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The court played a significant role in encouraging the fashion. In 1867 Empress Eugénie wore stuffed birds on a visit to the elegant Basque seaside resort of Biarritz, where the Emperor had built the Villa Eugénie. Her dinner dress was of ' thick white satin . . . embroidered with flies made of the hummingbird's wings, with heads of gold and tiny jewelled eyes. A col-larette of emerald and gold bees; and a tiny hummingbird of green and gold nestled among the short curls at the side of the head, which was also enriched by a bandeau of diamonds and emeralds'. 16Not merely was there a whole hummingbird, but the feathers simulated an insect - nature imitating nature, and worn side by side with lavish gem- set jewellery incor-porating the imperial bee emblem. 17 The Princess of Wales too owned hummingbird feather accessories. At the Waverley Ball, held in London in 1871 to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Walter Scott, she was photographed holding prominently a Brazilian white feather circular fan with a whole ruby hummingbird in the centre. The guests went dressed as different characters from Scott's novels and several of them held similar fans. This must have seemed incongruous even in the context of fancy dress - the Princess was dressed as Mary Queen of Scots - but may have been in honour of Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, who was in London at the time and was fond of Scott's works; he may well have attended the ball and presented fans to some of the guests ( Figs 185, 186). 18 NATURE IMITATING NATURE 185 Left Princess Alexandra's hummingbird fan. Brazilian, about 1870. H. 33 cm. Royal Collection A ruby hummingbird ( Clytolaema rubricauda) is mounted on a circular handscreen of white turkey or chicken feathers sewn on to a gauze base, with a handle of turned bone. The bird's long beak for sucking nectar from flowers was usually shortened or replaced for jewellery that was to be worn. 186 Above Princess Alexandra holding a hummingbird fan. Woodburytype carte de visite, by an unknown photographer, published by Figaro Office, 21 July 1874. H. 8.9 cm. London, National Portrait Gallery The Princess is dressed as Mary Queen of Scots for the Waverley Ball held in 1871 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott. She wears as a stomacher the Dagmar necklace given her in 1863 ( see Fig. 437). The Woodburytype was a form of photomechanical reproduction of a photograph patented in 1864 by Walter Bentley Woodbury. It was a painstaking process, but remained popular until about 1900 because of the very high quality of the final image. The photograph was issued in 1874 at the time of the Prince and Princess of Wales's costume ball at Marlborough House, when the Princess wore the same dress, altered to fit a new character. 229

195 Shell jewellery. English, using local and imported shells, 1870s and 1880s. L. of shell feather 9.5 cm. London, Victoria and Albert Museum Earrings: mussels, cowries ( probably carved in Italy) and spiky Venus comb murex. Leaf brooch: green haliotis shell. Butterly wings: pearl- shell slivers. All were purchased from P. L. Simmonds in 1875 except the winkle necklet, acquired in 1888 from the Italian Exhibition at Earls Court. 238 Exhibition in London from Francati & Santamaria, a Roman firm which had a London out-let in Hatton Garden and played a major role as importer of Italian jewellery, from cameos, shells and coral to gold Etruscan revival jewels. The 1888 purchase comprised some thirty pieces, including whole shells cut with cameos to show the use of the different layers of shell and which part of the shell was used for cameos. 62Alongside these were carved shell brooches - a vine leaf carved in pink shell, fish and feathers in mottled browns and purples. 63 In contrast to these simple pieces were highly prized shells set in gold for more formal wear, such as the Australian clam or neotrigonia shell with its polished pearly lustre. A neck-lace set with a row of graduated shells alternating with gold beads was sold by John Brogden,