BOOK REVIEW: Versailles – The Great and Hidden Splendours of the Sun King’s Palace


The Great and Hidden Splendours of the Sun King’s Palace

 Catherine Pégard, Christophe Fouin

 Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 9780500519868


Take one look at this book and you will clearly see why Versailles endures and attracts new admirers and visitors every year.  From the days of Louis XIV onwards the palace has acted like a magnet to all.

In this sumptuous volume the palace’s official photographers (Christophe Fouin, Thomas Garnier, Christian Milet and Didier Saulnier) take us on a journey, using images from their personal albums, that memorably reveals the place whether it be the Grand Apartments, Chapel, Orangerie or the private rooms of the King and his mistresses. The erudite captions tell of the history and treasures in these rooms and evoke a sense of what Versailles must have been like in the 17th and 18th centuries when the King was in residence.

It is and was a very different world and it is amazing to think that these rooms with their elaborate decoration and furnishings were part of everyday life for their royal inhabitants. Some spaces such as Madame de Pompadour’s “niche” in the Chapel or her maid’s bedroom are small and intimate while others such as the Hercules Salon or the Hall of Mirrors remind you that you are in the palace of a king.

There have been numerous books on Versailles over the years and to my mind this is the best! I shall revisit it frequently and no doubt linger a little over the picture of Madame Victoire’s library – a room I could very happily live in.

Recalling the 18th Century!

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

J. Paul Getty’s statement “For technical skill & perfection and for delicacy & taste Sèvres is unsurpassed” is in my view definitely true whether talking about 18th and 19th century pieces or something contemporary such as the items shown by the Sèvres Factory at the recent PAD show in Berkeley Square.

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

I think that Getty would have been intrigued by the fact that as well as making striking modern designs they were also able, using the traditional methods, to recreate major pieces from the 18th century such as the boat-shaped Vaisseau à Mât.  Only twelve of these were created in the 18th century, of which ten are known to survive today, including one in the Royal Collection. It is therefore a remarkable achievement that the factory has produced this soft paste ‘copy’ of the Buckingham Palace example which was originally owned by the great supporter and patron of the Sèvres Factory Madame de Pompadour.

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique


© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

The images reflect both the production and resultant vase – a veritable tour de force!

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

It can be seen at Thomas Goode in South Audley Street check for details 020 7499 2823; INFO@THOMASGOODE.COM)

BOOK REVIEW: Gilded Interiors: Parisian Luxury and the Antique

Gilded Interiors: Parisian Luxury and the Antique

Helen Jacobsen

Imprint: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd
Publisher: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd


ISBN: 9781781300589


This book is far more than just a souvenir of the recent seriously good exhibition at The Wallace Collection which focused on their gilt-bronze as it includes even more of the wonderful bronzes d’ameublement that are an important part of The Wallace’s justly famous collections of French eighteenth-century art.

Dr Jacobsen introduces us to the late 18th century Parisian interiors and the taste for the Antique setting the stage for these superbly designed and executed objects.  You will find clocks, firedogs, candelabra, mounted porcelain and even tables – which are then individually discussed in detail. It is beautifully illustrated with a combination of new photography and copies of original designs and proposals for both objects and interiors.  The book is a great celebration of 18th century connoisseurship and taste revealing the world of figures such as Marie Antoinette and the comte d’Artois and their circles. It is an absolute must for all interested in the interiors and the ‘douceur de vivre’ of the Ancien Régime.

Gilded Furniture!

Gilded: Golden Treasures of Georgian Furniture, Mackinnon Fine Furniture, 5 Ryder Street,
St. James’s, London SW1

A George I Giltwood Secretaire Cabinet attributed to James Moore made for the Portuguese Royal Court, England circa 1720

This beautiful display of gilded furniture is an absolute joy to behold.  We are more used to gilded arms and legs on chairs and stools or gilt mirror and picture frames but this collection includes furniture where the whole piece is gilded such as this outstanding bureau cabinet. C1720. Originally one of a pair intended for the Portuguese royal court it is attributed to James Moore who worked for George I. It really is as good as it looks.

A George I Giltwood Secretaire Cabinet attributed to James Moore made for the Portuguese Royal Court, England circa 1720 – Interior

As Charlie Mackinnon rightly says: ‘Gilt furniture is synonymous with Georgian elegance and glamour.  Bringing this group of pieces together is a rare opportunity to explore the style in depth and understand its value and attraction—especially for contemporary collectors.’

A Pair of George III Giltwood Armchairs attributed to John Linnell, England, circa 1775


A George I Carved Gilt Gesso Settee of Rare Small Proportions, England circa 1720


A George II Giltwood Table in the manner of William Kent, England circa 1730










The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer

The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (1929-2016), Christie’s King Street, London SW1, Old Masters Evening Sale (6th July 2017) and The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (13thJuly 2017)

From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

I count myself fortunate in having encountered Raine, Countess Spencer several times over the years and she was always the epitome of elegance and charm. That sense of style is very much reflected in her home, the contents of which are to be found in these sales. While the paintings, furniture and objects contributed to the glamour of the rooms they were not mere ‘background’ objects but were bought because Lady Spencer liked them and wanted to live with and use them.

From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

She was very much drawn to the arts of 18th century France and numbered works by Boucher, Fragonard and Greuze among the pictures she collected. On some purchases she was advised by Sir Francis Watson (former Director of the Wallace Collection) who also advised the Wrightsmans with their legendary collection. Regency furniture was another love and it blended well with her French pieces. Her last dining room recalled the Art Deco period and there was also a collection of French Art Nouveau lithographs.

From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

From her birth – she was the daughter of the novelist Dame Barbara Cartland – onwards Lady Spencer was the focus of media interest whether through her marriages or her work as a Westminster City Councillor and in the conservationist campaigns she supported. In later years she was a director of Harrods and had a hands-on approach. The thread of perfectionism that runs through her life is also reflected in her clothes, jewellery and other accessories in the 13th July auction. This is very much an opportunity to appreciate, enjoy or even acquire a piece of the elegant perfection that was Lady Spencer’s way of life.

Claude Joseph Vernet (Avignon 1714-1789 Paris)
A Mediterranean sea-port with fishermen unloading cargo
oil on canvas
Estimate: £300,000-500,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017


Estimate: £60,000-90,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017


From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017












Comprising a necklace, designed as a graduated series of ruby cabochon and brilliant-cut diamond clusters
Estimate: £100,000-150,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017


One of several ‘Lady Dior’ handbags, this one of black leather with studwork decoration.
Estimate: £1,000-1,500
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017












Masterpiece London 2017 – Introduction

Masterpiece London 2017, South Grounds, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3, 29th June – 5th July 2017

Iván Navarro
Impenetrable Room
Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery

Since its inception this fair has grown into one of the most must-visit events of the art and antiques year. Some thirty-seven thousand visitors last year! It attracts museum directors and private collectors from all over the world to see the artworks shown by a hundred and fifty international dealers. The artworks range from antiquity to the present time. The Royal Bank of Canada is once again the principal sponsor

This year the new MASTERPIECE PRESENTS will reveal a large-scale dedicated exhibition space at the entrance which has been transformed by a special artwork – Impenetrable Room, 2017. Created by the Chilean artist Iván Navarro it has been commissioned by the New York-based Paul Kasmin Gallery who are new exhibitors.

Over the coming days I look forward to sharing blogs on some of the leading dealers taking part.

A Collectors’ Paradise

‘A Collectors’ Paradise’, Brian Haughton Gallery, 15 Duke Street, St James’s, London SW1, 30th June – Friday 7th July 2017

A Meissen porcelain dish by I Preissler, c 1725-1730 from CHRISTOPHE PERLES

This is a new feature for this busy period of the year when the Art World converges on London for the diverse exhibitions and auctions that make it such an exciting and desirable place to be in June. Taking part are London’s specialist dealers Brian Haughton and Robyn Robb and from Paris Christophe Perles and they will be offering fine examples of English and continental porcelain, pottery and faience.

A fine 18th century Worcester cup exquisitely painted with a Chinese figure holding a fringed parasol, c1752-53 from ROBYN ROBB

A very rare Chelsea asparagus box and cover, c 1755, length 18cm, Red anchor mark and numeral 13 to the interior of the cover from BRIAN HAUGHTON GALLERY