BOOK REVIEW: Villa Astor

VILLA ASTOR Paradise Restored on the Amalfi Coast

Introduction by The Right Honourable the Lord Astor of Hever

Text by Curt DiCamillo, Suzanne Tise-Isoré, Alexandra Campbell and Rita Vessichelli Pane Photography by Eric Sander

£40
Flammarion 
ISBN 978-2-08-137592-5

The Villa Astor has, as the cover illustration suggests, rather a splendid location in the town of Sorrento overlooking the Bay of Naples. A former American ambassador to Italy William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) acquired the Villa and its surrounding properties in 1905 and then went on to transform it. He was certainly well practiced in such matters for in the United Kingdom he had an office at 2, Temple Place, and also homes at Hever Castle and Cliveden (he gave the latter to his son as a wedding present in 1906). As well as building up a large collection of classical sculpture at the Villa Astor he also had a Pompeian-style villa built on the east side of the gardens. Following Astor’s death the Italian government stepped in and said the sculpture collections and gardens should be protected and remain part of the villa.

 

It is a great survival having withstood different owners and World War II – and now following a restoration by the new owners, with the help of the famous French decorator Jacques Garcia. this extensively illustrated book celebrates the Villa in its full glory while telling the tale of its intriguing history. Can’t ask for much more really.

editions.flammarion.com

Royal Gifts

Royal Gifts – the Summer Opening of the State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, until 1st October 2017

Australian State Coach
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017. Photographer: David Cripps

From the moment you arrive at the Grand Entrance and espy the Australian State Coach, a gift to Her Majesty in 1988 from the people of Australia to mark the Australian Bicentenary, you know you are in for something rather exciting. Indeed many of the State Rooms are transformed by special displays of over two hundred gifts that have been presented to The Queen in the sixty-five years of her reign.

‘Royal Gifts’, the special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

You will discover a remarkable cross section of items and every gift reflects the donor whether a town, organisation or country.  Each in its own way is uniquely special. I am not going to mention examples because it is something to be experienced in person. I found it all fascinating and engrossing in a way that I had not expected but will remember for a long time.

A Royal Collection Trust member of staff adjusts the Vessel of Friendship, a model of the ‘treasure ship’ sailed by the 15th-century Chinese navigator and diplomat Zeng He. The model was presented to Her Majesty by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China during the State Visit to Buckingham Palace in October 2015.
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

 

Members of Royal Collection Trust staff put the finishing touches to a display of gifts from around the United Kingdom as part of ‘Royal Gifts’, the special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

In the Music Room is a charming display to mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Many of the objects and mementos on and around her desk from her Sitting Room in Kensington Palace were chosen by the The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

A tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales in the Music Room, one of the State Rooms open to the public as part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace. The centrepiece of the display is the desk at which The Princess worked in her sitting room at Kensington Palace, writing letters and reading official briefings and correspondence.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

www.royalcollection.org.uk

Ancient Landscapes Portrayed

‘British Art: Ancient Landscapes’, The Salisbury Museum, The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, until 3rd September 2017

Alan Sorrell (1904–1974)
Sunrise Over Stonehenge
Watercolour on Paper
The Salisbury Museum

I am really grateful to Professor Sam Smiles (Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Plymouth) for his deep interest in archaeology and the history of art because they are engagingly combined in this important show. There is an accompanying catalogue by him too.

Eric Ravilious (1903-1942)
The Long Man of Wilmington,1939
Watercolour
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Prehistory in this country is celebrated in works from the 18th century onwards to the present time. Views of Stonehenge by Thomas Hearne, Charles Marshall, Constable, Turner, Henry Moore and Henry McKnight Kauffer are found among other archaeological sites both in Wiltshire and elsewhere. William Blake, John Piper, Barbara Hepworth and Derek Jarman are among the other artists you will experience in this hugely enjoyable exhibition.

Horace Brodzky (1885-1969)
Stonehenge, 1919
Linocut

The Museum’s Marketing Officer Louise Tunnard says: “We are so fortunate to live alongside the ancient landscapes that inspired these wonderful artists, and which remain relatively unchanged since pre historic times. I am hoping that we will inspire visitors to the exhibition to walk these landscapes too and discover their enduring appeal.” I am sure that they will!

J M W Turner (1775-1851)
Stonehenge c, 1827-28
Watercolour
The Salisbury Museum

 

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/

Masterpiece London 2017 – Introduction

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

MASTERPIECE PRESENTS
Iván Navarro
Impenetrable Room
2017
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.

www.masterpiecefair.com

The 2017 Summer Olympia Art & Antiques Fair

The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London W14, 26th June – 2nd July 2017

Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill who will be speaking at The Art & Antiques Fair on ‘Incorporating Antiques in Design’ on Thursday 29 June at 12.30-13.30.

This is this fair’s forty-fifth year and as ever potentially offers much to its visitors. There is no doubt that change is inevitable and that emphasis and focus changes as one generation of collectors is succeeded by another. Styles of living change and what may have been our ideal does not necessarily resonate with our children and grandchildren.

It is therefore probably a sound idea to launch an Interior Design Talk Series at this year’s fair. The speakers include Henrietta Spencer Churchill, Douglas Mackie, Christopher Vane Percy, April Russel, Emma Burns from Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, Susie Rumbold and Caroline de Cabarrus from Hotspur Design and the wide-ranging topics covered include Incorporating Antiques in Design and how to Decorate your House in a Day.

The fair’s director Mary Claire Boyd said, ‘We are excited about our new Interior Design Talk Series. There is a strong demand for advice from experts on how to incorporate art and antiques into interiors and previous designer talks have been very well attended. We are taking it to the next level this year by hosting top designers throughout the run of the fair.’ Perfect for inspiration to go out into the fair afterwards and buy!

It is also interesting to note that the number of picture dealers attending this year’s fair will be double that of last year’s. This increase is made up by new and some returning former exhibitors. The Chicago-based show, Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design Fair (SOFA) who first showed three-dimensional contemporary art and design last year also returns.

Galerie Boccara
Sonia Delaunay.
Serpent Noir’, wool tapestry,151 x 308cm

As these changes evolve over the Fairs I wish this Olympia Fair a fair wind in its voyage to different waters.

http://www.olympia-art-antiques.com

Stories Unfold!

Every Object Tells a Story, 5 Cromwell Place, London SW7, until 5th July 2017

Installation view
(photo credit: Exhibition Design and Photograph by Charles Marsden-Smedley)

In May 2015 I shared with you the eponymous exhibition Oliver Hoare held at 33 Fitzroy Square, London W1 (Curiosities, 12 May 2015).  This new edition in the former studio of Sir John Lavery RA is even larger, beautifully displayed and crammed with some four hundred intriguing objects which you just do want to learn more about. There is a wonderful catalogue to help achieve that.

Installation view
(photo credit: Exhibition Design and Photograph by Charles Marsden-Smedley)

I shall let Oliver Hoare sum it up: “What is assembled here might look like a modern ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, an assemblage of the exotic and curious from the four quarters of the world. There is an intention behind it, however, that goes beyond presenting a wide variety of curiosities. We are today linked up to all those four quarters, and while a huge amount of information is available to us, unlike to those who awaited the ships in the ports of Amsterdam, Genoa, Lisbon, London, Marseille, Seville or Venice, the horizon of what interests us seems to have shrunk. The art market is an interesting barometer of this shrinkage. The point is, therefore, that we can connect with the whole world on a more profound level than can be gained from package touring, through the possession of, and study of even the most modest objects of different cultures. The purpose of collecting, as Molière might have put it, should not be limited to becoming rich through the investment in one’s purchases, but to become enriched through the intelligent possession of what one has acquired.”

 

Installation view
(photo credit: Exhibition Design and Photograph by Charles Marsden-Smedley)

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm
(Closed on Mondays (except by appointment))

www.everyobjecttellsastory.com

The 2017 Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair

The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair, supported by Wetherell and NFU Mutual Godalming, Westminster Ballroom, London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London W1, 5th – 8thJanuary 2017

Rare French Empire ormolu mantle timepiece of chariot form with white enamel dial forming the wheel, surmounted by Amour being pulled by two dogs, c1810, from Richard Price.

Rare French Empire ormolu mantle timepiece of chariot form with white enamel dial forming the wheel, surmounted by Amour being pulled by two dogs, c1810,
from Richard Price.

I always enjoy both writing about and visiting this fair as it makes a great way of starting a new year.  There is a tempting mixture of paintings, watercolours, silver, jewellery, sculpture, clocks and watches, glass, ceramics, rugs and 20th century design to be seen and purchased.

Allium flower hand-forged galvanised steel with blown glass, 2.5m or 3.2m, from QEST scholar Jenny Pickford,

Allium flower
hand-forged galvanised steel with blown glass, 2.5m or 3.2m,
from QEST scholar Jenny Pickford,

This year the fair will also be showing the skills and works of craft scholars from QEST (The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust). So you may well be digging deep into your pockets!

Egyptian Amulet of Bes, 2cm long x 1.9cm wide, Ptolemaic period, 332–30 BC, from Ancient & Oriental

Egyptian Amulet of Bes,
2cm long x 1.9cm wide, Ptolemaic period, 332–30 BC,
from Ancient & Oriental

 

Spanish, Andalusian School, early 19th century Spanish Guerilla Encampment, Peninsular War oil on panel 23½" x 31½" Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and indistinctly signed G.... ? on a rock lower centre. Indistinctly inscribed in Spanish on an envelope lower centre, the last word possibly being "Linares". Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and gilded frame, from Atelier

Spanish, Andalusian School, early 19th century
Spanish Guerilla Encampment, Peninsular War
oil on panel
23½” x 31½”
Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and indistinctly signed G…. ? on a rock lower centre.
Indistinctly inscribed in Spanish on an envelope lower centre, the last word possibly being “Linares”.
Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and gilded frame,
from Atelier

 

Gilt decorated amethyst decanter with matching stopper, Russian, c1790, from Fileman Antiques

Gilt decorated amethyst decanter with matching stopper,
Russian, c1790,
from Fileman Antiques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Harcourt Tiara, 18ct yellow gold and platinum tiara entirely set with fine white diamonds, c1900, from The Gilded Lily

The Harcourt Tiara,
18ct yellow gold and platinum tiara entirely set with fine white diamonds, c1900,
from The Gilded Lily

 

Mid 19th century walnut stool with tapestry top on raised cabriole legs, c1860, from S&S Timms Antiques

Mid 19th century walnut stool with tapestry top on raised cabriole legs, c1860,
from S&S Timms Antiques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lincs sycamore and acrylic colours, 7'' high x4''x4'' from QEST scholar Joey Richardson

Lincs
sycamore and acrylic colours, 7” high x4”x4”
from QEST scholar Joey Richardson

 

View from the Dining Room by Susan Ryder RP NEAC oil on canvas signed 30" x 36" from Manya Igel Fine Arts

View from the Dining Room by Susan Ryder RP NEAC
oil on canvas
signed
30″ x 36″
from Manya Igel Fine Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temple Guardians, signed E Bouret bronze and ebonised wood, 39cm high, dated 1871 from Hickmet Fine Arts

Temple Guardians, signed E Bouret
bronze and ebonised wood, 39cm high, dated 1871 from Hickmet Fine Arts

 

A rare George III silver drum tea caddy by Andrew Fogelberg, made in London in 1773, 4.5" x 4" diameter (base), 13oz, from Mary Cooke Antiques

A rare George III silver drum tea caddy by Andrew Fogelberg, made in London in 1773,
4.5″ x 4″ diameter (base), 13oz,
from Mary Cooke Antiques

 

 

http://www.mayfairfair.com