Artificial flowers are so important from the point of view of women's clothing that we will be allowed to visit the too restricted compartment that has been granted to them.
A mention first of all to M,le Madeleine Giraudeau :
Among the curiosities of the particular exhibits that one meets here and there in the Exhibition, there is one, in the artificial flowers room, which has a really charming character. The exhibitor is a village woman, and the objects she exhibits are artificial flowers very well executed by the most elementary processes.
In short, Mlle Madeleine Giraudeau, from the village of Chinault, near Issoudun, exhibits flowers made of duck feathers, made with a simple pair of scissors.
She was guided by her natural genius in the execution of this work. The tools and means used to make artificial flowers are completely unknown to her.
We were anxious to note this singularity first of all. Let us now go through the compartment of artificial flowers.
In the Gallery of Work we saw various processes for making artificial flowers. The processes are extremely remarkable; the art of manufacture has reached extraordinary results, touching the very limit of perfection. The workers who, with paper, muslin, various fabrics and wax, manage to reproduce nature with such great fidelity, are not only artists, but learned botanists, at least as far as observation is concerned.
One wonders whether bees and butterflies would not be in danger of being mistaken. The imitation does not stop at flowers, but attacks with equal success fruits and even vegetables.
The exhibition of this flower garden, orchard and vegetable garden at the same time, was situated at the left corner of the second gallery of the French section, after the gallery of machines. It was not very large and there was not enough space for the crowd of visitors.
We were talking earlier about the studies that this perfect imitation of nature in its most charming form obviously betrays. Here is a striking example: for a layman, a bridal wreath differs little from another, except by the price and by the greater or lesser quantity of orange blossoms that compose it. Here we can easily see that these wreaths are made of six different species of orange blossoms: the Genoa orange, the changeable orange, the Nice orange with its cute leaves and flowers, the blood orange whose petals are veined with red, the noble orange and the multiflora orange with its abundant clusters. The same showcase contains flowers of the lime tree and other species of the citrus genus, no less scrupulously studied; then dracaenas, begonias and other delicate flowers of an equally faithful execution.
The showcase of M. Baulant is decorated with climbing plants, cissus (Virginia creeper), dioscorias and philodendrons, among which we notice a magnificent bouquet of Persian lilacs, another bouquet of hollyhocks, a magnolia stem, a basket of gardenias, a selection of fruits placed on a bed of vine leaves; bouquets of Maréchal Niel roses, narcissi, lilies, Parma violets, tulips, carnations, etc., These are set against a background of varied foliage of ficus, alocasia metallica and ferns. There are also the velvety flowers of the red cactus, a planter filled with white lilac and honeysuckle, a hanging basket filled with lilies, softly shaded pompon roses and forget-me-nots; some Jacqueminot roses, ripe apricots in golden colours resting on a bed of fern leaves, etc.
These flowers, fruits, and foliage have an appearance of reality that lends itself strangely to illusion; but, in addition, the arrangement has been carefully crafted. As an example of decorative style, we would point out a vase of various chrysanthemums under an arbour of apple tree branches in bloom and garlands of honeysuckle; let us also mention an enormous bouquet of white lilacs whose stems are tightly packed in the folds of a tricolour scarf.
Let us admire the display cases, where all sorts of summer flowers are piled up, from Messrs. Patay-Marchais and others. Here are gladioli and roses in pots, with borders of lycopods; an earthenware planter stuffed with ranunculus, lilies and almond blossoms; a crown of white and purple asters; double poppies, with their diaphanous scarlet petals and their cottony buds; tulips of brilliant and varied colours, inclined on their too spindly soft green stems; gladioli, white, red, purple, bicoloured and variegated fuchsias; mimosas with lanceolate leaves, with golden flowers; finally an immense variety of roses of a brilliance and freshness that nature itself would have difficulty in surpassing. Here are flowers of the fields and meadows, bluets, daisies, buttercups, etc.; then strawberry trees in bloom and in fruit. A magnificent collection of fruits is also to be found at the entrance to this room: claret and various plums, apricots, grapes, cherries, redcurrants, orange trees, walnuts; and also dried, glazed and gilded seeds and herbs; some of which are used to decorate winter tables, others to decorate ladies' headdresses in all seasons.
One must also admire the decorative prodigies of certain manufacturers. There are screens covered with designs composed of the multicoloured feathers of island birds, macaws, cockatoos, etc., screens which are true marvels of patience and taste; another exhibited flowers made of butterfly wings.
In the showcase of M1Ie Anaïs Pernet, we noticed, among other pretty things, a splendid bouquet of forget-me-nots and mimosas bought by Mme. la maréchale de Mac-Mahon; a branch of horse chestnut tree and a small bouquet of daisies and hair of the Virgin have also found a distinguished buyer in the museum of Zurich. Another example is an apron made of azalea garlands and another of leaf garlands and pink acacia flowers, to decorate ball dresses; a planter filled with bouquets composed with exquisite taste of the most diverse flowers, etc.
To complete this account, let us say clearly that the admiration of the visitors was absolutely absorbed by the splendid bouquet of lilacs of M. Baillant and the enormous and dazzling bouquet of roses of Mme de Soubeyran.
Mme Soubeyran's bouquet was something like a firework display of roses.
As for M. Baulant's bouquet of lilacs, one could not look at it without imagining that one was breathing it in.
It is impossible for us, to our great regret, to go into the details of all the displays; we will however mention, so as not to fail in our mission as impartial judges, the remarkable flowers of the Baptiste house, the Cailloux house; the Chandelet house; the Dupont Delafosse house (formerly the Javey et Cie house); the Lachanal house; the flowers so admirably successful of Mme Lardé, one of the first flower artists in Paris; the artificial fruits of M. Nenot; the flowers and shrubs and plants of M. Pommeret; finally the enamel flowers of M. Suchet.
We have just spoken of the flowers which are the delight of the eyes and the joy of the heart, even when they are artificial; as we do not have to follow the method obliged to the "guides of the Exhibition," our readers will allow us to leave the "serious classes" for a few pages only, to show them an exhibition which will charm them since it charms the children.
After all, what do women love most after flowers, even before flowers, if not babies?
Dads and mums, please follow me through this fantastic, phantasmagorical, fairy-tale exhibition, and listen to the witty account given by Mr Ernest d'Hervilly in the Rappel:
"Gentlemen and ladies, the marmots, our dear little contemporaries, are decidedly happy people. I envy their lot. The greatest poet of the century is their humble slave, and, to help those who practice for them, with Victor Hugo, the art of being grandfather, father and uncle, the bimbelotiers of the five parts of the world find and perfect toys whose invention and elegance will hardly be surpassed in future ages.
"The toy section of the 1878 Exposition contains enough to satisfy the most capricious members of the international toddlerry.
"There is everything to be desired in the dreams of the cradle, from marbles for dimple play to a spurred battleship for the use of boys; from an antique fir spring doll to the complete rosewood furnishing of a high-life doll for the use of girls.
"The manufacture of toys is an ever-greening branch of human industry, for if, as Juvenal says, one owes great respect to childhood, one also owes it, we may add, something to amuse it greatly. Now, the globe never ceases to be enlivened, at every moment, by new and innumerable flocks of brats who demand toys, more toys, always toys.
"Hence the more than ever flourishing state of the bimbeloterie, this important trade in which almost all the trades are collaborators.
"Let us now examine these products, regretting that we are no longer at the age when we would have taken such pleasure in this review.
"After France, that is to say, after Paris, which could call itself "Supplier to His Majesty on New Year's Day in all parts of the world", the country which manufactures and exports the most toys is North Germany; but this year North Germany sent only pictures to the World's Fair. We cannot therefore judge whether her toy soldiers are progressing, and whether her wooden cavalry, which once manoeuvred so jerkily when we were children to the sounds of an invisible orchestra made of archal wire scraped by the points of a cranked toothpick, has at last lost some of its all-Germanic stiffness.
"North Germany did not send any toys to the Paris Exhibition, and quite a few other countries did not think it necessary to show us samples of their national bimbeloterie either. England, the United States, Russia, Austria and Japan are exhibiting toys that we will appreciate later. They have their price and their originality.
"China, although it makes prodigious quantities of strange and threatening toys, apparently more for the horror than for the joy of its millions of children, has kept a low profile, as has Switzerland, whose abstention is nevertheless surprising. Switzerland has a well-deserved reputation for household and tree menageries. However, it only exhibits wooden chalets and pensive bears, which are delicate works of art and not at all suitable for children.
"Let us come, then, to the great purveyor of babies, France, and her toy exhibition, which is truly wonderful.
"All the things of life are there, in reductions of exquisite grace and taste, so that when one looks at the display cases containing them, one thinks one sees the whole of mankind, seen through the big end of the telescope.
"Here are automatons that would make Vaucanson jealous in his grave. Here is an elephant with mobile ears and trunk that moves forward heavily, loaded with a double stick where soldiers caress their moustache with a victorious air, maids soothing gesticulating children, bourgeois rolling their astonished eyes. There is a concert of virtuoso monkeys, armed with instruments whose sounds give them so much pleasure that they grimace as they show their white fangs set in red gums. Then there is a scene of roofs at night. Cats walk on the tiles, chimney pipes turn; a student sings at the window of a garret, intending to please a young lady towards whom, however, a Madrilenian in costume climbs, guitar on his back, along a knotted rope. The noise made by the cats, the wind and the lovers has awakened an honest old man, who sticks his head through the opening of his attic snuffbox, and casts vindictive glances everywhere.
"Then there is a graceful troop of mermaids, dolls in bathing costumes, swimming steadily, though a hideous devil draws his cup beside them.
"Now let us examine with respect those tiny temples devoted to art, - comedies, operas, dramas, - all so beautiful, all so imposing with their gilded architecture and crimson curtain, that one really would not dare to carry a play to them, even in one act. There is a sumptuous Odeon, and, it seems, accessible only to the young, which made me dream.
"But let us go through these rich salons. In this one, delicious creatures are having tea, between women. "A touch of cream, my dear!" says one, and the other exclaims, raising her enormous train: "Oh! enough! you are going to drown me!" - In this other, music is being played: an officer, a little chubby perhaps, stands by a piano and gallantly turns the leaves of a delightful piece by the fashionable composer, entitled no doubt: Peau de lapin! or Cœur d'artichaut! The audience, all of whom have blue eyes and furiously curled hair, swoon in the armchairs and sofas, and break out their Lilliputian gloves in bravos.
"But where the unbridled luxury of the dolls is best revealed is in the furnishings of their boudoirs and bedrooms. I took a very discreet look into the latter, and was dazzled! The upholsterers have said their last word. But how I pity the husbands of these dolls! They must have hard deadlines!
"I prefer to these dolls so pompously attired, these good big articulated (and articulating) babies in shirts, and these slender ladies in shirts also, whose skin is of such a bright pink. The trousseaux of these and the layettes of these, here in good order, with their dozens of pieces surrounded by a red or blue favour, are excellent for making the girls rehearse their future role as little mothers.
"It is in the Austrian section that we find the dear spring doll made of fir, with a floor, of our distant childhood! the dear doll with the immutable black bun, in spite of the variations of fashion, with the waist made to the turn, - it is the case to say it, - with the thin legs which end two feet shod with black shoes without heels.
"The shop window of a great manufacturer of wooden toys in the Tyrol contains everything that we have vainly sought in French shop windows: dolls, puppets, domestic or ferocious animals, cars, acrobats, soldiers, musical monkeys, all made of white wood, or painted in bright colours, which delight the eye of the little ones. Each of these objects costs only a few cents.
"In Russia, I found the same thing. I was delighted to see three displays of grotesque figures and chimerical animals, carved from lime or aspen wood by the peasant in winter. These comic toys, which are made near Moscow and in the northern governments of Russia, mainly, are sold at an extraordinarily low price. I will mention, among their number, a toy similar to that which consists, in France, of two blacksmiths alternately striking an anvil. Instead of two blacksmiths, the Russian toy shows two woodcutters, and one of these woodcutters is a bear. In this humble object, the country of the dark forests where man and animal compete for the produce of the stingy earth, suddenly appeared to me in its entirety.
"The toys exhibited in England are mainly applications of science to the amusement and instruction of children. Electricity plays a large part. The United States has a speciality of mechanical toys, in painted tin, which rival French productions of the same nature. But if they lack charm, what they do not lack, for example, is humour. The manufacturers apply themselves, it would seem, to obtaining above all eccentric effects, and they succeed in doing so with some success.
"We will end with a praise of the products of Japan, this review of international toys. Japanese toys, with rare exceptions, are always very inexpensive and remarkable among all of them for their ingenuity in simplicity. For example, here is a mother with her baby on her lap. You pull a thread and the child comes crawling to take the mother's breast. It's made of nothing: a bit of paper paste, a piece of cloth, fragments of bamboo.
"Then there are birds, quadrupeds, with silken plumage and fur, of exquisite truth of colour and movement; then boxes containing insects and turtles which move as if they were alive; then microscopic tea sets; then the cute utensils of the summary Japanese kitchen, including the stove, which go hand in hand, - cheaply, let us not forget, - with the best that the factories of France and Germany produce, but at a rather high price. Finally, babies of all sizes smile at us from afar in Japanese shop windows. Let's remember, on this subject, that the baby, so fashionable now in France, is a Japanese creation imported into Europe by the English.
"It has been perfected, made unbreakable, given a different hairstyle, its mulberry cardboard flesh has been replaced by wax, painted muslin, stearin cloth, hardened gum, etc., but the baby is still an oriental toy, which is embellished on its laurels, after having conquered the childish West. For in the struggle for existence, as an anthropologist would say, it has assumed such intensity that it has almost completely obliterated the trace of the dolls of the old world, those grey paper-mâché dolls of yore, legless and armless, inevitably endowed with startled blue eyes under circumflex eyebrows, a heart-shaped mouth, flat black headbands, and so little nose that it is not worth talking about them.
"The babies of the Japanese section, with their unusually fine features, beautiful silky hair, and magnificent costumes, prove that their first creators have been equalled, but not yet surpassed, by those who have imitated them."
The reader will be grateful to us for having placed before his eyes this article, so complete, so witty, and which is in a way a history of the toy.
M. André Treille, in France, has in turn studied the curiosities of this class where our children have forced us to spend entire hours.
Here is the railway first, the real railway:
"While we are still demanding from our great railway companies improvements in their equipment, and improvements which are known to the Americans, Belgians and Austrians, and which we French only know about because we have seen their realization in foreign sections, M. Caron is building entire railway trains; and the locomotive, and the tender, and the wagons of all kinds, which, thanks to an ingenious clockwork mechanism, work by themselves. I even think I can see passengers in the windows. Toys of this kind are very popular with children, especially those that seem to be animated by some mysterious soul. The child particularly likes the reproduction of what strikes him*. How often has his imagination been aroused by the sight of a train whizzing along the tracks! Well, thanks to the model train equipped by Mr. Caron with mechanical operation, the child has become a mechanic, a driver. For a little while, he has also become a tramway driver, if we give him the gift of this pretty tramway which can be seen in the same window and which is the most exact truth; the shape of the car, the carriage, the passengers, the coachman, the driver, it is this, absolutely this; one could believe, my children, that some clever magician of the blue tales has touched with his wand a real tramway of the company and that he has at once made it smaller so as to make it fit under a glass.
Moving on to the question of weapons:
"Two showcases face each other, says our colleague; here the rifles of Mr. Andreux, there the dolls of Mr. Jumeau; one for the strong sex, the other for the weak sex, "The first has not limited himself, in the toy gallery, to this speciality. He likes the works of war; he also likes those of peace. Pistols, cannons, batteries, sabres, swords, crossbows... this is war! Cars, wheelbarrows, watering barrels, cultivation tools, gardening tools... this is peace. The inventor seems to have been thinking of the famous aphorism: "Si vis pacem, para bellum". "If you want peace, be prepared for war.
"I believe that by instructing the child early in the handling of arms, this is the way to make him a good soldier in case of war, and by putting in his hands early the instruments of culture, this is the way to make him a useful citizen in time of peace. First impressions are the strongest and most lasting. It is therefore necessary that the child learns by having fun; it is necessary that play becomes part of the general system of education: a brand new education, born of the recent misfortunes of the country. Inventing toys for children to learn from is a difficult task, and those who devote themselves to it are true patriots, both enlightened and devoted.
"Turenne, at the age of five, slept on a cannon; Davoust spent his early years making lead soldiers fight. The taste for arms has always been that of children; it is because the feeling of war is born of the feeling of legitimate defence. However, France, whose sons love the smell of gunpowder and the glare of steel, took, until 1865, from Germany and Belgium, the toy weapons it needed for the youngest of its people. Germany and Belgium were then manufacturing a lot, but badly; the invention of the toy-teacher has torn us from this vassalage, where we found no profit of any kind.
"When I think of the toys that were given to me, and compare them with those given to the children of today, what a difference! what progress 1 Our sons, parbleu, prefer a thousand times to the wooden cannon, which caused us children of yesteryear so much joy, the bronze cannon which reminds them of those he saw at the last review; to the primitive rifle made of wood and tin, a real rifle of which he has seen the larger model in the hands of real soldiers. Besides, the child must get used to the thought that he will be a man one day, - and that, for example, if he becomes a soldier, there will be no more difference between the weapon that the State will entrust to him and the toy he uses now, than between the soldier of the future and the baby of the present. And the weapon, and the person who carries it, will have grown up; that is all.
"This principle being admitted that the toy, too, must be an agent of education, I return to Mr. Andreux's shop window, and find that he has done everything to attain this eminently useful purpose. His shotguns teach the child the handling of weapons, and what is learned young is not forgotten. All that needs to be said about the school rifle and the complete shooting has been said here. It is of varying size, depending on the age, and is now built on the Gras system. - With these small pieces of artillery, nothing is easier than to learn the school of the gun and the principles of ballistics; with these agricultural instruments, reduced to the desired proportions, one gives the youth the taste for culture, one teaches him the love of the earth and the notion of what it produces. There is enough here to make everyone happy, from the rich man's child to the poor man's child; we have thought of both, and we have been able to put ourselves within the reach of the smallest pockets. Won't the rich and the poor all be soldiers? As a final impression, I cannot better compare this showcase than to a school museum. All the objects it contains are also destined to be used for lessons.
Let us also point out to the admiration of parents and to the envy of babies birds with rich plumage which sing better than in nature, jumping from branch to branch like natural people; dogs with a
Let us also point out to the admiration of parents and to the envy of babies birds with rich plumage that sing better than in nature, jumping from branch to branch like natural persons; dogs that bark and cats that meow, bulls that bellow and sheep that bleat, a hen that walks, pecks, clucks, and lays eggs coloured in the most vivid shades; acrobats performing impossible tricks; puppets jumping, attracted by magnetic force.
The reader will remember the other marvellous toys we showed him in the gallery of manual work, among others the swimming doll, which, from the point of view of play, was one of the greatest successes of the Parisian bimbeloterie.
What hindered its success was the fact that, in order for the child to use the toy, the mother had to make a real tub of water available to him at all times.
This necessity visibly dampened the enthusiasm of mothers who were initially charmed by the originality of this invention.
After having spoken of what amuses the child, let us speak of an object which is in a way the woman's toy, a toy which she knows how to use in such a charming and delightful way.
We have named the fan.
We would have to go back very far in time to find the origin of the fan; but as the primitive fan is of little interest to us, and as none of the pretty hands which so gracefully handle the modern fan would consent to be bothered with it, we shall content ourselves with going southwards up the Champ de Mars, to study it in the showcases of class 37 of the French section, its real rallying point at the Exhibition.
There is no lack of fans in the foreign sections, no doubt; besides those of Japan and China, there are very beautiful lace fans in Belgium, paper fans in Spain, fans of natural wood strips in Austria; but the French fan reigns supreme over the whole civilised world, and its preponderance is unassailable.
As we enter the room where, under a score of display cases, are gathered all these masterpieces of an art so essentially Parisian, we see first of all the showcase of Duvelleroy, the famous fan-list of the Passage des Panoramas, the cheerful member of the Caveau... yes, of the Caveau: did you not know that Duvelleroy was one of our chansonniers, - from father to son? As for his display case, it is what it should be. We notice a magnificent fan on which Armand Dumaresq has painted a hunting scene: the unfortunate stag, stalked by dogs followed by a squadron of picketers, is soon at bay, its sad fate is beyond doubt. There is another with a country idyll by Marie Bonheur; then two screens decorated with landscapes by Corot and an unmounted fan by Compte-Calix.
Kees' exhibition has a very different character. He has fans formed of a fine black network on which a white lace stitch, standing out vigorously, makes a brilliant relief on the almost invisible background; these fans are mounted on smoked mother-of-pearl. He also presents other kinds of fans: for example, a blue silk fan decorated with a delicious bouquet of roses and mounted on sculpted ivory; another decorated with a Spanish scene painted in brilliant colours; another with three medallions à la Boucher, with nymphs and lovers painted on black gauze, and mounted on mother-of-pearl with sculpted and gilded green tints. The house of Spiess and Ci8 exhibits objects whose style is similar to the previous ones. Here is the same ornamentation of white lace stitches on a black background, but the frame is made of ebony cut to size. Next to it, and forming a violent contrast with it, is a white satin fan mounted on plain green mother-of-pearl with a branch of ripe raspberries and pale pink volubilis to charming effect.
The lace fans here are very numerous and each one richer and more elegant than the other. Here is a white one, in needlepoint, with a carved white mother-of-pearl frame; another of white lace, mounted on a dark brown tortoiseshell with gold veins; a third of Chantilly lace, mounted on a smoked mother-of-pearl frame; a fourth of white lace, on a blond tortoiseshell. The fashion is for plain frames, and there is consequently a great deal of research into the beauty of the material used for the frame, mother-of-pearl, ivory, etc.; fans with plain leaves and green ivory frames are the most sought-after; they cost from 50 to 75 francs, but it is well understood that if the leaf is enriched with a flower, a bouquet, or a familiar or rural scene, this price increases in proportions whose limits can hardly be set. The Falcon exhibition contains a large collection of these kinds of fans.
They are painted on mother-of-pearl as well as on ivory. We note in particular a magnificent bouquet of yellow roses painted on the white satin leaf of a fan and on its green mother-of-pearl frame at the same time. Another white satin fan is decorated with beautifully designed garlands of honeysuckle and mounted on white ivory decorated with garlands of gold leaf. There are deeply inlaid gold mounts and relief carved mounts. Carved ivory is also frequently decorated with paintings of flowers or fruit. Finally, there are ebony mounts inlaid with silver in the Indian style. In Alexandre's showcase we find some charming paintings by Victor Leclaire (groups of flowers and leaves) and by de Beaumont (a village scene), in addition to several of the most beautiful carved ivory mounts of the entire Exhibition.
Among the fans exhibited in the other showcases, we may mention landscapes and village scenes painted on parchment, by Aloïse Van de Voorde; curious paintings on black gauze, decorated with gilding, and mounted on mother-of-pearl inlaid with gold; paper fans decorated with charming paintings, in the style of Louis XVI, with inlaid ivory mounts; feather fans: ostrich feathers in their natural colour or variously dyed, white and black marabou feathers with gold and silver semis, heron feathers, etc. , and Renaissance circular fans, consisting of a crown of white feathers framing an elegant little mirror. There are hardly any wooden fans, but there is a wide variety of fans made of mother-of-pearl strips of all colours and plain or cut blonde tortoiseshell.
. Fancy fans are numerous. Some are illustrated by the artist with caricatures and grotesque monsters painted on black silk; others, fans for young girls, bear their names traced with garlands of flowers; here are amber-coloured silk fans with black lace and coloured silk appliques and diagonal bands of white lace, mounted on bamboo. There are fans in the shape of a cross, others that unfold at will and become screens or parasols according to the owner's needs or whims, and others that move automatically by means of a clockwork movement. Finally, there is an abundance of cheap fans, made of paper and enclosed in a cardboard case, in the most bizarre shapes: pistols, daggers, cigars, flasks, etc.
©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878