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

MMP

 

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: Fabergé Rediscovered

Fabergé Rediscovered

Wilfried Zeisler

ISBN: 978-1-911282-16-7

D Giles Ltd

In association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

£35.00

9781911282167_FC

Catherine the Great Egg. Firm of Fabergé, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. © Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens / Photograph by Alex Braun

 

This new book focuses on the well-known collection of Fabergé at Hillwood and relates how new research and discovery of pieces thought to have been lost impact on items among the ninety or so pieces collected by Mrs Post.

We learn more about Fabergé’s firm in the 19th and early 20th centuries and its place in the world of goldsmithing and jewellery creation at that time.  It is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated study that will appeal to collectors and lovers of social history alike.

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Fig 143 (page 162) Marjorie Merriweather Post showing her Fabergé table clock to guests at Hillwood, Washington D.C., 1960s © Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens Archives

The chapter on Mrs Post as a collector of Fabergé is revealing and one understands what type of works appealed to her aesthetically and the reasons why some offers were turned down. She certainly had a discerning eye!

 

gilesltd.com

Gainsborough and the Theatre, The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2, until 20th January 2019

Nathaniel Dance (1735 – 1811), ‘True but every goose can…’, c.1781, pencil, black chalk and coloured washes on laid paper©The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

There is much to enjoy in this exhibition that links the world of 18th century theatre in Bath and London through portraits by Gainsborough, works on paper and contemporary theatrical ephemera. The portraits – hung correctly at chest height  – are “real” people rather than elegant society portraits as is often the case with Gainsborough’s depictions of musical and literary friends.

Mrs Siddons, Thomas Gainsborough, 1785 © The National Gallery, London

Mrs Siddons, Thomas Gainsborough, 1785 © The National Gallery, London

Among them you will discover David Garrick, Thomas Linley, Auguste Vestris and Sarah Siddons. Near to the latter’s ravishing portrait are some contemporary small sketches of the work which are interesting since as a print was never made of the portrait those making the drawings had to have seen the original work. Sarah Siddons is buried in the churchyard (open space) near Paddington Green Church just near the Marylebone Flyover in London.

I was especially delighted to meet up with Richard Tickell once more as I had seen his beautiful portrait on visits to Phoebe, Lady Hillingdon many years ago. It is an image that has remained in my memory ever since. Tickell was born in Bath and married Mary, Thomas Linley’s daughter and so were they a part of this group of friends which also included Sheridan.

Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Linley the elder, c. 1770, oil on canvas. By Permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Linley the elder, c. 1770, oil on canvas, 76.5 x 63.5, DPG140. By Permission of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

The singer Petula Clark in her 1998 poem ‘The Theatre’ says in the last verse:

“So here we are in this hallowed place, sharing a special time and space.
I hadn’t realized before, but maybe that’s what the theatre is for,
to bring us together, to make us see that the magic is not just some fantasy
tho’ we all need some fantasy.
No, the magic you see is in you, in me.
It’s a funny thing, the theatre. “

Well to my mind this exhibition does just that with the 18th century theatrical world of Gainsborough’s Bath and London.

 

www.holburne.org

A Love Affair with France: The Elizabeth Stafford Collection, Christie’s New York 1st November 2018

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Mimi Stafford in the Dining Room of her New York apartment. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

I have known of this remarkable collection for nearly two decades and have caught fleeting glimpses of it from time to time in exhibition catalogues and elsewhere, I just wish I could have had the opportunity to meet Mrs Stafford. However, now we have the chance to encounter her and her discerning eye in this sale and some of the more important pictures will appear in specialist sales either just before the 1st November or later in that month.

Claude Lorrain

CLAUDE GELLÉE, CALLED LORRAIN (CHAMPAGNE 1600-1682 ROME landscape with Apollo guarding the herds of Admetus and Mercury stealing them oil on canvas 20 x 27.1/8 in. (50.8 x 68.8 cm.) $700,000 – $1,000,000 Old Masters, October 30 2018 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

Elizabeth (Mimi) and her husband Frederick collected across a wide spectrum as the 1966-67 exhibition of their collection – “Odyssey of an art collector: unity in diversity -5,000 years of art” – at the Isaac Delgado Museum in New Orleans showed. Indeed in May this year Christie’s sold Brancusi’s La Jeune fille sophistiquée (Nancy Cunard) for US$ 71 million. It had been bought by them from the artist in 1955.

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Mimi Stafford’s Paris apartment. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

Mimi’s abiding passion was the arts of 18th century France and it was this that formed the background to her daily life, first of all in a Maison Jansen designed apartment in Paris’s Avenue Foch and then later in a New York apartment that had been created for Mr and Mrs Robert R Young by Maison Jansen’s legendary Stéphane Boudin. Both apartments were the perfect backdrop for the paintings, porcelain, furniture and drawings she acquired with an unfailing eye. As her daughter E. Alexandra Stafford says in an interview with Christie’s that “the first questions new friends asked when they entered the apartment was how could she live in such a museum? As they hesitated before sitting down on the silk brocade-covered 18th-century gilded chaise à la Reine, she would answer: ‘No problem!’”

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Mimi Stafford’s Paris apartment. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

That, of course, is how it should be as such things were made to be used and I am sure that Mimi Stafford would be excited and delighted that things she loved and cherished will be going on to new owners and enriching their lives.

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The niche in the Stéphane Boudin-designed New York apartment’s salon, or living room, displayed a selection of the Sèvres bleu céleste that forms the core of the porcelain collection — including an oval bottle cooler from the first service made for Louis XV. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

Étienne Aubry

ÉTIENNE AUBRY (VERSAILLES 1745-1781 PARIS) ‘La Turque’, presumed portrait of Mademoiselle Duthé Oil on canvas 25 3/8 x 32 in. (64.3 x 81.3 cm.) $300,000 – 500,000 Old Masters, October 30 2018 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

LOT 1229

Lot 1229 A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD CARNET DE BAL MARKED PARIS, 1773, WITH CHARGE MARK OF JULIEN ALATERRE, 1768-1775, AND DECHARGE MARK OF JEAN-BAPTISTE FOUACHE, 1775-1781 Rectangular with beaded borders, decorated with cornfower blue stripes, one side mounted with a miniature of a lady in white gown with gold embroidery, the other side with a locket of woven hair under a gold script monogram, the hinged cover mounted with gold words SOUVENIR D’AMITIE, interior ftted with gold pencil case 3 æ in. (95 mm.) high $4,000–6,000 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

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Mimi Stafford’s Paris apartment © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

LOT 1212

1212 JEAN-AUGUSTE-DOMINIQUE INGRES (MONTAUBAN 1780-1867 PARIS) Portrait of Mrs. Jean-Pierre Granger, née Marie-Jeanne-Catherine Delaigle signed and dated in graphite ‘Ingres/ à Rome 1811’ (lower right) graphite 10 x 7æ in. (25.4 x 19 cm.) $200,000–300,000 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

LOT 1963

Lot 1063 A PAIR OF FRENCH ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE PORCELAIN TWO-LIGHT CANDELABRA THE PORCELAIN QIANLONG, THE MOUNTS PROBABLY BY ESCALIER DE CRYSTAL, 19TH CENTURY Each with a blue-glazed Chinese porcelain parrot on a rock work base fanked by coral-form ormolu branches. 9æ in. ( 25 cm.) high (2) $7,000–10,000 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

Pissarro - Neige, soleil couchant, Eragny

CAMILLE PISSARRO (1830-1903) Neige, soleil couchant, Eragny signed and dated ‘C. Pissarro 94’ (lower left) oil on canvas 24 x 32 1/2 in. Painted in 1894 $2,000,000-3,000,000 Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, November 2018 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

Stafford Paris Apartment

Mimi Stafford’s Paris apartment © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

LOT 1041

Lot 1041 JEAN-BAPTISTE CHARPENTIER (PARIS 1728-1806) Portrait of a man, traditionally said to be M. Larchey, son-in-law of the painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze, bust-length oil on panel, oval 7æ x 6Ω in. (19.7 x 16.5 cm.) $8,000–12,000 © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

Boudin Panel from New York apartment c1959

A panel from a set of boiserie installed by Stephane Boudin, circa 1959, 900 Fifth Avenue, New York City. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

 

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Chippendale at Wilton

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South East facade of Wilton House. Copyright (c) Wilton House

Wilton House, near Salisbury, is an absolute delight combining architecture, fine interiors, paintings, sculpture and furniture with elegant gardens and the earliest Palladian Bridge in England. It has been the home of the Herbert family (Earls of Pembroke) since 1544.  It is famous for its suite of State Rooms which were designed by Inigo Jones and Isaac de Caux in the 17th century – many of you will recognise the Double Cube Room which has been used as a location for many films and television programmes but nothing quite prepares you for the wow factor of entering it for the first time.

In celebration of the Chippendale tercentenary the Earl and Countess have commissioned a small booklet that highlights Chippendale pieces within the house, including those which can be firmly attributed to his workshop. You will see many of these as you go around the house.

Chippendale at Wilton

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The 10th Earl commissioned the architect Sir William Chambers to rebuild his London home, Pembroke House and also to provide designs for rooms. It is known from Chippendale’s Director that he provided furniture for these rooms.

Sadly the family papers no longer have any itemized accounts from Chippendale but a receipt for fifteen hundred pound eleven shillings certainly indicate the furniture maker had had a major commission. Other bills show that the firm was still patronised after Chippendale’s death when it was being run by his son Thomas Chippendale the Younger.

Among the items that are definitely ascribed to Chippendale’s workshop are the pair of bookcases in the Large Smoking Room which are en suite with the superb ‘Violin’ bookcase which can be seen in the view of the room. Elsewhere chairs, sofas, hall lanterns, tables, picture frames and pelmet boards remind us of Chippendale’s great design talent.

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The Large Smoking Room at Wilton House. Copyright (c) Will Pryce.

All in all I think the best word to sum up Wilton House is sublime!

 

http://www.wiltonhouse.co.uk/

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

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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