Float design from Krewe of Proteus 1889 parade. Theme: The Hindoo Heavens. (Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Louisiana Research Collection)
Happy Proteus Monday! While the rest of us think of today as “Lundi Gras”, the staff at Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter tip their hats to Proteus, the “old-line” Carnival krewe that rolls on the day before Mardi Gras. Proteus was the only one of the old-line krewes to return to the streets after the “Mardi Gras Ordinance” kerfluffle in 1993. Proteus uses smaller, old-style floats that are essentially decorated wooden wagons.
This is a concept sketch for a float from the 1899 ride of Proteus. The route in those days was through the French Quarter, ending up at the Old Opera House, where the krewe would dismount and hold their bal masque. Proteus’ ball, like the other “society/debutante” affairs is a private function, but they’ll throw their signature seashorse throws tonight for us all!
Costume design from Krewe of Proteus 1899 parade. Theme: E. Pluribus Unum.
They just don’t do krewe costumes like they used to. Krewes like Proteus used to parade, then go straight to their ball (in 1899, that would have been held at the French Opera House). The maskers wore their costumes for the tableau on the floats.
Costume drawing, watercolor on board, Krewe of Venus, costume for float no. 14, “Battle of Waterloo–English” not signed by the artist, dated 1954 on reverse
In 1954, the Krewe of Venus’ theme was “Battle of Waterloo”. While the uniform isn’t quite historically accurate, it’s an awesome costume.
John Mendes photo – Maskers in the 800 block of Canal, 4-Mar-1919
There were no parades for Carnival, 1919. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, so the krewes did not plan to parade in 1919. The happy circumstance of the war ending brought out maskers and revelers, though. This John Mendes photo shows an interesting group of maskers and others in the 800 block of Canal Street.
A couple of items of note here:
The streetcar is a “Palace” car, from American Car Company. The “Palace” cars were generally considered to be the most comfortable that ran in New Orleans, including the arch roofs. The operating company in 1919 was New Orleans Railway and Light. It would be four years before the big purchase of arch-roofs from Perley Thomas.
There is a “ghost ad” for “Trianon” on the building behind the streetcar. The actual name of the palace in Versailles, France, where a number of treaties were negotiated over time, is “La Grand Trianon”. The treaty that formally ended WWI wasn’t signed until June 4, 1920. Interesting coincidence.
If anyone know what the product/place “Trianon” referenced here would be, let me know. Here’s a zoom of the ad:
Zoom of Mendes photo from 4-Mar-1919, showing “Trianon” ad.
Parades resumed the following year, 1920.