King Richard III and Queen Anne

The Nature of Noble Loyalty

  It’s spring in London and the flowers are bursting forth on Cheyne Walk, which skirts the edge of the River Thames until it gives way to the Chelsea Embankment. I have ambled along the street for nearly an hour identifying plaques representing the famous people who’ve lived on nearly every block. Finally, I’ve reached […]

medieval personality exudes from Castel Monastero

The Personality of Place

  So, this is how it feels to experience a medieval Tuscan village that has existed on a hillside in some form for almost 1000 years! My view from the courtyard of Castel Monastero encompasses a string of buildings that meander along the edge of a quaint piazza. The bricked courtyard is paved in a […]

Death of Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini.

Echoes of History

  Life is a paradoxical affair at the corner of Boulevards Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain. Uber drivers dressed in tailored suits whiz through the intersection in sleek Mercedes just yards away from an assemblage of ragged walls nearly 20 centuries old. Pocked with scraggy arches, they splay toward the streets—unapologetic in their dilapidation.     The […]

Henry VIII swathed in cloth

Henry VIII’s Cult of Cloth

A trip to Frankfurt to attend Heimtextil a week from today has inspired me to share one of my favorite anecdotes about Henry VIII and his court, as it describes how the Tudor King doted on textiles. I came across the depictions of his wanderlusting ways in Nicola Shulman’s book Graven with Diamonds: The Many […]

Peace Bringing Back Abundance

Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting

  A Passion for Painting Billowing ruched fabric, pointy toes of dainty shoes visible from beneath flounced skirts hemmed in gold fringes and ornate trims. A bejeweled crown on a pillow festooned with gold fleurs-de-lis; and a red velvet tablecloth flowing downward, its gold trim cascading onto a floral rug. Sumptuousness at every turn. Painting in […]

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 […]