20 November 2014

une boite de tabac à priser, lot 218

fully marked, the rim engraved "Au Petit Dunkerque". LOT 218

image from Richard Jean-Jacques, Bijoux Et Pierres Precieuses here

Charles-Alexandre Bouillerot, born into a family of goldsmiths, was one of several gold box makers Paris retailer Charles-Reymond Grancher,"Au Petit Dunkerque" commissioned for purchase by the French nobility during the reign of Louis XVI. Grancher served as bijoutier du reine. His shop was at 3 quai de Conti, on the corner of the Rue Dauphine (6th arrondissement, Paris).

 César-François Cassini de Thury, astronomer, member of the French Academy of Sciences -"taking snuff"
miniature watercolor on ivory by Nattier, c. 1750

18 November 2014

A Mellon Aviary

The unprecedented ease of Bunny Mellon's style. 
Over a Regency red and yellow japanned faux bamboo bookcase, c.1805, hangs a Braque painting, Les Deux Oiseaux and housed in the bookcase-a collection of birds.

In a world of rooms touted by magazine editors full of beige this and that-to my eye most mudane, Mrs. Mellon's genius style lies in her having kept her eye honed for what she loved, and artists she revered. She surrounded herself with nature inside her houses when she could not be in her gardens. No doubt with the wealth she had before marrying Paul Mellon, it could have been easy for some to lapse into rooms of souless, staid grandeur.

Not so, Mrs. Mellon gives us a glimpse of beauty in rooms, in its highest form. 
Pure, personal, and what appears uncalculated, precisely edited.

There pipes the woodlark, and the song-thrush there
Scatters his loose notes in the waste of air.  

-Couplet about Birds, Thomas Gray, 18th c. poet

1 of a Pair of Italian Scagliola Panels, 18th c., Lot 307

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all-
-314, Emily Dickinson, American poet, 19th c.

A Dutch delft six-tile pictorial panel second half 18th c., Lot 923

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A dove house filld with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro all its regions 
-Auguries of Innocence, William Blake, c. 1803
Le Balcon Et La Cage D'Oiseau, Tsuguharu Foujita, 1917. Lot 408

Friends shall I have at dawn, blackbird and thrush
To rouse me, and a hundred Warblers more;
And if those Eagles to their ancient Hold
Return, Helvellyn's Eagles! with the Pair
From my own door I shall be free to claim
Acquaintance as they sweep from cloud to cloud.
The Owl that gives the name to Owlet-Crag
Have I heard whooping, and he soon will be
A chosen one of my regards. . . 
-Home At Grassmere, Wordsworth, c.1806.

An Aviary, Madeline Hewes. Lot 1491

Hail to thee blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert, 
That from Heaven, or near it, 
Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art. 

-To A Skylark, Percy Bysshe Shelley, 19th century Romantic poet

Two Victorian painted Tôle Birdcages, second half 19th c. Lot 992

Young Girl Holding A Bird, Jean Braun, 1749.
Lot 344

 The lark that shuns on lofty boughs to build Her humble nest, 
lies silent in the field.
-Of The Queen,Edmund Waller,17th c.

Bunny Mellon teaches us the art of living at home, rather than so today-those who are ever seeming to perfect that art, yet never staying home to inhabit it.

13 November 2014

reading Rowing Blazers

Always stylish, rarely authentic, the Rowing Blazer. 
Countless designers have dressed their runway models in versions of it, in the States- Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger consider some form of it part of their trademark look. A new book devoted to the Rowing Blazer looks at the quintessential blazer, something every man, and woman should have at least one of in their closet-even if it's not the real thing.

Balenciaga's 2007 take on the Rowing Blazer

Author Jack Carlson is infinitely qualified to sort out the Rowing Blazer, its origins, its clubs, and its bold vibrant colors.  He  represented the United States at the World Rowing Championships, and raced in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races-he an Oxford man. Winner of the Henley Royal Regatta, the Royal Canadian Henley Royal Regatta, and the Head of the Charles Regatta, Jack Carlson, along with fashion photographer F.E. Casteberry, captures the sport of rowing, its champions, and its essential wardrobe element- ROWING BLAZERS. 

Lady Margaret Boat Club, Cambridge
(the St. John's College rowing club)
The bright red flannels of Lady Margaret's were the very first rowing blazers, and the word "blazer" itself appears first in the description of the Lady Margaret uniform in the Cambridge University General Almanack and Register, 1852.

1829 Boat Club
or the Oxford Cambridge rowing club mash up.
Their blazers combine the dark blue of Oxford, and the light blue of Cambridge.

Sara Hendershot dons Princeton's black and orange.
Hendershot is captain of the Princeton women's crew, Olympian, & world champion in the women's four.

Geoff Roth in the Cambridge University Boat Club's famous shade of blue, adopted in 1836.

Harvard's Newell Boathouse

Yale's Taylor Ritzel, gold medal winner in the 2012 Olympics in the U.S women's eight.
Yale University Boat Club has been wearing blue since the 1850's.

Loud & Proud
Taurus Boat Club, Oxford England

Oliver Williams is Taurus' three piece version of the Taurus blazer in Baltic Blue, with narrow navy & red stripes.

Brianna Stubbs wearing the Wallingford Rowing Club blazer with the Wallingford town symbol-a portcullis.

 Die Hard
 D.S.R.V. "Laga"

In Delft, the Laga club blazer is past down from rower to rower. Laga members are responsible for stitching their own blazer badges onto the pockets, and blazers remain unwashed until its owner wins the Varsity, the Netherlands most prestigious regatta.

There are probably not a world of rowers reading little augury at the moment, but one doesn't have to row to read, or to soak up the brilliant colors swimming in the pages of Rowing Blazers.
It's glorious.

" On Sundays when decent people are either at Church or out walking, he lolls out of a friend's window in smoking cap and boating jacket. -Magdalen College School Journal, 1871.

-and really who could blame him.

on the cover: Kenny McMahon wearing the University of Wisconsin's Henley-style blazer marking the team's 2008 National Championship win.

09 November 2014

MASTERWORKS: Mrs. Paul Mellon

Rarely does an auction attract the attention of so many as does the upcoming Sotheby's sale of the late Bunny Mellon's collections. It's an unprecedented sale where her exquisite taste, and her unerring eye is evident in every object.

She saw what is beautiful-not most costly, but what is pleasing & fine regardless of price.

 The Mellon Living Room at Oak Spring

Her ability to place those objects and works of art together is recounted in the three voluminous catalogs for the sale-the first on November 10th. Mrs. Mellon's collection of Masterworks includes Diebenkorns, Rothkos, alongside works of Dutch masters, and Camille Pissaro.

To imagine eying just one of these paintings each day is impossible, but all? An intensely private person, the world Bunny Mellon created at Oak Spring Farm, and her other homes,included intimates the likes of Joseph Cornell, Gwen John and Georgia O'Keefe. It must have been company enough, and why not?

A painting of Dorelia McNeill, "Dorelia by Lamplight, at Toulouse" painted by Gwen John hangs alongside a hurricane globe & smoke bell in Mrs. Mellon's Oak Spring Farm dining room. It's enough that the provenance of this painting would lure me, once owned by painter Augustus John, a gift from his sister Gwen, it depicts Dorelia, his common law wife reading. Dorelia is best known in Augustus John's own paintings-part gypsy-part domestic, she was his great muse and responsible for his best works devoted to bohemianism. Cecil Beaton lauds Dorelia in his book The Glass of Fashion as having been unequaled in "developing a more perfect visual expression of the art of living." The same can be said of Bunny Mellon.

 Lot 40

In Mellon's painting by Gwen John, Dorelia perhaps revealed more of her true self-as she is said to have been a quiet, esoteric. Gwen and Dorelia traveled together on foot through France in 1903, stopping in Toulouse, where she painted Dorelia.

Two works that seem to have been separated at birth-but born of two quite different mothers are by Georgia O'Keeffe and Nicolas de Stael.  They are representative, too, of Mrs. Mellon's impeccable eye-one that could roam from an O'Keeffe to de Stael and rest on the beauty of both.

Georgia O'Keeffe's White Barn
Lot 16

Nicolas de Stael
Lot 21

Another de Stael painting in the collection:

Cap Blanc Nez
Lot 17

The Mellons commissioned three works from Diego Giacometti in the early 1970's. All three support Mrs. Mellon's devotion to nature & purity. My favorite is a pair of chenets in painted bronze, "Chenets Aux Oiseaux."

Lot 22

"Table Au Dragon A L'Oiseau"
Diego Giacometti
Lot 5

There are 43 Masterworks in this, one of the three sales Sotheby's is conducting in November with over 2500 lots included from Mrs Mellon's collections. 

Pieces from her Collection of Interiors will be sold commencing November 21st, more from Me on that just before the sale.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Sotheby's, online catalog here
The catalogs are available from the Sotheby's website and highly desirable to any student of design
A discussion of the Masterworks here
On the Sotheby's site, Charlotte Moss talks about Bunny Mellon, a must see, here
 more about Augustus John, and Dorelia here , and here



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