Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dinner with The Swedish Nightingale ~ Jenny Lind Tablescape

I promise, there is a tablescape in this post.

Johanna Marie Lind, more widely known as Jenny Lind, and dubbed 'The Swedish Nightingale' was an opera singer born in 1821 in Stockholm, Sweden.

 It is said that she could repeat a song which she’d heard just one time…by the age of three!  By the age of 10, she was performing on the stage at Stockholm.  Her early life was spent being impoverished.  Jenny Lind grew up living at various times with her mother in a shelter for indigent women or being shuffled from home to home. Her father, from whom she inherited her musical gifts, was a tavern musician and rarely came home to visit. It was not until Jenny was 15 years old that her parents married.

 When Jenny was twenty-three years old, she went to Dresden and sang for festivals held to honor the visiting Queen Victoria. She was received with much enthusiasm throughout Germany which, in turn, opened the door to much more success when she traveled to London in 1847.  Jenny's reputation as one of the most talented sopranos grew throughout Europe and news of her fame found its ways to the ears, and mind, of P. T. Barnum, the first millionaire of showbiz and of course founder of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When Barnum heard of Jenny Lind,  in 1850 he offered to promote the singer with an American tour.  Without ever having heard her sing, he paid her an unprecedented, upfront, all expense included, $1,000 a night for 150 nights.  Jenny Lind accepted the offer in part because she disliked the opera performances she was doing largely because, in those days,  the opera singers were known to have bad reputations and hers was that of an unpretentious, shy and devout person, and to endow a music school for poor children.  So successful were Barnum's preparations for the Swedish Nightingale's arrival that, nearly 40,000 people greeted her at the docks of New York and another 20,000 at her hotel.   Jenny Lind 'mania' was born.  As a direct result of Jenny Lind mania, many different souvenirs and items were made in her honor and named after her, the most noteable being the Jenny Lind baby crib, which is still today called by the same name. 

Jenny Lind's nickname, 'The Swedish Nightingale' comes from Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Nightingale' which was inspired by his unrequited love for the famous singer and fellow Scandinavian. Andersen wrote in The True Story of My Life, published in 1847, "Through Jenny Lind I first became sensible of the holiness of Art. Through her I learned that one must forget one's self in the service of the Supreme. No books, no men, have had a more ennobling influence upon me as a poet than Jenny Lind".

Strangely enough, the nightingale story became a reality for Jenny Lind in 1848-1849, when she fell in love with Fryderyk Chopin.  His letters reveal that he felt "better" when she sang for him.  She attempted unsuccessfully to marry Chopin in Paris 1849.   Soon after, she had to flee the cholera epidemic but returned just before he died.   Lind never recovered from her loss of Chopin. She wrote to Andersen on 23 November 1871 from Florence: "I would have been happy to die for this my first and last, deepest, purest love."

Jenny Lind died in 1887, so did not live into the age of recording.

Has anyone began to wonder why I am  writing about Jenny Lind? Well, yes Virginia, I am writing about Jenny Lind, the opera singer,  because there is a transferware pattern named after her.

The Jenny Lind pattern can be found in a variety of colors, including polychrome pieces with hand tinting applied under glaze, such as those above and below.  The scene depicts couples in period clothing peering through a telescope at a castle in the distance.

(figural handled tea caddy in red/pink above and brown below...these are great for storing teas, etc.)

Purple Plate

( This cup and saucer is so unique with its handle...sort of art-deco style.  I've only come across the few that I have in stock and never seen this handle before)

( brown polychrome teapot)

(Lidded cigarette box)

(polychrome blue pitcher and bowl)

(hand painted charger)

(mug / coffee cup)

Panorama of Humbug, engraving published by William Schaus 289 Broadway, New York, c1850. The artist parodies the extravagant publicity campaign conducted by showman Phineas T. Barnum for the series of American concerts by Swedish songstress Jenny Lind, which he produced in the autumn of 1850. Barnum started his promotion of Lind 6 months prior to her arriving in New York on September 1, 1850. On a small platform, beneath a massive banner with the image of Jenny Lind holding a fan and nightingale (a reference to her nickname "the Swedish nightingale"), stand a youth who is half white and half black, a showman, and a man throwing out handbills. The platform is erected outside a ticket office, and sits over a small orchestra pit with musicians blowing wind instruments with the names of several New York newspapers, including the "Tribune, Herald, Express," and "Courier and Enquirer." While a satanic figure to the left beats a drum, the showman shouts to the crowd around him: "Walk up Ladies & Gentlemen and see the greatest wonder of the age--the Real Swedish Nightingale, the only specimen in the Country." Inside the ticket office stands Barnum himself, quietly watching from the shadows. His Museum on Broadway can be seen in the background.

This cartoon shown below from the British humor magazine Punch satirizes the American clamor over Jenny Lind, visually suggesting an amusing unruliness and lack of sophistication among Americans. (Source: Punch, October 5, 1850. American Social History Project)

A Jenny Lind candleabra.  Decorative pieces like this, placed in one's home would communicate the owner's desire to emulate Jenny Lind's moral values.
photo credit Strong Museum

Isn't this beautiful? It is a Jenny Lind print from a wood engraving published in a magazine 1866
photo credit:

I set a table for four using the brown polychrome pieces in the Jenny Lind pattern.

Of all the different colorways in Jenny Lind, this is by far my favorite.

I used plaid napkins that bring out the little bit of color in these, green, red and gold.

Shawn and I used to be members of a club here that always served a demitasse cup of rich broth before each meal.  It was so delicious!  I like to do that sometimes too, so the demitasse cups were placed on top of each plate for that purpose.

But then, Shawn decided to make us homemade pizza for dinner, so there went the broth idea.
I'm not complaining though.


Making the World Cuter
A Stroll Thru Life 
Brambleberry Cottage
Common Ground
Between Naps on the Porch
Show and Tell Friday
No Minimalist Here
Savvy Southern Style
Ladybird Lane

Monday, October 24, 2011

Patriotic America Transferware Exhibition Online Now

Just launched!

There is a wonderful, online exhibit I want to share with those of you who are transferware enthusiasts, like me.  Winterthur, the Transferware Collectors Club, and Historic New England have joined forces to develop this exhibition. It is called Patriotic America and offers a very comprehensive set of images of blue printed pottery with American depictions during the 1820's, which documents a great time of celebration in the country.  
Historical transferware is probably the most seriously collected and most expensive of transferware.  

From Winterthur:
"In 1815, when trade between America and England resumed following the War of 1812, Staffordshire potters were eager to regain access to one of their most lucrative markets. 
This virtual exhibition brings together the production of more than twelve British potters who created an aesthetic that would be desirable to Americans eager to purchase objects highlighting their growing nation.  
Many of the images were inspired by paintings and engravings depicting the new nation's remarkable landscape and notable architecture.  Succeeding generations have treasured these wares, and they survive as a testament to the skills of the Staffordshire potter and the patriotism of his American consumer."

You can view the exhibit here: