Cartier: The Exhibition

Cartier The Exhibition National Gallery of Australia Canberra

Just a little bit too much?!

Australia’s National Gallery, which is here in Canberra, has had some pretty amazing “blockbusters” recently (however I’m worried about the new director coming in soon).

The last big one I went to see was the Versailles exhibition, where So Much stuff from the Palace of Versailles, and so many historically significant pieces, were brought out from France for a few months.

Now, we have the Cartier exhibition – which is ending in a few days. We went to see it on Saturday.

And – wow. For starters I can’t believe that there was no security of any sort when there were billions of dollars of diamonds and other precious jewels on display.

They weren’t just any diamonds either; these were pieces from Britain’s royal collection, things the Queen wears, tiaras from royal weddings (e.g. the one Kate Middleton wore for hers), and crowns worn by Queen Victoria’s daughters. And these were pieces from Hollywood: jewels that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly etc. There was even a clock belonging to a US President.

These heiresses were seriously rich!

It was also fascinating to see how much money was coming from Gilded Age New York. So many obscenely enormous sets of jewels belonged to the American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy – just like in shows like Downton Abbey, and in all those books I read.

There were also other things, like costumes from the Ballet Russes (the NGA bought most of the world-famous company’s costumes many years ago, before anybody else thought to), and pieces belonging to Victorian/Edwardian opera star Dame Nellie Melba.

I was told that two hours wasn’t long enough to see everything, and I thought that was ridiculous: after all how many diamonds could there possibly be?

It turns out two hours was nowhere near long enough.

DIamond Tiara Cartier The Exhibition National Gallery of Australia Canberra

I’ve seen crown jewel collections in a number of countries in Europe. I’ve been whisked past a handful of crowns at the Tower of London on a travellator a few times. Nothing I’ve seen anywhere else is close to what is on display in Canberra at the moment.

This is how close we got to things – even with a weekend crowd. This is Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara:

I’m really hoping the new director realises what an amazing gallery we have here. His “vision” for the gallery’s future sounds, frankly, like garbage. I want more Versailles and Cartier and Impressionists exhibitions, please. Not “homegrown modern art”!

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On this day: free bread to honour the Queen

Canada honoured the Queen’s official birthday on the 21st of May this year. The British monarchs have celebrated an official birthday separate to their real birthday since the 1740s.

In 1859 this holiday occurred on the 24th of May, which was in fact Queen Victoria’s real birthday. To mark the occasion officials in Toronto handed out tickets for free loaves of bread.

1859-queens-birthday-vs As part of the celebrations surrounding Queen Victoria's birthday, the City of Toronto distributed free loaves of bread by way of tickets such as this one. Good f

On this day: Australian sport’s first international tour

Aboriginal_cricket_team_Tom_Wills_1866 Photograph of the first Aboriginal cricket team with coach and captain Tom Wills outside the MCC pavilion of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. December

The team photographed in December of 1866.

The first Australian sporting team to ever tour internationally was a cricket team from the colony of Victoria.

Tom_Wills_1857The team was made up of Aboriginal stockmen (people who work with livestock on Australian farms), and overseen by Tom Wills from the British colony of New South Wales. Cric

Tom Wills in 1857

The team was made up of Aboriginal stockmen (people who work with livestock on Australian farms), and overseen by Tom Wills from the British colony of New South Wales.

The team toured England between May and October in 1868. This newspaper article is from the 16th of May edition of The Sporting Life.

Sporting_Life,_London__16May1868The Sporting Life, London. 16 May 1868. The arrival of the Australian Aboriginal cricket team in England.

On this day: the Victoria Memorial is Unveiled

Inauguration_du_Monument_de_la_reine_Victoria The Victoria Memorial's unveiling ceremony outside Buckingham Palace London 16th May 1911

The Victoria Memorial, which stands outside Buckingham Palace at the end of The Mall in London, was unveiled in a ceremony on the 16th of May, 1911.

The monument honours Queen Victoria, whose long reign had come to an end with her death a decade earlier.

The ceremony was presided over by both by King George V and his first cousin, Wilhelm II of Germany. Both men were grandsons of Victoria.

Following the ceremony it was revealed the memorial’s sculpture, Thomas Brock, was to be knighted.

On this day: a Derailment in Victorian England

BASA-3K-7-518-56Seen here after derailing in a blizzard near Camborne, Cornwall on 8 March 1891.Great Western Railway No. 2128 Leopard (ex South Devon Railway Leopard). Victorian Era

Source

8th March 1891: A derailment on England’s Great Western Railway. The locomotive is photographed after being caught in a blizzard in Cornwall, near Camborne.