BOOK REVIEW: Longford Castle

Longford Castle: The Treasures & The Collectors

Amelia Smith

 ISBN: 9781910787687

Publisher: Unicorn


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!

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


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

 Catherine Pégard, Christophe Fouin

 Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 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.

Recalling the 18th Century!

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

J. Paul Getty’s statement “For technical skill & perfection and for delicacy & taste Sèvres is unsurpassed” is in my view definitely true whether talking about 18th and 19th century pieces or something contemporary such as the items shown by the Sèvres Factory at the recent PAD show in Berkeley Square.

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

I think that Getty would have been intrigued by the fact that as well as making striking modern designs they were also able, using the traditional methods, to recreate major pieces from the 18th century such as the boat-shaped Vaisseau à Mât.  Only twelve of these were created in the 18th century, of which ten are known to survive today, including one in the Royal Collection. It is therefore a remarkable achievement that the factory has produced this soft paste ‘copy’ of the Buckingham Palace example which was originally owned by the great supporter and patron of the Sèvres Factory Madame de Pompadour.

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique


© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

The images reflect both the production and resultant vase – a veritable tour de force!

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

It can be seen at Thomas Goode in South Audley Street check for details 020 7499 2823; INFO@THOMASGOODE.COM)


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.

BOOK REVIEW: Gilded Interiors: Parisian Luxury and the Antique

Gilded Interiors: Parisian Luxury and the Antique

Helen Jacobsen

Imprint: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd
Publisher: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd


ISBN: 9781781300589


This book is far more than just a souvenir of the recent seriously good exhibition at The Wallace Collection which focused on their gilt-bronze as it includes even more of the wonderful bronzes d’ameublement that are an important part of The Wallace’s justly famous collections of French eighteenth-century art.

Dr Jacobsen introduces us to the late 18th century Parisian interiors and the taste for the Antique setting the stage for these superbly designed and executed objects.  You will find clocks, firedogs, candelabra, mounted porcelain and even tables – which are then individually discussed in detail. It is beautifully illustrated with a combination of new photography and copies of original designs and proposals for both objects and interiors.  The book is a great celebration of 18th century connoisseurship and taste revealing the world of figures such as Marie Antoinette and the comte d’Artois and their circles. It is an absolute must for all interested in the interiors and the ‘douceur de vivre’ of the Ancien Régime.

OUT & ABOUT – Parafin

Fernando Casasempere
Reminiscence, 2017
135 x 135 x 115 cm
© Nick Turpin

The Chilean sculptor Fernando Casasempere’s new work Reminiscence (2017) has been included in this year’s Sculpture in the City. It is located in a walkway off Leadenhall near to the Gherkin. The artist uses pottery as his chosen material as it symbolises both the earth and nature. The wall sculpture also reflects culture as it evokes Pre-Columbian forms and architecture. It will be on view until May 2018. › … › Visit the City › Art and Architecture

‘Op Art’

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney, until 1st October 2017

Blaze IV,
Bridget Riley,
© UK Government Art Collection © Bridget Riley 2017. All rights reserved

Regular readers of my blog may recall that in October 2015 I posted about a small but enjoyable exhibition Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at the Courtauld Gallery and now in this large-scale show at Compton Verney this debt is re-visited and much expanded upon.

La Luzerne, Saint-Denis,
Georges Seurat,
© Scottish National Gallery

It reminds us that since the 19th century some artists have been fascinated by the way in which the eye sees optical illusions as it responds to visual stimuli and this point is well proven in this exhibition. Ninety diverse ‘Op Art’ works are featured in the show, including pieces by Victor Vasarely, Julio Le Parc, Jeffrey Steele, Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Peter Sedgley, Liliane Lijn and, of course, Bridget Riley and Seurat.

Our Spectral Vision,2016,
Liz West.
Photo (c) Hannah Devereux

Professor Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney sums it up: “Optical Art explores a range of effects and emotions, using complex geometry and advanced mathematics to communicate with the viewer in a way that is simultaneously mentally challenging and visually appealing. This wonderful exhibition demonstrates just how exhilarating, electrifying and (quite literally) eye-opening Op Art can be.”

The show is curated by Penelope Sexton and Dr Frances Follin and appropriately enough supported by Farrow & Ball.

Pulse 05,
White Earthenware, Underglaze colour, matt glaze, 2012.
Sara Moorhouse,
(c) Sara Moorhouse