L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The princely brothers of Cooch-Behar - portraits by Lafayette Studio, 1901-13

1902. (Probably taken on the occasion of Edward VII's coronation.)

H. H. Maharaja Shri Raj Rajendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharaja of Cooch-Behar (11 April 1882, Calcutta - 1 September 1913, Cromer, Norfolk), eldest son of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan of Cooch-Behar. Educated at Eton and Oxford, where he played with the University polo team, he also attended the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. He succeeded his father in 1911, but died just two years later - apparently from the effects of alcoholism - at the age of only thirty-one. Being unmarried and without issue, he was succeeded by his next oldest brother.

Maharaja Rajendra Narayan wears two diamond and pearl necklaces and two strands of pearls in his portrait.
His sarpech looks to be set completely with diamonds.



H.H. Maharaja Shri Sir Jitendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharaja of Cooch-Behar (20 December 1886, Cooch-Behar - 20 December 1922, London), second son of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan of Cooch-Behar. He attended Eton and Edinburgh University, and attended both the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and that of George V in 1911. In London two years later, he married Indira Raje, the daughter of the Maharaja of Baroda; six days later, his elder brother died and he became ruler of Cooch-Behar. He and his wife had five children together. But it seems that alcoholism was endemic in his family and he, too, succumbed to the effects of the disease; he died on his thirty-sixth birthday. He was succeeded by his seven-year-old elder son.

Maharaja Jitendra Narayan wears one of the necklaces his brother wears above, along with three strands of pearls...
... but his sarpech is different.
At close range, the retouching done by Lafayette - de rigueur at the time - is quite obvious.


The four sons of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan of Cooch-Behar, 1901.

Left to right:

Lieutenant-Colonel Maharaj Kumar Shri Victor Nitendra Narayan (21 May 1887 - 31 October 1937, Osterley, Surrey), the third brother, was also educated at Eton and then with the Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehradun. He served as a member of the bodyguard to George V at the Delhi Durbar in 1911. He married the daughter of a lawyer in 1916 and had two sons. He died in a motor accident in England at the age of fifty.

H. H. Maharaja Shri Sir Jitendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharaja of Cooch-Behar, the second brother. (See above.)

H. H. Maharaja Shri Raj Rajendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharaja of Cooch-Behar, the eldest. (See above.)

The youngest brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Maharaj Kumar Shri Hitendra Narayan (1 July 1890, Darjeeling - 7 November 1920, Darjeeling), was also educated at Eton and, subsequently, with the Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehradun, he fought and was decorated for his service during World War I, but died suddenly at the age of only thirty.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A rocky descent - transitional hemlines, circa 1928-30

I rather love that brief but strange and potent period of fashion history when ladies' dresses were shifting their lines and shape from that of the Twenties into that of the Thirties. Even as the now-iconic look of the latter decade - the straight-edge, close-cropped, waistless Garçonne silhouette - was finally being universally accepted, waistlines began flirting with a woman's actual waist. And just as skirt lengths reached their greatest height yet - skimming or even floating above the knees - hemlines started falling. Sort of. For a few years fashion designers and the dress-buying public didn't seem able to decide what length they preferred. So while the front of the skirts stayed knee-length, the sides or back frequently headed for the floor. All sorts of unusual configurations were employed in this endeavor: completely bi-level skirts, longer overskirts, long and full sash ends, exaggerated handkerchief hems, all manner of flounces and floating panels. Some of these creations were wonderfully graceful - poetic, even - while others were just odd and awkward. Unlike other periods of fashion, when one style seemed to blend fairly seamlessly - oh, I made a pun! - into the next, this transition was a bit of a slow-motion scramble. And it would seem that the hard-edged, boyish Twenties refused to give in to the softly feminine Thirties without a fight.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Rooms, flowers, mirrors, ladies, boys - a selection of the work of Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell

As all the titles of these pieces are rather pointless - "The Black Hat", "The White Room", "The Boxer" or here, "The Orange Blind" - I'm just not going to bother....


Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (12 April 1883, Edinburgh – 6 December 1937, Edinbugh), Scottish Colourist painter, known for his depictions of the elegant New Town interiors of his native Edinburgh, and for his work on the island of Iona. The son of a surgeon, from the age of sixteen he studied in Paris at the Académie Julian. While in France he was exposed to work of the early Fauvists - in particular, Matisse - which proved to be a lasting influence. After his return to Scotland, he was a regular exhibitor in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as in London. Cadell spent most of his adult life in Scotland and had little contact with many of the new ideas that were being developed abroad. He therefore tended to paint subjects that were close at hand: landscapes, fashionable Edinburgh New Town house interiors, still lifes, and figures. He was much inspired by the landscape of Iona, which he first visited in 1912, and which features prominently in his work. With the worsening economic climate of the 1930s, he found it increasingly difficult to sell his work, and he died in relative poverty at the age of only fifty-four.