BOOK REVIEW: Marjorie Merriweather Post The Life Behind the Luxury

Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Life Behind the Luxury

Estella M. Chung

UK£24.95 / US$29.95 Hardback
ISBN 978-1-911282-45-7 200
D Giles Limited in association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington, DC, 2019

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Complementing Chung’s first book Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post this richly illustrated volume takes a wider look at Mrs Post’s life from her birth in 1887 to her death in 1973. Hers was, thanks to her great wealth, a life that attracted press interest in her four marriages, social life, clothes and homes. Her father’s suicide was also another source of interest but her resulting ownership of the Postum Cereal Company was the start of her business interests and she amply proved that she was a capable and knowledgeable business woman. She was deeply philanthropic in both war and peacetime and Estella Cheung reveals this eloquently.

We join Mrs Post aboard her plane and yacht as she travels to either her Adirondack camp or cruises the Mediterranean and elsewhere but what particularly intrigued me was the 1904 journey taken with her father around southern England in a specially hired horse-drawn Stage Coach during which they visited Salisbury a place I know well.

Although she enjoyed a life of luxury and wealth it becomes clear that whatever her financial status Mrs Post would have been successful at anything she turned her hand to. That drive combined with her care and concern for others makes her a remarkable and memorable woman.

 

gilesltd.com

 

BOOK REVIEW: Duveen Brothers And the Market for Decorative Arts, 1880–1940

Duveen Brothers And the Market for Decorative Arts, 1880–1940

Charlotte Vignon

UK£44.95 / US$59.95
Hardback ISBN 978-1-911282-34-1
D Giles Limited in association with The Frick Collection, New York, 2019

 

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The name of Duveen is well-known in the annals of the American trait of collecting European art treasures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their story has previously been related in various volumes written by others, some of whom were family members or involved with the company. Understandably paintings predominated in these previous works but wonderfully at last the decorative arts get their well-deserved centre stage spot.

 

French 18th century furniture, tapestries, Sèvres and Chinese porcelains and medieval and Renaissance works of art were among the items sold to the eager, wealthy American collectors. Relating the story from the firm’s point of view Charlotte Vignon looks at the pricing of the objects and the Duveen’s run-ins with the US tax authorities in which Duveen succeeded and was able to continue to enhance the lives and homes of collectors such as J P Morgan, John D Rockefeller Jnr, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Anna Thomson Dodge and Henry Clay Frick. Thanks to the firm’s records and archives held at the Getty Research Institute, one gets a good understanding of how Duveen functioned in New York, London and Paris and obtained such beautiful treasures at a time when the owners of English and European family collections were selling parts of their heritage for financial reasons. The importance of the house of Duveen was reflected in 1937 when they loaned tapestries to decorate an annexe at Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of King George VI.

 

It’s a remarkable story of connoisseurship and reveals to present day visitors to American museums and collections how these remarkable objects came to be there. Perfect!

 

 

 

gilesltd.com

BOOK REVIEW: Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779: A Celebration of British Craftsmanship and Design

Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779: A Celebration of British Craftsmanship and Design 

Catalogue of the Tercentenary Exhibition

by Adam Bowett (Author), James Lomax (Author)

ISBN-10: 1999922913

ISBN-13: 978-1999922917

£65.00

The Chippendale Society

Layout 1

This highly readable catalogue is a very welcome addition to the telling of the story of Thomas Chippendale and his enduring legacy. Through it one learns of his life and career, the various styles he used, his customers and his relationship with them and most importantly of all we see examples of the furniture he produced – chairs, chests, tables, stools, beds, picture frames, cornices and lanterns, even coffin furniture. Through the publishing of a pattern book – The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director – in 1754 which depicted ‘Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste’ he attracted the interest of possible commissions among the wealthy and indeed it was an immediate success and was re-published the following year. A third edition with extra plates showing neo-classical designs was published in 1762.

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Butler’s Tray, 1763 Dumfries House

The publication of these volumes meant that good examples of furniture could be made by other craftsmen closely following Chippendale’s designs and that is why it has become the norm for firm attributions to Chippendale’s workshop to be backed-up by some sort of documentary evidence such as bills.

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Cabinet, c1773 (one of a pair) which may well have been made to display the Sevres service visible inside. Probably Melbourne House, London

His designs are so enduringly popular that they are being copied or evoked right up to the present day such as, for example, the bookcase produced in c.2000 by Arthur Brett (Norwich) whose design is based on a Chippendale one at Wilton House – on which location a little more later.

 

 

thechippendalesociety.co.uk

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/

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

Versailles

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

 Catherine Pégard, Christophe Fouin

 Thames & Hudson
£50.00
ISBN: 9780500519868

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.

http://www.thamesandhudson.com

‘The Caged Bird’s Song’

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, Sunley Room, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2, until 28th August 2017

Chris Ofili
The Caged Bird’s Song, 2014–2017
Wool, cotton and viscose
Triptych, left and right panels each 280 x 184 cm; centre panel 280 x 372 cm
Installation view, Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, National Gallery, 26 April – 28
August 2017
© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London, The Clothworkers’ Company and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography: Gautier Deblonde

This is the first time that the Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili has worked in the medium of tapestry but I definitely think and hope that it will not be the last. Once again he looks at mythology for inspiration and combines it with the contemporary and the colour and the magic and tales of Trinidad. Alongside the tapestry woven in Edinburgh’s Dovecot Tapestry Studio, are the preparatory sketches for the piece.

Chris Ofili
The Caged Bird’s Song (She) 1, 2014
Watercolour and charcoal on paper
39.5 x 26.3 cm
15 1/2 x 10 3/8 in
© Chris Ofili
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London

The artist says of it: “The Caged Bird’s Song is a marriage of watercolour and weaving. I set out to challenge the weaving process, by doing something free-flowing in making a watercolour, encouraging the liquid pigment to form the image, a contrast to the weaving process. With their response, which is an interpretation rather than a reproduction, the weavers have paid a type of homage to the watercolour that I gave them as well as to the process of weaving.”

It is quite magical. After the exhibition it will go to The Clothworkers’ Company, who commissioned it, in the City of London and will be on permanent display there.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

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

 

BOUGHTON

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 

 

 

 

BOWHILL

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
 

 

DRUMLANRIG

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.

http://www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

http://www.boughtonhouse.co.uk

http://www.drumlanrigcastle.co.uk

http://www.caiquepublishing.com