‘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

 

This January two fairs, one venue:

The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th-29th January 2017  

Pair of Louis XV Painted Bergere Armchairs - Adam Calvert Bentley

Pair of Louis XV Painted Bergere Armchairs – Adam Calvert Bentley

While I am sure that many of you will already know about this exciting regular event I always feel that it is worth reminding you that it is on.  It is a magnet for homemakers, antique collectors and, of course, interior decorators. It is the sort of fair where you find the absolutely perfect thing – which you didn’t realise you wanted until you see it.  Happy purchasing!

 

Wax Seal Tea Caddy - Adam Calvert Bentley

Wax Seal Tea Caddy – Adam Calvert Bentley

http://www.decorativefair.com

 

London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th -29th January 2017 

19th Century Kurdish rug from Sauj Bolaq, Kurdistan Brian Macdonald

19th Century Kurdish rug from Sauj Bolaq, Kurdistan
Brian Macdonald

In this welcome move the LARTA Fair moves to the mezzanine floor at Battersea Evolution and makes the perfect combination with the Decorative Fair downstairs.  Visitors will find a good range of collectable decorative rugs, carpets, tapestries, suzanis and embroideries and other textiles. Now that it will be a bigger event than usual there will also be some contemporary designs and a variety of tribal, Islamic and Asian artefacts, including jewellery as well. Don’t forget that the best pieces can be seen online in a ‘virtual fair’ which becomes live when the fair opens.

An early 1800’s Epigonation (in Greek meaning “over the knee”) vestment, worked in silver gilt on a red velvet ground. Marilyn Garrow

An early 1800’s Epigonation (in Greek meaning “over the knee”) vestment, worked in silver gilt on a red velvet ground.
Marilyn Garrow

http://www.larta.net

 

BOOK REVIEW: Going Once

Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste and Collecting at Christie’s

 going-once-jacket

ISBN: 978 0 7148 7202 5

Phaidon

£39.95

 

What better way to celebrate two hundred and fifty years as a leading art business than through the two hundred and fifty objects selected for this book.  It is a wonderful survey of these remarkable sales and the high prices achieved whether for a 3,000-year-old Assyrian frieze or Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Paintings, furniture, gold and silver, sculpture, wine, even a London Routemaster bus are included.  One feature I like is that as well as giving the original sale price they also give today’s equivalent value.

 

This is a great book to dip into time and time again as there is much to learn and enjoy from it.

phaidon.com

Three Cs – ‘Capability’, Coventry, Croome

‘Expect the Unexpected’, Croome Court, near High Green, Worcester, Worcestershire, WR8 9DW

The south front of the house seen across the lake at Croome Court Credit: Andrew Butler

The south front of the house seen across the lake at Croome Court
Credit: Andrew Butler

What a lovely co-incidence that in this ‘Capability’ Brown’s 300th Anniversary year I am fortunate enough to be able to write about Croome Court which as well as being Brown’s first major commission was a complete project due to the fact that he was asked in 1751 by the 6th Earl of Coventry to create a house and estate that would be the dernier cri.  The photographs show the resulting building and landscape. Although the outside design and some of the interiors are Brown’s work the Earl later commissioned Robert Adam to design some of the rooms – the Long Gallery, the Library and Tapestry Room.

The Original tapestry Room Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Original tapestry Room
Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Tapestry Room, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, featured a specially commissioned set of Gobelins tapestries and seat covers. Coventry was one of the great 18th century English collectors of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelains and he asked Adam to design a tripod stand to hold a Sevres jug and basin whose colours reflected those of the room.

Artist Will Datson with ‘Chair Play’ and two of the original chairs Credit: Jack Nelson

Artist Will Datson with ‘Chair Play’ and two of the original chairs
Credit: Jack Nelson

In1948 the family disposed of the house and many of its contents were sold by auction and thus nowadays only about twenty percent of the collection remains.  There are plans to bring these pieces back to the house later this year. The National Trust bought the park in 1996 and started on its restoration and in 2007 the house was purchased by the Croome Heritage Trust and they have granted a long lease to the National Trust.

‘Chair Play’ in the Entrance Hall Credit: Jack Nelson

‘Chair Play’ in the Entrance Hall
Credit: Jack Nelson

Contemporary art installations have been placed in the house to evoke the idea of ‘expect the unexpected’ but are inspired by and use pieces that were originally in the house. Upon entering the building one sees the artist Will Datson’s original take on the idea of hall chairs through his 2.5 metre high installation. He says of it “It was my task to display the original hall chairs in a new way. We all see chairs every day, and usually ignore them, so I’ve attempted to create something out-of-the-ordinary, dramatic and playful, that’s hard to ignore.”

The ‘Golden Box’ in the Dining Room at Croome Credit: Jack Nelson

The ‘Golden Box’ in the Dining Room at Croome
Credit: Jack Nelson

In the dining room, whose plasterwork was painted by members of the Hare Krishna Movement who used the house as their headquarters (1979-84), visitors are confronted by a 2 metre high golden box which contains beautiful examples of Meissen, Worcester and Sèvres porcelains from Croome’s remarkable collection which have been installed by the noted artist Bouke de Vries to form a dazzling ceramics treasury. He simply sums it up saying “It’s been extraordinary to work on this project with the amazing team at Croome”.

Artist Bouke de Vries making the final finishing touches to the ‘Golden Box’ Credit: Jack Nelson

Artist Bouke de Vries making the final finishing touches to the ‘Golden Box’
Credit: Jack Nelson

In the Lord’s Dressing Room you will discover two 18th century Adam-style commodes made for the house by the celebrated firm of Mayhew & Ince who also supplied the seat furniture for the Tapestry Room.  It is worth remembering that the 6th Earl also bought French furniture for Croome in Paris from A la Couronne d’Or, the shop of the renowned marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier. There is also a portrait of Barbara St John, the Earl’s second wife.

Beautifully crafted 18th century Adamesque commodes with the portrait of Barbara St John in the background. Credit: Jack Nelson

Beautifully crafted 18th century Adamesque commodes with the portrait of Barbara St John in the background.
Credit: Jack Nelson

While Croome’s Tapestry Room is now bare of its glorious contents it inspired the idea of bringing Grayson Perry’s tapestries ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ to Croome (until 11th September 2016). The six large-scale works, inspired by Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, tell the story of Tim Rakewell and many of the people and things depicted reflect events that Perry encountered in his life. A 1994 earthenware vase by Perry, entitled Spirit Jar is also on show.

Visitors looking at the Grayson Perry Tapestries Credit: Peter Young

Visitors looking at the Grayson Perry Tapestries
Credit: Peter Young

‘Capability’ Brown and the Earl had become friends and thirty years after he started his transformation at Croome he still visited there and indeed Croome was described as his ‘first and most favourite child’.

Visitors looking at the Grayson Perry Tapestries Credit: Peter Young

Visitors looking at the Grayson Perry Tapestries
Credit: Peter Young

In 1783 Brown died while on his way home from dining with the Earl at his London residence. The Earl had a monument erected in Brown’s memory and it bears the inscription:

To the Memory of Lancelot Brown

Who by the powers of his inimitable and creative genius formed this garden scene out of a morass.

The Coade stone monument to Lancalot "Capability" Brown by the lake at Croome Court.The memorial was erected in 1797 following the death of Brown in 1783.

The Coade stone monument to Lancalot “Capability” Brown by the lake at Croome Court.The memorial was erected in 1797 following the death of Brown in 1783.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome

Inside the Golden Box is an amazing collection of porcelain Credit: Jack Nelson

Inside the Golden Box is an amazing collection of porcelain
Credit: Jack Nelson

For those of you interested in learning more about the 6th Earls collection Sèvres I recommend:

THE SIXTH EARL OF COVENTRY’S PURCHASES OF SÈVRES PORCELAIN IN PARIS AND LONDON IN THE 1760s by Rosalind Savill in the French Porcelain Society Journal, Volume V 2015

A further display of porcelain in the Dining Room Credit: Peter Young

A further display of porcelain in the Dining Room
Credit: Peter Young

 

Grayson Perry (b. 1960), The Upper Class at Bay, 2012 Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London and British Council. Gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery with the support of Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation with additional support from Alix Partners.

Grayson Perry (b. 1960), The Upper Class at Bay, 2012 Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London and British Council. Gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery with the support of Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation with additional support from Alix Partners.

 

Croome Court Credit: David Norton

Croome Court
Credit: David Norton

Stepping Back in Time

Step this Way: the Red Drawing Room opened up, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire,  until 23rd October 2016

View from the Oval Hall, Waddesdon, Photo John Bigelow Taylor ©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

View from the Oval Hall, Waddesdon,
Photo John Bigelow Taylor ©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

This year visitors to Waddesdon retrace the footsteps of the 19th century guests of Baron Ferdinand. Entering through the main door they cross the Vestibule and enter directly into the Red Drawing Room which is the central room on the south side of the house.  Here guests would congregate before going into dinner in the Dining Room on the left-hand side.

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor (C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Dereck Pelling (4)

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor
(C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Dereck Pelling (4)

The Red Drawing Room has been brought back very much as it was in Baron Ferdinand’s time, including the tapestry covered chairs – a necessity since as many as forty guests may have been invited – and a screen decorated with monkeys.

View of the Red Drawing Room from Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s Red Book, 1897; ©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (2)

View of the Red Drawing Room from Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s Red Book, 1897;
©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (2)

In order to facilitate this year’s “change” the 17th century Savonnerie carpet which is one of the one’s ordered by Louis XIV for the Grande Galerie of the Louvre has been removed and replaced with an eyemat conservation floor that is an exact copy of the original carpet and this allows visitors to get closer to the paintings and furniture.

Savonnerie, Carpet, 1683 Photo P J Gates © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Savonnerie, Carpet, 1683
Photo P J Gates © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Looking through the windows, which now have special blinds which filter out damaging UV radiation to protect light-sensitive materials and textiles but allow light into the room, one sees the Terrace which the Baron’s guests would have been able to access through the central doorway.

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor (C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Derek Pelling (3)

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor
(C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Derek Pelling (3)

Looking out across the terrace visitors will see the parterre which this year has specially been planted with an Apollo’s head motif which was inspired by the one on the Red Drawing Room’s carpet.  Closer inspection of this attractive design can be made after you have toured the house.

Waddesdon Layout 2016 - final Carpet bedding

Waddesdon Layout 2016 – final Carpet bedding

http://www.waddesdon.org.uk

BOOK REVIEW: A Home to Kings and Emperors

A Day at Château de Fontainebleau

Guillaume Picon

Photography by Eric Sander

HC w/luxury slipcase, 224 pp., 170 illus.
ISBN: 978-2-08-020254-3
£25

61V2bfbJC7L

This attractive book takes us into the remarkable Château de Fontainebleau which has been the home of thirty-four French rulers.  For many years it was a centre of hunting for French kings and it was the place where Napoleon I abdicated in 1814 before his exile to Elba.  The fine interiors include those created for François I, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, Josephine and Napoleon III. It provides a distinctive view of the various dynasties that have governed France and allows us to enjoy their story entwined with the history of this unique building.

editions.flammarion.com