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…View More Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting
The nobility in Europe had a long run of power and I enjoy plumbing history in order to write about their worlds, their exploits and their relationships.
The era of the Grand Tour is one that inspired great envy in me so I search for stories highlighting the lives of the nobility with the ability to travel the world as young adults, one of these is Horace Walpole, whose estate, Strawberry Hill, I visited in 2015. The largely unfurnished gothic mansion has now been restored to its former glory as closely as the Strawberry Hill Trust could come with the information available to them.
The restoration was accomplished in two phases, the second of which was just completed, opening more of the house to tours in March (2015). Walpole began building the rambling gothic mise-en-scène at the age of 30, purchasing a pair of small houses on a large swath of property along a fashionable section of the River Thames in 1747. As he acquired paintings, baubles and furnishings, he often outgrew the rooms he’d rendered with his pals Richard Bentley and John Chute, a clique Walpole dubbed the Committee of Taste. As a result Strawberry Hill became the sprawling spired and turret-topped bon-bon of a residence it was when he died in 1797, 50 years after he’d bought it.
On his Grand Tour through Italy with poet Thomas Gray, for example, he wrote to his pal Richard West about the then recent discovery of the town of Herculaneum, which had been buried during one of the major eruptions of Vesuvius. That was in 1740, and he returns years later to add a footnote to the letter stating that eight years after he wrote the initial missive Pompeii was discovered! You can bet I’ll be scouring literary history for more stories like Walpole’s so click on the nobility tag to find all the stories about the moneyed and landed gentry of a bygone era.
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…View More Transitory Spaces
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…View More Heaven Shall Be Here
The Seat of Scottish Power
As the opening credits roll during the film Her Majesty, Mrs Brown, a Markino marble bust, which has been tossed over a castle’s ramparts, tumbles…View More The Seat of Scottish Power
The Built Legacy of Henry VIII
The 2016 Academy Awards are handed out this coming Sunday so I’m celebrating a film that showcases the built legacy of Henry VIII to delve back into…View More The Built Legacy of Henry VIII
I Met Virginia Woolf in This Room
Who else is relieved that Lady Edith Crawley, played by Laura Carmichael, is finally finding happiness on Downton Abbey? Having binged on all of the…View More I Met Virginia Woolf in This Room
Find Your Red Carpet Style
“Find Your Red Carpet Style,” urged Currey & Company’s Brand Ambassador Denise McGaha during a presentation in the company’s Manhattan showroom last week. The point…View More Find Your Red Carpet Style
Renovating During the Tudor Era
Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Looking back to the Tudor Era from this great distance, it’s easy to see how barbaric a sport jousting was.…View More Renovating During the Tudor Era
God’s Articulate Finger
Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel In this last entry of the year, I wanted to share a piece of my own creative writing to say…View More God’s Articulate Finger
Dining with History
A month from Sunday, I’ll be winging my way to Paris to attend Maison & Objet, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve been invited to…View More Dining with History