Category Archives: Victorian

More about That Incredible Wallpaper at the V&A

Here’s a bit more by and about Fallen Fruit, aka David Allen Burns and Austin Young, who created the fantastic wallpaper for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “FOOD: Bigger than the Plate” exhibition, which runs through 20 October 2019. The artists drew their inspiration from images in the V&A’s massive collection of prints.

Detail from "Fruits from the Garden and the Field"

Detail from “Fruits from the Garden and the Field”

Here’s a video from the artists:


And here’s a PDF containing 321 pages about Fallen Fruits’ larger, long-range goals,  notes on the V&A show, and lots of amateur collages.

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Captivating Prints from the V&A

The image above is a detail from “Fruits from the Garden and Field (Rainbow)”, by David Burns and Austin Young.  It was commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate the museum’s current exhibition, “FOOD: Bigger than the Plate”. The V&A’s shop is offering gorgeous, limited edition prints of some of the work.

From the exhibition notes:

“For over 175 years preceding the museum’s inception, the grounds of the V&A were filled with fruit trees as part of a historic nursery that supplied gardens across the country. Artists David Burns and Austin Young (Fallen Fruit) have foraged depictions of British fruit from the V&A collection, bringing this rich heritage back to the site once more. The artists invite us to experience the city as a fruitful place, presenting fruit as a catalyst to re-imagine the city as generous and productive and to explore the meaning of community through creating and sharing new and abundant resources.”

Here’s a compressed version of the full print. Enbiggen it as large as you can to get a hint of the amazing detail of the original work.

As I write this, the V&A site says that only six prints from the limited edition of 100 are still available.

It’s big, and it’s not cheap. The actual print is 60 by 20 inches. The price is £350 ($427), and shipping is another £30 ($37).* It comes unframed, and given its size, getting it framed will probably cost about as much as a small car.

Nevertheless, Wow!

Stunning, isn’t it?


The V&A is also selling other prints from the same artists, in limited editions of 250. These prints are 33 by 24 inches and cost £175 ($214).


Here’s a scene from the exhibition. I don’t think the curators planned for the wallpaper to dominate the room, but with that background, who can focus on anything else?

The show runs through Sunday, 20 October 2019.


*I did a little research when I was checking the rate of exchange. The British pound trades for about $1.22 right now, and it’s been declining for the last decade.

If you’d bought the print for £350 five years ago, when the pound was at $1.68, it would have cost you $588. The rate of exchange was even worse for Americans before the 2008 economic disaster, when the pound hovered around $2.00. That £350 price would have been the equivalent of $700. Viewed that way, you could claim that you’d actually be saving $273 compared to the 2008 price, and if you repeated that statement enough times, it might actually sound believable.

Or you could wait until a few weeks after Brexit when you’ll probably be able to get the print in exchange for a couple of chocolate bars and a pair of stockings.

Happy birthday, Queen Victoria!

Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, was born on 24 May 1819, 200 years ago today.

That was “Victoria” by the Kinks, from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Queen Victoria had been dead for 68 years when the Kinks recorded the song in 1969. Another couple of decades, and “Victoria” will be closer in time to the Victorian Age than to our own brave new world. Boats against the current….

“Canada to India
Australia to Cornwall
Singapore to Hong Kong
From the West to the East
From to the rich to the poor
Victoria loved them all.”

If you pay close attention to the lyrics, you might catch hints of the band’s signature working-class rage peeking through all the exaltation, but we’ll ignore that for now. Victoria’s bicentennial gives good Anglophiles everywhere a reason to celebrate, from the West to the East.


Home Again

In lesser news, I’m back from beautifully gloomy Budapest, and ready to resume posting.

I dined well, and you’re gonna hear all about it.

New Tales of the City

“When I first got off the bus years ago, I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
—Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton in Tales of the City

Oh, yes, Mary Ann, in this you are not unique. The first time I was in San Francisco, I had exactly the same feeling.*

And now, thanks to Netflix, we’re going home again.

“inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.”

Tales of the City had its start as a three-times-a-week serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Author Armistead Maupin mixed real and (mainly) fictional characters to capture the essence of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Maupin succeeded in doing for The City what Tom Wolfe failed to do for New York in Bonfire of the Vanities, probably the most overrated novel of the late 20th century. The column became must-read material, and a cult was born.

The first novelization of the serial was published in 1978, followed by five more volumes published at two-year intervals, with three more books released after a 20-year gap.

In 1993, Channel 4 (UK) turned the first book into a superb miniseries, which was shown on PBS in the US in early 1994. Here’s the trailer:

Good news! That original series is currently streaming on Acorn.

The new series will be released on Netflix on 7  June  2019.


Bonus Track

The great Laura Linney makes an uncredited appearance in this video for the also-great Aimee Mann. Watch closely, and see if you can spot her.


* Granted, I also had exactly the same feeling the first time I was in London, and the first time I was in Paris. Never had it in my own hometown,  though, for some reason….

Another Tiffany Masterpiece

Damn, that’s beautiful. It captures autumn, doesn’t it?

It’s a Tiffany Studios drop head Dragonfly lamp, c. 1910, with a verdigris patinated leaded glass shade.

It was sold in the Andrew Jones Auctions gallery in Los Angeles last week, for $200,000 (€170,100). I hold Tiffany in the v highest regard, but the real thing is so far outside my budget—which barely covers my semi-annual haircut and the occasional purchase of a fresh turnip—that I make do with modern imitations.

I wish I lived in a Tiffany world.


Here’s the full auction catalog

The Happy Prince Official Trailer

Rupert Everett’s film about the sad end of Oscar Wilde’s life takes its name from one of Wilde’s short stories. Everett wrote, directed, and starred in The Happy Prince. Also appearing are Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Anna Chancellor, and Tom Wilkinson. Colin Morgan, TV’s Merlin, plays Lord Alfred (Bosie) Douglas.

The Guardian gave it five stars, but other reviews have been less positive.

The film is scheduled for a 15 June 2018 release date in the UK. The Happy Prince played at Sundance, but there’s no date yet for a wider US release.

The Arab Hall in Lord Leighton’s House

“Of all the Arab Halls in all the towns in all the world…”

…this is my favorite.

I’ve spent hours in this room, in what was once the Holland Park home of Sir Frederic Leighton. The house is a museum now—I’ve posted about the current Alma-Tadema exhibition, which is taking place there—and I visit it whenever I’m in London, which is never often enough.

And now you can visit too, in a way. I’ve just found some gorgeous 360-degrees panoramic views of many of the rooms in the Leighton House Museum.

Clicking this link will take you to the museum’s Reception area.  From there, you can travel directly to the Arab Hall, or take a narrated tour through the rest of the house.

It’s a great place to visit, and I’d really love to live there.