Thursday, 31 March 2011

I am after reality...

painting impressed on the mind so hard that it recurs as a dream...

George Tooker (1920-2011)

George Tooker

 A Columbus Museum of Art  documentary

In conjunction with the 2009 exhibition George Tooker: A Retrospective

Impetus, Lucidaville

Now playing: Tom McRae - You Only Disappear

A philosopher's garden

Large Flowering Sensitive Plant

The Night-blowing Cereus

The Blue Passion Flower

The Winged Passion Flower

The Blue Egyptian Water Lily

The Artichoke Protea

Group of Auriculas

The Temple of Flora, or
Garden of the botanist, poet, painter and philosopher
Sept. 1st, 1811

Dr. Robert John Thornton (British, 1768-1837) Publisher, ca. 1811-1812

Now playing: Maxine Sullivan - Skylark

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Roll 'em and see

A 19th century George III style giltwood wall-mirror of grand proportions.  
Rocaille borders within an ornately carved cartouche frame surmounted by a C-scroll.

The great dealers (Geoffrey Bennison, Christopher Gibbs, Madeleine Castaing, Rose Cumming, et al) were inveterate gamblers. Gambling that their chosen pieces would find an audience. An audience with the desire and the means to share in their vision.

At least, that is what I tell myself as I try to justify the sheer madness of it all.

And, all I can think is it would be madness not to take a chance.

Now playing: Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Sacred monsters

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll (1912-1993)

Photographed in her apartment at the Dorchester in 1981 by Tim Mercer.

Now playing: The Smiths - Pretty Girls Make Graves

Saturday, 26 March 2011


Cave painting from Lascaux 

Fossilised Irish Elk antlers and skull
Spanning 12' with 20 points
  Adare Manor, Co. Limerick.

 Irish Elk antlers
The skull and tips restored with carved wooden replacements, 98in.
Christopher Gibbs
The Manor House at Clifton Hampden, Oxford

"You are the last of us, the only one left
of the Waegmundings. Fate swept us away,
sent my whole brave high-born clan
to their final doom. Now I must follow them."
That was the warrior's last word.
He had no more to confide. The furious heat
of the pyre would assail him. His soul fled from his breast
to its destined place among the steadfast ones. 

Beowulf, lines 2813-2820

Now playing: Enigma - Celtic Dream

Friday, 25 March 2011

Good bones

A 19th century giltwood framed and upholstered sofa.
George III in style with a shaped back, out swept arms terminating in scrolls, 
serpentine fronted seat on eight square section tapering fluted legs and spade feet.

A cut velvet with a strie ground

Now playing: Martha Wash - Carry On

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Et tu, Loleatta?

 Mummy, is reincarnation real?


If it is, I want to come back as a big black lady that can sing.

My poor mother.

Shout To The Top
 Fire Island  ft  Loleatta Holloway

Why couldn't it have been Julie Andrews?

Dame Elizabeth Taylor, DBE (1932 - 2011)

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor
A Place in the Sun (1951)

Now playing: Sarah Vaughan - Shadow of Your Smile

O Captain! my Captain!

Captain Edward Molyneux (1891-1974)

One cannot mention HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent (pictured below) without mentioning Captain Edward Molyneux. It was he who was entrusted with the Princess's bridal trousseau, despite protestations from the royal household. 

...the designer to whom a fashionable woman would turn if she wanted to be absolutely 'right' without being utterly predictable in the 1920s and 1930s. - Caroline Milbank, Couture: The Great Designers (1985)

Molyneux  trained with Lucille, Lady Duff Gordon before serving as an infantry captain in the First World War. After the war, he moved to Paris and opened his first maison de couture in 1919. He quickly established a reputation for refined and modern clothes (mostly in black, navy blue, beige, and grey) that were sure of line.

Aside from royalty and the aristocracy, Molyneux also counted the likes of  Greta Garbo, Gertrude Lawrence, Margaret LeightonVivien Leigh and Syrie Maugham amongst his clientele.

Amongst those who would begin their careers with Molyneux were Pierre Balmain, John Cavanagh and Marc Bohan.

 A Molyneux shallow crown straw hat with silk satin trim, 1938.

Silk lounging pajamas with gold thread embroidery, 1932

Evening jacket, 1926

Midsummer Madness evening ensemble, 1937

Wool coat and skirt, 1938

Wool coat, 1933-35

Silk evening dress, 1950-51

All images from The Costume Institute

Now playing: The Captain & Tenille - Love Will Keep Us Together

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

They don't make princesses anymore

photographed by Cecil Beaton

Prince George, Duke of Kent; Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
by Dorothy Wilding, 1936
National Portrait Gallery, London

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent with their infant son Prince Edward.

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
by Dorothy Wilding, 1953
National Portrait Gallery, London

 Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid's music.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
, 2. 1

Now playing: Joe Hisaishi - Princess Mononoke Symphonic Suite

Sunday, 20 March 2011


This Is Not The End

Friday, 18 March 2011



In quiet, black and white portraits, Peter Hujar captures his subjects in moments of reverie. This one shows Divine, a famously foul-mouthed drag queen, usually seen wearing a blonde wig, sequined dress, and garish make-up. In Hujar’s portrait, the public persona is stripped away. Divine appears as a man, wrinkled and balding, resting on a velvety black blanket and gazing into the distance. His half-closed eyes suggest he is on the borderline between dream and sleep... - Whitney Museum of American  Art

Now playing: Divine - I'm So Beautiful

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Here a pug, there a pug

Everywhere a pug.

The Duchess of Windsor's bedroom with its display of pug cushions.  
 The contents of the Windsor's former villa were auctioned by Sotheby's in 1998.

These two also once belonged to a duchess. 
A duchess on the small screen in Edward & Mrs. Mrs Simpson (1978).

Now playing: The Jeffersons theme song  - Moving On Up

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Spoonful of sugar

Now playing: Richard Kiley - Dulcinea

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992)

A Fire in My Belly, 1986-87

Courtesy of the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Wojnarowicz made A Fire in My Belly, dated 1986-87, at a turning point. In 1987 his longtime mentor and lover, the photographer Peter Hujar, died of AIDS, and Wojnarowicz himself learned that he was H.I.V.-positive. 

As Ants Crawl Over Crucifix, Dead Artist Is Assailed Again
By Holland Cotter
Published: December 10, 2010
The New York Times

Now playing: David Wojnarowicz - Arts Funding

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Polished and painted

Regency satinwood side chair with painted decoration and caned seat.
The swept front stretcher and back splats are particularly fine details.

Now playing: Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite

Monday, 14 March 2011

If karma indeed be a bitch...

The site of All Saints on Westbourne Grove, once home to some of the best antique dealers in the UK.

Then, one's hope is that she be an efficient and thorough one.

Now playing: The Trammps - Disco Inferno

Sunday, 13 March 2011

By special appointment to the Imperial Crown

House of Fabergé nephrite tray with silver and gilt enameled handles set with diamonds

  House of Fabergé nephrite tray design, Hermitage Museum

House of Fabergé

Now playing: Alexander Borodin - Symphony No. 2, III. Andante

Friday, 11 March 2011

The right light

Isabella Blow (Isabella Delves Broughton)
The Head of Isabella Blow
by Tim Noble and Sue Webster

The Head of Isabella Blow was donated to the National Portrait Gallery in 2009 by the artists and Blow's estate. The work (which must be spot-lit for the subject's silhouette to be visible) is comprised of taxidermic magpies, rooks, hooded crows, a rattlesnake, a raven, a robin, a carrion crow and a black rat.  Other materials also used include fake moss, wood, a lipstick tube and a Manolo Blahnik shoe heel.

Poetry is something in-between the dream and its interpretation. - Lou Andreas-Salomé

Now playing: Dead Can Dance - Song Of The Sibyl

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Gone, never to be forgotten

You can't buy a muse. It's like a love affair with somebody.

Isabella Blow

Now playing: Marc Almond and Antony And The Johnsons - River Of Sorrow