Friday, July 10, 2009

Oh, oh, oh...this superb example of the highest art in the world of parasols...I am so happy to have been able to handle it, since its compatriots are all in museums - including the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Collection!

Here's the link - it is a spectacular piece, and a very fun story about the maker, M. Marie Cazal:

Beautiful Victorian Silk "Carriage" Parasol
by the 1851 London Great Exhibition Award-winner, Cazal of Paris
Handmade Belgian Chantilly Bobbin Lace
GREAT folding white composite/bone Handle, bone finial
brass slide marked CAZAL Paris et Londres
Elaborate two-layer pattern, MINT condition
Two large 22" scalloped circles; Lace and ecru, with silk fringe

This MUSEUM QUALITY silk parasol was made in the mid 1800s. The light silk fabric is laid under the exquisite Belgian lace, quite secure, in a small size, folding to easily fit in a confined carriage space. Deeply scalloped edge flutters attractively in the breeze. A completely wearable piece of Victorian art! This is THE BEST of the gorgeous parasols in this group.

**Our lace expert tells us this is Handmade Belgian Chantilly bobbin lace.**

M. Marie Cazal was the founder of a legendary parasol and cane firm in Paris. "The famous 1860s fancy-goods man" had his shop on the Boulevard des Italiens, and manufactured some of the period's finest parasol frames. He entered his work in England's Great Exhibition of 1851 (year of the Crystal Palace) and was awarded the great prizes of the exposition for his new design for the catch and exemplary workmanship. His parasols are included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Collection. This one is simply spectacular, in glorious mint condition. H

He is the author of an 1844 small piece, Essay on the Umbrella, the Walking-Stick, and their Manufacture.

In his 1842 guide, How to Enjoy Paris Francis Herve fawned over his establishment:

"..I must not omit to mention [the invention] of M. Cazal, who has obtained two patents, and medals for the umbrellas and parasols he has invented, with which he furnishes Queens and Princesses, and which are entirely superseding all those of any other construction."
His major innovation was that his catch was not inserted into the stick, but was attached to the wire framework, and "merely touching a little button will slide up and down as required with the greatest facility, without those little annoyances which so frequently happen in the old method, of either pinching one's fingers, or the glove catching in the spring, or the spring breaking or losing its elasticity."

M. Cazal was well-known among the Paris elite: in the memoirs of Alexandre Dumas, a doctor was required at the bedside of Dumas' mother.

..."So I called in another of my friends, named Cazal. He was an extremely clever fellow who, when he found that, in spite of his mediical skill, his practice did not increase, invented a new kind of umbrella and parasol, took out a patent for them [in 1839] and made a fortune. Cazal spent the whole night with us by my mother's side..."

Cazal's clients included the Empess Eugenie. The Prize Medal he won at the Great Exhibition was awarded for "Parasols and Umbrellas Elegant in form and of excellent workmanship"
"The handles evince much taste and are well-sculptured; the framing, which is very light, in many cases presents novelties of construction. The self-opening umbrella, for instance, may be cited as a very ingenious contrivance; a travelling umbrella so arranged that the stick may be conveniently removed and used as a walking stick is also worthy of commendation. The prices of the umbrellas are high."

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, or Great Exhibition, was sometimes refered to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition for the beautiful structure in which is was held, from May 1 to October 1, 1851. It was the first of a series of World's Fair exhibitions of culture and industry that were to become a popular feature of the 19th century. It was organized by Queen Victoria's spouse, Prince Albert.

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