Edwardian Ball 2020
16.5 x 35
Edition of 150
3 colors on cream paper
Signed and Numbered
This poster is officially available at the show in SF. I will be making a very limited online release of this poster on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at a random time.
It’s Edwardian Ball time again, and as always, it’s a great pleasure to work with Justin Katz, the Edwardian Ball impresario, and once again I had a lot of fun making this poster!
My Edwardian Ball posters always have an edge of social critique in them. They are done with a wink and a nod, in keeping with the enjoyment of attending such an elaborate period pageant.
Most of the attendees also realize that the Edwardian era was one of unabashed and ostentatious oligarchy, unrivaled economic imperialism and a presumed European superiority complex. It’s all of these things that makes the period so bizarre to us today. I’ve always endeavored to reveal this outrageous and bizarre sense of imperial entitlement in my Edwardian Ball posters, and keep them wild and fun.
I try to channel the spirit of our age in a non-linear way with each year’s Edwardian Ball poster, making allegory, or touching a simple parallel between our 21st Century experience and the far-away world of Edwardian “Society.”
2020 started with royals Harry and Meghan Windsor giving up their titles and station, causing all of us to ask, “Is royalty all it’s cracked up to be?”
My thoughts turned to poor, rich Consuelo Vanderbilt — inspirational Edwardian beauty. Crowds waited outside her Manhattan home to catch a glimpse of her striding between her door and carriage. Many would have her hand in marriage.
Her mother, Alva, shocked New York Society (aka “The Four Hundred”) by divorcing Consuelo’s father, a New York railroad millionaire, and schemed to regain her social standing by marrying daughter Consuelo to the greatest possible social advantage whether Consuelo was willing or not. Alva forced her daughter to wear a steel rod strapped to her back to improve her posture, whipped her with a riding crop, and awkwardly forced suitors of the highest possible rank upon her.
In rode Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, resident of a palace, related to royalty, titled, already romantically attached to another lady and deeply in debt — like a prince and frog all rolled into one. Consuelo defied the Duke and her mother. Alva locked her in her room until she gave in.
For the tidy sum of $2.5 million (75 million today) Alva would marry Consuelo to the Duke. He could banish his debts and she would gain the title.
Consuelo cried into her wedding veil on 6 November 1895. It was a faithless union, he cheated almost immediately, and Consuelo retaliated by cheating too. She kept a loaded revolver at her bedside to keep the Duke away, notwithstanding they had two sons, which Consuelo famously called, “the heir and the spare.”
Separated in 1906, divorced in 1921, with the acursed marriage finally annulled in 1926, she made her eventual total exit from the cad Duke and his suffocating royal society. Her second husband was French Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Balsan, daring balloon, airplane and hydroplane pilot, friend to the Wright Brothers, a dashing mustachioed Edwardian hero. Leaving all that royal balderdash on the ground below Consuelo soared off into the clouds with her French flyboy — and lived to the ripe old age of 87.