BOOK REVIEW: Longford Castle

Longford Castle: The Treasures & The Collectors

Amelia Smith

 ISBN: 9781910787687

Publisher: Unicorn


Longford full jkt draft latest.indd

I first learnt about Longford Castle and some of its treasures in an article in the 1968 Country Life Annual and have wanted to know more about it ever since. Well now both you and I can find out more in this fascinating book which is both well-written and well-illustrated.


Dating from Elizabethan times the house was acquired by the Bouverie family in 1717 and the story of how they built up the outstanding art collection which consists of Old Masters and family portraits – think Holbein, Claude, Reynolds and Gainsborough – is skilfully interwoven with the tale of the furnishings and decorations of the castle’s rooms which form the backdrop to the paintings.  It really is a celebration and a history of this great collection and house and is such a delight. It is a book I will return to time and time again!

Feline remembrances!

The Art of Steven Campbell, Marlborough Fine Art, Albemarle Street, London W1, until 21st October 2017

Steven Campbell,
Alice in Ruins, 1992-93,
oil on canvas, 269.9 x 263.7 cm,
Copyright the Estate of Steven Campbell, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

The retrospective on this highly acclaimed Scottish artist who sadly died in 2007 amply proves why he is so highly regarded by his peers and critics alike.  I was particularly drawn to this picture.

The look on the cat’s face so reminded me of a cat I used to have.  It is the look I would get just before he would attempt to climb the bedroom curtains if he thought he was not getting the attention he deserved at 6.30am. Both curtains and cat survived for many years!


Next Sunday in Church Street NW8 – 24th September 2017

Antiques Anonymous – An Art, Antiques & Design Flea Market, Church Street, London NW8, 24th  September 2017, 11am – 5pm

In times of change in the world of Art & Antiques around the capital – Portobello Road, Spitalfields, Burlington Arcade and Grays – it is a positive delight to be able to tell you about this new venture in the Antique quarter of Church Street, NW8.

Pair of Stone Carved Lamps by Albert Tormos. Stephen Sprake.

Coinciding with the last day of the London Design Festival this inaugural Flea Market will feature more than fifty dealers from NW8 and around and should prove to be a fruitful place to shop wherever your interests lie.

1950s wheat sheaf gilt table. Samaya Ling Vintage.

It highlights the long role of Alfies Antique Market in forming a hub which has attracted many other dealers to open up in what is a ‘must’ destination of those attracted by things vintage and contemporary. One can quite understand why eighty dealers in the area have come together to form Antiques Anonymous.


As well as being sponsored by Alfies, Westminster City Council are also supporting it. Their spokesperson said: : “We are pleased to be working with Antiques Anonymous, to bring this Antiques, Art and Design Flea market to Church Street NW8. There has already been a great deal of interest in this first event, and I’d encourage people to visit this diverse and vibrant part of London to give it their support so that it can become a regular event on the London event calendar.”

Fornasetti 1950s brass and red lacquered ice bucket – Cupio Gallery at Alfies

PS: Street Food will be available too – so no excuse not to take your time and spend lots on things for your home!

#AntiquesAnonymousLondon #JoinAA #ChurchStreetFlea

Alfies Antique Market

Vivien Leigh – Sotheby’s

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London W1, 26th September 2017


Lot 14 A Large Collection of Photographs of Vivien and Larry
Estimate £800-1,200
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Vivien Leigh was one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever grace both stage and screen and now she is once again the star of the show when Sotheby’s auctions hundreds of items belonging to her in London on 26 September.

Jewellery including a mid 19th-century diamond bow brooch, a gold ring given to Vivien Leigh by her husband Laurence Olivier and a 18th-century chrysoberyl devant de corsage.
(Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

From Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind to Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and Karen Stone in The Roman Spring Of Mrs Stone Vivien almost reflected her own life in her films.  The feckless Scarlett ‘thinking about it tomorrow’ is Vivien in her early theatrical pursuits where she was a whirlwind jumping from (mainly) success to success then Blanche sadly shows us Vivien in her troubled years long before bi-polar personalities had been categorised.  Then finally we have Karen Stone a bewildered widow who falls for the ersatz charm of an Italian gigolo played by Warren Beatty complete with cod Italian accent.  Mrs Stone has found a new way of living and remains a sad but noble survivor.

Interior, Notley Abbey
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

When I was ten years old I saw Vivien on stage at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow in Noel Coward’s South Sea Bubble and can still recall the ‘presence’ that came across the footlights.

Lot 269 Vivien’s monogrammed luggage, all monogrammed V.L.O., and two black leather luggage labels with insert name cards printed Lady Olivier
Estimate £800-1,200
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The items in this sale include diaries, family photographs, paintings as well as library and personal items – even the wig she wore as Blanche. I was quite surprised and delighted to see that Vivien possessed a similarly framed item exactly the same as one I recently bought in a charity shop.  It is a sketch by Ronald Searle published in Punch in January 1957 as part of his Heroes of our Time series entitled Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. – not Lady Olivier!  In it Vivien looks out from the sketch brightly and vivaciously whilst Sir Laurence is in the foreground in his Richard lll costume and make up,  including the hump, and looking out at us resignedly, cigarette clutched firmly between his fingers.

Vivien Leigh painting at an easel in a garden
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The accompanying catalogue features many lovely photos of Vivien but then how could you take an unlovely one?


Lot 224 Vivien’s writing bureau, mid-18th century, acquired from Asprey in 1949
Estimate £600-900
Courtesy of Sotheby’s


I am grateful to John Kirkwood for writing about this sale


LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1, 15th-20th September 2017

Once again Mayfair’s Berkeley Square plays host to the LAPADA Fair – can you believe it’s their ninth year there, time really does go by quickly?

Among the 110 plus participants at the fair bringing a tempting mixture of art and antiques from all periods is Mackinnon Fine Furniture and I thought you would be interested to see this pair of George II chairs known as the Newhailes House Armchairs which they are showing at the Fair. Dating from c1750-55 their mahogany frames are beautifully carved and pierced and have Chinoiserie stretchers. They are upholstered in their original signed Aubusson tapestry covers.

The chairs, originally a set of four, were acquired by the first Lord Hailes at a sale of the contents of his aunt’s house in Greek Street and remained at Newhailes House until c1928. They were in various American collections, including the Walter P Chrysler Collection.

Slightly earlier in date are these very important George II mahogany armchairs of c1745 which come from Warwick Castle and were part of suite acquired in the 18th century for the castle and where some can still be seen in the Cedar Drawing Room. They are upholstered in early 18th century Genoese silk velvet.

Whoever buys these chairs is going to be very lucky and have many years pleasure in owning them.

The 2017 20/21 British Art Fair

The 20/21 British Art Fair, Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1, 13th– 17th September 2017

Rose Hilton – Self Portrait with Model,
Oil on Canvas, 72 x 92 cm.

After a year’s absence – its old venue was no longer available – this popular Fair returns to central London. Its new venue is the Mall Galleries so very central indeed.

Ken Smith – Free Fall,
Hopton Wood Stone, 25 x 10 x 10 cm

The thirty-three leading dealers taking part bring a fine selection of works, especially Modern and Post War pieces. I have taken this opportunity to show some works from Messum’s who were founded in 1963 and specialise in paintings and sculpture.

David Blackburn (1939 – 2016) Gasometer and Orange Sky,
Pastel, 37 x 41 cm


Rose Finn-Kelcey

Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1, until 15th October 2017

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

Working in London from 1968 until her death from motor neurone disease Rose Finn-Kelcey (1945-2014) was an innovative artist who questioned and challenged themes such as feminism, spirituality and power and politics through her works in various media.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

This engaging exhibition – the first since her death – combines key pieces with preparatory sketches and material, photographs and performance documentation and like the artist demands the viewers’ attention and interest.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby