Whistler gilded the walnut latticework forming the shelves.

The Peacock Room à la Whistler

The most recognizable painting by artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler might lead you to believe he was as Puritan as his upbringing. The fact he could render such a realistic homage to piety in Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother)—better known as Whistler’s Mother—does seem to further the illusion […]

Leonardo da Vinci's "La Belle Ferroniere," circa 1496, was included in the exhibition.

The Anecdotal Leonardo da Vinci

  I’m often amazed at how serendipity flows through life. This past April, I traveled to Europe to attend the Salone del Mobile in Milan and The Decorative Fair in London, never imagining my tale of these two cities would intertwine within one blog post given the furnishings in Milan were as modern as modern […]

The painting "Three Tahitian Women" by Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin in Tahiti

  Seeing the luscious colors and splashy patterns in the summer issues of the top shelter publications (“Big, Bold Blooms” an Elle Décor Trend Alert and “Imperial Red” the month’s Color Crush featured in House Beautiful) I was reminded of an exhibition staged at the Tate Modern I was lucky enough to see on opening […]

Judith Paul, Mixed-Media Artist

Judith Paul’s Cover Story

Before I made a definitive decision to carve out as close to a writer’s existence as I could, I exhibited as a stained glassed artist in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was a member of a gallery and active in AVA, the Association for Visual Arts. Just before I moved to New York City, […]

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen smoking cigarettes at Cranbrook.

The End of an Era

Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern. A voiceover of Don Draper reciting the lines leading this post while thumbing through a copy of Frank O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency bring one of my favorite episodes of Mad Men to a close. He’s […]

Study for plate XIV of the Différents vues de Pesto

Love Among the Ruins

  How would it feel to spend your life so absorbed by crumbling architecture and disintegrating stone you could bring them vibrantly back to life with chalk and a pen? Giovanni Battista Piranesi knew, his talent for accuracy in imagining the details that flirted at the edge of the decaying world so astute he became […]

Beautiful hand-painted majolica plate

Poetry and Ceramics in Savona

  The 16th-century poetry that sprung from Savona made a strong impression on Thomas William Parsons when he found verses inscribed on a statue of the Madonna near the town’s lighthouse during a tour of Italy in the 19th century. He was so moved, the American poet penned the sonnet “Savona: Vespers on the Shore of the Mediterranean” […]

Rolf Sachs Camera in Motion on Saxon Henry's blog

A Definition of Fleeting

“O nature, merciful and cruel mother, when do you have such power and such contrary wills, to make and unmake things so charming?” —Petrarch   Petrarch, one of the best-known Italian poets of the Renaissance, built a legacy around the ephemeral emotion of grief. He once lamented that everything pleasing in the world was to […]

Madame Cezanne with Hotensias is a study by Paul Cezanne

Mme Cezanne at the Met

“For nearly seventeen years, Cézanne would conceal his affair with Hortense from his father…” —Philippe Cézanne As I studied the sketches and paintings in the Madame Cézanne exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was compelled to ask the sullen woman peering back at me, “What would it mean to live with you hovering […]

Sophia Khan's Mystery of San Giorgio

Impressions of Venice

Several months ago, Sophia Khan engaged me on Twitter and I decided to visit her site to understand her point of view. I must say I was stunned by the whispery delicacy and magical powers of her paintings, a paradoxical mélange of attributes that is rare to find within the same oeuvre. I asked her […]