20 February 2011

The Carleton Draper Touch, Take Two

The North Parlour at the Greenbrier as decorated by Dorothy Draper.  The fabulous Dr. Conte, the resort's historian, told us that the walls were a pale pink, and that DD brought in the antique mantel and designed the rococo style mirrors and consoles.  We love the white sheepskin rug in front of the fireplace.  The other rug was apparently very old, rare, and cher.  It was eventually removed and put in storage after being traversed by too many stilettoes.


Carleton Varney refreshed the room in a deep coral color which he took from a DD commode in the room....

which was then subsequently repainted in scarlet. 

Bookending the fireplace are two landscape scenes which were formerly one.  DD couldn't find a space to hang the painting so she cut it in two.  As you can see, what is normally a quiet lounge is now hopping: a shoe store has temporarily relocated to the room while undergoing renovations. 

19 February 2011

Ding! Ding! Ding!

You guys are good!  Below is the same view, pre-pelmet, pre-Carleton Varney.  What do you think?

18 February 2011

The Mother of Pelmets

Over thirty feet long.  Guess where?

15 February 2011

Emily Thompson Flowers: The New Constance Spry

 arrangement of Russian olive, passionfruit vine, peonies, pomegranates, scabiosa, nigella by Emily Thompson Flowers

If the words "the new Constance Spry" send your heart racing and palms perspiring then we are soul mates.  Spry's blowsy, neo-romantic floral artistry set the world of flower arranging on its head in interwar Britain, and a Spry creation was as vital to the decor of a Syrie Maugham room as a Marian Dorn carpet.

 Syrie Maugham's own residence in Chesham Place featuring several sprays of Spry

Spry was just as likely to use weeds or kale as a rare hothouse flower, and gave the unorthodox advice in her seminal book Flower Decoration to stroll outside and muster together whatever was at hand.


Alas no matter how hard I've tried to make something out of my own backyard bramble, it has never come close to a Mrs. Spry work, and, halleleuiah, now it doesn't have to.

Interior designer Harry Heissmann clued me into the gloriously talented Emily Thompson whose studio is located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo.  There is nothing she enjoys more than crafting a piece for a specific installation and she has worked with Harry several times...

...including for his recent setting at the Winter Antiques Show seen here.

I wasted no time in shimmying down the hill to visit her (or in sending Mr EEE several links to her website).  My friend Christopher who wrote about Spry here came with and we spent a mesmerizing hour with Emily over tea and delicious macarons from Almondine.

 Emily putting the final bloom in my Valentine bouquet

Besides finding inspiration in Spry's oeuvre, Emily is also fascinated by the picturesque writings of William Gilpin whose idea of "The Magnificent Ruin" informs her work.  Just as the English gardens of the 18th century explored the deliberate art of sharawadgi which tries to approximate the beauty of nature by purposefully making things look haphazard, so do Emily's bouquets appear to have grown organically into their current composition.


Some have said her work looks like millinery, and indeed Kate Middleton would look smashing wearing one of these mantel adornments on her soon-to-be royal crown.

Emily is an accomplished artist and often applies her hand to clay...

and wax...

in addition to fresh blooms.   This Baroque octopus seascape sculpture/coffee table is reason enough to stop by her studio.

My very own Valentine by Emily Thompson Flowers

57 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 
Tel:  323-896-1494

Open  Friday, 1-7, Saturday 1-7, Sunday 1-5 and by appointment.

09 February 2011

A Thomas Hope Valentine

A wall applique in the form of a Phyrgian helmet designed by Thomas Hope

Classicists are all aflutter over the current exhibition "Inspired by Antiquity: Classical influences on 18th and 19th century furniture and works of art" at Carlton Hobb's uptown mansion. The show is embarrassingly full of museum-worthy riches whose provenances are as notable as the objects themselves.

In fact, I have been bursting at the seams to show you this table which I first encountered on a tour of Carly's gallery months ago.

 A royal porcelain demi-lune table by Bellangé, c. 1820, from Carlton House.  Note how it's photographed in front of a mirror so that its reflection completes the ellipse.

It was installed in the Prince Regent's fabled Carlton House whose late Louis XVI-inspired decor of the 1790s set the London beau monde on fire.  The Prince, later George IV, earned a deserved reputation for extravagance and large sums were spent on constant redecorating.  This table was acquired in 1822 for the Blue Velvet Room when the full-blown stylings of Walsh Porter had the monarch in its clutches.

 The Blue Velvet Room, Carlton House, as painted by W.H. Pyne in 1818 - yet another scheme before the table was purchased

It is also interesting to note that the table is French in manufacture.  The Regent had to curb his subversive Francophile ways during Britain's war with Napoleonic France, but the 1822 date of the table, well after the battle of Waterloo, suggests that nationalism was no longer an obstacle to sating his gout francais.

I was sworn to secrecy until now, as the table was being officially unveiled at this show. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

 Regency aesthete and designer Thomas Hope in Turkish costume

The cornerstone of the exhibition is the rare collection of Thomas Hope works painstakingly assembled by international art advisor Philip Hewat-Jaboor. As all my fellow Regency-maniacs know, Thomas Hope was an enormously wealthy banking scion who, after taking the Grand Tour of all tours, returned to London determined to showcase his artifacts in a suitable, "Classically correct" setting.

Hope's Egyptian Room at Duchess Street.  The Flaxman illustrations don't convey the brilliant color scheme of pale yellow and bluish green of the Egyptian pigment, relieved by masses of black and of gold"

The result was his fabulous and fabulously idiosyncratic house on Duchess Street, originally built by Robert Adam in the 1770s, and enlarged by Hope with the help of Charles Heathcote Tatham.  Furniture and decorative objects necessary for the conveniences of modern life - but not found in ancient times - were designed by Hope himself.
 Thomas Hope design for a wall light, left, and the carved and bronzed limewood wall light itself, c. 1802
Hope was so pleased with the results, he commissioned John Flaxman to illustrate the interiors which were published in 1807 as Household Furniture and Interior Decoration. As Hewat-Jaboor has pointed out, Hope's ultimate mission was to improve taste and what better way than to lead by example.

Hewat-Jaboor also highlights Hope's lesson of combining new works with antiques, which he believes is as important in today's interiors as it was for Hope's. “You have to present things in a fabulous and exciting way, and that means there has to be a mixture of the very best – new and antique. You have to see how objects interact as a whole. It’s the fusion of paintings, objects and furniture that makes everything come alive."

 Hewat-Jaboor's previous London flat with a pair of predestals and settee, both from Duchess Street and now on view at Carlton Hobbs

Hewat-Jaboor's Hope works were very much alive in his London residence, but, after a move, he found he no longer had the proper setting for them. "They are demanding pieces", he says, and it is undeniable that Hope's high style designs are not shrinking violets. Instead of relegating the collection to storage, Hewat-Jaboor is sending them off with this final valentine.

"Inspired by Antiquity" runs through February 18th
Carlton Hobbs
60 East 93rd Street
New York, NY
Tomorrow: More on Philip Hewat-Jaboor, the aesthete behind the aesthete

For more on the exhibition, click over to  1stdibs and the Huffington Post.