Thursday, December 6, 2007

More Pretty Things from Museums

This morning I was rummaging around in the Longchamp shopping bag where are living some of the souvenirs from London & Paris that I brought home for my friends and I found something that I'd bought for myself and forgotten about.

This is from the British Museum. They currently have a tiny exhibit called The Divine Cat, which is an exploration of one particular bronze Egyptian cat statue from their collection. It's really quite a lovely little exhibit -- very small, and focusing on this one object, really explicating its provenance and how it was made. It was the first thing I saw upon landing in London. Sian the English Rose works in an office near there, so I took the Gatwick Express from the airport to Victoria Station (highly recommended -- cheap, fast, very nice train with coffee cart bearing actually good coffee and believe me, there is nothing you want so much after a transcontinental flight as a cup of caffeine), then caught the tube, dropped the Beast in her office, and then headed out to wander around the Bloomsbury area until she was released from corporate bondage.

The British Museum is a lovely old edifice, everything you want in a distinguished European art insitution. And then you go inside and see the amazing (a-MAZ-ing) central court designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened in 2000.

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(click on this photo to go to Sir Norman's website for absolutely mind-blowing photos & more information)

I enjoyed my quick visit to the Egyptian cat, then I struck off to do some more exploring of the rest of museum. Trouble was, it was exceedingly warm in said museum. And Style Spy was in her biggest winter coat. And had just arrived after a 24-hour travel event during which she had slept fitfully at best (the plane to England was too crowded for me to stretch out, and I can't get good sleep unless I can straighten my legs). And so, a little while later, while standing in front of an enormous glass case chock-full o' the most beautiful collection of 19th-Century jewelry, I realized that I was swaying back & forth like sapling in a strong wind. It seemed to me that my first day of vacation would not be well spent trying to explain why I had pitched myself through a large window and destroyed several million dollars worth of priceless objects, so I went the hell outside where it was chilly and let the brisk breeze smack me around until I woke up a bit. Then I found a pub and had a pint. But before I left, I got to see some pretty things. Here are some of them. Click on any of these photos to go the the British Museum site to get fascinating details about the objects.

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Gold and enamel pendant brooch. I like snakes almost as much as I like cats.

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Made from the heads of actual hummingbirds. Fascinating, in an extremely icky kind of way.

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Wouldn't THAT make a statement on the sleeve of a black cashmere sweater?

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A parure (matched set) of carved pink coral. Swoon.

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Here's one for Plumcake: gold and diamond hair ornament. So elegant, so gorgeous.

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Gold filigree and enamel necklace. Go to the site to look at the detail photo of this, it's astonishing. Look at the butterflies around the back!!

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This is my favorite. It's a gold and diamond tiara that comes apart into three pieces that can be worn as a brooch or as hair combs. Much more practical, don't you think? I guess if you're going to throw down that kind of dosh for a thing, you want to get some wear out of it, huh? So gorgeous.

Now I'm going to spend the rest of the day walking around with a book balanced on my head, practicing for when I get my tiara...

Photos: Style Spy,, British Museum

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r r s said...

The detail in the coral set is amazing. The hummingbird head necklace makes me kind of sad. Yuck.

Poochie said...

I love love love the British Museum. When we last went they were doing an exhibit on Samuri swords. It was very interesting.

The funniest quote of the day was from my husband. We had just come from Paris (and the Louvre of course) and we were in the BM Egyptian room. He was looking around and of the top of his head said "Boy, everything is kind of beat up, isnt' it".

I looked at him (knowing he meant in comparison to all the art that came from French chateaus, but still sort of in disbelief) and said, "Um, well yeah. They had to dig it all out of the ground!"

So silly.

PS Love the kitty statue. My clowder of cats would approve.

Roberta said...

I looove how the center of the museum is a really big library. It's heaven.

Anonymous said...

oh. my. God. I want all of that and particularly the hair ornament! WAH.