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

BOOK REVIEW: London Theatres

LONDON THEATRES

by Michael Coveney  (Author), Mark Rylance (Foreword), Peter Dazeley (Photographer)

Frances Lincoln
ISBN: 9780711238619
£30

 

 

This sumptuous book which explores a selection of London theatres is a must for theatre lovers everywhere.

It does not confine itself simply to the West End but also takes in architectural gems such as the Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Hackney Empire.  More intimate theatres like the Almeida and the Donmar are also included as well as hidden gems such as the Alexandra Palace Theatre.

It is also extremely useful when booking tickets online as you can have a look at the book and see the exact location of your seat whilst also admiring the surroundings in which you will find yourself.

 

http://www.quartoknows.com/Frances-Lincoln

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for reading and writing about this book

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

BOOK REVIEW: Robert Adam’s London

Robert Adam’s London

Frances Sands

£25

Archaeopress

Printed ISBN 9781784914622.

Epublication ISBN 9781784914639. 

This book is a delight and has wide appeal for devotees of Robert Adam’s architecture and interiors and lovers of London. Written by Dr Frances Sands (Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum) to mark the exhibition held earlier there at the turn of the year it is a very much stand-alone volume too.  The starting point is Richard Horwood’s map of London (1792-99) and through this each of Adam’s projects can be discovered. It takes us on a fascinating stroll through the areas of London, both north and south of the river, where Adam worked and reveals that some buildings and interiors survive albeit much altered but certainly more than I had expected while others totally lost. So whether in the comfort of an armchair or in hand while searching the streets where Adam worked it is very much a book to savour and enjoy.

http://www.archaeopress.com

The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition

Summer Exhibition 2017, The Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1, until 20th August 2017

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2017.
Photo (c) David Parry

This year’s Show is vibrant and exciting and varied across several media.  Of particular note is Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture VI in the Annenberg Courtyard which explores the notion of harnessing motion and freezing it in a moment of time.

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2017.
Photo (c) David Parry

Gilbert and George are showing a new large-scale work from their Beard Speak series and there are works by Phyllida Barlow, Anthony Gormley, Sean Scully, Bob and Roberta Smith and Wolfgang Tillmans – a very impressive line-up!

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2017.
Photo (c) David Parry

Farshoud Moussavi has curated the Architecture Gallery which celebrates architecture by focusing on construction coordination drawings which show the full complexity of a building.

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2017.
Photo (c) David Parry

The Charles Woolaston Award has been won by Isaac Julien for his five-screen film WESTERN UNION: Small Boats which is apparently inspired by Visconti’s The Leopard. I have to say as that is one of my favourite films I couldn’t really see the connection apart from the two films being set in Sicily, however it is well worth a look.

 

As always, the show is a real treat for art lovers and the standard remains as high as ever.

 

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk

Anime Architecture

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan, Main Gallery at House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London N1, until 10th September 2017

Background illustration for Ghost in the Shell cut 341 by Hiromasa Ogura
©1995


Being totally unfamiliar with Anime, this exhibition came as a delightful surprise.  The technique involved in producing these films seems quite complicated but the results are well worth the trouble.
Perhaps the most well-known anime film is Ghost In The Shell, recently remade as a live action film with Scarlett Johansson who looks as much like a Japanese as I look like Scarlett Johansson – the beard of course doesn’t help!
Hiromasa Ogura’s watercolours for the anime Ghost In The Shell are on display and are based on photographs of Hong Kong and depict a slightly exaggerated contrast between a derelict Chinese town and the extreme development of the urban space.  They are quite haunting and intriguing and somewhat reminiscent of film noir of the forties and fifties.

Concept Design for Ghost in the Shell 2 Innocence by Takashi Watabe
© 2004 Shirow Masamune KODANSHA

Pencil drawings by Takashi Watabe whose fantastically realistic style has become a hallmark for Japanese anime films are also on display.
By the end of the exhibition I was very keen to see an anime film and in the last room of the exhibition my wish was granted as there are three short excerpts from two anime films.  I now look forward to watching more on DVD.

 

 

 

Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays

 

houseofillustration.org.uk.