One of life’s small pleasures for me is beautifully engraved stationery and I love monograms. So browsing auction catalogues featuring old letters is a real pleasure because one inevitably comes across some beautiful examples of the stationery engraver’s art, such as these Russian Imperial monograms (Christie’s Russian Works of Art, New York 15th April 2013) where literally no expense has been spared in their production, using multiple colours (each colour requires the paper to be stamped with a different die or a masked die – it is a very difficult and specialised skill when done by hand) and exquisite composition of the letters.
I thought posting some Russian examples was fairly apt given the famous Imperial tradition of giving a jewelled Easter Egg made by Faberge around this time of year.
So Lichtenstein: A Retrospective was SENSATIONAL – A definite go-see. And when visiting be sure to support the work of the museum by going crazy in the shop – I brought home these fun cushions and of course the book which is a complete treasure trove. There are fun homeware items (espresso cups being noteworthy) and postcards and all sorts of things which will bring those spots and colours to life in your own home.
I was really excited to find this gorgeous grey throw (the photo really doesn’t do it justice) in the shop at Cliveden for just £30, pure wool and not scratchy which is a bugbear of mine… why wrap up in something which feels like sand on wet skin?! They also have fantastic plaid woolen picnic blankets which are a steal at just £12, which must be less than the cost to make the wool, and my new favourite hostess gift item for spring (I would never accept an invitation of any sort from someone who doesn’t like picnics).
I am tempted to describe in minute detail a marble tray I saw at Skandium the other day and hanker for… but I won’t for fear of talking myself into buying it.
I am positively giddy at the news that the divine Mr David Collins is launching a furniture collection in Milan later this spring, finally bringing his uber luxe aesthetic within reach, but I’d better get saving as I doubt anything Collins has in store for us will be anything less than truly exquisite. I yearn for Mr Collins to do a book, allowing us to share his genius and apply his rules to our own rooms.
February is my least favourite month. I DO honour St Valentine and my beau will likely receive a card and a small gift (OK so admittedly I do fall occasionally for a little bit of commercialised schmaltz) but the sight of Easter eggs, bunnies and baskets proliferating in the shops fills me with barely-concealable irritation (akin to my thoughts on Christmas decorations going on sale in July) but really, February in London is somewhat dismal. Aside from the retail horror aforementioned, the grey fills me with gloom and frankly if I could live somewhere else from January to March I would.
However, had this dream been realised, I should be jetting back to Blighty about now in anticipation of a new blockbuster exhibition opening at Tate. Lichtenstein: A Retrospective could not have been scheduled more perfectly to bring welcome joy to a soupy London day.
I believe my first encounter with the artist’s work (sadly never the artist, he died in 1997) was I think at the age of 11 when I visited POP ART at the Royal Academy on a school trip. If memory serves, they had a Lichtenstein or two in the show, but sadly I can’t remember which one(s) OR indeed if I wanted to see one so much that I dreamt it and it became a memory… research into this matter will ensue I promise… but whatever moment in time I first beheld the large (huge when you’re 11) canvas, screaming with energy and primary colours all brought to order by the strong black lines and seemingly countless rows of seemingly countless dots endlessly repeating… it was a moment of awe and early appreciation for this body of work which has become among the most recognisable in all modern art. I am by no means an art historian, but the repeating dots theme has put me in mind of Kusama and her dotty takeover of Louis Vuitton in 2012.
Those wishing to own a tiny but very attractive piece from the artist’s own hand need only look to Christie’s sale in London on the 13th February… a really lovely artist’s study is coming to the market estimate £700,000-£1m.
Lichtenstein: A Retrospective opens in London on 21st February.
Having failed completely to get my act together sufficiently during the past few weeks to post my Christmas list, here it is in all its acquisitive glory… fingers crossed for 2013…!
A print by Takashi Murakami. A one-man show is currently showing at the Hong Kong outpost of mega-gallery Gagosian.
Lacquer Trays from Jonathan Adler (£225)
A 1920’s Lalique vase (Soudan vase pictured, £800-£1000). Bonham’s is the place to find it.
Queen Elizabeth II The Lightness of Being by Chris Levine. 2007 is one of my favourite contemporary works of art and I would love a print of my own – the one they have in the collection at the Groucho Club is the perfect size.
Copious amounts of Portobello Road Gin. They even do classes (£100) where you learn about gin, and get to make your own blend. I daren’t, as it shall lead me to ruin…
I saw this interesting variant on Edward VII’s cipher, applied as a gold and enamel mount on a cigarette box coming up at Christies on the 9th December. ‘Harewood – The Attic Sale’ is at Christies in South Kensington and there are some really lovely lots, including another presentation cigarette box featuring Edward VII’s son’s cipher when Prince of Wales – the letter E surrounded by a garter with the familiar ostrich feather plumes.
Of course of particular interest for me is that this cigarette box was given by the chap who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. I wonder if they themselves ever took a cigarette from this box at Harewood House… Somehow I doubt such chic persons ever smoked anything other than their own tobacco blends and had a stash with them at all times carried in the most elegant of accessories, as a cigarette case by Faberge owned by King Edward VII personally and enamelled in his racing colours sold today (also from Harewood House) for £313,250.
Living in a small space forces one to be extremely disciplined about acquiring items as one has first to think about where that item will live, given that space is at a premium. Therefore buying furniture that serves a purpose other than its main function is vital to creating an uncluttered and clean space.
I’ve been looking for ages to combine the functions of footstool, additional guest seating and, with the addition of some chic trays, a coffee table… and the Ottoman is the answer to my interior design prayers. I have finally ordered one which fits the bill perfectly, and at an extremely inexpensive price.
The Bouji Ottoman (pictured) is available at www.made.com for the sum of £149 plus delivery, which let’s face it is the cost of a night out these days. An agonising wait of up to 14 weeks lies ahead, but like all good things, the wait will be worth it.
In the meantime, I will be keeping an eye out for some chic lacquer trays, or possibly even a white marble platter to sit upon the upholstered top for items such as cups and magazines, or a small posy of flowers. I’ve seen some chic trays at Jonathan Adler which are worthy of further inspection, or I might even venture to Portobello Road to find something a little more idiosyncratic.
I have a quiet yearning to own a piece of 1920’s Lalique, perhaps because the objects his studio created epitomise the Deco era so completely, and in such luminous fashion.
I have been fortunate to see Lalique on a rather grand scale in a private residence. The master bathroom was, astonishingly, almost completely made of Lalique glass panels which had been bought in an auction in the 1970s and stored in crates for some 30 years. Brought together into this discreet room, with some contemporary glass mirrors and sublime modern lighting, the luminosity and milky translucence of the glass was simply enchanting. One panel, comprising nine smaller panels making up the image of swimming Japanese Koi was simply a masterpiece of this art form and will for me remain one of the loveliest things I have had the pleasure of seeing.
Such rare finds as this are too dreamy to even imagine, so instead I can hope to acquire something from Christie’s upcoming sale of Lalique in London on 13th November. Top of my list is this gorgeous Gui Vase, designed in the 1920, estimate £700-£900.
Another beautiful lot is the Bammako vase, 1934, estimate £500-£700.