This January two fairs, one venue:

The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th-29th January 2017  

Pair of Louis XV Painted Bergere Armchairs - Adam Calvert Bentley

Pair of Louis XV Painted Bergere Armchairs – Adam Calvert Bentley

While I am sure that many of you will already know about this exciting regular event I always feel that it is worth reminding you that it is on.  It is a magnet for homemakers, antique collectors and, of course, interior decorators. It is the sort of fair where you find the absolutely perfect thing – which you didn’t realise you wanted until you see it.  Happy purchasing!

 

Wax Seal Tea Caddy - Adam Calvert Bentley

Wax Seal Tea Caddy – Adam Calvert Bentley

http://www.decorativefair.com

 

London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th -29th January 2017 

19th Century Kurdish rug from Sauj Bolaq, Kurdistan Brian Macdonald

19th Century Kurdish rug from Sauj Bolaq, Kurdistan
Brian Macdonald

In this welcome move the LARTA Fair moves to the mezzanine floor at Battersea Evolution and makes the perfect combination with the Decorative Fair downstairs.  Visitors will find a good range of collectable decorative rugs, carpets, tapestries, suzanis and embroideries and other textiles. Now that it will be a bigger event than usual there will also be some contemporary designs and a variety of tribal, Islamic and Asian artefacts, including jewellery as well. Don’t forget that the best pieces can be seen online in a ‘virtual fair’ which becomes live when the fair opens.

An early 1800’s Epigonation (in Greek meaning “over the knee”) vestment, worked in silver gilt on a red velvet ground. Marilyn Garrow

An early 1800’s Epigonation (in Greek meaning “over the knee”) vestment, worked in silver gilt on a red velvet ground.
Marilyn Garrow

http://www.larta.net

 

AUCTION ALERT: Emma Hamilton, 24th January 2017

 

Lot 204. Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) - signed letter. Est £300

Lot 204. Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) – signed letter. Est £300

I thought that I should share the fact that this letter written by Emma Hamilton may be of interest. This auction of more than a thousand signatures by historical figures includes letters from Emma Hamilton and her husband Sir William Hamilton. The collection was put together by the late John Evans and will be on 24th January at Campbells, 44-46 High St, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1LL.

Lot 204. Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) - signed letter. Est £300

Lot 204. Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) – signed letter. Est £300

 

http://www.campbellsauctions.co.uk

BOOK REVIEW: Emma Hamilton Seduction & Celebrity

Emma Hamilton

Seduction & Celebrity

(In association with the Royal Museums Greenwich)

Edited by Quintin Colville with Kate Williams
ISBN 9780500252208
 £29.95

emma-hamilton-jacket

It would have been totally wrong for me to have mentioned this beautifully illustrated book when I reviewed the marvellous exhibition ‘Emma Hamilton Seduction & Celebrity’ at the National Maritime Museum (6th January, 2017) since this book is equally as enjoyable and while complementing the exhibition it very definitely stands alone too.  It takes us into the world of Emma Hamilton (1765–1815) and reassesses her life and role and shows her cultural and social achievements.  I have always thought that if Emma could have gained the confidence and friendship of Naples’s Queen Maria Carolina, daughter of Maria Theresa, then there was obviously something more substantial than being just a temptress about her.

The contributors which also include Vic Gatrell, Hannah Greig, Jason Kelly, Margarette Lincoln, Christine Riding and Gillian Russell bring a fresh understanding of a woman who not only captured the heart of a great naval hero but has beguiled us ever since.

Porcelain lovers will also be interested to see the series of pictures of Emma’s beloved Merton Place done by Thomas Baxter who is also well known for the decoration of porcelain.

 

www.thamesandhudson.com

A Cautionary Tale

Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London SE 10, until 17th April 2017

'Emma as La Penserosa', 1791-92 by Sir Thomas Lawrence ® The Abercorn Heirloom Settlement Trustees; Bryan F. Rutledge B.A.

‘Emma as La Penserosa’, 1791-92 by Sir Thomas Lawrence
® The Abercorn Heirloom Settlement Trustees; Bryan F. Rutledge B.A.

This is an exhibition that has exceeded my expectations and one I had been looking forward to since I learnt of it.

It is I think very much a story of a beautiful young woman that has resonance today – a tale of humble beginnings, of becoming a “celebrity” but ending in disillusionment and obscurity.

Berlin service: Teapot depicting Emma Hamilton ® National Maritime Museum, London. From the Clive Richards Collection

Berlin service: Teapot depicting Emma Hamilton
® National Maritime Museum, London. From the Clive Richards Collection

Born in Cheshire in 1765, daughter of a struggling blacksmith Emma came to London in her thirteenth year and became part of the Covent Garden world which mixed high society with the sexual underworld. Aged sixteen she became the mistress of Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh and as readers of my blog ‘Unravelling Uppark’ (06/06/14) will know Emma danced naked on the dining room table there to entertain his friends. However when she fell pregnant Fetherstonhaugh chucked her out and she returned to Cheshire and gave birth to a daughter.

'Emma dancing the tarantella' c.1791 by William Lock ® The Jean Kislak Collection

‘Emma dancing the tarantella’ c.1791 by William Lock
® The Jean Kislak Collection

Fortunately she had made the acquaintance of Charles Greville, a son of the Earl of Warwick, and he took her under his wing, installing her in his house just off the Edgware Road in London, an area more rural then than it is today. It was there that Greville introduced her to the painter George Romney.  She was, as the wonderful paintings shown in the exhibition amply prove, a perfect Muse for the artist.

Emma as Circe, 1782, by George Romney ® The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Emma as Circe, 1782, by George Romney
® The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

She also met Greville’s uncle Sir William Hamilton and it was on to him that Greville passed Emma when he tired of her by sending her to Naples where Hamilton was British envoy. Naples was a major stopping-off place on the Grand Tour and thanks to Hamilton’s patient teaching and her own talent she created her famous “Attitudes” which brought scenes from paintings and sculpture to life. She achieved even more of a celebrity status which was crowned when Hamilton married her in 1791.

Gold and micro-mosaic necklace belonging to Emma ® National Maritime Museum, London

Gold and micro-mosaic necklace belonging to Emma
® National Maritime Museum, London

Her new position as an envoy’s wife meant that she had to play a political role too and in this Emma was fortunate that the Neapolitan King’s wife Maria Carolina, a sister of Marie Antoinette, liked her and made a confidante of her.

Horatio Nelson, 1758 -1805, Vice Admiral of the White by Johann Heinrich Schmidt ® National Maritime Museum, London

Horatio Nelson, 1758 -1805, Vice Admiral of the White by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
® National Maritime Museum, London

However in 1798 the arrival of Admiral Nelson, following his victory at the Battle of the Nile, was the beginning of what would be one of the great love affairs of history.  It was one fraught with dangers as her infidelity rocked society and it was not helped by Emma’s giving birth to Nelson’s child whom they named Horatia.

Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1761 - 1815 by Johann Heinrich Schmidt ® National Maritime Museum, London

Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1761 – 1815 by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
® National Maritime Museum, London

They acquired a house at Merton in Surrey and set up home their but because of Nelson’s naval duties he was frequently away.  His death at the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805 brought it all crashing down. Life became difficult in every way and her attempts to maintain her lifestyle and position led to her being imprisoned for debt in 1813 in the King’s Bench Prison.  Thanks to funds being provided she was released but had to flee to Calais to escape her creditors and it was there in January 1815 she died after months of illness in the same poverty as she had been born.

Gold 'fede' or betrothal ring, one of a pair exchanged by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma ® National Maritime Museum, London

Gold ‘fede’ or betrothal ring, one of a pair exchanged by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma
® National Maritime Museum, London

This somewhat salutary tale is beautifully told through pictures, objects, jewellery, furniture, prints, costumes and personal letters.  It really does give a wonderful insight into her life and times and explains why she remains so beguiling a figure. She is one of those people from history you would really want to meet!

'View of Merton House showing Lady Hamilton and Horatia in the grounds' ® National Maritime Museum, London

‘View of Merton House showing Lady Hamilton and Horatia in the grounds’
® National Maritime Museum, London

 

http://www.rmg.co.uk/emmahamilton

BOOK REVIEW: On the Fringe

On the Fringe

A Life in Decorating

By Imogen Taylor

Pimpernel Press
9781910258774
£50.00

 on-the-fringe

This is a page-turner combination of autobiography and the author’s long and distinguished career at Colefax and Fowler. She was a fitting heir to both Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler’s decorating vision.  She started at the firm in 1949 and when John Fowler retired in 1971 he handed his clients, including HM The Queen, over to her. She was until her retirement (1999) the firm’s principal decorator alongside Tom Parr.

With clients in the Middle East, America and the United Kingdom we see through her work how the Colefax & Fowler country house style evolved to reflect the current day but throughout it all she never lost her ‘perfect taste’.

One meets famous clients such as the Windsors, Dolly Rothschild, Harry Hyams and John Aspinall as well as fellow colleagues, including a young Duchess of Cornwall.  We also learn about the techniques used in creating these highly liveable-in interiors including the legendary ‘twelve different whites’.

I was interested to read that the late celebrated violinist Iona Brown was a friend as I too had known her when I was briefly at the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields. I was fortunate enough to meet Imogen Taylor recently at the Hatchards’ Christmas Evening and congratulated her on this delightful book that greatly adds to the history of Colefax and Fowler and the continuing story of interior decoration in this country.

http://www.pimpernelpress.com

BOOK REVIEW: Empire Style

Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris

Written by Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben, Photographed by Francis Hammond

 Flammarion
ISBN: 978-2-08-020272-7
£95

empire-style_cover

It does not come as a surprise to me that over ten years research has been undertaken to bring about this splendid monograph on the Hôtel de Beauharnais.

Built in 1713-15 by the architect Germain Boffrand it was when Josephine Bonaparte bought it for her son Eugène de Beauharnais that the real story of this “hotel particulier” begins. He had the building decorated and renovated at great cost and the results preserved to this day are the remarkable Consulate and Empire interiors which make it such a jewel among Parisian interiors. The costs were so high that his step-father the Emperor Napoleon was angry and took over the use of the building as a place for important visitors.

The wall facing the windows in the Four Seasons Drawing Room boasts unique furnishings of draped mirrors above a sofa flanked by chairs and armchairs. © Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

The wall facing the windows in the Four Seasons Drawing Room boasts unique furnishings of draped mirrors above a sofa flanked by chairs and armchairs.
© Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

Following Napoleon’s fall the building was bought by the King of Prussia and the building became the Prussian Legation and eventually the German embassy and today it serves as the Ambassador’s residence.

While the history of this building is of great interest and expertly recalled it is the interiors and furnishings that make this such a special book.  As well as a detailed tour of the main rooms there are special essays looking at the decorative paintings, Empire furniture, fabrics and trimmings and at the ideals behind the Empire Style.

The ceremonial bed in the Hôtel de Beauharnais, dated 1804–05, is probably the only one of its kind still in situ. According to legend, the hole in the mirror in the back was made by a stray bullet fired during the uprising of the Commune in 1871. © Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

The ceremonial bed in the Hôtel de Beauharnais, dated 1804–05, is probably the only one of its kind still in situ. According to legend, the hole in the mirror in the back was made by a stray bullet fired during the uprising of the Commune in 1871.
© Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris (Flammarion, 2016).

This beautifully illustrated book is a great celebration of a historic building and its spectacular interiors. A must for all interested in history and interior decoration.

 

http://editions.flammarion.com/

BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful People of the Café Society

Beautiful People of the Café Society

Scrapbooks by the Baron de Cabrol

Written by Baron de Cabrol, Text by Thierry Coudert

Publisher: Flammarion
ISBN: 978-2-08-020271-0
£75

 beautifulpeople_cover

The Baron de Cabrol’s legendary scrapbooks take us into an exciting era of glamour and style combined with extravagance and decadence.  It is the world of cosmopolitan café society from 1938 to the 60s amusingly brought to life by through collages, watercolours and archival documents, Daisy and Fred de Cabrol were one of the leading society couples of their era and knew everybody worth knowing.

Bal de Têtes” at the Cabrols, March 25, 1949. © Fred de Cabrol, from Beautiful People of the Café Society (Flammarion, 2016)

Bal de Têtes” at the Cabrols, March 25, 1949.
© Fred de Cabrol, from Beautiful People of the Café Society (Flammarion, 2016)

In this riveting social history we encounter the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Arturo Lopez-Willshaw and his wife Patricia, Pamela Harriman, Charles de Beistegui, Cecil Beaton, Diana and Duff Cooper, Mona Bismarck and many, many others. This is a wonderful trip into a vanished world – those were the days!

Bobsy Carvalho’s Venetian ball, given in 1948 at the Deligny swimming pool. To the left is Daisy de Cabrol, to the right, Fred de Cabrol and the Baroness de l’Espée, and in the center, Bobsy Carvalho. © Fred de Cabrol, from Beautiful People of the Café Society (Flammarion, 2016).

Bobsy Carvalho’s Venetian ball, given in 1948 at the Deligny swimming pool. To the left is Daisy de Cabrol, to the right, Fred de Cabrol and the Baroness de l’Espée, and in the center, Bobsy Carvalho.
© Fred de Cabrol, from Beautiful People of the Café Society (Flammarion, 2016).

http://editions.flammarion.com/

BOOK REVIEW: CECIL BEATON AT HOME: AN INTERIOR LIFE

CECIL BEATON AT HOME: AN INTERIOR LIFE

By Andrew Ginger, Foreword by Hugo Vickers

Rizzoli New York
PRICE: £50.00
ISBN: 978-0-8478-4877-5
: © Cecil Beaton at Home: An Interior Life by Andrew Ginger, Rizzoli New York, 2016

: © Cecil Beaton at Home: An Interior Life by Andrew Ginger, Rizzoli New York, 2016

 

I was fortunate enough to meet the author Andrew Ginger at the two exhibitions he curated around the theme of ‘Cecil Beaton At Home’ at Salisbury Museum and Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler in 2014. They were excellent shows and it was remarkable to see objects and paintings from Beaton’s homes.

View of the dining room, Ashcombe 1935. The curtains were of an orange-and-yellow striped silk © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

View of the dining room, Ashcombe 1935. The curtains were of an orange-and-yellow striped silk
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Now thanks to Andrew’s continued enthusiasm and dedication to the fascinating subject of Cecil Beaton in his own homes we have this hugely enjoyable and well-researched book which is copiously illustrated bringing the houses, Beaton, his friends and loves to life.

The drawing room at 8 Pelham Place, 1962. Combining two rooms into one created a single salon of 31’ 1” by 15’ 2” © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

The drawing room at 8 Pelham Place, 1962. Combining two rooms into one created a single salon of 31’ 1” by 15’ 2”
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

The name Cecil Beaton is well-known to many for he was multi-talented – a celebrated photographer, costume and set designer, playwright and designer of fabrics – but he was also as this book amply proves a good interior decorator creating beautiful, striking rooms, whether in his homes or the New York hotel suites he decorated and was allowed to stay in at a discounted rate.

 

The and Winter Garden at Reddish House, painted left-handed by Cecil after his stroke, 1979 photograph by James McMillan, (copyright for CB artwork to National Portrait Gallery, London)

The and Winter Garden at Reddish House, painted left-handed by Cecil after his stroke, 1979
photograph by James McMillan, (copyright for CB artwork to National Portrait Gallery, London)

The book rightly focuses on Beaton’s two Wiltshire homes – Ashcombe House and Reddish House – with their remarkable and sometimes eccentric interiors which I would so loved to have seen but thanks to this book I at least can enjoy them, especially that beautiful Edwardian-influenced drawing room at Reddish.

The drawing room at Reddish House, painted by Cecil Beaton, Christmas 1955 photograph by James McMillan, collection of Stiles Tuttle Colwill

The drawing room at Reddish House, painted by Cecil Beaton, Christmas 1955
photograph by James McMillan, collection of Stiles Tuttle Colwill

There have been many marvellous books on Cecil Beaton but to me this book is the best as I believe people’s homes reveal them and Beaton certainly comes to life through the pages of this book. Wonderful!

The last portrait of Cecil, looking through his last fashion spread for Vogue in the library at Reddish House, September 4, 1979 copyright Lee Higham, Assistant, 1979

The last portrait of Cecil, looking through his last fashion spread for Vogue in the library at Reddish House, September 4, 1979
copyright Lee Higham, Assistant, 1979

www.rizzoliusa.com

BOOK REVIEW: Around That Time: Horst at Home in Vogue

Around That Time:  Horst at Home in Vogue 

by Valentine Lawford and Ivan Shaw, photography by Horst P. Horst.
Foreword by Hamish Bowles
Publisher: Abrams.
ISBN 978-1-4197-2224-0
UK £45.00

 aroundthattime-cover

I have to admit that the idea of this book was on my wish list as I was entranced by the 1968 Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People, which has now become a much sought after book.  Now it has been updated in this glorious volume which features the masterful photography of Horst P Horst and the absorbing essays on the homes and their residents by Horst’s partner the writer Valentine Lawford.  It is the perfect combination and gives us fascinating insights into society, the arts and politics between 1938 and 1985. A huge thank you to all for this great, delightful book which will become a classic!

 

http://abramsandchronicle.co.uk/books/architecture-and-interiors/9781419722240-around-that-time

 

The Flair of Fleur Cowles

Christie’s Interiors including Flair, The Fleur Cowles Collection

Wednesday 23 November 2016 at 6.00 pm

Christie’s South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

It is totally appropriate that the section of this Interiors sale devoted to the collection of Fleur Cowles should be a special stand-alone evening sale. What a lady! Publisher, journalist, author, artist, patron and fashionista.  She was a major part of society in both New York and London and included Cary Grant, the Windsors, the Reagans, Princess Grace, the Queen Mother, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Vivien Leigh among her friends. When I had the great delight of meeting her many years ago at exhibition of her work she was with the British actress Dulcie Gray.

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

Cowles and her fourth and last husband Thomas Montague-Meyer (they married in 1955 with Cary Grant as their best man) lived in two connecting ‘sets’ in London’s famed Albany, Piccadilly. The colourful interiors remained unchanged and so it is an exciting chance to acquire something which has real resonance and flair and reflects its owner.

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

Flair was the title of the short-lived but glamorous magazine that combined striking design and great editorial using cut-out covers and unfolding pages for illustrations.  Although popular, it was costly to produce and so only lasted for twelve issues. But it has been a source of inspiration to editors ever since and copies are still eagerly fought for.

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

Lot estimates range from between £500 and £30,000 and include a Picasso drawing, artworks by René Gruau and Frederico Pallavicini who worked with her at Flair.  Furniture, Dior hats, photographs and her own pictures all combine to make this sale a remarkable tribute and insight of her taste and life.  I know that I count myself lucky to have actually met her!

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

http://www.christies.com