Reception at Malmaison in 1802 François Flameng

Transitory Spaces

  The beginning of one of Napoléon Bonaparte’s earliest letters to Joséphine de Beauharnais simply oozes sensuality: “Seven in the morning. I awaken full of you…the memory of yesterday’s intoxicating evening has left no rest to my senses…Sweet and incomparable Joséphine, I draw from your lips, from your heart, a flame which consumes me…A thousand […]

Gondoliers on the Grand Canal in Venice

Peggy Guggenheim Visits Oculus Gallery

  In 2009, I trekked to Venice with my dear friend JoAnn Locktov, the founder of Bella Figura Publications whose newest book Dream of Venice Architecture has just debuted to acclaim. We spent several contented days wandering through the city’s museums—first the Punta della Dogana where Tadao Ando, who has written an essay for JoAnn’s […]

The gardens at the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte

Heaven Shall Be Here

  In the film A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman, who plays an unlikely Louis XIV, declares, “Heaven shall be here.” He’s speaking of a ballroom he has commissioned for the gardens at Versailles, which will be realized by one of the most visionary landscape architects during the 17th-century, André le Nôtre (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), […]

In the mood for chess in The Thomas Crown Affair

How to Set a Mood

  The 1968 version of The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway is a mercurial mélange of masculine and feminine charisma in equal measure. It’s as apt an example of how to set a mood as the new releases by Currey & Company debuting at High Point Market this week, the Aviva […]

Antonio Cotti paints "Dante in Verona"

Reading Dante in Milan

  “I’d like that sunny table near the windows under the beautiful mirror,” he says to the hostess at Le Vrai, pointing to the niche set with two café tables, perfect for reading Dante all afternoon. Only a few decades earlier, the waistcoat and watch fob dangling from its pocket would have been out of […]

Michelangelo on the facade of National Arts Club

The Italian Reformation and Gifting

  Peering back into the mists of time to ascertain how relationships between men and women played out has its challenges, particularly when the era limited contact between the opposite sex of a certain rank such as during the Italian Reformation. Last week, I took readers on a literary design adventure that found the Renaissance master […]

Karman Deja Vu Nu

Date Night in Florence Italy

  What if the Renaissance master Michelangelo and the Marchesa di Pescara Vittoria Colonna suddenly found themselves revived and in modern day Florence? Though scholars are resolute that their relationship was platonic, that hasn’t stopped plenty of voyeurs from engaging in the art of innuendo that paints them as friends with benefits over the years. […]