If you are currently despairing or feeling annoyed about Valentine’s Day, try putting it into perspective; at least you are not being stabbed to death as Captain Cook was, 234 years ago today. Now go read the eminent Kate Beaton’s comic, The Death of James Cook. On a more serious note, here’s a lovely Valentine’s card, c.1822, from The British Postal Museum & Archive:
I turned twenty three last November and for the first time in four years I celebrated my birthday with family in Oslo. There has always been quite a few of us and with the addition of some recent babies we are now seventeen in total, which makes for noisy and chaotic birthday celebrations, despite what these photos might suggest!
My aunt choose the lovely flowers (according to family tradition we collectively give each other a bouquet of flowers on birthdays) and I put them my mother’s Greek, “neoclassical” vase as it is a favourite of mine.
I wore an antique cameo necklace I bought at an auction years ago, and apparently also looked confused while unwrapping gifts.
A few weeks before Christmas I visited Norsk Folkemuseum (The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.) It is largely an open air museum consisting of buildings dating from the 15th-20th century; small pre-18th century wooden houses once occupied by peasants, a Stave Church, a 19th century school, a mid-century shop and a block of flats decorated in the style of the 1870s, the early 1900s and the 1960s. My favourite part of the museum are the 18th century homes of the middling sorts, as I always enjoy having a look at how Norwegian people lived in the era I am so familiar with from a British and French perspective. Being outdoors the museum is obviously freezing in winter, although when it snows it is so very picturesque and it always gives me the impression that I have been transported into an early 20th century Christmas card.
As I was unable to locate a santa hat (I was feeling festive), I wrapped myself in a bright red shawl and although my mother claimed I would be the person wearing the loudest headdress at the museum, I sadly lost to two little boys were wearing Angry Birds-hats.
It was such a lovely outing and we stayed until dusk, although I knew I’d be back already the same week to catch the 1814 exhibition. There are quite a few exhibitions on this year to mark the bicentenary of the Norwegian constitution of 1814, so keep reading, as I will certainly write about the ones I am able to attend (hopefully all!)
Whenever I think of New Year’s Eve, I envision flappers and the bright young people, aristocrats and bohemians, sparkling jewelry, sparkling eyes, sparkling wine, a glitzy, ditzy celebration. It’s awfully cliché I am aware, but I just cannot help myself! I won’t be sporting Edwardian or flapper fashions tonight, but I will however be initiating a new (to me) 1930s velvet dress while celebrating with family at my cousin’s house. Until next year! Here’s to hoping 2014 will be a better year than the previous.
As she have done for the last few years, Emily Dahl is hosting an advent calendar on her blog, this time fashion related, asking her readers to participate. Behind the first “window” one finds this challenge: berätta om din stil (write about your style.)
Now, I am going to be terribly boring and answer that I don’t really consider myself to be dressing according to a certain style, or even several styles combined. Mainly I am inspired by historical fashion, costume dramas and my favourite novels, and I have a tendency to covet certain items of clothing or jewellery for periods of time (at the moment it is byronian turbans.) I am not sufficiently interested in clothes (in relation to myself that is, not in a historical context) to have developed a distinctive style, but I do have a few favourite items of clothing. Among these are:
My Regency clothes, which I wear for Napoleonic re-enactments. The blue gown is made by Marion May and the yellow is the work of Margarita Martinez. This particular gown is actually available to rent, as I did, before I commissioned my very own, in light blue. Unfortunately I never seem to get a proper photo of it, as I am usually the one running around photographing at events!
My made-to-measure Dig for Victory dress, inspired by 1950s-60s cocktail dresses.
When my family went back to Oslo after their London-trip I traveled with them, trading sweltering libraries for a (for once!) glorious Norwegian summer. I really cannot remember the last time I experienced such a lovely summer, with just the right amount of both adventure and garden-lounging.
To me, summer hasn’t really begun until I go for a swim at Hvervenbukta. The area was once the location of an 18th century country house which was destroyed in a fire in 1913, but the beach pavilion from the 1770s still exists. The above drawing was done by Peter Frederik Wergmann (1802–1869.)
On Bastille Day I went to Windsor with my family and got horribly sunburnt. It was probably a fair punishment for not celebrating in an appropriately revolutionary manner. It was the first time any of us had been to Windsor and we spent most of the day inside the State Apartments.
Upon our arrival I was taken aback by this sign, as I had no idea these two ever stayed at Windsor, despite me being quite besotted with both of them. Mrs Delany was an artist and lady of letters with exceptional botanical knowledge. She individually cut out pieces of flowers from paper to compose botanically accurate flowers, and some of these are currently on display in the Enlightenment Room at the British Museum.
What I love about Delany is that she kept within the borders of ‘womanly behaviour’ throughout her life, and that although her interest was paper art (as was fashionable among genteel women in the 18th century), she managed to make it intellectual, although such ‘female accomplishments’ have often been dismissed by historians. In reality women’s ‘accomplishments’ were widely discussed in the 18th century and no final consensus was decided upon. Since women could not become professionals they had to remain amateurs and that word has predominantly negative connotations today. Whenever someone is described as an amateur today, it usually means that this person’s attempts are inferior or of a bad quality, whereas in the 18th century it simply meant not-professional. (Further reading: Amanda Vickery’s Behind Closed Doors: At Home In Georgian England. The chapter called “What Women Made” is specifically concerned with female accomplishments. She also did a great BBC documentary which is brilliant.)
We gawped at this with misty eyes for the better part of half an hour after spotting once inside the castle. I really wasn’t prepared for the immense amount of objects on display in the State Apartments: gilded swords from a multitude of centuries and so many ‘souvenirs’ from the golden age of the British Empire.