Kategoriarkiv: Balls

The long-awaited Empire ball at Skokloster

Förra året skulle vi gått på empirebal på Skokloster. Kerstin bloggade om Augustas mammas bröllop 1805 som var precis temat för balen och vi förberedde oss verkligen för tidigt 1800-tal. Eftersom vi bara har klänningar i 1840-1850-talsstil så fick vi sy nytt. Vi sydde och sömmade, först provklänningar och så till slut balklänningarna.
Sara hade en favoritförbild, Jane Fairfax i Emma-filmen från 2020, med sin aprikosfärgade balklänning.
Kerstin hade först tänkt sy en 1820-talsklänning med smock och pärlbroderier men då balen skulle ha temat 1805, hittade hon äntligen en användning för en fransk tyllgardin som länge legat på hyllan i väntan på något speciellt tillfälle.
Och det måste man ju säga att balen skulle bli. Förebilden blev:
Town dress with chemisette owned by Empress Josephine, First Empire From the Chateau de Malmaision Costume Collection, men underklänningen skulle bli grön.
Sara funderade också på att ha en underklänning och en tunnare över. Ikeagardinen Matilda blev perfekt, men ändå inte, den var för vit. Så började de kemiska experimenten i Saras kök på Saltarö. Provfärgning i te, kaffe och till och med gurkmeja! (Sara är faktiskt proffs. Hon var en av vinnarna i Unga forskare på 70-talet med sina upptäckter i samband med växtfärgning)
Kerstin åkte till Finland för det årliga besöket i stugan vid Bottenviken. Med sig släpade hon sina tyger och handsydde till långt in på kvällarna i kvällssolen som inte går ner förrän kl 22. Den enda större spegeln fanns i bastuhuset så hon fick springa barfota med balklänningens släp som ringlade sig genom lingonriset.
Vi blev klara i tid! Kerstin kom hem med färjan och vi träffades åter på Saltarö där vi visade upp våra alster för varandra.
Men sedan drabbades vi av sjukdom i familjen och hela balprojektet fick packas ihop och läggas i malpåse till ett annat år (eller i ”balpåse” kanske) och Sara åkte hem till USA.
I år aviserade Sara att hon skulle komma till Sverige i Augusti! Och samtidigt annonserades att det skulle bli en empirebal på Skokloster i Augusti igen!
Vi plockade fram våra väskor med empirekläder och gladde oss åt att temat fortfarande skulle vara tidigt 1800-tal.
Och i lördags klädde vi oss i våra klänningar och for till Skokloster, där vi var med om en makalös bal!
Nu har Sara åter åkt tillbaka till USA och Kerstin har anmält sig till en danskurs under hösten. Vi ser fram emot nästa sommar och nästa empirbal!
Last year we were supposed to go to the empire ball at Skokloster. Kerstin blogged about Augusta’s mother’s wedding, which was right around that time, and we prepared for the early 19th century. Since we only had dresses in the 1840s-1850s style, we had to sew new ones. We sewed and sewed, first sample dresses and finally the prom dresses.
Sara had a favourite role model, Jane Fairfax in the 2020 Emma movie, with her apricot ball gown. Kerstin had originally intended to sew an 1820s dress with a smock and pearl embroidery, but as the theme of the ball was to be 1805, she finally found a use for a French tulle curtain that had long been on the shelf waiting for a special occasion. And you have to say that the ball was going to be. The role model was:
Town dress with chemisette owned by Empress Josephine, First Empire From the Chateau de Malmaison Costume Collection, but the dress under it, would be green.
Sara also thought about wearing a petticoat and a thinner one over it. The Matilda Ikea curtain was perfect. But it was too white. So began the chemical experiments in Sara’s kitchen on Saltarö. Sample colouring in tea, coffee and even turmeric! (Sara is a pro. She was one of the winners of Young Scientists in the 70s with her discoveries in connection with plant colouration)
Kerstin went to Finland for the annual visit to the cottage by the Gulf of Bothnia. She brought all her fabrics and sewed them by hand until late in the evenings, in the evening sun that doesn’t set until 10 pm. The only mirror in the house was in the sauna house so she had to run barefoot with the trail of her ball gown winding through the lingonberry rice.
We finished on time! Kerstin came home with the ferry and we met again at Saltarö where we showed each other our creations.
Unfortunately, we were affected by illness in the family and the whole ball project had to be packed up and Sara went home to the USA.
This spring, Sara announced that she would come to Sweden in August! At the same time, it was announced that there would be an Empire ball at Skokloster in August again!
We pulled out our bags of Empire clothes and were delighted that the theme would still be early 1800s.
And last Saturday we dressed in our dresses, Sara in apricot and Kerstin in mint green, and went to Skokloster, where we were part of an incomparable ball!
Now Sara has returned to the USA and Kerstin has signed up for a dance course in the autumn. We look forward to next summer and the next Empire Ball!

The Innocence and the Amaranth

It all started with a promise to a charming captain in the summer of 1850.

Our captain’s name was Krüger. He was a very polite and charming young cavalier who fulfilled all the duties of a host on his steamboat. He entertained me quite pleasantly during the trip, a trip which is also one of the most beautiful and comfortable one can undertake, and before we parted ways in Söderköping, we agreed to dance the first waltz on the first Innocence in the month of January. Let’s see if that happens or not. (Augusta’s diary from the Göta Canal)

What was the Innocence?

The Order of the Innocence and The Order of the Amaranth

The Order of the Innocence is a Swedish secret order that started in 1765. It supports charities while creating “innocent amusement” for its members. During its Day of Solemnity, new members are inducted. The Innocence Ball – or simply, The Innocence – is an exclusive and elegant ball which at Augusta’s time was held each January at the Stockholm Bourse. The order also arranged other balls during the year, and that is probably why Augusta mentioned it as the “first” Innocence.

There is also another secret order that similarly organizes an exclusive ball – The Order of the Amaranth (Stora Amarantherorden). It was created by the Swedish Queen Kristina in 1653 and then reinstituted in 1760. The grand ball, The Amaranth, was at Augusta’s time also held in January but at De la Croix’s salon.

Presently, The Innocence and The Amaranth are held in alternating years at Grand Hotel Stockholm.

A family that could “bring out into society those who lived with them

Not everyone could become a member of the orders – you needed contacts among the aristocracy and/or the wealthy merchants. What if you did not belong to the aristocracy or came from a wealthy family, what would you do? For a girl, this was the place to be seen if you wanted to marry well.

Augusta’s mother had made sure that Augusta was to board with a family that could “bring out into society those who lived with them”.  So in the fall of 1844, Augusta moved in with a noble family headed by the widow, Countess Jaquette Ribbing af Zernava (born Sparre af Rossvik). Augusta was 17 years old and ready to be a debutante.

Did Augusta attend The Innocence and The Amaranth?

Augusta didn’t keep a diary until 1847. There are letters from her friend Lotten, but not until 1845 when Augusta had already left Stockholm. And then there are a few letters from Augusta’s mother to Augusta in 1844 and 1845 – none of which mention any balls.

But then there are archives!

I find out that The Order of the Innocence’s archive is kept at the Royal Library and that the archive of The Order of the Amaranth is kept at Sweden’s National Archives. Both places are in Stockholm and the archives are not so secret anymore!

Membership books for The Order of the Innocence and The Order of the Amaranth

The Innocence Ball

Kerstin and I hit the Royal Library first. We get help from the experts in the hand-script department. After lunch, they have found the boxes of Innocence records and we start to untie strings and open the boxes with bound books.

On 7 December 1844, The Order of the Innocence had its meeting at the Bourse, to induct new members. A letter indicating the names of those who had been called to the meeting is included in the archive, as is a book of members, sorted by date of initiation.

Kerstin and I go through the list of names, and there it is – Demoiselle Emelie Augusta Söderholm has been called to the meeting. Now we search for her name in the book of members and, again, we find her signature and member number 4718. Her friends, Ophalia and Augusta Sjöstedt, sign below her and get numbers 4719 and 4720.

Augusta’s signature.
The Order of the Innocence, 1844.

So she became a member of The Order of Innocence in December 1844 and would attend her first Innocence Ball on 11 January 1845.

The Innocence Ball, 11 January 1845. Drawing by Fritz von Dardel.
Yes, Augusta was there!

The Amaranth Ball

The next day, we visit the National Archives. Again, boxes held together with strings are carted to our reserved desk in the very quiet reading room. Wearing white cotton gloves, we untie the strings and look at the bound records and envelopes.

There is a book of members listed alphabetically and there are letters describing each meeting or ball. As Augusta’s first Innocence Ball was in January of 1845, we assume her first Amaranth, if she was inducted, would also be that month.

We check the protocols for 1845, and there it is! In the protocol dated 6 January 1845, the date of the Amaranth Ball, Augusta is listed as a new member. We then find her name in the book listing the members.

Augusta’s membership in The Order of the Amaranth, 1845 (bottom line)

So yes, she did attend the Amaranth Ball on the 6 January 1845.

The Amaranth Ball, 6 January 1845. Painting by Fritz von Dardel. Kunt Bergenstråhle is the young lieutenant in the middle.
The Amaranth Ball, 6 January 1845. Painting by Fritz von Dardel.
Yes, Augusta was there too!

And what did she think about the balls?

Six years later, in 1851, Augusta attends a ball at The Bourse and reminisce on her feelings when she was 17.

Stockholm,16 March 1851

Last Friday, I accompanied the Theodors to a dance soirée at The Bourse. It was pretty animated and, in the words of the Ribbings, it was “la crème de la socialite” who from the gallery looked down on the dancing youth – a colorful crowd of blue, white, red, and yellow ball gowns with matching flower garlands under which one often saw a beautiful face.

Men of la beau monde, with and without uniforms, swarmed around in the richly illuminated, beautiful hall where joy seemed to be the evening’s heavenly patron. It was thus, as it is called in Stockholm, “a beautiful ball”, but God knows that I did feel a sense of regret when recalling memories from six years ago and saw myself – with a completely different feeling of joy – flying around the hall in a lively Strauss waltz. At that time, in a moment of happiness, I forgot everything around me. In this moment, on the contrary, I felt both hot and tired. At that time, I was close to despair when the final notes of the last dance died away. At this time, I was quite pleased when I finally sat in the covered sleigh on my way home.

After having found Augusta in both these archives, you just have to wonder – where else has Augusta left footprints that we are not aware of?