Applied Arts Gossip
An offer which there is little doubt will be largely taken advantage of during the approaching festive season is that of Messrs. Alfred Bird & Sons, Ltd., Devonshire Works, Birmingham, who will send gratis and post free a valuable and reliable receipt for making the richest old English plum puddings. This is the recipe of a famous old chef whose plum puddings were the envy of his confrère, and were held in the highest admiration at some of the leading City of London dinners.
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Mrs. Roosevelt has been giving her attention recently to furnishings for the new bedrooms of the White House in Washington. She will, it is reported, use all the old mahogany which she stored for lack of space when she went to Washington.
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King Charles I's Chair
Great interest attaches to an old chair which is still preserved in the Cottage Hospital at Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire for it is the one in which Charles I. sat during his trial in Westminster Hall. It is possible that this relic will shortly be sold. It may be acquired by the nation. The chair is upholstered with purple velvet, fastened with brass or gilt nails. The cushions are also of purple velvet lined with blue silk. The golden fringe has the suggestion of Royal possession. Bishop Juxon, who accompanied Charles to the scaffold, owned the chair, and passed it on to his descendants. From them it passed through various families, and at last found an unlooked-for home in the Moreton Hospital.
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Museums of old abounded in examples of skilful fatuity, such as the Lord's Prayer, written in the compass' of a farthing or a button, carved nests of boxes or bowls of miraculous smallness and the like. Examples of minute work of this sort still reach us from the Far East, and curious specimens of such misdirected skill may occasionally be seen at village shows; but they do not now arouse the gaping admiration which was once their reward. Cherry-stones were favourite material with old time artificers of this school for the engraving of heads and the execution of minutely elaborate carving.
In the remarkable collection made three hundred years ago by the Tradescants, father and son, which later became the nucleus of the famous Ashmolean Museum, there was a special section devoted to what the catalogue termed Mechanicle Artificial! Works in Carvings, Turnings, Sowings, and Painting,. If the descriptions are correct, these "works" must have included some highly ingenious performances. For instance, we are told of a cherry-stone holding ten dozen of tortoiseshell combs, "halfe a hasle-nut with seventy pieces of household stuffe in it"; figures and stories carved upon plum, cherry, and peach stones, and other similar curiosities.
A writer of 1677 says, "Caesar's image drawn upon a Cherry-stone is a piece of great curiosity," and the uselessly clever feat became proverbial. When Miss Hannah More expressed a wonder that the poet who had written Paradise Lost should write such poor sonnets, Dr. Johnson said, "Milton, madam, was a genius that could cut Colossus from a rock but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones." The criticism was characteristic.
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Tradescant's house at South Lambeth
Re-editor's Note: The Tradescants are an interesting story in themselves. I came across the Welcome Collection that has many scans of historical notes. The Tradescant's house at South Lambeth is beautiful and should be noted in these pages. I'd like to thank the Welcome Collection for making this line engraving available for use.
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In 1895, M. Challemel-Lacour, the President of the French Senate, expressed the desire that a series of eight works in tapestry might be produced at the Gobelins for the decoration of the Luxembourg Palace. It was stipulated that political subjects were to be avoided. After much consideration it was decided that the pieces should be derived from the Metamorphoses of Ovid. The Latin poet is much admired by French students of literature. But artists have not drawn inspiration from him, for, when representing mythological subjects, Greek authors have been preferred. There is on that account some novelty in the selection of the poet to afford subjects for decorative works The first commission was given to M Albert Maignan. The legend he chose was Daphne pursued by Apollo and changed into a laurel tree. The work has been satisfactorily executed at the Gobelins. M. Maignan will continue the series, which it is expected will occupy him about four years. He is at present engaged on two compositions, viz., Jupiter and Semele and Venus and Adonis.