifs are natural (birds, animals, and especially snakes) and Christian (images of the crucifixion, scenes from the Bible, and crusaders). Drops of red india ink and extensive religious commentary have been added to many of the images. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and after more than 150 years, the adhesion of the decoupages is still perfect. The book bears an inscription by one John Bingley Garland to his daughter Amy and dated September 1, 1854: "A legacy left in his lifetime for her future examination by her affectionate father." Shortly afterwards, she married the Reverend Richard Pyper, so the album was probably an early wedding present.

A 2008 Maggs Brothers catalog includes a group of eccentric decoupages taken from one or more albums, described as being in the style of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones. The style and content of these works, which feature groups of angels and blue or gold doves, are aptly described as "weird" and "rather elegant but very scary." They are unmistakably from the same hand as the Waugh book.

The existence of other such items suggests some kind of mass production, yet internal evidence indicates otherwise. John Bingley Garland was a prosperous Victorian businessman who moved to Newfoundland, went on to become speaker of its first Parliament, and returned to Stone Cottage in Dorset to end his days. A document still in the Garland family bears the same sanguinary ornamentation along with his signature. J. B. Garland's will mentions in passing "all the mythological paintings in the Library purchased by me in Italy"—perhaps a small clue to his artistic interests? Most importantly, the inscriptions in the dedication and the text are in the same hand. In recent years scholarship has focused on the significance of Victorian scrapbooking, which was almost exclusively the province of women. Scrapbooking was largely a means of organizing newspaper clippings and other information; the esthetic aspect was entirely secondary. In the lack of any information to the contrary, this apparently conventional paterfamilias must be regarded as the principal, if not the only, begetter of the decoupage, and if it was his alone, he must have spent hundreds of hours at the task.

How does one "read" such an enigmatic object? We understandably find elements of the grotesque and surreal. But our eyes view it differently from Victorian ones. As Garland's descendants have written, "our family doesn't refer to...'the Blood Book;' we refer to it as "Amy's Gift" and in no way see it as anything other than a precious reminder of the love of family and Our Lord."

The first plate contains a short table of contents and the title "Durenstein!" (Dürenstein, the Austrian castle in which Richard the Lionhearted was held captive). The title and the theme of many of the plates relates to the spiritual battles encountered by Christians along the path of life and the "blood" to Christian sacrifice. According to the Garland family, "it is full of symbols of both Human and Non-Human 'Crusaders and Protectors' of God and Christianity and most of the Verses, Quotes, etc are encouraging one to turn to God as our Saviour."

The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Mrs Hicks, Mary, Rosa and Elgar, 1857

George Elgar Hicks, RBA (British, 1824-1914)

Mrs Hicks, Mary, Rosa and Elgar, 1857

watercolour heightened with white and gum arabic,

64 x 45.5cm (25 3/16 x 17 15/16in).


Edward Hicks and thence by descent.

Geffrye Museum, London George Elgar Hicks Painter of Victorian Life (October 1982), no. 6.

(ex. cat.), R. Allwood, George Elgar Hicks Painter of Victorian Life (Geffrye Museum, London 1983), no. 6.

The present lot depicts Hick's wife, Maria, and their three youngest children. It is likely that they are depicted at their home in 16 Ladbroke Villas although Allwood suggests that the house may be 2 Aubrey Street where the family moved to in 1857.

Look at the Time, n.d.

Look at the Time

Gustave-Leonard de Jonghe

Date unknown

Measurements:  25 5/8 by 20 1/2 in. alternate measurements 65 by 62 cm

image via the Athenaeum

Marie Adeline Plunket (1824–1910), 1854

Marie Adeline Plunket (1824–1910)

by Richard Buckner

Date painted: 1854

Oil on canvas, 89 x 54.5 cm

Birmingham Museums Trust (UK) [via the BBC]

Queen Victoria's Coronation Ring, 1838

Queen Victoria's Coronation Ring

Creator: Rundell Bridge & Rundell (jeweller)

Creation Date: 1838

Materials:  Gold, sapphire, rubies, diamonds, silver

Dimensions:  2.0 cm

Acquirer: Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Provenance: Supplied to Queen Victoria for the coronation in 1838 by the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.

The ring comprises an octagonal step-cut sapphire, open-set in gold, overlaid with four oblong and one square rubies in gold strips forming a cross, within a border of twenty cushion-shaped brilliants in transparent silver collets. Brilliants decorate the shank and band.

During the coronation ceremony the ring is placed on the fourth finger of the sovereign by the archbishop, as a symbol of 'kingly dignity'. Since the thirteenth century it was traditional to include a ruby as the principal stone in the ring. The presentation of the ring forms part of the investiture of the coronation, which is preceded by the anointing with holy oil, and is followed by the crowning itself.

This ring was made for the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 and was inspired by the ring made for her uncle, William IV, in 1831. Misunderstanding the traditional wording of the rubric for the coronation, the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, made the ring for the wrong finger of the Queen - thinking it should go on the little finger, not the ring finger. Unfortunately the Archbishop forced it on her ring finger and Queen Victoria had to soak her hand in iced water after the ceremony. She later wrote in her Journal 'I had the greatest difficulty to take it off again, - which I at last did with great pain'. Nevertheless she had the ring inscribed after the ceremony 'Queen Victoria's Coronation Ring 1838'.

Like all coronation rings until the twentieth century, each monarch had a newly-made ring which was not kept with the regalia but with the personal jewellery of the sovereign. Queen Victoria decided to leave her coronation ring to the Crown, together with the rings of William IV and Queen Adelaide, and all three were deposited in the Tower of London, with the other Crown Jewels, by George V in March 1919.

The Royal Collection 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and Their Children, 1865

Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and Their Children

James Tissot - 1865

Painting - oil on canvas

Musée d'Orsay - Paris (France)

Portrait of Mademoiselle L. L. 1864

Portrait of Mademoiselle L. L.  (also known as Young Woman in a Red Jacket)

James Tissot - 1864

Painting - oil on canvas

Musée d'Orsay - Paris (France)