Beaded metallic brocade evening bag, c.1912
This beaded evening bag belonged to a member of the famous Drexel Wharton family. With their vast fortune and frequent travel to the couture houses of Europe, the bag might have been on the fateful voyage of the Titanic, which sank an April 14, 1912.
The bag is fashioned from metallic silver and gold brocaded silk. It is embellished with an Art Nouveau pattern of bronzed gold bullion, faux pearls, and glittering rhinestones. The silver clasp has tiny rhinestones and green glass beads. Lined with ivory silk, the stylish bag has an inner pocket and an attached change purse.
Provenance: The bag belonged to Katherine Drexel, daughter of Josephine Wharton Drexel and great granddaughter of Francis Martin Drexel, founder of the Drexel family in the United States.
Katherine's aunt was Elizabeth Drexel (Lady Decies), well known for two books that provide an inside view of Gilded Age society. Lady Decies' married life was a constant whirlwind of social activity, entertaining, and being entertained in high style in New York, Saratoga, Newport, and Europe. She is pictured below in the 1905 portrait by Giovanni Boldini.
The condition is very good. The charm of this delightful bag more than compensates for minor flaws: lightly soiled lining; fraying of the fabric on the corners of the frame; and a few pulled metallic threads.
It measures: 5" wide by 6" tall, excluding the strap.