Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kenwood House

Located in London is Kenwood House, a stately house that has acted as an art museum since 1928 which was re-envisioned by Robert Adam in the 1770s for the Earl of Mansfield.
Recently the house has been in the news after both a massive restoration as well as having one of its' former occupants immortalized in film:  Dido Belle (Belle, 2013). Unfortunately I have yet to see the movie, portions of it filmed at Kenwood House (also portions of the film Notting Hill) .
The shallow Ionic entrance portico was added by Adam during his renovation of the house as well as the side wings.
 Adams' hand is evident throughout many of the public spaces.
None of the furniture was included with the house when Lord Iveagh donated the house and art to the nation in 1927. Since then all of the furniture seen has been donated and collected, some originally from Kenwood.
 Notice the fabric covered pelmet with these curtains.
 The most famous room of the house is no doubt Adam's library.
 I've read that the spines of many of these books are fake but they sure look real to me, don't you think?
 The ceilings are a neoclassical masterpiece.
 Gilded pelmets grace the windows of the library, notice how the motif echoes the ceiling decoration.
 Another graceful cantilevered stair graces the house.
 I wonder why no art is hung on the stair walls; it looks so naked.
 But there is no shortage of amazing art throughout the rest of the house.
The quality of the art is so good that you probably recognize much of it, including the Van Dyck above the fireplace below of Princess Henrietta of Lorraine.
Of course Lord Iveagh had help amassing his collection, he hailed from the Guinness family.
 I love the subtle reminder of the large thistles to not sit on the armchairs; much more elegant than rope.
The breakfast room seen above includes other notable paintings such as Lady Hamilton at the spinning wheel by George Romney.
The collection of Robert Adams upholstered furniture was designed for the house but was of course later donated and with impressive provenance.
During the Kennedy era renovation of the White House the sofa was expressly donated back to Kenwood House by Jackie Kennedy.
 Not sure I love the upholstery of the matching armchair above.
Lastly this collection of lovely desks caught both my eye as well as my penpals who provided me with these pictures.
In this age of email, the laptop, and tablet will desks go away? They really are one of my favorite pieces of furniture so that would be a shame -although admittedly I sold my own desk years ago.
 Kenwood House is conveniently located in London so be sure to include a visit to the house and its' art collection on your next visit!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Basildon Park

Lets leave the continent and travel to Basildon Park in England, outside of London, courtesy of my Australian penpal yet again.
You may recognize the Palladian house as it has been featured in many recent movies and tv shows: Downton Abbey, Marie Antoinette, Dorian Gray, and Pride & Prejudice to name a few.
The couple who donated the house and collection to the National Trust in 1978 after restoring it, Lord and Lady Iliffe, retired to the wing seen above to the left. Not a bad retirement, no?
One of my favorite parts of any English Country house are the staircases: here you can see the stone delicately cantilevering out of the walls.
The house is actually a rather recent building as it was basically a shell when the Iliffes acquired it.
The couple spent decades collecting pieces of 18th century houses which were being demolished at an astonishing rate to restore the houses' neoclassical interiors.
 Much like other country houses decoration from many centuries are shown side by side.
 I love this pair of knife boxes in the shape of urns shown flanking the fireplace in the dining room above.
The decoration encompasses all manner of furnishings and art that one expects to see in a house which has been constantly occupied for centuries: all gathered in the span of 3 decades.
 This Adamesque painted ceiling is stunning.
 And I know many of you will love these formal pelmets.
 Recognize any of the interiors yet from your favorite tv shows or movies?
 I especially love the library, particularly the mid century fabric on the couch and easy chairs.
 Many great mirrors are to be found in all of the rooms.
 The plasterwork in the hall above is stunning.
While none of the artwork is particularly important it is highly decorative.  Each piece was chosen for its scale and to add to each room's ambiance.
 Although with ceilings like this do you even need artwork on the walls?
 And of course it wouldn't be an English country house without beautiful bedrooms.
I'll leave you with this image of Lady Illife's very 1950s bathtub (I hear the kitchens also were the height of 50s high style!) - don't miss those fabulous faucets!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chinoiserie Pagodenburg, a royal tea house

Thanks to my Australian penpal today I bring you another folly from the Schloss Nymphenburg park in Munich, the Pagodenburg (click on the link for an amazing 3d tour of the building and the pretty view it faces).
Designed by Jospeh Effner and finished in 1719 as a royal teahouse in the gardens of the palace, the rococo exterior gives way to an exotic Chinoiserie interior.
The lower level of the octagonal building is lined with over 2,000 delft tiles with a ceiling mural in the same blue & white color scheme.
The tracery moulding framing the tiles would have been originally gilded as in other areas of the room. Above you see it during restoration in white which I think I personally prefer. Remember though that  'more is more' in the rococo language!
Upstairs the plan is split into two rooms.  One has fantastic wallpaper, an inlaid floor, and gilded wall decorations and ceiling.
 The little emerald green silk covered bed looks like a perfect spot for a post-lunch nap.
 The niche's painted silk wallpaper is intense and dramatic.
The other half of the 2nd floor contains an ebony and red lacquered room with the same parquet floor. Just imagine what a cute little house this would make!  Read more about the Nymphenburg palace and gardens on wikipedia HERE.