Tuesday, 30 November 2010



From within the vault of things we hold dear,
Le Petit Train by Les Rita Mitsouko

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

From the Age of Enlightenment

The serpentine back and scrolled arms upholstered in 17th century tapestry fragments and later silk damask to the back, on cabriole legs with hoof feet joined by serpentine moulded stretchers, circa 1705.

The very same year Isaac Newton is bestowed a knighthood by Queen Anne. 

Now Playing: Grace Jones - I've Done It Again

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

à la française

Drawing Room Interior
Leopold Pascal (1900-1958)

French Hepplewhite mahogany show frame sofa of small proportions

Cotton and viscose brocade for sofa done with a fan edging.

Pair of French Hepplewhite mahogany elbow chairs, circa 1800, to be used directly opposite sofa.

 An uncut and cut velvet with a strie background for elbow chairs - done with a nail trim.

Pair of 18th Century French walnut armchairs for use next to sofa.
Nail and tape trim rather than double piping.

Linen and viscose textured moire
for chair faces (backs to be done in brocade) and curtains (lined in rose).

Lady's court dress and matching petticoat of pink striped and brocade silk.
French, circa 1760

Come to the edge, he said. 

They said: We are afraid. 

Come to the edge, he said. 

They came. 

He pushed them and they flew. - 

Guillaume Apollinaire



Now playing: Barbara - L'aigle Noir

Monday, 22 November 2010


A very good carved oak library table in the Gothic taste. The rectangular moulded top with canted corners raised on four octagonal carved ivy clad legs united by a central stretcher in the form  of a Gothic arch.

. . . the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain. - Mary Shelly

Now playing: Simple Minds - Alive And Kicking

Friday, 19 November 2010

would I were steadfast as thou art -

Bright Star (2009)
Written and directed by Jane Campion. Based on the last three years of the English Romantic poet John Keats' life, which was forever marked by his romance with Frances Brawne.

Ambrotype of Frances Brawne taken circa 1850

Lamia, Part 1
Lines 47 - 67

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries—
So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon’s mistress, or the demon’s self.
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne’s tiar:
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
She had a woman’s mouth with all its pearls complete:
And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love’s sake,
And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
Like a stoop’d falcon ere he takes his prey.

John Keats

Now playing: Takacs Quartet - Schubert: String quartet no. 14 in D minor Death and the Maiden D810

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Spilling the 't'

Clément Massier, Golfe-Juan
Earthenware tea set glazed in running dark-red and green, circa 1900

Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. 

Now playing:  Bryan Ferry - Alphaville

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Bare bones

Exquisitely carved late 19th Century ebony and ivory mememto mori

Skull of an Ankole-Watusi

Skull of a hippopotamus

 Congolese baboon skull fetish

Now playing: Fiction Factory - Heaven

Monday, 15 November 2010

Chair porn



Now playing:  George Michael - Outside

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Makonde body mask

Corset of the Tulu diety Sarala Jumadi

Yves Saint Laurent crepe georgette evening dresses 
 Copper body sculpture and cuff by Claude Lalanne
Fall/Winter 1969

Now playing: Bananarama - Venus

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Five minutes to eleven

Used this early 20th century (possibly 1950s) leather wing chair for a client who was less concerned with period than with effect. This type of clubby chair  was very popular up until the 1980s.

While visiting Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler another client expressed a desire to have this chair.  A chair of his own. In principle, I agreed. The room would benefit from the variation in height. However, this was not the right chair.

Searching for the right chair, I came upon this late Georgian example in Scotland. It needed to be relatively inexpensive, and luckily it was, to rationalise the cost of turning it into the right chair...

And here it is, exactly as I imagined it would be, traditionally reupholstered in a hand dyed and finished leather.  In fact, I am so pleased with the result I have decided to put it into production. With a couple of minor tweaks, that is.

There is always time for a smackerel of something.

Now playing: Yello - Goldrush

Friday, 12 November 2010

Butch Queen Vogue Fem

Louis Vuitton Vienna ankle boot 

 dark brown oiled calf leather trimmed with washed buffalo leather

Now playing: Ultra Naté - New Kind of Medicine

Wednesday, 10 November 2010



Sherbet glass


Knickerbocker pattern

Designed in 1933 by former Tiffany executive Arthur Douglas Nash for the Libbey Glass Company.
The golden age of Libbey-Nash.

Now playing: Arcanta - Goldensong

Talking heads, II

Like favourite books, film too provides a commonality of language.

Film History by Decade: 100 Years of Movies written and edited by Tim Dirks

The Petrified Forest (1936), 83 minutes, D: Archie Mayo
A screen adaptation of Robert E. Sherwood's play. Vicious killer gangster Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart, in his first major movie role), flees from the authorities with his gang, and holds out with a group of hostages at an Arizona desert roadside service station cafe, the Black Mesa Bar B-Q. Hostages include an idealistic, but disillusioned intellectual/writer Alan Squier (Leslie Howard) and the diner owner's daughter/waitress/poet Gabrielle Maple (Bette Davis), who dreams of a better life and falls in love with him.

The Good Earth (1937), 138 minutes, D: Sidney Franklin
MGM's beautiful film production of Pearl Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a peasant couple in rural China. A simple, poor Chinese rice farmer Wang Lung (Paul Muni) weds O-Lan (Luise Rainer) in an arranged marriage. They must endure hard labor, poverty, and a severe drought and famine. During government strife and a revolution that sweeps through the land, their lives are transformed and he becomes the wealthiest landowner in the province. Their efforts and their family disintegrate from his all-consuming greed for money and the devastating effects of a swarm of locusts. In the end, he learns too late that his long-neglected, self-sacrificing wife was the one who had held everything together.

Topper (1937), 98 minutes, D: Norman Z. McLeod
A delightful comedy/fantasy about a free-spirited, wealthy, fun-loving couple George (Cary Grant) and Marion Kerby (Constance Bennett) who are killed in an auto accident. Before they are granted entrance to heaven, however, they must perform a good deed for their bank president - to teach mild-mannered, stuffy and proper Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) to relax and enjoy life's pleasures. They appear at will as haunting ghosts, often at awkward moments, but only to Topper, taking pleasure at embarrassing him in humorous predicaments.

Stella Dallas (1937), 106 minutes, D: King Vidor
A classic and popular dramatic tearjerker/soap-opera, the best version of three attempts (also in 1925 and 1990). The film is the touching portrayal of an upwardly mobile small-town woman Stella Martin (Barbara Stanwyck) who marries an upper-class husband Stephen Dallas (John Boles) and enters into money, but is never able to escape her vulgar and coarse middle-class ways. She loses her husband when he leaves her for a former love, the widowed Helen Morrison (Barbara O'Neil). She then gives up their daughter Laurel (Anne Shirley) to her wealthy father, in a supreme act of self-sacrifice and selflessness, so she will not be in the way of her daughter's happiness or her social and romantic aspirations.

Jezebel (1938), 104 minutes, D: William Wyler
Bette Davis in a magnificent performance often compared to Gone With The Wind - offered to her as consolation by Warner Bros. because she was denied the role of Scarlett O'Hara. Headstrong, spoiled, self-centered Southern belle daughter Julie Morrison (Bette Davis) of a Southern aristocratic family in pre-Civil War New Orleans loses her fiancee Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda) when she stubbornly defies the convention of the day by wearing a scandalous red dress to the Olympus Ball. Embarrassed, he leaves and unbeknownst to her marries a Northerner Amy (Margaret Lindsay). When Preston returns three years later, she begs forgiveness but it is too late, and she suffers hurt and rejection. When an epidemic of yellow jack strikes, she begs Amy to accompany the mortally ill Preston to an island for quarantine and care for him. Davis won her second Best Actress Award for her performance.

The Lady Vanishes (1938, UK), 97 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
Set just before WW II, a young woman (Margaret Lockwood) traveling on a train moving through Europe returning to England, with the help of fellow passenger Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave), seeks to locate a charming elderly lady Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) who has suddenly disappeared. A suspenseful film, when it is discovered that no one is willing to believe or accept that the lady has disappeared or that she even existed, and when her missing is linked to an espionage plot.

Pygmalion (1938, UK), 96 minutes, D: Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard
A delightful romantic comedy, the first film version of George Bernard Shaw's stageplay and screenplay. A stuffy diction/phonetics teacher, Professor Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) makes a bet with a friend Col. Pickering (Scott Sunderland) that he can educate and transform a common, coarse Cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) to pass as a captivating English lady/duchess of upper class breeding - within three months - at the Ambassador's Ball. In the process of transforming her, he falls in love with her.

Dark Victory (1939), 105 minutes, D: Edmund Goulding
A melodramatic tearjerker with Bette Davis in one of her most powerful roles. A high-living Long Island socialite/heiress Judith Traherne (Bette Davis) whose eyesight is starting to dim is diagnosed as having a brain tumor. After a seemingly successful operation by her surgeon, Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent), she falls in love with him and finds happiness, only to discover that she actually has only one more year to live. First resorting to more meaningless parties, rejection of the doctor, and despair, she then finds true meaning and happiness in her life and adds great substance to her final days and dies with dignity.

Gone With the Wind (1939), 220 minutes, D: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and Sam Wood
de Havilland), and the ineffectual character of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), the story is told through great spectacle, romance, despair, conflict and travail. With a terrific, lyrical musical score by one of the greatest film composers of all time, Max Steiner.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), 114 minutes, D: Sam Wood
A sentimental romantic drama, the portrait of a caring, well-meaning, but shy and proper Latin schoolmaster Mr. Chipping ("Chips") (Robert Donat) at an English boys school, Brookfield School, in the late 1800s who devotes his life to his students. On a vacation, he finds romance with Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson in her American debut), his future wife, and she transforms his life. With her gentle and kind love and humanity, she is one of the few individuals who truly understands him, and helps him to overcome his shyness and rigidity. Although she passes away during childbirth, her lessons endure and he becomes a popular institution at the school until his retirement and death in his eighties.

Now playing:  Ennio Morricone - Cinema Paradiso

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Display from the Le Corbuser exhibition staged in Liverpool 2008

The home should be the treasure chest of living.  - Le Corbusier

Now playing: Arcanta - The Solitary Pilgrim

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Ox tale

Musk Ox rug

Le Corbusier, Model LC3 manufactured by Cassina

Reclaiming the moderne.

Now playing: Johann Strauss, the Younger - Russicher, Op 426

Saturday, 6 November 2010

She never walked alone


Shirley Verrett 1931-2010