Château Pédesclaux in Bordeaux

Architecture with Heart in Bordeaux

In the preface to the book Grand Bordeaux Châteaux: Inside the Fine Wine Estates of France, Philippe Chaix describes discovering Bordeaux as a bewitching act: on foot, he reports, it means ambling through the city of stone and gazing into its mirror-like river. Setting off to explore the Mèdoc and Saint-Èmilion, he notes, the experience makes […]

Sally Potter and Pablo Veron tango on the seine

The Architecture of Tango

I envy the pencil being held carefully between her fingers, the rasping sound the sharpener makes as a thin layer of wood peels away from the instrument’s body. I am fascinated by her hesitation, the dark point poised above the supple blank pages so pristine the sight sends ripples of resistance through the synapses of […]

Classical and Modern architecture meet at Yale

Touching Literary History

I will once again be touching literary history soon, as the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University reopened yesterday following a 16-month renovation to upgrade the 50-year-old building’s climate-control system, expand its classroom space, and restore the landmark to its original luster. The building’s architectural features—an exterior grid of granite and Vermont […]

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 its […]

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald before This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise

I looked forward to meeting Michael Berman during the Spring 2016 High Point Market when he was there to debut his Califolio collection for Theodore Alexander, and, not at all a surprise, the party was packed. As more and more people filed in, I noticed the serene setting he had created with more than 75 […]

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 kisses, […]

Pandora de Balthazar fine lace curtains

Rewriting the Myth of Pandora

I’ve always been fascinated by the myth of Pandora because the most widely accepted explanation of this parable—that feminine curiosity “is responsible for all the woes from which mankind suffers”—may not be accurate according to some scholars. The quote, from Frances E. Sabin’s book Classical Myths That Live Today, goes on to say, “Another version […]

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 latest […]

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), and […]