Saturday, 29 June 2013

Age of Glamour – Nécessaires and Minaudières ...

The Jazz Age that phrase coined by J Scott Fitzgerald for the 1920s during which he portrayed his Great Gatsby ... seems to epitomise the spirit of the post War/pre Depression era ...
My photo of the
Goldsmiths' Company brochure

The Goldsmiths’ Company had another exhibition this year “Ultra Vanities - Bejewelled Make-Up Boxes from the Age of Glamour” (1920 – 1970) ... displaying nearly 300 of these most exquisite little  nécessaires de beauté or minaudières...

The collection is owned by one person – but what a wonderful co-incidence of timing that the Goldsmiths’ were able to show us these works of art.

With the end of the War, society had once again to adjust ... but times had changed – the middle classes were wealthier and could move into the upper echelons of life, while the rich mingled as travel was easier ... yet many were poorer, then there were the wheeler-dealers, gangsters call them what you will ... who preyed on others to get by ...

My photo of the inside of the
This ‘little’ collection takes us back and lets us look forward ... these bejewelled precious-metal cases are miniature feats of engineering and skilled craftsmanship ...

... the War encouraged new developments, yet people moved to escape those ravages ... the engineers, designers and jewellery trades came into their own catering to these new classes ...

Wiki: Van Cleef + Arpels'
minaudiere 1934
Cosmetics date back to 4,000 BC, Egyptian times, however in western societies they remained largely the preserve of the upper classes until the 19th century: their application had been for private consumption, not public flaunting.

Now as a response to changing fashion and the developing social history after the War, make-up became acceptable and these little ultra vanities offered an essential accessory in the early 20th century.

The Jazz Age prevailed ... minimal clothing, a bob hair cut and a counterbalancing micro handbag or minaudière ... the jewellery trades, fashion houses and designers all flourished: stone cutting and setting, enamelling and lacquering – with some ‘boxes’ taking up to 500 hours to make.

My photo - unknown maker
c 1925 made from Lapis Lazuli
with a Chinese incluence
The skill of the craftsman is so apparent ... a tiny metal box ingeniously engineered to contain a powder compact, lipstick, comb, cigarette holder and occasionally a notepad and pencil ...

... then the designers and jewellers could craft their magic on the metals ... adding rubies, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, using soft stones, enamelling, exquisite artwork, creating modern designs ... setting trends ...

As fashion changed during the 1930s to the simpler, elegant Art Deco designs ... the French jewellers and fashion houses changed accordingly ... feathering the gold lids, pierced work for a screen top, jadeite plaque added onto an enamelled face ...

My photo: Tiffany 1950 - 1960

... during the 2nd World War the design was more severe ... while their decoration came from coloured metals, rather than the ostentation of precious metals, stones or enamels.

The 1950s saw a brief resurgence, when the tiny metal cases were incorporated into the frames of handbags, but the advent of youth culture dealt minaudières their death knell.

Charlton: 1950; another Tiffany; Lacloche 1920
(black enamel, with gold and coral);
Chaumet 1925 (grey gold, enamel, rubies and
diamonds)  Photo from Luxury Launches
and much better photos if you'd like to look.
The incredible luxury, sophistication, decadence and romance of the Age of Glamour is so exquisitely on show at this Gold Exhibition ... which puts into context the film of the book “The Great Gatsby” ...

... as many of you know – my education starts here – I am so unread it’s almost embarrassing, but I’m learning through you ... on my way to London yesterday – not for this exhibition ... but to see some Harry Potter, tube posters and Lego maps! ...  strange but true ...  I spent a few minutes looking at books as one does waiting for trains ...

I picked up The Great Gatsby, the paperback, in which there’s an interview with Baz Luhrmann on his realisation of the film ... and realised the connection with this Goldsmiths’ Exhibition ...

My photo: and open necessaire
by Lacloche Freres c 1926

... the interview opens up new doors too ... let alone the fact that the Great Gatsby is a novella ... so on my return last night I bought it – hence the fact I know about Fitzgerald and Zelda being the Jazz couple and his adoption of that phrase The Jazz Age.

Fascinating times ...

I’ve posted some photos ... but if you’d like to look at better ones please visit The Jewellery Editor site ...

... which has wonderful descriptions of these little boxes – for example:

This is a photo from The Jewellery Editor site - which
really does show the incredible engineering skills
that went into the design of these tiny ultra vanities
A rectangular nécessaires de beauté or minaudières, by Van Cleef + Arpels (5 ½ x 3 x 0.7 inches) showing the internal elements of compact, comb, lipstick and a space (possibly for cigarettes).

Made of gold, the lid is engraved with plant motifs, with each flower comprised of four rubies and a diamond in closed settings.  At the edges of the cover, each flower has three ruby petals.  There is an invisible button on the base to open and close the lid.

The Goldsmiths' Company Summer Exhibition - free entry and open til 20th July 2013

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Coronation - other aspects and the future ... part 5/5

Many of us will see another Coronation within our lifetimes, and possibly even two ... and remotely for some of you three ... but I certainly expect to see at least one.
The Ascot Gold Cup 1834
by James Pollard

The next one is bound to be different in some ways as was shown during last year’s Jubilee celebrations, when the Queen acceded, and the recent 60th anniversary of the Queen’s anointing ... but with all its pomp and pageantry ...

... the Coronation at heart is a spiritual ritual based on ancient practice, focussing on the duty of the monarch to God and to the people. 

Henry VIII and family 1545
in front of a iconographic tapestry -
a cloth of state
I could write more but it will be plagiarism as my knowledge about the Service, the Music, the Poetry and Literature  is insufficient – I’ve enjoyed reading and understanding more of the history ... and realise, as Denise Covey, L’Aussie Writer, comments on my last post ...

... “no one does pomp and ceremony like the Brits.  Interesting the inclusion of other faiths these days considering the big deal the Catholic/Church of England dichotomy used to be – off with his/her head!  I love progress”.

George II (c 1727) by
Henry Jervas

I sincerely hope thankfully we will always have a similar emphasis on the traditional, the ritual, the inclusion of wonderful music composed centuries ago such as Handel’s anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’ used at George II’s coronation ...

... new works composed for each Coronation and in our case the Diamond celebration of that event 60 years ago: Bob Chilcott, the choral composer, commissioned by the choristers from the 1953 Coronation, to write an anthem for today’s choristers to sing at the 60th anniversary.

Pastoral landscape
by Alvan Fisher (1854)

English Literature, Poetry and Music have always intertwined for celebratory occasions ... wonderful reaffirmation of pastoral themes revived, rewritten, updated somewhat – incorporating pageantry into the solemnity of the Celebration of the Queen’s Coronation those sixty years ago.

It’s a history lesson to the social and cultural life of ancient eras (arias even), biblical music, plainsong (Gregorian chants), sacred music, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, orchestral works, and on into the 20th and 21st century when through radio and newer technologies we are able to listen and to appreciate music of all those eras.

Queen Salote - and yes her companion
at the Coronation is behind her!
The literary history transcends many more centuries reminding us of King Solomon and of his anointing by the priest Zadok in the 10th century BC, the styles of those periodical changes that occur as each century passes ...

... as each Coronation afforded the artistic creative spirits to add to the magnificent ceremony that makes up much of our British music and literary archive that was symbolically used in the re-consecration and re-dedication Service.

Queen Salote as a child - but doesn't
she look so cheerful and full of life

Ramblings come to mind ... and I’m stopping here to add a few extra snippets of royal or coronation history ...

I meant to put in the piece about Queen Salote – perhaps this is why I remember the Coronation ‘so well’ ? ... to quote from the Daily Telegraph supplement put out about the Coronation:

“Queen Salote of Tonga, alone among the carriage-riding classes, ignored the weather and travelled with the top down so she could smile and wave to the crowds.  (it was bucketing ... another wet June day – no change in sixty years of English weather then!).

Blues and golds
Our Queen apart, she was the star of the day.  An enormous woman accompanied by a man half her size, she inspired the Coronation’s most quoted quote.  “Who’s that with Queen Salote?” Noel Coward was asked.  “Her lunch,” he replied.

The gold and blue Glaswegian carpet laid along the Abbey’s medieval floor was later sliced into pieces to fit Anglican churches across the world.

The timber floorboards used for the platforms for the 8,251 spectators in the Abbey were sliced to lengths that could be recycled for the building trade.

The number of coaches required for the horse-drawn coronation procession was far more than the Queen possessed, so film producer Sir Alexander lent her some from his Denham film studios (soon to be merged with Pinewood Studios)!!

A Pembroke Welsh Corgi

In Angela Kelly’s book “Dressing the Queen” she describes all the processes ... it is fascinating ... but also mentions that fitting sessions can typically last half a day, or occasionally if there are one or two important outfits to try on the Queen will set aside a shorter time ...

... during these fittings there are other watchful eyes!  .. the royal Corgis!

This leads me on to the last item, where the Queen wore a royal purple ensemble, from this year’s Royal Ascot ... a four-legged filly – the Queen’s horse “Estimate” – topped the Jubilee and Coronation celebrations off with a right royal win ... 

The Queen with Estimte
... the Queen became the first reigning monarch to win the coveted trophy – the Gold Cup – in its 206 year history ... and that is why it is called Royal Ascot!

As I posted in my “Horses – the counter balance to Monarchy” this win really defines and tops off the Queen’s year ... horses are her passion and her life – just sad the Duke could not share the event, but at least they can have some happy conversations back home in Windsor Castle.

The Queen with her Gold Cup

The Queen’s smile at her win – really crowns her life – a wonderful full relaxed smile  ... a golden glow to gladden all our hearts ...

So to finish off ... :  

happiness is ....

The Coronation Ceremony could no more be invented from scratch than the function of monarchy itself ... 

The British are pragmatic people.  They go with whatever works.  For decades, for centuries, the monarchy has worked.   

That is why the Coronation at which the Queen was crowned is recognisably the same as that which her ancestors underwent, century after century.

The Queen congratulating the jockey,
Ryan Moore

And as I totter towards those very aged years ... when I will hear fanfares greet the new King ... the Elizabethan madrigals and early music, exuberant choral writing conveying a sense of freshness of progress ... a new Albion – that changing world around us ...

... we British, and those whose ancestors started life here, will remember the social and cultural life of ancient eras ... biblical, music, literature, poetic ... now available across all mediums – to coin an uncomfortable phrase!

Richard I
being crowned
Thank goodness the powers that be, the Queen herself, were overruled ... the Duke of Edinburgh was a determined and forward thinking man, but with public support overcame the day to have the Service and Music recorded by the BBC ... 

Queen Victoria in her
Coronation robes

... which now has been digitally enhanced and from which we can learn something of our history and also be reminded of what is to come ...

In the meantime, if I keep the Coronation information I have available now, I’ll be able to write an intelligent post about the music and the poetry that will celebrate our next sovereign incumbent!  How’s that for forward thinking?!

The Daily Telegraph article on The Queen's Coronation anniversary 

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - see Wiki

50 Facts about the Queen's Coronation ... from 2003 anniversary ... official British Monarch website

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Coronation – Aspects of the Coronation .... Part 4/5

I have done this posting using the alphabet ... when you have a ‘Z’ for Zadok the Priest, ‘Q’ for Queen, ‘J’ for Judge ... and somewhere there’s an X I’m sure of it! ... so it made sense to me to jot pertinent or interesting points down ...
BBC's Radio Times

Ampulla -  the gold, eagle-shaped bottle, which is part of the Coronation Regalia, held the sacred oil, from which the Queen was anointed.

The aromatic holy oil was made from the same base as that used at her father’s, George VI, Coronation.

BBC – the first time they had broadcast from the Abbey, or had broadcast such a momentous event to the nation, and to the world.

Buckingham Palace Summer Exhibition 2013 will highlight archival and present items from the collections of the Coronation and the 60th anniversary commemoration.

Coronation – almost every monarch in our history over the last 1,000 years has been crowned, and each time that history is reprised.

Crown – St Edward’s Crown is solid gold encrusted with jewels and weighs over 2kgs (5lbs).  Cromwell destroyed the original ... and this Crown was made in 1661 for the coronation of King Charles II.

Vital statistics of the solid gold crown is that it stands just over twelve inches high (31cm), while it is studded with 2,868 diamonds, 269 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies.

Queen Victoria and Edward VII did not use the St Edward’s Crown – they both preferred the Imperial State Crown as it is lighter.

Princess Anne's and Prince Charles's
Coronation outfits, which will be shown
at the Summer Exhibition
Diplomacy/Discretion – the exemplar of these ... Queen Elizabeth II  has given counsel to prime ministers and world leaders, who knew whatever they confided to her would never be divulged.  There is no man or woman who can match this diplomatic record.

Dressers’ Floor at Buckingham Palace – who knew?!

In 2013 the Queen’s oyster silk-satin brocade dress was made from material held in the Palace stock.

The James Bond Royal Olympic episode ... the dress makers were requested to make two dresses for THAT JUMP ... now they know why.

The white Coronation dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, was decorated with thousands of tiny seed pearls, and the floral emblems of all the countries encompassed in the oath.

(Book available: “Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe” allows readers unprecedented access to the Dressers’ Floor at Buckingham Palace.  By Angela Kelly, published by the Royal Collection Trust - available via Amazon.)

Escaping the Tower! The 350 year-old crown used for the Queen’s coronation left the Tower of London for the first time since 1953 to play its part in the Ceremony.

Faiths – the Coronation in 1953 was a strictly Anglican Christian event, but in 2013 Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other faiths were represented ... reflecting our multi-cultural society

Gun Salute Members of the Honourable Artillery Company, the City of London’s Territorial Regiment, fired a 62 gun-salute at the Tower of London.

Prince Charles's Invitation, will
also be on show at the Summer
Herbert Howell’s motet “Behold Oh God our Defender” was sung by The Anointing Choir as the flask of oil was placed on the altar to represent the anointing of the Queen during her Coronation.

Invitation – Prince Charles, aged 5, was issued an invitation to attend the Coronation.  The special invitation featured the royal lion, the unicorn, the royal coat of arms, and soldiers ... exactly what a small boy would like to have.  The Queen commanded in her invitation Prince Charles to attend.

A Judge processed, with ten other generational representatives, the symbolic flask of oil to the altar.

King George VI had been a good king in hard times: courageous in the unknowable hazards of war and in the exhausted years of post-war austerity.

Little Book of Private Devotions – the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Coronation in 1953 gave the Queen this little book containing a daily prayer and meditations.
Westminster Abbey looking down the
nave and up at the roof

Long Live the Queen – loudly rings out when the Queen was crowned

Low key celebration: no pomp and circumstance – the royals arrived by car, the men were in lounge suits, no medals were displayed – the main celebrations were held last year for the Diamond Jubilee.

Mothballs – a gentle aroma of naphthalene from the gowns (peers and peeresses) which had been stored away ...

National Anthem ... and I couldn’t come up with an “N”!

The Oath – sixty years ago the Queen swore the oath “to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon”, and of her “Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs” – these are somewhat fewer these days and Britain is a much-changed nation.

Peal of Bells –The Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers, will ring a Coronation Sixtieth Anniversary celebratory peal of London Surprise Royal comprising 5060 changes.

People invited in 2013 – anyone associated with the service in 1953, and then others chosen by the Lord Lieutenants, the Queen’s representatives in our counties, who are members of society from public service, the armed forces, and ‘worthies’ ...  

Poetry – the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann  Duffy, managed a dignified, touching meditation on “The Crown” – including the symbolism that is the Crown, and the humanity of the woman who has been our monarch for six decades ...

1953 the crowned Queen

Ready, Girls? At the point, just before the Queen began her procession to King Edward’s Chair, where she would take the Coronation Oath, Her Majesty paused ... turned to the ladies carrying her crimson velvet train ... and said “Ready, Girls?”

Regalia – the Ampulla and Crown are two of the Regalia used at the Coronation, which were brought to the Abbey to be placed on the high altar ...

·        The Ampulla represents the Queen’s commitment to God
·        The Crown her commitment to her people

Royal Baby – is apparently due in about a month ... the 3rd in line to the throne, after its grandfather and father.

Royal Peculiar – Westminster Abbey is a Royal Peculiar ... it is a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch, rather than under a bishop.  The concept dates from Anglo-Saxon times.

Sermon – the address given by the Archbishop of Canterbury sounded like a rallying cry for the Established Church.

The Queen Opening Parliament - one
of her duties to the British people
Silence – once the Abbey doors opened the expectant silence of the young monarch arriving, after the noisy chatting of the waiting congregation.

Thirty Eighth sovereign to be crowned.

The Union of the Crowns (March 1603) was the accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the thrones of England and Ireland, and the consequential unification of Scotland with both realms under a single monarch. 

The Union of the Crowns followed the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England – the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, who was James’ unmarried and childless first cousin twice removed.

The Vivats – were reprised for the 60th anniversary of the Coronation, and were slotted in to the anthem as the Queen and the Duke came down the aisle together for the Service. 

The rousing cries of Vivat Regina and the Coronation introit “I was Glad” by Hubert Parry resonated through the Abbey.

Westminster Abbey is where the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned since William the Conqueror on Christmas day in 1066.

Yellow, cream and white flowers decorating
Westminster Abbey
X         LX = Sixty in roman numerals – remember?

York Minster was the first Minster church built for the baptism of Edwin in 627AD.  King Edwin, as he became, converted to Christianity and established York as the centre for ecclesiastical and educational affairs.   

Alcuin of York, the great philosopher and theologian, as well as Charlemagne’s leading advisor, had a long career here in the 8th century: this has links to my mother’s interest in Alcuin from a prayer card, left by the Chaplin when she was in the Acute Brain Injury Unit.

St Bede the Venerable -
 c/o Diocese of Shrewsbury 
The Venerable Bede (672 – 735 AD) wrote his ‘An Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ – which recorded Edwin’s and Alcuin’s history and  the commencement of the country’s conversion to Christianity.

Zadok the Priest – reading by Prime Minister, David Cameron – who effortlessly cleared the tricky hurdle of the Clerethites and Pelethites in his reading from the book of Kings ...   (1 Kings 1:32-40)

The ritual of anointing, the most sacred part of the Coronation in which the Queen was consecrated as monarch, has its origins in the anointing of King Solomon by the priest Zadok in the 10th century BC.

This completes my A – Z ... and my next two posts will cover the music and the actual service from both the Coronation and the anniversary commemoration.  Then last but not least there will be a brief baby post tying the last few years of royalty together.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories