Bespoke souvenir album containing Hartnell sketches for the Queen's wardrobe for her State Visit to Paris, 1957.London: 1957 Stock Code: 131143
The Queen's state visit to Paris 1957 - dressed by Norman Hartnell, the First Fashion KnightA likely unique souvenir of Queen Elizabeth's state visit to Paris in 1957, still spectacular, although sadly now in somewhat tired condition. This album collects original design sketches, fabric swatches, photographs, and calligraphic captions for several of the outfits Hartnell produced for the visit.
Undertaken in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis, when the "historic rivals" Britain and France found themselves standing together against majority world opinion, this was the first such visit by a reigning British monarch since Victoria in 1855, when the two nations were allies in the Crimean War. Queen Elizabeth's wardrobe for the trip was created by Norman Hartnell who had worked with the Royal Family since the 1935 marriage of Princess Alice and the Duke of Gloucester.
The album opens with two oval inked drawings of a pair of corsets for day and evening wear, an elegant green tweed ensemble with lilac shoes for her arrival in Paris follows, a light wash of colour of colour to the dress itself, thickly applied dabs of body colour giving a three-dimensional quality to the flowers in the bouquet. This spread, and those that follow, have a photograph of dress on the occasion and fabric swatches facing. The drawing of the superb silver filigree lace Opera dress is minutely worked in silver inks, a bold crimson for the Queen's garter sash, the blue jersey outfit for the wreath-laying at the Arc de Triomphe features a spray of trumpet lilies, purple orchids and carnations in natural colours.
Two artfully arranged, large oval composites of accessories for day and evening wear include shoes, bags, stockings and a superb Versailles-themed lace fan worked in silver ink. The texture-colour on the drawing of her cinnamon lace "nine-tenths coat & dress" for the visit to Versailles is so finely achieved as to suggest that it was created by transfer from an actual sample, the pale purple satin organza evening dress for the Seine trip is detailed with more silver lace. For her visit to the British Embassy, where she planted a tree, the Queen wore a shantung and chiffon ensemble, the drawing here cleverly embellished with a beautifully rendered fuchsia bush and a twin string of pearls worked in "relief" in thick body colour, the hounds-tooth departure outfit, has a single string similarly rendered, the taupe and beige fabric cleverly suggested by a repeated triangular motif, and the swatch enhanced with a snippet of mink. Overall an artfully constructed memento.
Hartnell was closely connected with the Royal family for over four decades, he received the Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1940, and from her daughter following this trip in 1957. In 1977, the year of the Queen's jubilee, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, which had been created to recognise those who had offered distinguished personal service to the monarch, at the time being dubbed by Prudence Glenn, fashion editor of The Times, The First Fashion Knight. Much to his delight Hartnell found that the Queen, with gracious deference to history, had deputed his investiture to the Queen Mother. He died in 1979, "a much loved man with great personal charm who made a major contribution to enhancing the prestige of élite British fashion" (ODNB), the present piece offers a neat encapsulation of the sparkling and courtly career of a skilled designer of great versatility.
Folio (405 x 260 mm). Padded ivory watered silk binding, matching silk page-marker, 10 card leaves, gilt stamped both sides at the head with the imperial crown, each with windows cut recto and verso for insertion of photographs, original design sketches, fabric swatches, and calligraphic captions.
Engraved print of the Hotel de Ville, 11 original inked sketches with touches of water- and body-colour, pencil under-drawing, various sizes most c. 300 x 185 mm; 7 original silver gelatin photographs (140 x 185 mm) of the finished outfits, 7 composite sw
Unfortunately the book has obviously been quite damp at some point, externally it is a little rubbed and somewhat soiled, with a tidemark stain to the lower board at the spine, interior binding slightly open, but sound, the mounting leaves and enclosed sketches are all lightly stained or spotted to some extent, some of the colour has washed from the drawings, the gold ink used for the captions is oxidised, but the photographs and the sample swatches remain surprisingly unaffected. Overall the condition is certainly compromised, but not tragically so, the piece remains highly attractive and certainly very good.
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