Thursday, November 2, 2017

Homage to Peacocks

we once again meet that dashing adventuress from DEADLY DIAMOND. You know, the one who absconded from Egypt with a fortune in diamond and lapis jewels?

That's right: Lady Sarah Peacock - or whatever her real name is!

Well, Peacock by name (if the marriage was legal) and peacock by nature. Sarah may be using another name in Venice but she's keeping her signature style with a fabulous peacock blue beaded walking dress and what might be Europe's largest collection of peacock feathers on a single hat. 

Lady Sarah's inimitable style was fully in fashion in the real world as well as in Maddie's world.  

"The peacock feather, previously thought to be a symbol of bad luck, became an icon of the Aesthetic style. Its use as a motif confirmed Aestheticism's reputation for decadence."

I'll leave you to discover exactly where in the book that beaded suit and fabulous hat appear.

For now, enjoy this photographic tour of peacock imagery from fin-de-siecle Europe and America. Check out links where they appear, to take you to more information on the origins of the pieces and the photos.

The earliest of our collection shows that peacocks were already popular well before Maddie and Sarah began their lives, let alone their adventures.

Gemstone Brooch by Gustave Baugrand, 1865


A peacock feather brooch set with sapphires, diamonds and emeralds. French, circa 1883. By Boucheron. Believed to have been made for the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia.

Then there's this golden belt buckle by Eugène Grasset, a pioneer of Parisian Art Nouveau. Not traditional peacock colours but fabulous all the same. 

Enameled gold accented with carnelian cabochon. ca. 1900

The turn of the century is  where peacocks really hit their stride in jewelry.

Peacock Maiden Ring
Gold, with a central opal and emerald/diamond feathers.

By an unknown French artisan c.1900

The maiden and peacock....

Phillippe Wolfers was a Belgian working in the French Art Nouveau style. This pendant brooch of gold, tourmalines, diamonds and enamel was made around 1900-1902.

See more exquisite Wolfers pieces here

Lovely by Lalique: 

Right: Gold and Enamel “Two Peacocks” Pendant, circa 1897-1898

Below: Art Nouveau 'Peacock' Brooch/ Pendant: gold, enamel
I'm thinking of a new signature piece for Lady Sarah Peacock on her next reappearance in the Maddie Hatter adventures. 

As you'll find out, she's already re-purposed the Egyptian Collar necklace she acquired from Baron Bodmin in MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND. 

So why not give her some fabulous Art Nouveau jewels that help to distance her from the scandalous Egyptian episode?

Last on our list of jewels is the Peacock Egg from Faberge (even Lady Sarah surely can't aspire to a Russian Imperial Egg....?).

This one was made by Dorofeiev under the supervision of the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in 1908, for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

And now to interiors:

In America

American, 1835-1910
Peacock Window, 1892-1908

"At the time when America was emerging as a force in the international art world, La Farge stood out as a versatile artist and designer working in a variety of media. 

The Peacock Window, which simulates the vibrant coloration of a magnificent, exotic bird, represents La Farge's final effort in fused, or cloisonné, glass. 

Begun in 1892 as one of a pair of windows for the Washington, D.C., home of John Hay, the piece was not presented to the client, apparently because of difficulties encountered in the successive firings required to fuse layers of glass. 

Instead La Farge provided Hay with a window of the same design made of more conventional leaded opalescent glass (now at Museum Stuck-Villa in Munich). Several years later the artist returned to his original concept to produce this window."

In France:

 The amazing peacock room designed by Art Nouveau genius Alphonse Mucha for the Boutique Fouquet in 1900.

In Germany:

The Moorish Kiosk was purchased complete from the Prussian exhibit at Paris's Universal Exhibition of 1867. It was eventually installed in the grounds of pretty little Linderhof Palace in Bavaria.

Inside the Moorish Kiosk you'll find the Peacock Throne, a fantasy divan made of red silk and flanked by three painted peacocks with 1,400 gems in their plumage. "Mad King Ludwig" really loved his bling!

 I visited Linderhof on a school tour many years ago, and have dreamed many wonderful stories set in those delicate, beautiful halls and kiosks. Shall I write one for you some day? Perhaps I already have, without realizing from whence inspiration sprang.

 Here we'll leave the architecture and return to Maddie's world of fashion.  Marvel at the peacock-inspired GOWNS!

The Queen Kapiolani Peacock gown (below).

This one is a reproduction from the Ali'i Gown Reproduction project. Queen Kapiolani of Hawaii wore the original to the Golden Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria in 1887.

Note the rows of peacock-eye feathers around the train? That's what inspired the beadwork on the hem of Lady Sarah's Venetian walking dress. How I wish such fabulous gowns were practical for modern working women!

This gown is a Worth original, made for Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston. She first wore it in 1903, at the celebration in India for the coronation of King Edward VII.

"The gown was assembled from panels of chiffon that had been embroidered and embellished by Delhi and Agra craftsmen using the zardozi (gold wire weaving) method. It was then shipped to Paris, where the House of Worth styled the dress with a long train edged with white chiffon roses. The worked panels were overlapping peacock feathers that had a blue/green beetle wing at the center. Over time, the metal thread in the dress has tarnished but the beetle wings have not lost their luster."

But imagine how glorious its glitter on that first momentous appearance!

At the latter end of the peacock obsession was this magnificent silk, silk satin and lace peacock gown, made by Maison Weeks, Paris, circa 1910.

You would not want to trail this one through the mud and dust of Venice's campi and calli (squares and streets) which is why Lady Sarah wore her beaded peacock walking dress - a style that doesn't usually have a train but swings along just clear of the ground (or, more scandalously, as high as the ankles) - in TIMELY TAFFETA.

And what IS that daring young woman up to in Venice anyway? Is she using Maddie's real name again? Will her antics come to Father's ears? Will her extravagant bills be blamed on Maddie a second time?

Find out more in MADDIE HATTER AND THE TIMELY TAFFETA, newly out from Tyche Books and available at fine bookstores or online in all the usual formats.

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