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!

‘The sounds of Music’

Brian Graham – Towards Music, The Salisbury Museum, The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, until 12th May 2018


30 Fanfare SMALL 72dpi

Brian Graham Fanfare for the Common Man for Aaron Copland, 2014 Mixed media on board 26cm x 34cm

In this show of some forty works the Dorset-born artist takes us on a journey into history with his ideas of how music-making and dance may have started. These painted reliefs reflect his long-held interest in the worlds of archaeology, anthropology and science and this juxtaposition with their titles which are either taken from notable works or figures in music and dance fire the viewer’s imagination to picture the past. It’s a show where – as the song says – “the melody lingers on”!

1 La Mer small 72dpi

Brian Graham La Mer for Claude Debussy, 2014 Mixed media on board 34cm x 26cm

Recalling the 18th Century!

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

J. Paul Getty’s statement “For technical skill & perfection and for delicacy & taste Sèvres is unsurpassed” is in my view definitely true whether talking about 18th and 19th century pieces or something contemporary such as the items shown by the Sèvres Factory at the recent PAD show in Berkeley Square.

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

I think that Getty would have been intrigued by the fact that as well as making striking modern designs they were also able, using the traditional methods, to recreate major pieces from the 18th century such as the boat-shaped Vaisseau à Mât.  Only twelve of these were created in the 18th century, of which ten are known to survive today, including one in the Royal Collection. It is therefore a remarkable achievement that the factory has produced this soft paste ‘copy’ of the Buckingham Palace example which was originally owned by the great supporter and patron of the Sèvres Factory Madame de Pompadour.

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique


© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

The images reflect both the production and resultant vase – a veritable tour de force!

© Alix de Montaigu-Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique

It can be seen at Thomas Goode in South Audley Street check for details 020 7499 2823; INFO@THOMASGOODE.COM)

Nature Morte

NATURE MORTE, Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2, until 2nd April 2018

Jim Skull,
Untitled, 2009, papier maché, perles de verre 1930, 90 cm,
Photo C.Lebedinsky

Not, of course the most pleasant of subjects but one which certainly deserves our attention in an exhibition which attempts to show how 21st century artists have brought back to life, if that’s not too unfortunate a term, a genre previously synonymous with the 16th and 17th centuries.

Victoria Reynolds,
Globular Cluster, 2015, Oil on canvas(framed) 42.1 x 52.2 cm overall (16.5 x 20.5 in.)
Photographer Brian Forrest

This is one of the largest exhibitions presented at the Guildhall Art Gallery and features works by Mat Collishaw, Michael Craig-Martin, Gabriel Orozco and Marc Quinn amongst others.  This is its last stop on an acclaimed European tour and will be augmented in London with new works from London-based artists including Clare Twomey and Michael Raedecker.

Mathew Weir,
There and Not There, 2017, Oil on Canvas, mounted on board, 60 x 45 cm (unframed)
© Mathew Weir

One standout photograph by Mat Collishaw is Last Meal On Death Row, Texas (Juan Soria) which depicts the last meals ordered by prisoners on death row and each image is named after the prisoner who ordered the meal. It’s that sort of exhibition, folks!

Saara Ekström,
Clouded Yellow Bud, 2007, stop frame animation transferred on DVD, loop

Nature Morte is based on Michael Petry’s recent Thames and Hudson book of the same name and brings together historic still life paintings and modern works reflecting the language of these earlier pieces.

Alexander James,
‘The Great Leveller’, 2010, from ‘Vanitas’,Chromogenic print, mounted to polished aluminium plate, Face mounted with museum grade ar acrylic, 19 x 25 cm (2)

James White,
Raid, 2013, Oil and varnish on acrylic sheet in, Perspex box frame,
88.5 x 88.5 x 5.5 cm,
Courtesy the artist and Blain Southern


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

Feline remembrances!

The Art of Steven Campbell, Marlborough Fine Art, Albemarle Street, London W1, until 21st October 2017

Steven Campbell,
Alice in Ruins, 1992-93,
oil on canvas, 269.9 x 263.7 cm,
Copyright the Estate of Steven Campbell, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

The retrospective on this highly acclaimed Scottish artist who sadly died in 2007 amply proves why he is so highly regarded by his peers and critics alike.  I was particularly drawn to this picture.

The look on the cat’s face so reminded me of a cat I used to have.  It is the look I would get just before he would attempt to climb the bedroom curtains if he thought he was not getting the attention he deserved at 6.30am. Both curtains and cat survived for many years!


Next Sunday in Church Street NW8 – 24th September 2017

Antiques Anonymous – An Art, Antiques & Design Flea Market, Church Street, London NW8, 24th  September 2017, 11am – 5pm

In times of change in the world of Art & Antiques around the capital – Portobello Road, Spitalfields, Burlington Arcade and Grays – it is a positive delight to be able to tell you about this new venture in the Antique quarter of Church Street, NW8.

Pair of Stone Carved Lamps by Albert Tormos. Stephen Sprake.

Coinciding with the last day of the London Design Festival this inaugural Flea Market will feature more than fifty dealers from NW8 and around and should prove to be a fruitful place to shop wherever your interests lie.

1950s wheat sheaf gilt table. Samaya Ling Vintage.

It highlights the long role of Alfies Antique Market in forming a hub which has attracted many other dealers to open up in what is a ‘must’ destination of those attracted by things vintage and contemporary. One can quite understand why eighty dealers in the area have come together to form Antiques Anonymous.


As well as being sponsored by Alfies, Westminster City Council are also supporting it. Their spokesperson said: : “We are pleased to be working with Antiques Anonymous, to bring this Antiques, Art and Design Flea market to Church Street NW8. There has already been a great deal of interest in this first event, and I’d encourage people to visit this diverse and vibrant part of London to give it their support so that it can become a regular event on the London event calendar.”

Fornasetti 1950s brass and red lacquered ice bucket – Cupio Gallery at Alfies

PS: Street Food will be available too – so no excuse not to take your time and spend lots on things for your home!

#AntiquesAnonymousLondon #JoinAA #ChurchStreetFlea

Alfies Antique Market

Vivien Leigh – Sotheby’s

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London W1, 26th September 2017


Lot 14 A Large Collection of Photographs of Vivien and Larry
Estimate £800-1,200
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Vivien Leigh was one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever grace both stage and screen and now she is once again the star of the show when Sotheby’s auctions hundreds of items belonging to her in London on 26 September.

Jewellery including a mid 19th-century diamond bow brooch, a gold ring given to Vivien Leigh by her husband Laurence Olivier and a 18th-century chrysoberyl devant de corsage.
(Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

From Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind to Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and Karen Stone in The Roman Spring Of Mrs Stone Vivien almost reflected her own life in her films.  The feckless Scarlett ‘thinking about it tomorrow’ is Vivien in her early theatrical pursuits where she was a whirlwind jumping from (mainly) success to success then Blanche sadly shows us Vivien in her troubled years long before bi-polar personalities had been categorised.  Then finally we have Karen Stone a bewildered widow who falls for the ersatz charm of an Italian gigolo played by Warren Beatty complete with cod Italian accent.  Mrs Stone has found a new way of living and remains a sad but noble survivor.

Interior, Notley Abbey
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

When I was ten years old I saw Vivien on stage at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow in Noel Coward’s South Sea Bubble and can still recall the ‘presence’ that came across the footlights.

Lot 269 Vivien’s monogrammed luggage, all monogrammed V.L.O., and two black leather luggage labels with insert name cards printed Lady Olivier
Estimate £800-1,200
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The items in this sale include diaries, family photographs, paintings as well as library and personal items – even the wig she wore as Blanche. I was quite surprised and delighted to see that Vivien possessed a similarly framed item exactly the same as one I recently bought in a charity shop.  It is a sketch by Ronald Searle published in Punch in January 1957 as part of his Heroes of our Time series entitled Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. – not Lady Olivier!  In it Vivien looks out from the sketch brightly and vivaciously whilst Sir Laurence is in the foreground in his Richard lll costume and make up,  including the hump, and looking out at us resignedly, cigarette clutched firmly between his fingers.

Vivien Leigh painting at an easel in a garden
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The accompanying catalogue features many lovely photos of Vivien but then how could you take an unlovely one?


Lot 224 Vivien’s writing bureau, mid-18th century, acquired from Asprey in 1949
Estimate £600-900
Courtesy of Sotheby’s


I am grateful to John Kirkwood for writing about this sale