Saturday, 28 June 2008

Just pottering about

Walter Potters's original museum in Bamber.

The Death and Burial of Cock Robin

The Kittens' Tea Party

Monkey Riding a Goat, with Spot, the dog with a charmed life, in the foreground.
According to legend, the monkey and the goat were both mischievous beasts - the monkey raided a fruit shop in Shoreham and the owner threw a bucket of cold water over him. The shock unfortunately proved fatal. The goat came from Wiston Park where no fence or hedge could keep him in. When they finally met their end it was thought suitable that the monkey could ride the goat and keep him in hand in perpetuity.

The Guinea Pig's Cricket Match

The Lower Five

The Kitten Wedding

There is a new book chronicling the work of Walter Potter, Walter Potter and his Museum of Curious Taxidermy by P.A. Morris.
Walter Potter was a self taught Victorian taxidermist who created one of the most popular collections in Britain. The British are nothing if not sentimental about animals. And his anthropomorphic tableaux appealed to that sentimentality for more than 140 years.

The collection was dispersed at a two-day sale held by Bonhams in 2002.

The full Bonhams catalogue.

Now playing on iTunes: Simply Red - Little Englander
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Thursday, 26 June 2008

200 sad wankers do not a furore make

Heinz pulls mayonnaise ad over gay kiss furore

Heinz, which makes the New York Deli Mayo featured in the commercial, pulled this advertisement in response to criticism.

Two hundred viewers told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ad was inappropriate and unsuitable for children to see. Irrespective of the fact that the commercial was not shown during children's television programming, because of new rules from Ofcom that restrict ads for products high in fat, salt and sugar. The ASA has not yet decided whether to launch an investigation.

Heinz apologised for any offence caused. Why, because 200 morons didn't get the concept that the product "tastes as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen."?
You weak fucking bastards.

Guess who won't be buying Heinz.

Now playing: Angie Stone - Pissed Off
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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Chez Grimaldi

The black and white floor is the original linoleum from the 1940s.

The entrance hall with its jungle red striped paper.

The apple green glazed walls of the living room are given an extra punch with yellow curtains.

The eighteenth-century Portuguese chairs covered in a faux painted silk taffeta were once the property of Gloria Vanderbilt.

The master bedroom with its Rose Cumming Directoire Star wallpaper.

The guest room dressed in a Rose Cumming glazed chintz, Sussex.

Ronald A. Grimaldi's apartment, Grand Flourishes, as it appeared in the April issue of House & Garden, 1999.

In well-bred rooms, nothing should look cheated or skimpy. Rooms should have an ample quality to them, and they should look lived in. - Ronald Grimaldi, as told to Carol Vogel of The New York Times in a 1986 interview.
Now playing: Cyndi Lauper - True Colors
via FoxyTunes

Heir apparent

Ronald Grimaldi, noted designer and President of Rose Cumming. By the time Mr. Grimaldi joined the firm in 1968, Rose Cumming had discontinued their fabric line. It was during his years at Rose Cumming that Mr. Grimaldi initiated and oversaw the reintroduction of the firm's enormously successful line of extravagant floral chintzes and silks. Until his retirement in 2005, Mr. Grimaldi kept the legacy of the venerable Rose Cumming intact with his keen eye for unusual antiques and sumptuous fabrics.

Ronald Grimaldi's rooms were never banal. His confident use of color and proportion, combined with his keen sensibility for the placement of furniture, made for unexpected yet timeless interiors. His bold designs showcased Coromandel screens, Chinese art, Venetian and French furniture, and an array of unique objects. The designer included Gloria Vanderbilt and Marife Hernandez among his circle of well-known clients and friends.
Doyle New York

Neoclassical Style Mirror Console.

Continental Silvered-Metal and Cut Glass Chandelier from the estate of Rose Cumming.

Chinese Export Gilt Decorated Black Lacquered Settee.

Faux Marble Painted Gate Leg Drop-Leaf Table. Note the Chinese carpet in the background, this is also the carpet that was once installed in Rose Cumming's bedroom.

Now playing: Tina Turner - We Don't Need Another Hero
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Sunday, 22 June 2008

That which we call a Rose...

Rose Cumming. A name and a style to conjure with.

En route to England in 1917, where she was to be married, she found herself stranded in New York due to travel restrictions precipitated by the Great War. In need of something to do and possibly an income, she sought advice from her friend Frank Crowninshield, the editor of Vanity Fair, who asked if she wanted to be a decorator. Perhaps I would, but first tell me what it is, she replied.

Twelve years later, she would not only know what a decorator was, she would be the personification of the very word.

...It requires primarily that one be an expert in color, design, period, and the placement of furniture. Most of us have added some knowledge of architecture to our equipment as decorators, so that being conversant with the laws of proportion, line, et cetera, we can intelligently interpret the original design of the architect. A decorator should, in addition, be blessed with a sixth sense -- a kind of artistic alchemy which endows the articles of furniture with that elusive quality of livableness which transforms houses...No amount of training or schooling, I believe, can teach you this. Either you have flair or you don't...
A Door Always Open by Rose Cumming,
The Finest Rooms by America's Great Decorators

Rose Cumming's ugly room, her reaction against the preconception of prettiness in decorating. Absolutely perfect.

Seventeenth-century Corsican rugs help to balance the room. The painting over the mantle is by Jean Baptiste Oudry, from his black period. Which I suspect is in fact a romanticisation of a particularly dark painting that may have been just in need of a good clean.

John Audubon's seldom seen prints from the Quadruped Edition (1845-1848) hang above the sofa.

Now playing on iTunes: Violent Femmes - Ugly
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 21 June 2008

More tales of Portobello Road

I love it when it rains on a Saturday. It always seems to keep the casual, and trifling, visitor away. Unfortunately by early afternoon it had cleared.

There I was chatting away to Hills, a tall drink of water who always attracts the attention of men, when a man turned to her and asked, Are these your things?
Hills shook her head and pointed to me, and I replied,
She's not that lucky.
To which she and I chuckled. He didn't get it. Men who dress and look like that seldom do. He could have been the forty-something poster boy for Stuff White People Like.

How much is the sawfish blade?

I explained that it was a collection and told him the price. To which he exclaimed, Oh my goodness!

How much is the small bird?

Skipping any explanation, I told him the price. Again he replied, Oh my goodness!

All I could do was smile. Well, smile and bite my tongue.
Aside from hearing myself telling him to fuck off amongst a slew of other things, I could also hear Mae West intoning, Goodness has nothing to do with it.

Now playing on iTunes: Santana - Goodness And Mercy
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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Looks like it's all happening in New York

Matt Logan presents the Return of Rococo party.
June 21 at 9pm, at teneleven in the East Village. The party will feature burlesque, juggling, escape artistry, powdered wigs, and live nouveau-baroque music. The event is free and costumes are encouraged, but certainly not required.

Arias with a Twist

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Not just somewhere, but all the way over the rainbow.

Arias With a Twist, created by Joey Arias, above, and Basil Twist, features puppets and songs. This is Mr. Arias’s return to New York after performing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
Check with the New York Times Theatre Review for details.

Now playing on iTunes: Billie Holiday - Easy Living
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Another reason why the houses of fashion designers are sexier than those of interior designers

Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair, 2004.

While this is not our house, it could be.

The Edwardian sofa, covered in a neutral camel twill for the fair, has long since been recovered in an olive striéd linen velvet for our living room.
The large deep buttoned Victorian chairs covered in an ikat printed linen, now sit in our living room.
The Thonet sofa, now sits in our kitchen.
The framed early Victorian penguin-skin blanket, now hangs in our hall.

Detail of a Georgian oak bookcase from a house attached to a shipping company on Guernsey Island. Destined for the ground floor as it weighs an absolute ton, even empty, and does not separate into sections. Which was a complete surprise as it was purchased over the telephone.

Detail of living room winter carpet, a 1930s Samarkand. Which turned out to be essential, as the Belgian printed floor-cloth which is the perfect foil for the ikat covered Victorian chairs turned out not to be colourfast.

Part of being a decorator who also deals in antiques is doing only what one believes in. That means, being willing to live with one's choices that others neglect to choose. Not unlike Rose Cumming and her ugly room. That is what Miss Cumming called her living room which was filled with things rejected by her clients. It is never ending. Not unlike living on the set from Sanford and Son. Only with better junk, one hopes.

Now playing on iTunes: Breaks Co-Op - A Place For You
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The other highlight of the London Season...

is the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair. For ten days this is where the great and the good (and a few of the ghastly and the venal) of the antiques world congregate.
Here are a few of my favourite dealers:

A selection of current stock including furniture, mirrors and gardenware.
M. Charpentier

David Levi

Fine 20th Century furniture, lighting, and objet d'art.
Gordon Watson Ltd

Charming and quirky mix of the unusual.
Palmer Antiques

Gio Ponti. Writing table in walnut
Designed by Ponti for the Banco Nationale del Lavoro in Itlay
Circa 1953
Philip Thomas

Fine kitchen and advertising antiques.
Smithson Antiques

A Scottish granite centre table, Circa 1850
Westenholz Steenberg

Now playing: Patti Page - (How Much Is) That Doggy in the Window
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Part 2 : Why are the houses of fashion designers sexier than those of interior designers?

Charlie Rose interviews the supremely elegant Hubert de Givenchy.

Watercolour of the Green Salon, Rue de Grenelle, Paris.

My preference is always for tall bouquets, as here in this spray of ere murus in a vermeil bucket.

The hallway of Le Jonchet, Givenchy's country manor.
Man with a Guitar, a sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz, on a bronze table by Diego Giacometti. Above that hangs a painting by Krouchnik.

Interior of the pool house at Clos Fiorentina, Givenchy's house at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.

All images from The Givenchy Style

Interview with the very individual Loulou de la Falaise.

Apartment of Albert Hadley, photographed by Fernando Bengochea.

In Christopher Mason's article Master Class (2004), Albert Hadley opines that younger decorators are trying to reinvent the wheel, and the results are sometimes very dubious,... They’re looking to do things that have never been done before. And quite often it’s done without authority, without knowledge or a background in taste.

Further, Mr Hadley bemoans the fact that, They’re all doing beige rooms, and wishes that young designers would take more time to educate themselves. As he puts it, It’s all about acquiring a richer vocabulary.

Now playing: John Mellencamp - Beige to Beige
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 7 June 2008

The Immortal Dropout

The flyer reads, This is HUGO VICKERS’S first play. It was staged at Cumberland Lodge in the 2007 Windsor Festival, to considerable acclaim. Hugo Vickers is well known as the biographer of Cecil Beaton and other 20th Century figures.
He knew Stephen Tennant in the last six years of his life, and frequently visited him at Wilsford Manor.
The play is set in STEPHEN TENNANT’S bedroom at Wilsford Manor, in Wiltshire. The year is 1970 and Stephen is in his mid-sixties. Once a family home, filled with chatter and laughter, Wilsford is now the retreat of its lonely owner, who muses over the people he has known and his literary endeavours and enjoyments.
CHARLES DUFF is an international actor, director, author and lecturer. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and was a full-time actor for a decade, playing in every medium, until he began to teach in the major London drama schools, while still maintaining his professional work. He has also directed opera in this country and in Europe. His book, The Lost Summer, was a best seller both in Britain and America.

Jermyn Street Theatre
Monday 28th July to Saturday 2nd August
Nightly at 7.30pm Saturday matinee 3.30pm
Tickets £16.00 £13.00 concessions

What a charming way to spend an evening. The use of language was captivating. So captivating in fact one could almost smell the camomile lawn.

Now playing on iTunes: Kate Bush - And Dream of Sheep
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 6 June 2008

How can one possibly measure love?

The central oval-shaped sapphire weighing 28.68 carats to the old-cut diamond twin-line cluster surround, mounted in silver and gold, circa 1880.

Comprising 116, 116, 119, 121 and 119 graduated pearls to the diamond openwork clasp with rectangular-shaped emerald centre, circa 1930, 39.5 cm long, in fitted green leather case.

The square-shaped emerald weighing 14.04 carats to the tapered baguette-cut diamond shoulders and plain hoop, carat weight engraved on hoop. Signed Winston, and with maker's mark for Jacques Timey.

Like this of course.

All from Jewells:The London Sale at Christie's

Now playing on iTunes: Sarah Vaughan - Whatever Lola Wants
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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Part 1 : Why are the houses of fashion designers sexier than those of interior designers?

Decorno asked this question, which I have paraphrased, in her post Saw this book at the store yesterday...

An interesting observation, I thought. As I once was one and now I do the other, I thought I might proffer an answer.

The world of fashion is based on desire. A fearless desire to create a world of idealised beauty from a singular perspective. A perspective which is allowed to manifest itself from season to season demonstrating its varied inspirations.

The rue Cambon apartment of Coco Chanel.

Unfortunately the world of interiors is rooted in the mundane. There is no longer fantasy. Just spaces filled with what is deemed to be fashionable. True daring and style have been exchanged for respectability, acceptance, and accessibility. An inequitable exchange, in my opinion.

Now playing on iTunes: Crosby, Stills & Nash - Our House
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Judy, Judy, Judy...

Judy Davis as the Comtesse de Noailles in Marie Antoinette

You make it sound as if it were a bad thing...
Australian actress Judy Davis on Monday won a libel action against an Australian newspaper group that she claimed had depicted her as a selfish child-hater.

Monday, 2 June 2008

rue de Babylone

The art filled apartment of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé as it appeared in House & Garden, 1986. This is the yardstick by which chic should be measured.

Fashion dies, but style remains - Yves Saint Laurent.

The grand salon with two important paintings by Leger flanked by two equally magnificent vases by Jean Dunand. To the left is Goya's early portrait Boy with a Dog. And to the left of that is the only Munch painting in France, Seascape with a Figure.

An African throne sits beneath a Senufo sculpture, which in turn is in front of a painting by Burne-Jones. The parrot carpet is by Ernst Boiceau from the 1930s.

Another view of the grand salon. Under the Picasso hangs a Cezanne watrcolour and below that a portrait by Ingres.

A magnificent armchair by Eileen Gray and a leopard covered stool by Gustave Mikklos.

The cabinet de glaces, mirrored panels designed by Claude Lelanne mounted onto walls of aubergine lacquer. This room plays host to pieces not only by Ruhlmann, but also pieces by Rateau and Chareau and a carpet by Yvonne Fourneau.

The dining room with its Ruhlmann table and Gobelins tapestry of Africa.
Note the sheaf of wheat casually placed behind a relief of a young Louis XIV. This too was also a talisman of Coco Chanel's.

The ground level library leading to the garden.

Note the Francios-Xavier Lalanne sheep and egg shaped bar. Less obvious, yet significant, works of art include two early works by the Dutch modernist Mondrian and a drawing by Matisse. Two artists whose work had a great influence on YSL's creations at different stages of his illustrious career.

The terrace of rue de Babylone replete with its bird seats also by Lalanne.

Now playing: Peggy Lee - Is That All There Is?
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