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)

Next Sunday in Church Street NW8 – 24th September 2017

Antiques Anonymous – An Art, Antiques & Design Flea Market, Church Street, London NW8, 24th  September 2017, 11am – 5pm

In times of change in the world of Art & Antiques around the capital – Portobello Road, Spitalfields, Burlington Arcade and Grays – it is a positive delight to be able to tell you about this new venture in the Antique quarter of Church Street, NW8.

Pair of Stone Carved Lamps by Albert Tormos. Stephen Sprake.

Coinciding with the last day of the London Design Festival this inaugural Flea Market will feature more than fifty dealers from NW8 and around and should prove to be a fruitful place to shop wherever your interests lie.

1950s wheat sheaf gilt table. Samaya Ling Vintage.

It highlights the long role of Alfies Antique Market in forming a hub which has attracted many other dealers to open up in what is a ‘must’ destination of those attracted by things vintage and contemporary. One can quite understand why eighty dealers in the area have come together to form Antiques Anonymous.


As well as being sponsored by Alfies, Westminster City Council are also supporting it. Their spokesperson said: : “We are pleased to be working with Antiques Anonymous, to bring this Antiques, Art and Design Flea market to Church Street NW8. There has already been a great deal of interest in this first event, and I’d encourage people to visit this diverse and vibrant part of London to give it their support so that it can become a regular event on the London event calendar.”

Fornasetti 1950s brass and red lacquered ice bucket – Cupio Gallery at Alfies

PS: Street Food will be available too – so no excuse not to take your time and spend lots on things for your home!

#AntiquesAnonymousLondon #JoinAA #ChurchStreetFlea

Alfies Antique Market

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


I am grateful to John Kirkwood for writing about this sale


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: Spectacular Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection

Spectacular Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection

Liana Paredes

Published by GILES in association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
PRICE — UK£29.95 / US$39.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-92-2

Marjorie Merriweather Post is well-known as a collector of Russian and French Decorative Arts but what is less appreciated is the collection of jewellery she amassed over the decades. This ranges from historic pieces such as the diamond earrings believed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette, a diadem and necklace owned by Napoleon’s wife the Empress Marie Louise and an emerald which belonged to the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (a carpet thought to have been owned by him adorns the dining room floor at Hillwood). Alongside such gems add pieces by Cartier – she was their best American customer –, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb and Fulco di Verdura and you get a marvellous insight to jewellery design and fashion in the first six decades of the 20th century. Flowers, birds, figures, domestic objects all provided inspiration for brooches and bracelets – Mrs Post had a diamond-set brooch in the form of her legendary yacht ‘The Sea Cloud’ and another in the form of her turboprop airplane ‘The Merriweather’.

Turquoise, diamond and platinum necklace by Harry Winston 1961

This is a detailed and highly enjoyable look into this outstanding collection of jewellery and is well-illustrated throughout, including designs and pictures of Mrs Post wearing various pieces. It combines jewellery design and social history in a way that emphasises that Mrs Post’s life was indeed spectacular!

An accompanying exhibition is on at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens until 7th January 2018