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.



Yuriko Jackall et al
£50.00 GBP
ISBN: 9781848222342


Regular readers will have ascertained that I am drawn to the arts of 18th century France in all their forms and so it will come as no surprise that I am bringing this book to your attention.  American collectors such as the Wrightsmans, Forsyth Wickes and others have long held my interest and now here is the chance to celebrate Americans collecting French 18th century paintings through this well-illustrated volume.


Through a series of essays by noted authors and scholars such as Pierre Rosenberg, Robert Schindler, Joseph J. Rishel and Susan Earle various aspects of American collecting and taste are discussed. I am particularly grateful for the piece on Eugenia Woodward Hitt of whom I had known little. This is a book which I will return to again and again with relish.

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.

The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer

The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (1929-2016), Christie’s King Street, London SW1, Old Masters Evening Sale (6th July 2017) and The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (13thJuly 2017)

From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

I count myself fortunate in having encountered Raine, Countess Spencer several times over the years and she was always the epitome of elegance and charm. That sense of style is very much reflected in her home, the contents of which are to be found in these sales. While the paintings, furniture and objects contributed to the glamour of the rooms they were not mere ‘background’ objects but were bought because Lady Spencer liked them and wanted to live with and use them.

From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

She was very much drawn to the arts of 18th century France and numbered works by Boucher, Fragonard and Greuze among the pictures she collected. On some purchases she was advised by Sir Francis Watson (former Director of the Wallace Collection) who also advised the Wrightsmans with their legendary collection. Regency furniture was another love and it blended well with her French pieces. Her last dining room recalled the Art Deco period and there was also a collection of French Art Nouveau lithographs.

From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

From her birth – she was the daughter of the novelist Dame Barbara Cartland – onwards Lady Spencer was the focus of media interest whether through her marriages or her work as a Westminster City Councillor and in the conservationist campaigns she supported. In later years she was a director of Harrods and had a hands-on approach. The thread of perfectionism that runs through her life is also reflected in her clothes, jewellery and other accessories in the 13th July auction. This is very much an opportunity to appreciate, enjoy or even acquire a piece of the elegant perfection that was Lady Spencer’s way of life.

Claude Joseph Vernet (Avignon 1714-1789 Paris)
A Mediterranean sea-port with fishermen unloading cargo
oil on canvas
Estimate: £300,000-500,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017


Estimate: £60,000-90,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017


From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017












Comprising a necklace, designed as a graduated series of ruby cabochon and brilliant-cut diamond clusters
Estimate: £100,000-150,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017


One of several ‘Lady Dior’ handbags, this one of black leather with studwork decoration.
Estimate: £1,000-1,500
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017












Masterpiece London 2017 – Introduction

Masterpiece London 2017, South Grounds, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3, 29th June – 5th July 2017

Iván Navarro
Impenetrable Room
Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery

Since its inception this fair has grown into one of the most must-visit events of the art and antiques year. Some thirty-seven thousand visitors last year! It attracts museum directors and private collectors from all over the world to see the artworks shown by a hundred and fifty international dealers. The artworks range from antiquity to the present time. The Royal Bank of Canada is once again the principal sponsor

This year the new MASTERPIECE PRESENTS will reveal a large-scale dedicated exhibition space at the entrance which has been transformed by a special artwork – Impenetrable Room, 2017. Created by the Chilean artist Iván Navarro it has been commissioned by the New York-based Paul Kasmin Gallery who are new exhibitors.

Over the coming days I look forward to sharing blogs on some of the leading dealers taking part.

A great celebration of Art!

MAYFAIR ART WEEKEND, Mayfair & St James’s, London (various locations), 30th June – 2nd July 2017


I am grateful to John Kirkwood for attending the press conference and writing about this:


Max Mara
Ludovica Gioscia – Infinite Present, 2017. C-print on archival fuji matt paper
Courtesy Ludovica Gioscia

Now in its fourth year this celebration of Art in Mayfair features over 60 galleries, auction houses, fashion houses and restaurants who will all in their own way have something to offer the visitor.

Mayor Gallery
Tadaaki Kuwayama – Untitled (Yellow)1969, acrylic on canvas, 90x90cm.
Courtesy of Mayor Gallery


Moretti Gallery
Guido Reni, Bologna – Two Bacchantes 1639-1640.
Courtesy of Moretti Gallery













The Royal Academy of Arts will be the hub of this celebration and its courtyard will offer a place in which to relax and recover your strength to carry on through the many events planned.

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Gilbert & George
Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Photo Nikolai Saoulski

There will be temporary, site-specific artworks from up and coming artists and workshops led by groups such as the Bedroom Artists’ Collective as well as informal conversations with artists, gallerists and local Mayfair figures.

Burlington Arcade
Mathilde Nivet – Birds

The Burlington Arcade has commissioned an installation by Mathilde Nivet of 300 paper birds in-flight motion in two positions – wings fully stretched or slightly bent.  Not unsurprisingly the installation is called Birds!

Nelson Makamo – Cool Moments 2017
Courtesy of the Gallery of African Art (GAFRA)


Hignell Gallery
Ben Russell – Cactus House, Alabaster 2017
Photograph courtesy of Tanya Dolver









On Sunday there will be a workshop for kids to create their own Gallery.

Bowman Sculpture
Le Baiser (The Kiss), 2nd Reduction – Auguste Rodin.
Courtesy of Bowman Sculpture


David Zwirner
Lisa Yuskavage – Stoned 2016
Courtesy David Zwirner New York-London


Victoria Miro
Milton Avery – Young Couple (Husband and Wife), 1963. Oil on canvas. 50 x 60 in
© Milton AveryTrust












White Cube
Wayne Thiebaud – Green Dress 1966 – 2017
© Wayne Thiebaud DACS, London, VAGA, New York 2017


Simon Dickinson Gallery
Domenico Conti – Portrait of Antonio Canova in his studio completing the La Touche ‘Amorino, 1792.
Courtesy of Simon Dickenson Gallery


Partners & Mucciaccia_
Cristiano Pintaldi – Untitled,2016, acrylic on canvas, 101x105cm.
Courtesy of Partners & Mucciaccia


Nathalie du Pasquier
© 2017 Nathalie du Pasquier. Photo by Bruno Lopes










Halcyon Gallery
Dale Chihuly – Maize Persian Set with Obsidian Lip Wraps
Courtesy of Halcyon Gallery


Marlborough Fine Art
Victor Pasmore – The Cloud in the West,1987
Courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art


Stoppenbach & Delestre
Andre Derain – Collioure
Courtesy of Stoppenbach & Delestre


Mount Street Gardens
Benjamin McMahon (2014)








Treasure Houses: The homes of the Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry



The House, its People and its Collections

By Richard, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry

Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

Published by Caique Publishing Ltd
ISBN 978 0 9565948 5 3 
£17.95 / $21.80 / 81.41 TL 





The House, its People and its Paintings

Introduced by Richard, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry

Edited by John Montagu Douglas Scott

Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

Published by Caique Publishing Ltd
ISBN 978 0 9565948 2 2
£12.95 / $15.73 / 58.73 TL



The Castle, its People and its Paintings

By Richard, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry

Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

Published by Caique Publishing Ltd
ISBN 978 0 9565948 4 6
£10.95 / $13.30 / 49.66 TL
Paperback, 96 pages, Second Edition

These three guidebooks are much more than just that as they provide a fascinating introduction to the houses and collections of the incumbent Dukes.  You will encounter Rembrandt, Canaletto, Van Dyck and El Greco, as well as family portraits by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Ramsay, There are miniatures, French and English furniture, Sèvres made for Louis XV, items commemorating Sir Walter Scott and the Duke of Monmouth, silver and a huge variety of textiles and rugs. It is an extensive and engaging collection in three very different houses, two, Bowhill and Drumlanrig, are in Scotland and then Boughton in England which the late John Cornforth once described as ‘the English Versailles’.

These books are of serious appeal to anyone interested in the fine and decorative arts, architecture and historic interiors.