Mardi Gras treasures: a royal family legacy captured on canvas – NOLA.com

A Carnival proclamation declares G.W. Clay as Rex in 1912. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation declares Henriette Vallon as queen of Carnival in 1947. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A vintage Rex flag from 1947 flies above the Bland home on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, a tribute to Henriette Vallon’s passing last year. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Andrea Bland in Carnival purple in front of her home on Friday, January 30, 2015. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Art deco sculptures at the Bland family home. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family.(Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
The front room of the Bland family home in decorated in colors and styles that match their Carnival memorabilia. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Carnival declarations and photographs decorate the walls of the Bland family home. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting of James Ellwood Butterfield (JEB) Bland, 10, as a page Atlanteans in 2005. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
David and Andrea Bland with a painting of his grandmother, Dorothy Clay, as queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
David and Andrea Bland in their New Orleans home. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Andrea Bland with a painting of her husband’s grandmother, Dorothy Clay, as queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation on the wall of the Bland family home declaring Rachel St. Paul Bland the Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation on the wall of the Bland family home declaring Dorothy Henriette Vallon Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers on Friday, January 30, 2015. Carnival mementos –framed ball invitations and old photographs on the walls connect four generations of the Bland family in both Rex and the 12th Night Revelers. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting of Dorothy Clay as queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation on the wall of the Bland family home declaring Dorothy Clay Queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A photograph of Henriette Vallon as Queen of Twelfth Night Revelers in 1947. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A photograph of Rachel St. Paul Bland as Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A photograph of Dorothy Clay in 1921 as Queen of Twelfth Night Revelers. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting of James Ellwood Butterfield (JEB) Bland, 10, as a page in Atlanteans in 2005 with the family dogs hangs in the Bland dining room on Friday, January 30, 2015. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting in process by artist Andrew Lyman of Rachel St. Paul Bland as Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011. This latest Carnival portrait has been commissioned by the Bland family to capture a special moment during the ball. Carnival mementoes –framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family in both Rex and the Twelfth Night Revelers. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Lyman and the Bland family)
A Carnival proclamation declares G.W. Clay as Rex in 1912. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation declares Henriette Vallon as queen of Carnival in 1947. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A vintage Rex flag from 1947 flies above the Bland home on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, a tribute to Henriette Vallon’s passing last year. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Andrea Bland in Carnival purple in front of her home on Friday, January 30, 2015. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Art deco sculptures at the Bland family home. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family.(Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
The front room of the Bland family home in decorated in colors and styles that match their Carnival memorabilia. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Carnival declarations and photographs decorate the walls of the Bland family home. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting of James Ellwood Butterfield (JEB) Bland, 10, as a page Atlanteans in 2005. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
David and Andrea Bland with a painting of his grandmother, Dorothy Clay, as queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
David and Andrea Bland in their New Orleans home. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Andrea Bland with a painting of her husband’s grandmother, Dorothy Clay, as queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation on the wall of the Bland family home declaring Rachel St. Paul Bland the Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation on the wall of the Bland family home declaring Dorothy Henriette Vallon Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers on Friday, January 30, 2015. Carnival mementos –framed ball invitations and old photographs on the walls connect four generations of the Bland family in both Rex and the 12th Night Revelers. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting of Dorothy Clay as queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A Carnival proclamation on the wall of the Bland family home declaring Dorothy Clay Queen of Carnival in 1921. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A photograph of Henriette Vallon as Queen of Twelfth Night Revelers in 1947. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A photograph of Rachel St. Paul Bland as Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A photograph of Dorothy Clay in 1921 as Queen of Twelfth Night Revelers. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting of James Ellwood Butterfield (JEB) Bland, 10, as a page in Atlanteans in 2005 with the family dogs hangs in the Bland dining room on Friday, January 30, 2015. Carnival keepsakes — framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family. (Courtesy of the Bland Family | Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
A painting in process by artist Andrew Lyman of Rachel St. Paul Bland as Queen of the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011. This latest Carnival portrait has been commissioned by the Bland family to capture a special moment during the ball. Carnival mementoes –framed ball invitations and vintage photographs around their home — connect four generations of the Bland family in both Rex and the Twelfth Night Revelers. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Lyman and the Bland family)
Two crown brooches, one from Rex, the other from the Twelfth Night Revelers, glistened against Andrea St. Paul Bland’s charcoal pinstripe jacket recently as she sat beneath the portrait of Dorothy Clay, her husband’s grandmother, reigning as queen of Carnival in 1921.
This story is one in a short series looking at Carnival keepsakes that have become treasured family heirlooms. Also in the series: “Memories of A Pint-Sized Reign,” “Vintage Ball Favors Passed Down Through the Generations” and “A Tribute to the Big Chief.”
Commissioned by the queen’s father, George Clay, who ruled as Rex in 1912, the painting is the work of esteemed American painter Howard Chandler Christy, best known for his stylish murals in New York’s Cafe des Artistes.
“The decor of this room is based on the painting, so you feel like she’s actually here,” Bland said. The wall color — Benjamin Moore “Weston Flax,” a vibrant but creamy yellow — mimics the background of the portrait.
When Bland’s husband, David Sinnott Bland, was growing up, his family lived in his grandparents’ house, where the painting held pride of place in the dining room.
“This particular portrait is important in a number of ways,” said Wayne Phillips, curator of costumes and textiles at the Louisiana State Museum, which once displayed the painting. “It’s one of the only portraits I have seen of a Carnival monarch captured life-size in a full standing view.
“Color photography was not available in 1921 when Dorothy Clay had her portrait painted, but her likeness is captured in vivid expressive color, capturing the glimmering gold of her gown and mantle like a photograph could not have,” he added.
Both Clay, in 1921, and her daughter, Henriette Vallon, in 1947, opened and closed the season, reigning as queen of Twelfth Night Revelers on the first night and queen of Carnival on the final day of celebration.
“After that,” Andrea Bland said, “we went a full generation without a queen” in the family. But her daughter, Rachel, broke the dry spell when she reigned in the Twelfth Night Revelers in 2011, marking 118 years since her father’s great-grandmother, Ella Sinnott, reigned as queen of Carnival in 1893.
“We have grown up surrounded by portraits of people we love,” Andrea Bland said. “They connect generations, connect us with our younger selves, remind us of our precious children and beloved ancestors. Portraits are the family.”
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