Wednesday 14 December 2011

A Gallery of Edwardian Christmas Cards (Part Two)

Continuing from Part One of my Blog, I am pleased to show you a further selection of Edwardian and pre World War One Christmas and New Years Greeting cards. That they have survived close to 100 years is testimony to their beauty and sentimental value. Some were sent from Scottish friends and relatives to my family after emigrating to New Zealand, hence the references to "far away", "remembrance" and "memories".

Most of these cards are chromolithographic prints on a form of opaque plastic material. These are either tied to a card by ribbon or sewed on. Some state "Printed in Bavaria" on the reverse.

Enjoy !

- All images are from my own personal collection

Thursday 8 December 2011

"Tea With Queen Victoria"

Queen Victoria with two family members and attended by her Indian servants
Breakfasting outdoors at Nice in the south of France, 1895. A silver teapot
and china cups sit on the linen covered table. [Source Internet]

That eternal and confusing puzzle, is "tea" just a drink or a full meal? The exact meaning of "tea", whether just tea and light refreshments or in fact a full meal, varies considerably depending on which part of Britain or parts of the former British Empire you live in or your forbears were from. "Tea" in the north of England, Wales and Scotland typically referred to a full meal, historically taken about 5pm. Were it to be just tea and refreshments that would commonly be referred to as "Morning Tea" or "Afternoon Tea". A light "Supper" of tea with cake or biscuits might be served about 9pm or later.  

A Luncheon Menu for Osborne House, the Queen's
residence on the Isle of Wight, 17 Jan 1899
[Source Internet]

In the south "Tea" would normally refer to Afternoon Tea served anytime between 2pm and 5pm, being a cup of tea with refreshments such as sandwiches, biscuits, or cake. The term "High Tea" referred to a slightly more substantial meal, taken between 5pm and 7pm while "Dinner", a full cooked meal, would normally have been served about 9pm. With the advent of Afternoon Tea in the mid 19th century, "High Tea" at 5pm was slowly replaced with "Dinner", now being served between 7pm and 8.30pm.

Queen Victoria at luncheon with Prince Henry of
 Battenburg, Princess Beatrice and their children in
the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, pre 1896.
 [Source Internet]

Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria and a Lady of the Bedchamber between 1837 and 1841, was also the originator of "Afternoon Tea".  An extra meal called "luncheon" had been created to fill the midday gap between breakfast and dinner, but as this new meal was very light, the long afternoon with no refreshment left the Duchess - and others - feeling hungry. The Duchess found a light refreshment of tea and small cakes or sandwiches counteracted that late afternoon "sinking feeling" and soon began inviting her friends to join her at Woburn Abbey for this repast. Thus the "ritual" of afternoon tea "quickly became an established and convivial repast in many middle and upper class households".

A menu for Dinner at Windsor Castle dated
15th May 1879.  Such menus are in French
 as per the established custom. 32 Diners
including Queen Victoria attended this Dinner
which was to mark the visit of Empress
Augusta of Germany (wife of Emperor
Wilhem I) to Windsor Castle.
[From my personal collection]

The afternoon tea menu consisted mainly of small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. The Duchess continued this custom when she returned to her London residence, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea".  The practice of inviting friends to visit for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses. 

Queen Victoria & Members of the Royal Family Breakfasting in
 the Grounds of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, 1890's.
[Source : Internet]

Queen Victoria is reported to have quickly taken to this new custom, hosting daily formal dress afternoon tea parties which always ended before 7pm in order to give everyone time to change and be ready for dinner at 9 pm. An oft quoted but quite possibly apocryphal story avowes that "Queen Victoria, a notorious tea fanatic, was given to flinging her tea cup across the room if she found the tea not up to her standards"!

A Menu for a Dinner at Windsor Castle attended by
The Kaiser, 24th Nov 1899
[Source : Internet]

Her Granddaughter, Princess Alice The Countess of Athlone, related that Queen Victoria enjoyed almost daily carriage outings in all weathers "to take the air" including enjoying family picnics. She never minded the weather, often to the chagrin of those accompanying her. Servants accompanying the Royal party would light a fire to boil water for tea which would be served to Queen Victoria while she remained comfortably seated in her carriage.

A Doulton Burslem Bone China Tea Cup & Saucer bearing an
 image of  Queen Victoria, together with her VR [Victoria Regina]
Cypher and Coat of Arms, 1897 (From my personal collection)

Due to Queen Victoria's popular connection with tea drinking, there are many examples evident of that royal connection, even today, such as tea blends that she may have favoured to a myriad of period souvenir and commemorative tea cups, saucers and other ephemera connected with tea drinking. 

The Dining Room at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight
 laid out in the style of a Formal  Luncheon or Dinner.
[Source : Internet]

Queen Victoria's favourite tea is recorded as Earl Grey tea, a China black tea infused with Oil of Bergamot, and served with her favourite shortbread biscuits. Earl Grey tea, taken without milk but accompanied with a slice of lemon, is today particularly favoured by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

An Aynsley Bone China Cup, Saucer & Side Plate Bearing
Queen Victoria's Coat of Arms, together with her Flag
and that of Great Britain, along with an image of the Crown
of State. Produced to commemorate Queen Victoria's
Diamond Jubilee of 60 Years on the Throne, 1897
[From my personal collection]

"We are not amused" are the oft quoted words of Queen Victoria. But the Countess of Athlone confirmed of her Grandmother, "Dear old thing, well she nearly died of laughter". So, while the daily ritual of afternoon tea appears to have wained somewhat in today's busy world, there is still something satisfyingly indulgent and sociable about sitting down to a convivial conversation - or gossip - over a leisurely cup of tea and a slice of cake. Queen Victoria would definitely approve.

Bibliography :
- Internet resources
- "Life at the Court of Queen Victoria 1861-1901" by Barry St-John Nevill

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Gallery of Edwardian Christmas Cards (Part One)

Christmas cards were first commercially produced in 1843 by Henry Cole, then gaining in popularity amongst the upper and middle classes of mid Victorian era Britain. The introduction of cheap postage in the 1870's led to a dramatic increase in the sending of cards. Therefore by the Edwardian era, and with the introduction of mass produced and inexpensive colour lithographic postcards, the giving and receiving of Christmas cards had become a well established and popular custom amongst all classes of society.

A Traditional Christmas Card featuring
"Father Christmas"

A traditionally styled Christmas card featuring Santa Claus, a verse, and a sprig of holly. The personage of "Father Christmas", "a jolly well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe", has in fact been a British custom since the 17th century.

"Wishing You a Merry Xmas"

This sepia toned card by Valentines makes use of Walter Dendy Sadler's 1880 painting of Franciscan Friars fishing. The "Thursday" plus the fishing theme relates to the fact that the Friars were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays.

A Scottish Christmas card featuring two doves and a dovecot along with a sweet but now rather contrived verse.

"At Rudgewick, Surrey"

A chromolithographic Christmas  postcard printed by Meissner& Buck of Leipzig and featuring swans at Rudgwick in Surrey. The Land or Province of Saxony in Germany was at this time a major centre of the chromolithography industry, especially for the the British postcard market. This all ended in 1914 with the outbreak of "The Great War".

"At Rudgewick, Surrey"

An attractive Christmas card featured in my blog of "Edwardian beauties". Unusually this sepia card has been delicately hand-tinted.

This glossy card features the use of actual photographs which have been tinted to increase their visual effectiveness.

Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

An Edwardian Christmas card of a view overlooking Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu New Zealand. The publisher has made use of a stock tourist card printed in Saxony Germany with an overprinted Christmas greeting.

Lake Ada, Milford Sound, New Zealand

Another stock tourist card which has been utilised as a Christmas card by overprinting. As is still the case today, tourist views were frequently used in the Edwardian era as Christmas cards, especially for friends and family back in "The Old Country" [Great Britain], as was the case in both examples above.  

"Wishing You a Happy New Year"

A photograph of a young Maōri maiden has been used in this chromolithographic card from New Zealand. Maōri images and themes were common in cards for relatives and friends back in "The Old Country", giving them an often highly romanticised but no doubt fascinating glimpse of indigenous New Zealand culture.  

- All images are from my own personal collection

Thursday 24 November 2011

A Virtual Tour of the Berlin Royal Palace State Apartments [Berliner Stadtschloss]

The Old Royal Palace, Berlin

The old Berlin Royal Palace featured in this "virtual tour" was truly impressive. The original castle had been built by Elector Frederick II of Prussia in 1443-51. Additions and rebuilding continued in various styles until a massive rebuilding in the popular baroque style by the German Architect and Sculptor Andreas Schlüter from 1699 to 1701. From 1706 the Architect Johann Eosander von Göthe left his own mark on the great Palace.

Succeeding Prussian rulers made various improvements to the building including the large dome atop the south wing in 1850 to a design by Schinkel. Improvements and alterations ended with the last reigning Monarch, Emperor Wilhelm II, who abdicated in 1918. At this point the Palace contained an impressive 700 rooms.

Stadtschloss, Berlin.
The series of rooms we shall tour are generally situated
on the left side of the Palace facing the Lustgarten.

The fate of the Palace was sealed during the Second World War when it caught alight and burnt for four days after a heavy bombing and incendiary raid on the 3rd February 1945.  No attempt was made by a resigned and demoralised population to extinguish the flames. Heavy artillery fire then caused further damage. Apart from the White Saloon [Der Weiße Saal] and the rooms below it which appear to have escaped the fire the ruins were cordoned off until 1950 when they were demolished on the orders of the ruling East German Communist Party to create a parade ground. While other notable buildings throughout Germany were in a similar or worse condition and either restored or at least secured for the future the remains of this historic building were ruthlessly pulled down after an eventful 500 year history.

Stadschloss, Berlin

While the German Parliament have agreed to partially fund a rebuilding of this magnificent baroque building to commence in 2014 the interior will however be entirely modern including the north east wing featured in this tour. It may well be that later generations may decide to restore some of the notable rooms and an allowance for this has been made in the designs. But for the foreseable future we need to rely on an an extant collection of black & white and colour images of the old Palace interiors.

Let us now explore the old Palace, the tour being based on a 1900 plan of the State Apartments. Please click on images for a larger view. We first enter the Palace through Portal VI facing the Second or Inner Court : 

Location of Entrance
through Portal VI

Portal VI

We now ascend the Schlüter staircase to the Schweitzer Saal on the second floor where all the main State Rooms are located.     

Location of the Schlüter
The Schlüter Staircase from a
painting by Eduard Gärtner, 1828

 The Schlüter staircase as built after 1700

We now reach Schlüter's Schweitzersaal [Swiss Hall] or Old Guard Room. The name commemorates the Prussian Ruler's Swiss Guard. An impression of space is achieved by elegant Corinthian pilasters topped with a frieze and further painted architectural features under a simulated cloudy sky.  

Location of Der
Der Schweitzersaal as built by
Schlüter after 1700

 We next enter Die Paradevorkammern [Parade Rooms], being two ante-rooms. One contains portraits of the Mother, Sister & Wife of Frederick the Great by Antoine Pesne. In the other are portraits of the "Great Elector" and his family, Friedrich Wilhelm I as Crown Prince, plus Peter the Great and Catherine II of Russia.

The decoration and impressive painted ceilings created a theatrical sense of power and prestige as visiting foreign envoys and officials proceed through the various rooms before being formally received by the Elector or King.

Location of the Parade Rooms

The 1st Parade Room

The 2nd Parade Room Ceiling
The 2nd Parade Room

Next we enter Das Königszimmer [The King's Room] which contains the portraits of all the Prussian Kings and their Consorts down to King Friedrich.

Audiences were held in this room which contains a stuccoed and painted ceiling, again to a design by Schlüter. Carved allegorical figures in the upper corners illustrate the virtues of the ruler.

To the east lay the private apartments of the "Great Elector" Friedrich Wilhelm I (reigned 1640-1688). These were generally never open to the public until after the abdication of Wilhelm II in 1918. The State Apartments by Schlüter, which were all somewhat overladen with ornamentation, continue to the west.

Location of the King's Room

Das Königzimmer 

Die Drap d’Or Kammer [The Drap d'Or Chamber] is one of Schlüter's most lavish rooms, being a testament to his creative abilities and the craftsmanship of his skilled craftsmen. The alabaster figures above the fireplace are believed to be the work of the young Balthasar Permoser whose work may still be viewed in the Dresden Zwinger. King Friedrich III held council in Die Drap d'Or Chamber and in the evening the room served as a smoking room. The room contains a handsome silver memorial and shield presented by the City of Berlin on the marriage of Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm to Victoria, The Princess Royal (the eldest Daughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain) in 1858, and also a large picture by Camphausen representing Emperor Wilhelm I at Gravelotte.

Die Drap d'Or Kammer
Location of The Drap d'Or Chamber 


Die Drap d'Or Kammer

Die Drap d'Or Kammer Ceiling Detail

Die Rote Adler Kammer [The Red Eagle Chamber] also known as Die Brandenburgische Kammer [The Brandenburg Chamber] is adorned with Camphausen’s picture of the "Great Elector" and his Generals.

Corinthian pilasters divided this room which was primarily used for festivities. The elaborate allegorical ceiling paintings by Samuel Theodore Guerikes show the truth, personified by a naked female figure presented in 1701 with the Royal Crown of the new Kingdom of Prussia by the Ancient Assembly of Gods - thus representing the World. The carved and gilded stucco figures enriched the scene with further symbols representing the State of Brandenburg - Prussia.

Location of the
Red Eagle Chamber
Die Rote Adler Kammer

Die Rote Adler Kammer
Ceiling of
Die Rote Adler Kammer

The Presentation of the Crown,
Die Rote Adler Kammer.
The Presentation of the Crown,
Die Rote Adler Kammer.

Guilded Stucco Work,
Die Rote Adler Kammer
Ceiling Painting,
Die Rote Adler Kammer


Next we enter Der Rittersaal [The Old Throne Room or Knight's Hall] which lies above Portal V. Here the gorgeous rococo decoration of 1702 reaches its culmination with friezes in relief, cornices and parapets. The ceiling painting by Johann Friedrich Wentzel emphasizes the beneficial effect on the Arts and Sciences which the new Prussian Crown brought with it. The well-designed life-sized allegorical groups above the side-doors representing the four continents of the globe are among Schlüter's best work. The beautiful carving of the large central door also deserves notice. The gallery above it was formerly of solid silver.
An imposing collection of gold and silver can be seen on the handsome sideboard and mostly dates from the time of the first two Prussian Kings. The silver buffet service is now on view in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The crystal chandelier, which Luther is said to have stood under in the Diet of 1521, was purchased from the City of Worms by Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm III.

Location of the Old Throne Room 

Der Rittersaal

The Carving Above the
Central Doorway,
Der Rittersaal

The Throne Canopy and Ceiling
Decoration, Der Rittersaal

Ceiling Painting in Der Rittersaal
Der Rittersaal Gallery, formerly
in Solid Silver

Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer [The Black Eagle Chamber] follows and contains a large picture by Camphausen representing Frederick the Great surrounded by his Generals.

The Black Eagle Chamber formed a counterpart to the Brandenburg Chamber. Both of them framed Der Rittersaal with the three rooms forming a solemn triad. The room and ceiling decoration, skillfully designed by Schlüter and brilliantly carried out by the Artist Terwesten Augustin, was again very successful dedicated to the acquisition of the Prussian Royal Crown in 1701. This highly significant event, which provided the major impetus for rebuilding the old Castle, was clearly and vividy illustrated in this room.

Location of the
Black Eagle Chamber

Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer

The Prussian Black Eagle,
Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer

Ceiling painting,
Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer

Ceiling painting,
Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer
Ceiling painting,
Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer


Guilded Plasterwork & Painting,
Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer
Guilded Plasterwork & Painting,
Die Schwärzer Adler Kammer

Die Rote Samt Kammer [The Red Velvet Room] contains good portraits of the "Great Elector", of Friedrich I. and of Sophia Charlotte, wife of the latter, all in handsome old frames. The old furniture and hangings are evident.

Of smaller dimensions than the previous room, the original red wall coverings were original. Otherwise much had been renovated in the 19th century. The ceiling paintings are by Paul Carl Leygebe according to a design by Schlüter. Furniture from this room still exists, the carved seat today being in Schloß Charlottenburg.   

Location of the
Red Velvet Chamber

Die Rote Samt Kammer

Die Rote Samt Kammer
Cornice & Ceiling
Die Rote Samt Kammer Cornice


Rote Samt Kammer Ceiling Painting
Ceiling Frieze, Rote Samt Kammer

Die Alte Kapelle / Kapitelsaal [The Old Chapel] retained its original function until a new Chapel was built in the Palace Dome in 1844-1852. This room was then restored in 1879 and fitted up as the Chapter House for meetings of the Knights of the Order of the Black Eagle.

Location of the Old Chapel

Die Alte Kapelle

We next enter Die Bildergalerie [The Picture Gallery] which is located above Portal IV. Built in 1710 to designs by Johann Friedrich Eosander, it has a length of 196 foot and leads into the new Gallery of the White Saloon. The picture gallery is also used as a banquet-hall and can accommodate 400 guests.

Hung in the gallery are portraits of Charles I and his Queen by Van Dyck; King Friedrich I's Last Review by Koch; The Prussian Fleet at Tres Forcas (1856) by Röching; King Friedrich I by Pesne; The Coronation of King Wilhelm I at Königsberg in 1861 by Menzel; Emperor Wilhelm I by Winterhalter; Emperor Friedrich by Keinke; Emperor Wilhelm II and Empress Victoria by Von Angelie; King Wilhelm Proclaimed German Emperor at Versailles in 1871, and Emperor Wilhelm II opening the Reichstag for the first time in 1888 by Anton Von WernerAt the end of the gallery is a sculpture of Queen Louise and her Sister by Schadow.

The Picture Gallery and the adjoining new Gallery of the White Saloon / Weisser Saal Galerie (Gobelin Gallery - No 14 on plan) appear to have been treated as one room for the purpose of displaying not only paintings but also Gobelin tapestries ordered in 1690 to commemorate the campaigns of Friedrich III. The tapestries are now exhibited in Schloss Oranienburg.

The vault of the Picture Gallery and the ceiling of the west adjoining Gobelin Gallery are decorated with stucco work and paintings. Among the ceiling frescoes are four paintings depicting scenes from the (then) recent history of Prussia by the famous painter Jan Anthonie Coxcie. 

Location of the Picture Gallery
and Gobelin Gallery

Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery

Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery

Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery

Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery
Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery

Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery
Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery

One of the Original Gobelin Tapestries

Die Bildgalerie / Gobelin Gallery

Seven large white marble arched openings lead from the Gobelin Gallery / Weisser Saal Galerie directly through to Der Weiße Saal [The White Saloon], a large hall 105 feet in length, 50 feet in width, and 40 feet in height, completed by Stühler in 1844 and remodelled by Ernst v. Ihne in 1894-95. It became the first festival hall in Berlin to be electrified with indirect lighting replacing the earlier chandeliers. Heating was provided by filtered hot air forced up through vents from the palace cellar. One could finally celebrate huge balls without soot from the numerous candles and heating ruining expensive Court dresses. Although still covered in white marble, the ceiling was now gilded and colored, so that the hall had a distinctly warmer appearance than its predecessor. [Unlike the majority of the Berlin Palace, Der Weiße Saal suffered significantly less war damage, enabling it to be partially restored in 1946 and then used as an exhibition space until 1948]. 

The reliefs on the vaulting between the walls and the ceiling are by O. Lessing and represent victorious war as the fosterer of art, science, trade, and industry. The niches in the side of the hall are occupied by two statues and seven statues of Prussian rulers at the age of their accession to the throne. The opening of the Reichstag and the Landtag (Prussian Diet) took place in the White Saloon.

Location of The White Saloon

Der Weiße Saal, as rebuilt by Ihne in 1894-95

Der Weiße Saal as viewed prior to 1894

The final room in the public tour is the Schloß Kapelle [Palace Chapel] located in the Dome above Portal III being reached by the staircase at the south west end of the White Saloon. The Palace Chapel is an octagonal room, 113 feet in height, and 68-75 feet in diameter, being lined and paved with marble of different colours, and adorned with frescoes on a gold background. The altar with its four columns is of yellow Egyptian marble. Seating is provided for 600 persons. The acoustic properties of the chapel are however very poor. 

Location of the Palace Chapel
The Schloß Kapelle

The Chapel terminated the series of rooms shown to the general public. Other significant areas of the Palace were almost never open for public viewing. These included the chambers of King Friedrich Wilhelm II (1787 - 1798), the living quarters of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795 - 1861) in the north east part of the Palace, and the private apartments of Emperor Wilhelm II which were located on the first floor facing the Schloßplatz to the south east.   

Bibliography :

"Baedeckers Northern Germany", 1900 (from my personal collection)
Fördverein Berliner Schloss e.V.
Farbdiaarchiv zur Wand - und Deckenmalerei