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.


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.



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.

Matisse in the Studio

Matisse in the Studio, The Sackler Wing, Royal Academy of Arts,  Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1, until 12th November 2017


© John Kirkwood

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


It isn’t often that one can visit an exhibition of works by a master such as Matisse and also see the subjects of the work on view alongside them as well. This exhibition brings together 35 objects alongside 65 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and cut-outs and it is startling to see the very objects represented, as Tommy Cooper might have said ‘before your very eyes!’

© John Kirkwood

This is the first exhibition to show that such treasures as are on display were often both the inspiration and the subject matter for the work and we must be grateful for their survival. Some of the objects are represented as you will see them but others get an interpretation from Matisse which shows his imagination and skill in transforming them into works of art.  Altogether a fascinating visit to his studio.


© John Kirkwood

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.