Monday, August 3, 2009

The New Antiquarians, Part II

I hope you all got a chance to read the NYTimes article about the "new vintage style" and interesting people like Hollister Hovey and Megan Wilson. What was really exciting to me or should I say redeeming, is that for a few years I have been buying some taxidermy and Victorian globes that my husband rolls his eyes at every time they arrive.
The first photo above is of one of a collection of 19th century Swiss antler trophies and the second is a taxidermy specimen of a French piglet known as a marcassin.
None of my clients have really understood the fascination with decorating with "dead things" (though I did sell some taxidermy ducks recently) and I can't really explain what is my attraction to them. I just get a sense of history from them which is alluring.
Some thing else that many find a bit macabre but is typical of the Victorian era, though in this case in France are these globes. You can find all sorts of things under the curved glass domes, from more animals to family albums and dioramas. The first two photographed are more on the religious side. There are wax images of babies (debatable as to whether or not they depict the infant Jesus). They were often made by the Carmelite nuns and their dresses were made from satin taken from a bride's gown. Both of these also have the wax-flower tiaras that the brides wore on their wedding day. After the pieces were finished they were given to the couple as a "cadeau de mariage" or wedding gift, often upon the birth of their first child. Or if not as a sort of prayer for the fertility of the couple. This first one is holding a scroll which reads "Je viens vous Benir" which means "I come to Bless you" and is adorned with a sacred heart (a heart with the crown of thorns around it.) The second one has the child laying under a tree (of life), a consistent symbol of fertility in art, and this tree is filled with fruit and birds, further emphasizing life.

The next two globes are less religious and more in the souvenirs category. While in English the word souvenir has a bit of a kitchy connotation, in French souvenir literally means "to remember", so these are more of remembrance mementos. The first below contains another bridal tiara, as well as the tulle from her veil. There is a lock of hair and two figurines, one from a baptism and one from a first Communion. The family added several pictures from important holidays or soldiers going off to war, presumably the two great wars of the twentieth century. Don't miss the old picture of Mont Saint Michel in the bottom right corner!

This last one is quite beautiful from an aesthetic point of view due to the stunning blue butterfly in the center. It has a bridal tiara and what looks to me as some preserved palms from a Palm Sunday celebration. The gilt brass centerpiece is an nice example of repousse work which includes a dove with a wreath, flowers, and sprays of wheat (more symbols of mariage and fertility.)


vicki archer said...

I have always found these Victorian glass domes fascinating but I have never collected any. Maybe I should be on the lookout Olga...Have a wonderful weekend, xv.

FineGoodThings said...

These globes are so interesting, a window into another time and place. Thanks for this creative post.

andrew1860 said...

Lovely collection. I own a shrine doll from the 1850's it depicts a wax boy with blond ringlet curls holding a cross he also has a sacred heart. I bought it in the South of France and was told it was baby Jesus. It is one of my favorite things.

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