Title: Eating bees
Collection: The Regency Wardrobe
Garment: a Regency reticule and a Georgian fan
Materials: cartridge paper, watercolour ink, FSC accredited paper tablecloth, embroidery thread, card, quilling paper strips, lacquer
Size: Life size
Eating bees is one of a number of pieces in this collection inspired by the quantity, quality and popularity of bird and botanical illustrations created during the reigns of both George III and George IV. It is created in recognition of the importance, today as then, of all pollinators including insects and bees.
This bird, the bee eater, is not drawn on paper, it is drawn from paper. The finish on the foliage is inspired by the use of mother of pearl and lacquer found on many examples of fans from the Georgian period.
To carry coins, scent and a handkerchief a Regency lady would use a reticule. It was not uncommon for a reticule in the first quarter of the 19th century to be formed as a gathered or pleated outer circle surrounding a flat, decorated inner circle with an opening that was gathered together to close. In The American girl’s book: or, Occupation for play hours by Eliza Leslie (1787-1858) instructions to make one can be found. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, holds a white example with small whitework flowers embroidered inside the central circle but painted scenes and beadwork were also applied as decoration to reticules of this kind.
Eating Bees is presented in an acrylic display case: H 31cms, L 51cms, W11cms. The bag faces forward the fan backwards (or vice-versa as it can be turned around). The wings of the bee eater bird, portrayed from cut paper as part of the fan, glow with light behind them. Inside the case both pieces are laid against black velvet board.