24 September 2016

"Anti-Jacobite" wine glasses, after the Battle of Culloden

Inga Walton wrote very well about the National Gallery of Victoria exhibition called Kings Over The Water (2013). Although religion played a significant role in the propaganda surrounding the overthrow of King James II, it was not necessarily an overriding factor in the Jacobite movement. A large proportion of Jacobite supporters were in fact Protestants and members of the Tory party. Others were partisans in the cause of Irish and Scottish nationalism. Both groups supported the claims of an indigenous (Stuart) dynasty over those of a foreign (German) house, as the Hanoverians were characterised. And they opposed the subordination of the monarchy to the will of a small group of powerful and self-interested, English land-owning aristocratic Whigs in parliament.

This momentous political and military struggle continued after the death of King James II with the Stuart supporters declaring James Francis Edward to be James III. I have written at length noting that to explicitly support the Stuart claim would have been treasonous. So popular songs and works of art bearing the likenesses, mottos and emblems of the exiled dynasty became a more subtle weapon in the battle to win the public over to The Cause.

Jacobite material culture, including medals, portraits, ceramics, prints and glassware had to use coded symbols to express loyalty and solidarity. By far the most common symbol was the six-petalled white heraldic rose, an ancient emblem of the Stuarts. And the thistle, representing the Stuarts’ claim to the Scottish throne; the thistle surmounted by a crown was an ancient badge of Scotland. The oak leaf and the acorn also held great significance, since the oak was an ancient Stuart badge and an emblem of the Stuart Restoration. Stuart supporters relied on the ambiguity of these fashionable motifs to obscure their real intent.

Pro-Jacobite glass with two handles, 1745,
in the Drawing Room at Trerice in Cornwall

120 small private clubs, gatherings of Stuart sympathisers, were the focal points of Jacobitism in the mid-C18th. A number of Masonic lodges were known to be Jacobite, as were many hunts, part­ic­ularly if they were maintained by an aristocratic patron sympathetic to The Cause.

Owing to the covert nature of Jacobite allegiance, it was initially assumed that these vessels were produced in secret in the provinces. However the vast majority of authentic Jacobite glasses were wheel-engraved! This was a relatively new decorative technique in England in the 1740s, a skill confined to the major London glass workshops. Only five engravers have been identified.

The Jacobite struggle reached its peak in 1745 when King James II’s grandson, Charles Edward Louis/The Young Pretender (1720-88) led an armed invasion, the last pitched battle fought on British soil. The buoyant mood of Stuart supporters and hopes for the restoration were soundly quashed at the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746. This earned Bonnie Prince Charlie’s opponent on the field, Prince William Augustus, the nickname "Butcher Cumberland".

After Bonnie Prince Charlie spent some months in 1746 wandering in the northwest Highlands and Islands of Scotland hiding from British forces, he finally sailed to permanent exile on the continent. In the battle’s punitive aftermath, active suppression of the Highland clans led to measures such as bans on the wearing of tartan and on other aspects of Gaelic culture. These events continued to arouse strong nationalist feelings, then and now.

Jacobitism, as a living political cause, ended. Nonetheless, the doomed political and military adventure that was the failed Stuart bid to recapture the English throne assumed a potent afterlife in romantic literature and art.

Prosperity to the Duke of Cumberland, c1746
anti-Jacobite glass, 16 cm high
Bonhams 2011

But here is something I had previously not heard of! The NGV exhibition concluded with an acknowledgement of the dynastic status quo: anti-Jacobite glasses with emblems expressing loyalty to the Hanoverian monarchs. Most common of these was the prancing white steed of Saxony, an emblem of the German House of Hanover, often accompanied by the motto ‘George and Liberty’, celebrating the new political settlement.

How extraordinary! The Jacobites had to be secretive because to support the Stuart claim would have been treasonous. But why did supporters of the royal family and of Parliament need symbols on their wine glasses? And why did the loyal wine glasses often include a portrait of the Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765)?

In presenting an engraved Duke of Cumberland plain stem wine glass c1740 for auction in London in 2011, Bonhams tells the story. Prince William Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), third son of King George II, was destined for a serious career in the army. As the leading British general of the day, he was chosen to put a decisive stop to the Stuart Pretender in the Jacobite rising of 1745. Cumberland’s appointment was popular, and caused morale to soar amongst the public and troops loyal to King George. As a result Cumberland is best known for his defeat of the Young Pretender at the Battle of Culloden, finally quash­ing the Jacobite Insurrection.

Prince William Duke of Cumberland might have been called "Butcher Cumberland" by Jacobite historians. But for everyone else, Cumberland was a hero. The drawn trumpet bowl glass was decorated with the bust portrait of the hero and inscribed beneath the rim Prosperity to the Duke of Cumberland, the plain stem with conical foot.

engraved Duke of Cumberland portrait wine glass, c1750
anti-Jacobite glass, 18 cm high
Bonhams 2013

Another engraved Duke of Cumberland portrait wine glass c1750 was similar in design. The drawn trumpet bowl engraved at the rim with the inscription 'Prosperity to the Duke of Cumberland', above an oval portrait medallion of the Duke in profile. But this later glass had a multiple-spiral air-twist stem and folded conical foot. In 2013 Bonhams noted this belonged to a rare group of Anti-Jacobite glasses depicting William, Duke of Cumberland who defeated the Jacobite uprising at the Battle of Culloden.

They did not suggest why anti-Jacobite wine glasses were rarer than Jacobite wine glasses. Nor did they explain why the Duke of Cumberland's name and portrait were used, rather than King George and Liberty as suggested at the National Gallery of Victoria exhibition.

20 September 2016

Tallis Foundation, architecture, gardens and music/theatre. Melbourne is beautiful!

Within two hours of his ship (SS William Nicol) landing in Australia in Feb 1842, James Butchart had seen enough of the recently planned City of Melbourne to be confident about his future. He quickly wrote an excited letter to his father, back on the family farm in Fifeshire, Scotland.

Butchart certainly did well and built Beleura (c1860-1864) on land he purchased in Mornington, then just outside the edge of Melbourne. It still looks like a classical Italianate villa, designed for a Scotsman in semi rural Australia. Further Italianate elements came later eg the Corinthian colonnade veranda and balustrade parapet.

Beleura veranda

Beleura gardens

Beleura dining room

After Butchart’s death in 1869, the home was called the finest mansion in the colony and sold to Charles Edward Bright, son in law of Sir John Manners-Sutton, Viscount Canterbury  Governor of Victoria 1866-1873. Beleura thus became the unofficial summer retreat for the Governor and his family. Later the house was owned by a succession of rich, powerful and successful families.

Theatrical entrepreneur George Tallis purchased the property in 1915 as a summer retreat, was knighted in 1922 and , on retirement, developed it as a stud. Sir George was the first owner to add land to Beleura, giving it an estate sufficient to support a fine house. Lady Tallis died in 1933 so a very sad Sir George decided to use Beleura only as a summer retreat. He died at Wagga Wagga in 1948. Within a year, the estate was taken over by John Tallis, George's son. He soon dedicated his life to the preserv­ation of the estate. John Tallis died in 1996 and bequeathed Beleura and its considerable contents to the State. The property is now managed as a house museum by the Tallis Foundation.

Sir George Tallis

To celebrate the Centenary of Tallis Ownership, special events were arranged for Aug and Sep 2016. Australia's best theatrical manager between 1874-1907 was JC Williamson when there was a strong connection between Williamson and Tallis. JC Williamson’s most successful ventures was the Royal Comic Opera Company. Its greatest star was Florence Young, who was Sir George Tallis’ sister-in-law, Lady Tallis’ sister. In very short time, Sir George Tallis was JC Williamson’s Victorian manager.

In August 2016, a concert was presented by the Beleura Tallis Foundation and Beleura House and Garden, Mornington. The musical show, 1916!, was set in Sir George Tallis’ office at Her Majesty’s theatre in August 1916, the opening night of The Girl in the Train. As the curtain went up, Sir George took a moment to reflect. With fine singers from the world of opera and music theatre, a pro­fessional string ensemble and strong period costumes, 1916! cele­brated the 100th anniversary AND the connection between the Tallis family and Beleura.

House and Garden Tours will be held throughout the last week in September. Visitors will be brought to Beleura by a courtesy bus from a nearby location in Mornington. Morning tea will be served on arrival, followed by a light lunch between the House & Garden Tours. From the time the bus picks up the visitors until the time of return to the car park, the tour will take approximately 4.5 hours.

Thank you to Heritage Listed Locations for the garden, architectural and entertainment histories of this estate.

17 September 2016

The mutual admiration between ballet and fashion

In setting the historical context for the Ballet and Fashion Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2012, Roger Leong wrote that art and fashion have long been associated with each other. Ballet and fashion have inspired each other ever since performers have been dressing up and dancing. We can look back to King Louis XIV, in whose court ballet was formalised and codified, and who himself performed in opulent robes meant to evoke the Sun God.

During the C18th, artists contributed designs for textiles, and in the 1860s the Pre-Raphaelite painters dressed their models in loose, free-flowing gowns that inspired new forms of artistic dress. In the ear­ly decades of the C20th, Parisian couturiers collabor­ated with artists from the avant-garde. Coco Chanel created costumes for Serge Diaghilev’s ball­ets. Paul Poiret commissioned the painter Raoul Dufy to design printed fabrics, Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí devised Surrealist outfits while Jacques Heim helped Sonia Delaunay translate her abstract art into clothing. The Romantic-era ballerinas’ bouffant skirts found their way into Christian Dior’s post-war New Look.

Dancers have long influenced designers and designers have dressed dancers, exciting audiences of both the stage and the runway. But over the past two decades, collaborations between art and fashion have burgeoned at every level. Artists can be inspired by working together - even those separated by centuries are able to draw on each other’s talents to spark innovation.

Ballet itself is a multi disc­iplinary form, invol­ving cooperation with musicians, designers and film­ mak­ers. So the eye of the fashion designer has to find a new way to interpret a silhouette, inspiring a choreographer to devise movements that accentuate it and a photographer to capture it. 

Triadic Ballet, 1922
Choreography and costumes by Oskar Schlemmer,

Consider Scenario, performed in 1997. Much like the American dancer and choreographer  Merce Cunningham’s entire oeuvre, Scenario leads into un­charted formations and art­iculations of body shapes, this time high­lighted by Rei Kawakubo’s costumes. The alteration of proportions, and of one’s relation to one’s body and to the body of the other dancers, create a sense of estrangement. There is an element of ab­surdist humour in Scenario. This is especially evident in the first movement of the piece where the dancers are wearing the costumes with over­sized gingham and striped patterns, which are not altog­eth­er unlike the heavily patterned costumes characteristic of the Commedia dell’Arte—of Harlequin.

Actually I would rather compare Scenario to artist Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, a new form of abstract dance that must have stopped German viewers in their tracks back in 1922. Like Merce Cunningham decades later, Schlemmer also fused order and chaos, by combining elements of painting with those of theatre. Being a true Bauhaus master, Schlem­mer’s was the art of Gesamtkünstwerk: the Art of Total Theatre. So no-one else could have choreographed the dance and no-one else could have designed the costumes.

Exactly as Roger Leong described, Schlemmer often tested the laws of motion with costumes that responded to dancers’ individual move­ments. I think choreography-focused photography must have been as significant a part of Triadic Ballet as was the costume design. In any case, the costumes were shown at design exhibitions (for example at the Societe des Arts Decoratif in Paris in 1930), rather than on the fashion runways.

Scenario, 1997
Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Costume design by Rei Kawakubo