BOOK REVIEW: The Orléans Collection

The Orléans Collection

Edited by Vanessa I. Schmid

D Giles Limited in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art

£44.95

ISBN 978-1-911282-28-0

9781911282280_FC

 

I remember when visiting Castle Howard in Yorkshire as a child that one of the rooms was then known as the Orléans Room marking the fact that the 5th Earl of Carlisle was part of a syndicate that acquired a portion of the already legendary Orléans Collection.

Philippe II, Duke of Orléans (1674– 1723) had started forming the collection in the second decade of the 18th century when he became Regent of France, following Louis XIV’s death. It was a way of expressing his connoisseurship and taste and included artists such as Raphael, Titian, Veronese, Correggio, Poussin, Rubens, and Rembrandt.

This informative volume looks not only at the component parts of the collection but also at the contemporary Paris art market.  The display of the paintings within the Palais Royale and their overall impact on the collectors and tastes of the day are considered too.

It is a real celebration of early 18th century taste and style and while one can be truly grateful that many pictures may still be seen in museums and galleries today one could be tempted to regret that the collection is no longer one single entity. The book however gives us the chance to relive that experience in a vibrant and enjoyable way.

 

gilesltd.com

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection, Strawberry Hill, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4ST, until 24th February, 2019

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Anonymous artist, Staircase at Strawberry Hill, Ink wash with watercolour. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

The 2010 exhibition ‘Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill’ at the V&A was a wonderful celebration of the house, the collection and the collector so now imagine just quite how special this new exhibition is. You can feel the house responding to having over one hundred and fifty of its treasures within its walls once more with some in their original position.

From the early 18th century Chinese tub in which Walpole’s cat Selima drowned accidentally to a clock that had belonged to Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, it is a veritable pot-pourri of objects and pictures that fascinate and show the breadth of Walpole’s interests, many reflecting the historic style of the building.

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Paul Sandby (1731 – 1809) ‘Strawberry Hill chiefly taken in the year 1769 by Mr. Sandby’, c. 1769. Drawing Watercolour on laid paper with wash-line Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Son of Sir Robert Walpole (Britain’s first Prime Minister), Horace created this first Gothick building with the help of friends. It was his summer home until he died in 1797 and eventually in 1842 there was a twenty-four day sale of its contents. Now YOU can see some of these original contents, back home until February of next year, in both the private rooms and the State rooms. By 1797 there were some four thousand pieces plus coins, drawings and prints in the collection

I am deliberately not illustrating any of the objects on show because I think it is so, so important that, if you can, you should see them in situ and thus hopefully get a sense of both Horace and his remarkable creation. I implore you to do so! You will regret it if you don’t. The stuff of dreams.

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John Carter, The Tribune at Strawberry Hill, c. 1789. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

 

Open 7 days a week

Monday – Friday: 12-6pm (Late opening until 10pm on Fridays)

Saturday – Sunday: 11am -6pm 

Final entry one hour before closing

Private guided tours available 10am-11am and 6pm, Monday to Friday

Public guided tours available 10am Saturday & Sunday

 

 

www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk/losttreasures

BOOK REVIEW: Henri Samuel

Henri Samuel: Master of the French Interior

Written by Emily Evans Eerdmans, Foreword by Jacques Grange and Eva Samuel

Rizzoli

 ISBN: 978-0-8478-6186-6

 £57.95

HenriSamuel_cover

For someone who described himself as “a twentieth-century eclectic” Henri Samuel’s skill at historic design was truly remarkable. It was an innate skill since his interiors are not readily identifiable because they seamlessly blend the lifestyle, art and antiques of the very wealthy clients who used him, such as the Rothschilds, the Wrightsmans and the Gutfreunds. He learnt his craft with Jansen and Alavoine before setting up on his own when aged sixty-six.

We see the interiors he created for his clients on both sides of the Atlantic and remarkably they look as inviting and usable today as when first created.  He achieved this by acknowledging that however marvellous his clients’ collections may be they were in rooms that were meant to be lived in and so personal items and the occasional modern touch were subtly incorporated into the overall scheme. This is a book which has been long overdue because Henri Samuel certainly deserves to be in the Pantheon of the great interior designers.

 

 

https://www.rizzoliusa.com/

Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses, The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2, until 16th September 2018

A Magus at a Table by Jan Lievens (Leyden 1607 ¿ Amsterdam 1674)

A Magus at a Table, Jan Lievens, 1631-2 © National Trust Images – Angelo Hornak

What a glorious summer but regrettably mine was less so as for the last 8 + weeks have been lost to a persistent, debilitating infection which has taken ever stronger courses of antibiotics to overcome – so fingers crossed victory is in sight.  It has meant that I am very behind in my writing. I should perhaps remember to ‘take the waters’ when next visiting Bath!

ST KATHERINE'S CHURCH, UTRECHT by Pieter Jansz Saenredam (1597-1665), at Upton House, Warwickshire

St Catherine’s Church Utrecht, Pieter Jansz Saenredam, 1636 © National Trust Images

I have visited six of the dozen houses from which this delicious selection of Dutch paintings has been garnered but sadly, so far, not the rest of them. Seeing those pictures that I know again was very much a journey into the past because in some cases it is almost fifty years since I first saw them and yet their beauty and the skill of the artist’s use of paint – for example Ter Borch’s exquisite rendering of a dress (Polesden Lacey) or Cuyp’s Dordrecht sky (Ascott) – has kept them fresh in my mind’s eye.

SELF PORTRAIT WEARING A WHITE FEATHERED BONNET by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Self-Portrait Wearing a White Feathered Bonnet, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1635 © National Trust Images – Chris Titmus

Portraits (people and houses), landscapes, genre scenes, interiors and still-lifes are among the subjects that make up the works on view. In some cases artists collaborated such as in the landscape from Petworth where the painter Hobbema has worked with Adriaen van de Velde who contributed the figural elements to the composition.

The Duet ('Le corset bleu') by Gabriel Metsu (Leyden 1629 ¿ Amsterdam 1669)

The Duet, Gabriel Metsu, 1660-7 © National Trust Images – Christopher Hurst

It is a wonderful journey back into the Dutch 17th century and it makes it easy to understand why ever since they were first painted such works have been so avidly collected and admired, including by  Sir Thomas William Holburne, founder of the Museum.

 

After the Holburne the exhibition will move on to the Mauritshuis in The Hague in October 2018, and then come to Petworth House in West Sussex in January 2019.

 

 

www.holburne.org

Chippendale at Wilton

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South East facade of Wilton House. Copyright (c) Wilton House

Wilton House, near Salisbury, is an absolute delight combining architecture, fine interiors, paintings, sculpture and furniture with elegant gardens and the earliest Palladian Bridge in England. It has been the home of the Herbert family (Earls of Pembroke) since 1544.  It is famous for its suite of State Rooms which were designed by Inigo Jones and Isaac de Caux in the 17th century – many of you will recognise the Double Cube Room which has been used as a location for many films and television programmes but nothing quite prepares you for the wow factor of entering it for the first time.

In celebration of the Chippendale tercentenary the Earl and Countess have commissioned a small booklet that highlights Chippendale pieces within the house, including those which can be firmly attributed to his workshop. You will see many of these as you go around the house.

Chippendale at Wilton

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The 10th Earl commissioned the architect Sir William Chambers to rebuild his London home, Pembroke House and also to provide designs for rooms. It is known from Chippendale’s Director that he provided furniture for these rooms.

Sadly the family papers no longer have any itemized accounts from Chippendale but a receipt for fifteen hundred pound eleven shillings certainly indicate the furniture maker had had a major commission. Other bills show that the firm was still patronised after Chippendale’s death when it was being run by his son Thomas Chippendale the Younger.

Among the items that are definitely ascribed to Chippendale’s workshop are the pair of bookcases in the Large Smoking Room which are en suite with the superb ‘Violin’ bookcase which can be seen in the view of the room. Elsewhere chairs, sofas, hall lanterns, tables, picture frames and pelmet boards remind us of Chippendale’s great design talent.

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The Large Smoking Room at Wilton House. Copyright (c) Will Pryce.

All in all I think the best word to sum up Wilton House is sublime!

 

http://www.wiltonhouse.co.uk/

BOOK REVIEW: Longford Castle

Longford Castle: The Treasures & The Collectors

Amelia Smith

 ISBN: 9781910787687

Publisher: Unicorn

£40.00

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!

 

http://unicornpublishing.org/

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

Versailles

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

 Catherine Pégard, Christophe Fouin

 Thames & Hudson
£50.00
ISBN: 9780500519868

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.

http://www.thamesandhudson.com