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/

‘The sounds of Music’

Brian Graham – Towards Music, The Salisbury Museum, The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, until 12th May 2018

 

30 Fanfare SMALL 72dpi

Brian Graham Fanfare for the Common Man for Aaron Copland, 2014 Mixed media on board 26cm x 34cm

In this show of some forty works the Dorset-born artist takes us on a journey into history with his ideas of how music-making and dance may have started. These painted reliefs reflect his long-held interest in the worlds of archaeology, anthropology and science and this juxtaposition with their titles which are either taken from notable works or figures in music and dance fire the viewer’s imagination to picture the past. It’s a show where – as the song says – “the melody lingers on”!

1 La Mer small 72dpi

Brian Graham La Mer for Claude Debussy, 2014 Mixed media on board 34cm x 26cm

www.salisburymuseum.org.uk

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!

 

http://www.marlboroughlondon.com

 

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

 

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2017/vivien-leigh-collection

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for writing about this sale

THE LAPADA FAIR 2017

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.

 

www.mackinnonfineart.com

http://lapadalondon.com

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

http://www.britishartfair.co.uk

 

Alma-Tadema!

Alma-Tadema: At Home In Antiquity, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London, W14,, until 29th October 2017

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

 

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Finding of Moses, 1904. © Private Collection

Unbelievably for such a well-known artist, this is the first exhibition of the works of Alma-Tadema in London since 1913. He was a great friend of Lord Leighton and will of course have visited the House which makes the placing of the exhibition here most fitting.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Self-Portrait of Lourens Alma Tadema, 1852.
© Fries Museum, Collection Royal Frisian Society

A visit to Pompeii on his honeymoon inspired Alma-Tadema to depict carefully researched scenes of life in Ancient Rome which reminded me very much of scenes from the very popular spectacular epic films of the fifties and sixties such as Quo Vadis?, The Ten Commandments, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Ben-Hur and apparently Alma-Tadema had been an inspiration for some of the filmmakers even as late as Gladiator. Indeed many of his paintings are amazingly in the CinemaScope ratio!

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
A Pyrrhic Dance, 1869.
© Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

There are photographs, artefacts and drawings and paintings from his two houses, one close to the Regent’s Canal and the other in Grove End Road whose exterior remains largely unchanged.  There is also a selection of the panels painted by Alma-Tadema’s artist friends including Lord Leighton which hung in Alma-Tadema’s house and which are reunited for this exhibition. The Studio will also house the portrait of Leopold Lowenstam a friend of Alma-Tadema which was rediscovered on the Antiques Roadshow in 2016 and is on public display for the first time.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Coign of Vantage, 1895.
© Ann and Gordon Getty

The exhibition is a wonderful journey through Alma-Tadema’s work displayed in a beautiful and atmospheric setting.

 

 

http://www.leightonhouse.co.uk