These miniature portraits above are of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Dudley has long been debated to have been the Queen’s lover and had aspirations of marrying her and being her consort, although those aspirations never materialized. Elizabeth never married and went down in history known as the “Virgin Queen.” If I’m remembering correctly, Virginia in the states (then just barely a discovery and settlement) was named in her honor.
It has never been thoroughly proven that Dudley was the Queen’s lover but these miniature portraits add credence to the extreme personal nature of their relationship. These portraits were done around 1575, which was seventeen years into her reign, and miniatures were just becoming fashionable. They are the size of a thumbnail and would have been worn as a piece of jewelry, perhaps as rings or brooches or necklaces tied with ribbon. Both men and women wore miniatures as tokens of deep affection for each other. The Queen kept Dudley around a lot and sparked rumors about their relationship but it was never acknowledged. Dudley’s first wife, Lady Amy Robsart, died mysteriously in 1560 and it was rumored that she was “eliminated” to free Dudley to marry the Queen. His hopes were never realized and he eventually married Laetitia Knollys, Countess of Essex, in 1578, three years after the above miniatures were painted.
The miniatures were sold at auction in the UK on November 25, 2009, for a princely sum of £72,000. That’s $118,235.68 according to my currency converter.
>Their words, not mine!
Last night, as we do every year in the week after Thanksgiving, my uncle and his partner (husband, really, even though it’s not legal in Georgia) pulled out the boxes of Christmas decorations and set everything up for the top two floors of our house. Saad is Arabic so we have an interesting mix of decorations that include camels with Christmas-looking saddles and stuff. The camel on the fireplace mantle is named Jamal or something to that effect. It sounds odd but it looks good.
My uncle and his partner also do a themed Christmas tree every year and this year my mom came downstairs and announced, “They got sparkly mermen for the tree this year.” I didn’t believe her. Sparkly sea creatures for Christmas?
So we went upstairs (I live in the basement apartment which is separate from the house upstairs) and Saad already had all the ornaments out of their boxes and my mom had clipped all the price tags and put on some hooks. Lo and behold, there were the new sparkly sea creatures and oddly, they did look festive for Christmas. The tree they use in the living room is about eight feet tall (Saad in the picture is over six feet) and it’s kind of a retro white artificial tree. Me being a traditionalist, it’s not my style per se but they always put a lot of effort into it and it always ends up looking fab.
The cheap white wine flowed, although Saad and I did not partake, and we ended up playing the Latin Jazz music station on the DirectTV since we couldn’t find any Christmas music. I played with the dogs and my mom took these pictures on my BlackBerry while Ben and Saad hung all their sparkly sea creatures and my grandmother directed traffic. Ben occasionally looked at the tree and said in his sarcastic way, “It’s not gay enough!” Really, there was a doll ornament with a pink feathery skirt, Dorothy’s sparkly red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, a Marilyn Monroe figure, and of course the sparkly sea creatures, so as Ben joked, our tree has to be one of the top ten gayest trees in the city of Atlanta. It’s cool though! Our family may not be “traditional” but we spend time together as a family and there is nothing weird about it as some people might think.
Above the mantle, we hung a big silver sparkly wreath that looks like a pretty snowflake. Sometime soon, I’m getting a small (hopefully green) artificial tree down here in the basement apartment. My tree will be more on the Victorian side. I’ll probably do some of the things I wrote about in this blog with Victorian crafts but we’ll see how it goes. We are supposed to be having a big Christmas feast with about a dozen people and play games since most of our family friends are not living close to their families. A lot of them are foreign. More decorating will come before the big feast.
Here are some pictures of our sparkly Christmas tree.
Today’s dressgasm is epic by my standards. To the untrained eye, it looks like a typical visiting dress from the Civil War period but there are some very unique design elements that I find fascinating.
This dress is a two-piece silk visiting dress (we discussed the purpose of visiting dresses in an earlier dressgasm blog) and a two-piece dress is the bodice and then the skirt with the waistband attached. Sometimes two-piece dresses were held together like a pseudo-one-piece with hooks and eyes at the waist. This woman had a 24-inch waist and I believe the dress length from collar to hem was something like 41 inches. Copper, bronze and brown were extremely fashionable colors in the mid-nineteenth century so this dress was the height of fashion.
What makes this dress so unique to me is the sleeves. I would term it as modified pagoda. Normally pagoda sleeves are bell-shaped and start at the elbow but it appears that these sleeves start fanning out at three-quarter length. Not only that but the embellishments are of unique design as well. It looks like there are satin ribbon bands around the arm and then around the edges with silk fringe. If you look in the picture above, it appears that there are attached undersleeves of the same copper silk material. That is very unique. I can’t think of another example of a design like that and my images of antique clothing number in the thousands. Under normal circumstances, the undersleeves would not be attached and they would be white like the collar. Undersleeves were removable for washing and were worn to protect the dresses from bodily oils and dirt, as these dresses were not easily or often washed.