Writers are often asked where we get our ideas. Where the big stuff comes from - characters and plot - continues to remain a great mystery to me. One day it's just there in my imagination (or not, but that's another issue.) But the little bits and pieces that help bring stories to life are often based on things I've seen in museums, old houses, and other historical collections. As soon as I saw these beautiful little opera glasses, left, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was determined to incorporate them into a book.
The description beneath them was brief:
Imperial Opera Glasses
Rose and green gold, trois-couleur gold, white guilloché enamel, silver, rose-cut diamonds, optical glass.
House of Fabregé
Workmaster: Michael Evlampievich Perchin (Russian, 1860-1903)
Russian (Saint Petersburg), 1896-1903
The workmanship is breathtaking (click on the image to enlarge), elevating a practical object to an exquisite work of art. There wasn't any additional information about who commissioned the glasses, or if they were a special gift like the better-known Imperial Easter eggs also created by the House of Fabregé. Considering that they magically survived the Revolution, it's likely their history been long forgotten. But someday, somehow, one of my characters is definitely going to have these with her at the theatre or opera. . . .
For a bit more inspiration: the painting, below, features a lady with another pair of opera glasses. A Box at the Théâtre des Italiens was painted in 1874 by lesser-known Impressionist Eva Gonzalès. A gifted painter and protege of the much more famous Éduoard Manet (she was his only student), Eva's promising career was sadly cut short when she died in childbirth at thirty-four. The painting is now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.