Monday, July 29, 2013

Bonnie Dune, Southampton

Bonnie Dune, 376 Gin Lane, Southampton.
As it appeared when it was the beachfront
 residence of the Carl Spielvogels.
Photo by Billy Cunningham for Architectural Digest.
For Devoted Readers at the beach -- or those longing to be there -- cedar shingles have been the material of choice to clad the houses of the Hamptons from the Colonial days.  In the third quarter of the nineteenth-century the shingles were often stained gray, green, russet or dull red until white became popular after the Colonial- and Neoclassical-Revivals.  Left-bare-to-weather-silver is the trend today, even for the Post-Modern villas and new Mega-Mansions.  A wonderful example of the Golden Age of the shingled beach house is Bonnie Dune at 376 Gin Lane, Southampton, Long Island, New York.

The Entrance Hall of Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham, Jed Johnson Associates.
Constructed in 1888 by the Robert Olyphants, of an old New York family with a fortune made in railroads, the house was originally named Eden Cottage.  A number of changes came with the next owners, the Elijah Kennedys, president of an insurance firm and an author, during a 1898 to 1902 period of construction;  they renamed the house Bonnie Dune.  The next owner, Anson McCook Beard, Sr., reverted to the original name of the house, however.  Local lore has some of the rooms of the house being used for the filming of several scenes in Woody Allen's 1978 film "Interiors" and it was still referred to as Eden Cottage.  By the time it was bought by the Carl Spielvogels around 1990, it was due a major renovation in addition to reverting back to the name Bonnie Dune.  Mr. Spielvogel is known for his success in the business of marketing and served eight months with a recess appointment by President Clinton as United States ambassador to the Slovak Republic.  Mrs. Spielvogel is also known as Barbaralee Diamondstein, advocate for architecture and the arts and author.

A Sitting Room at Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham, Jed Johnson Associates.
Although essentially rebuilt by the Spielvogels, Bonnie Dune still reflects the original design philosophy that skillfully combined elements of the Shingle Style with Arts & Crafts and the Colonial Revival.  Real estate agents notoriously attribute houses like this to architect Stanford White, but great-grandson architect Samuel White suggests that it might have been designed by Bruce Price instead.  Sam White, who had worked with the owners on a previous project, over-saw the restoration/rebuilding along with interior designer Jed Johnson.  (Tragically, Johnson's career was cut short with the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996).  Bonnie Dune was featured in the August, 1995, issue of Architectural Digest in an article by noted architectural critic Paul Goldberger.

The Stair Landing at Bonnie Dune.
The light fixtures were commissioned from Dale Chilhuly.
Photo by Billy Cunningham, Jed Johnson Associates.
Dramatically built on the dunes, the ecologically unsound placement would not be allowed for new construction today.  From the road, an expanse of flat, green lawn ends at the backdrop of the façade which is mostly roof pierced by huge con-joined twin gable dormers, all giving the effect of being held down by big chimneys of white-painted brick.  Crispness is provided by white trim and glossy black shutters.  The window placement was given a more orderly arrangement in the renovation.  Guests do not get a view of the ocean until entering the house and ascending the staircase to the main floor.

The Powder Room at Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham for Architectural Digest.
The Powder Room is decorated as a grotto folly lined with thousands of shells laid to form architectural decoration.  "It was my idea, and I intended to put the shells in myself," Mrs. Spielvogel was quoted to say.  "I did, until my fingers started to stick together and I realized that I had to admit that I needed help."

The Living Room at Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham, Jed Johnson Associates.
All eleven fireplaces in Bonnie Dune have Fulper Tile facings.  Fulper Pottery was a noted pottery studio in the early twentieth-century;  with the increase in appreciation of the Arts & Crafts movement in the mid-1980s, descendants of the founder revived the business to produce a line of high-quality architectural tiles.  Starting at about $25 for each tile and going up to about $300, operation ceased in 2001.  Stephen T. Anderson was commissioned to create the large hand-hooked rugs.

The Dining Room at Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham for Architectural Digest.
A round, pedestal dining table seats twelve on George II sidechairs.  A Swedish hanging light fixture with a shell motif reinforces the marine theme.  Johnson, with associate Arthur Dunham (now design director of Jed Johnson Associates), introduced many marine-themed decorative motifs in the added architectural details, hardware, and light fixtures throughout the house.

The new Master Bedroom at Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham for Architectural Digest.
A new Master Bedroom was created from several rooms on two floors.  The furnishings are intentionally spare so as not to distract from the view to the ocean, the article said.

Porches overlooking the ocean that had been enclosed
over the years were reopened in the renovation.
Photo by Billy Cunningham for Architectural Digest.
The Spielvogels sold Bonnie Dune in May, 1998 for $11,700,000 and moved to a larger estate nearby.  (Their current house is listed for sale however).

The ocean side of Bonnie Dune.
Photo by Billy Cunningham for Architectural Digest.
Project architect Samuel White and his wife Elizabeth White have written a wonderful 2008 book about the work of his great grandfather STANFORD WHITE, ARCHITECT.   Interiors by Jed Johnson are recorded in the 2008 book Jed Johnson: Opulent Restraint.   Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel's best known book is THE LANDMARKS OF NEW YORK: AN ILLUSTRATED RECORD OF THE CITY'S HISTORIC BUILDINGS.  All three books are available through The Devoted Classicist Library by clicking on the title.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Parisian Pied-à-terre

The Sitting Room of a Parisian apartment
decorated by Alidad.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
The London furniture and fabric designer known as Alidad is also an interior designer.  (The firm was mentioned in a previous post of The Devoted Classicist in reference to furniture designed by Thomas Messel that may be read here).  A relatively small but richly layered apartment overlooking Paris' Place des Vosges decorated for a client was featured in the October, 2007, issue of House & Garden magazine.

Details of the Sitting Room decorated by Alidad.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
The sunny Sitting Room is dominated by a wall-size Aubusson Louis XV tapestry, one of the designer's trademarks.  The walls are covered with a modern damask fabric the color of topazes to emphasize the jewel tone theme.  A concealed door replaces the conventional doorway so that the expanse of wall is unbroken.  The tufted gold velvet sofa is trimmed with a bullion fringe overlaid with braided tassels.  A side table is covered with fabric Alidad designed for Pierre Frey.  Strips of gold metal trim give the effect of hiding seams, as done when damask was woven on narrow looms.  The 1920s sconce is by Baguès. 

The Chinese Boudoir decorated by Alidad.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
The daybed designed by Alidad for
the Chinese Boudoir.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
A Chinese Boudoir was created with paneling decorated in imitation of red lacquer with motifs in white gold and yellow gold.  The custom made daybed is adorned with cushions made from a seventeenth-century needlepoint tapestry valance.  Panes of antiqued mirrored glass are interspersed to reflect the candlelight and give an expansive effect.

The Dining Room decorated by Alidad.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
Vintage velvet covers the chairs with golden trim in the Dining Room with the table covered in red silk damask.  The effect of a 16th-17th century coffered ceiling is given by the trompe l'oeil painting from which a Louis XIV Genoese gilt-wood chandelier hangs.

Details of the Dining Room's leather wallcovering.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
Candlelight is used in the Dining Room to further the effect of the Old World mood.  Leather wallcovering with the tree of life motif stamped in foil and hand-painted pink flowers and green leaves against a blue background adds another rich layer.

Details of the Passage to the Dining Room.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
A Passage outside the Dining Room is lined with cupboards to store dishes and glasses behind concealed doors.  The parquetry effect is actually trompe l'oeil painting, by the same (unidentified) artist who decorated the floors and ceilings.

Alidad at the Sitting Room window.
Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.
A new book on the work of Alidad will be released October 15, 2013.  Featuring apartments in London and Paris, villas in Beirut and Kuwait, and seaside homes in Sardinia and Cornwall, ALIDAD, THE TIMELESS HOME may be ordered at a discounted price with the option of free shipping here.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
Broadlands is a handsome house in Hampshire near Romsey that is best known as the residence of the late Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma.  But it also earned a footnote as the early destination of two royal honeymoons:  Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1947, and the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981.  However, Devoted Readers will know it as once the location of a particularly lovely set of panels painted by Rex Whistler;  the previous post of The Devoted Classicist about these panels may be read here.

Broadlands, Hampshire.
Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
Before the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the original manor belonged to Romsey Abbey, pre-dating the Norman Conquest of the 11th century.  In 1547, Broadlands was sold to Sir Francis Fleming whose daughter married into the St. Barbe family, who lived on the manor for the next 117 years.  Henry Temple, 1st Viscount Palmerston, bought Broadlands in 1736 and started, with the advice of William Kent, to deformalize the gardens from the house to the river.  Kent changed the course of the river Test to sweep towards the house and created a slight slope down to the river, the broad-lands. Lancelot "Capability" Brown, the famed architect and landscape designer, was brought in to refine the transformation in 1767, and his vision of making the Tudor and Jacobean manor house into a symmetrical, creamy brick Palladian mansion was completed by architect Henry Holland.

The river Test with farmlands beyond.
The first settlements in this valley date from
the fifth century when Saxons sailed up the river.
Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
Edwina Mountbatten (who was briefly profiled in the earlier post for commissioning the Whistler decoration) inherited Broadlands in 1939, during World War II, and the house was adapted for use as a hospital.  After returning from India where Lord Louis Mountbatten was the last viceroy, then governor general, the house was refurbished.  The twenty-seven room Victorian "bachelor wing" was pulled down and the Georgian architecture and décor was highlighted.  Entertaining resumed with lavish weekend house parties attended by high-society guests, much like the grand style of the 1930s, with only small concessions to a reduction of staff.  The Mountbattens had two daughters, Patricia and Pamela, who married famed decorator David Hicks.  (Patricia and Pamela, by the way, are first cousins to the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh).

Lord Louis Mountbatten, 79, was assassinated in 1979 when the Irish Republican Army blew up his boat in Donegal Bay, Ireland.  Also killed were a young boatsman, Mountbatten's 14 year old grandson Nicholas and the boy's grandmother, Dowager Lady Brabourne.  Patricia Mountbatten Knatchbull succeeded as The Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and her son who inherited Broadlands, was known with his wife as Lord and Lady Romsey, a courtesy title;  after the 2005 death of Patricia's husband, the Romseys took the subsidiary title of Lord and Lady Brabourne.

The Romseys at Broadlands, circa 1983.
Photo via Daily Mail.
David Hicks was glad to be asked to help with the house's decoration when it was inherited by his wife's nephew.  In an April, 1983, article in Architectural Digest, Hicks says, "I've been longing to get my hands on those rooms for twenty-two years."  These photos show the Hicks arrangements of the rooms at that time.  "Pale colors," Hicks said, "are what Lady Romsey wanted, and what better for a pretty blonde in an eighteenth-century house?"
The ornamented plaster paneling in the Saloon by Joseph Rose dates from 1767, during Lord Palmerston's residency.  Adamesque gilt sofas and chairs of the same period are grouped around the fireplace and an Aubusson rug on strips of neutral velvet-pile carpeting sized to the room.  Bookcases now house Lord Mountbatten's collection of Sevres and Meissen that had been arranged by his brother-in-law, King Gustav of Sweden, a porcelain expert.

The Drawing Room at Broadlands, circa 1983.
Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
Palmerston family portraits flank the fireplace in the Drawing Room.  Note the placement of picture lights and the table-top lamps for the lower paintings.  It is a tradition for pots of azaleas to decorate the room each spring.

The Dining Room at Broadlands, circa 1983.
Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
David Hicks chose a vibrant yellow for the walls of the Dining Room to compliment four portraits by van Dyck.  This room shows the influence of Hicks the most, with the blue and yellow carpet of classical motifs and the set of ten armchairs at the table.  The bulk of the silver collection shown here consists of pieces given to the Mountbattens as gifts during their stay in India.

The Wedgwood Room at Broadlands, circa 1983.
Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
Afternoon tea is served in the Wedgwood Room with a suite of Empire seating pulled up to a round table in front of the fireplace.  Sir Peter Lely painted the portraits of Barbara Villiers and Lady Annabella Howe.  Henry Holland the Younger designed the room in 1788.

The Portico Room at Broadlands, circa 1983.
Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest.
The Bedroom known as the Portico Room uses chintz that had been ordered in 1854 for the royal yacht, the first named the Victoria and Albert (later renamed the Osborne).  Broadlands is open to the public late June to early September;  see the Broadland Estates website here.

Lord Braburne, right, with his son Nicholas, 2012.
Photo via Daily Mail.
Lord Braburne left Broadlands for the Bahamas in 2010, leaving his wife Penny for his mistress, according to the British tabloids.  He now lives in the Belgravia section of London, according to reports.  After a period of addiction to crack cocaine and heroin, son Nicholas (named for his uncle killed by the IRA) is now clean according to the Daily Mail, and on track to eventually become the Earl Mountbatten, inheriting Broadlands and the associated fortune.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Andrée Putman

Andrée Putman.
Photo via
Some other issues in the life of The Devoted Classicist last January prevented the mention of the passing of design legend Andrée Putman at age 87.  A current web-article in 1st Dibs Introspective offered a tribute to Madame, leaving a reminder that mention here was long-overdue. 

Andrée Putman.
Photo via DeZeen.
I had the great pleasure of first meeting Andrée Putman in 1980 when I was an employee of Beyer-Blinder-Belle Architects & Planners in New York City.  The firm had been hired by Phyllis & Fred Pressman (of the store Barney's) to renovate a beach house in Southampton, Long Island, they had just bought.  The office was set up as a team format and I was assigned to contribute as the historic preservation component.  It was a 1920s Norman style cottage with the most charming potential, sited directly on the dunes.  Sadly, it was that location that proved to do its undoing, and long-story-short, the house was demolished before much design development to renovate the existing house was accomplished.  But, fortunately, I was on the team long enough to meet the Parisian interior designer that the Pressmans hired for the project, Andrée Putman.  Her concept was to decorate the house, not in the French provincial style, but with classic modern furnishings from the 1920s and 30s, and a monochromatic color scheme in only black, white, and grays.  My friend Peter DeWitt was project architect and he designed a new house that was a larger, somewhat post-modern version of the original house and it was furnished as planned by Putman.  (Although Fred Pressman died in 1996, Phyllis Pressman, who remarried, still owns the house to my understanding).

Ecart's 'Satellite Mirror' by Eileen Gray, 1927.
Photo via Ecart, Ralph Pucci.
Andrée Putman did not become well-known in the U.S., however, until the 1984 success of Morgans Hotel in New York City.  It opened to great fanfare at the forefront of the rise in the trend of boutique hotels in this country and helped make Putman a 'name' in the U.S. design media.

Ecart's 'Bergere' by Jean-Michel Frank, 1930.
Photo via Ecart, Ralph Pucci.
Andrée Putman's fame in hotel decoration followed with acclaim for other prestigious interior design projects, including the interior scheme for Air France's Concorde.  But Putman's greatest influence in twentieth-century design was through her furniture company Ecart, available in the U.S. through Ralph Pucci.  As well as producing some of Putman's own designs, Ecart ("trace" spelled backwards) re-issued some of the great designs of the 1920s and 30s by Jean-Michel Frank, Eileen Gray, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and others, making them available after decades out of production.  Studio Putman has been headed by daughter Olivia Putman since her mother's retirement several years ago.

More about Andrée Putman may be found in books available for purchase at discount from The Devoted Classicist Library.  The 2005 book by Stephane Gerschel, PUTMAN STYLE, gives biographical information as well as examples of her work.  The 2009 book ANDREE PUTMAN: COMPLETE WORKS by Donald Albrecht, curator of architecture and design at the Museum of the City of New York, is a monograph of the grand dame's work from 1980.

Those reading The Devoted Classicist by email subscription may visit the full website to leave comments (Anonymous submittals cannot be published), search the blog for labels, and browse the archive of past posts.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hanging With Alec Cobbe, Hatchlands Park

Alec Cobbe in the room now used as a Library
at Hatchlands Park, his home in Surrey, England.
Photo by Simon Brown for Architectural Digest.
Pick up just about any design/shelter magazine and it is clear that the art of picture hanging is just that -- an art, not to mention a talent that is often under appreciated.  But a great master in the arrangement of pictures is Alec Cobbe, a painter-designer-musician who lives at Hatchlands Park, a National Trust property in Surrey, England.
Hatchlands Park.
Photo by Simon Brown for Architectural Digest.
Cobbe sees both the paintings and the furniture as integral to the whole interior decoration scheme.  He has been a pioneer in the revival of awareness of how paintings have been hung in the past.  He contends that in any collection there are stars, and levels of quality down from that.  It is important to put the best pictures in prominent locations and then group the others to benefit.  "Quality, size and subject matter are all important," Cobbe was quoted to say in an interview for the March 1996 issue of Architectural Digest.  "It's no use having an ideal hang in mind, then lamenting that the collection doesn't fit the glove.  It's a question of manufacturing a glove that fits."

The Salon at Hatchlands Park as it appears
in the March 1996 issue of Architectural Digest.
Note the medallion heads of the pins holding the picture wires.
Alec Cobbe also said, "In a room of architectural merit, you can't ignore the volume, the dimensions.  Rehanging pictures can change your entire perception of a space.  Until 1900 it was considered normal to hang densely -- three, even four tiers deep -- something architects must have had in mind when they designed tall rooms.  The twentieth-century reaction to Victorian clutter has encouraged us to hang pictures in isolation.  They may gain clarity and be seen in better light that way, but they do lose their original architectural role."

Originally the dining room but now called the Salon.
The chimneypiece was carved 1758-60 from
 a design by Robert Adam.
A.E. Henson photo from Country Life magazine, 01/10/1953.
The red walls of the Salon came to be when Cobbe learned that the red silk in one of the galleries of the Wallace Collection was being replaced and he could have it if he took it away immediately.  Red is the traditional background for old-master paintings.  The ceiling of the Salon had already painted and gilded, but Cobbe introduced dark blue paint into the frieze to give it the visual weight that was needed.  It was not a historical judgment, but rather an aesthetic one.
The bay window of the room now called the Salon.
A.E.Henson photo from Country Life magazine, 01/10/1953.
Although the original owner, Admiral Edward Boscowen had hired Robert Adam for the interiors, some elements were never realized and others were changed in the nineteenth century.  So Cobbe did not treat the interiors as a late eighteenth-century Adam restoration.  Originally the dining room, the red Salon features a 1758-60 Adam chimneypiece.

The Dining Room at Hatchlands Park as it appears
 in the March 1996 issue of Architectural Digest.
In the Dining Room, Cobbe designed arabesque panels which he painted with the help of his assistants.  Cobbe explained, "The sources of the scheme include Girard's work for the prince regent at Carlton House."

The Drawing Room of Hatchlands Park as it appears
in the March 1996 issue of Architectural Digest.
Cobbe chose light gray and gold for the walls of the Drawing Room to give it a slightly French feel.  The details of the paneling are very fine and the Erard pianoforte made for Marie Antoinette is there, adjacent to the fireplace.  Note that the larger paintings are hung from chains suspended from brass rods.  Art lighting here and in the Salon is from wall-mounted, goose-neck picture lights with shades of a shell motif.
The walls of the Library are green, Cobbe says, because "that's a good color for a room where one would want to sit, read, and drink coffee," he says.  "And I never do one flat color, but endless washes of thin color until the depth is right."

The Library, originally the drawing room,
as published in Country Life magazine, 01/10/1953.
Part of Cobbe's collection of paintings, watercolors, and drawings that he had done himself over the years is displayed in the Hall.

Art by Alec Cobbe is displayed in the Hall
of Hatchlands Park.
Photographed by Simon Brown for Architectural Digest.
I met Alec Cobbe when our Attingham class visited the house.  After Hatchlands Park had been presented as a gift, largely unfurnished, to Britain's National Trust, a deal was made with Cobbe, known from projects he had worked on for the National Trust, to become a tenant and refurbish the interiors for his studio, design offices, and residence.  The grand rooms of the main floor are open to the public on a limited basis and house his collection of about forty historic keyboard instruments in a domestic museum setting.  Cobbe played many of the instruments for my class, including pianos that had belonged to Mahler, Bach, and Chopin, music that was composed on the very keyboards in some instances.

The Music Room at Hatchlands Park
photographed by Simon Brown for Architectural Digest.
Concerts are sometimes given in the Music Room by Cobbe and other musicians.  The domed space was a1902 addition designed by architect Reginald Blomfield who also designed the organ case. 
As a footnote, Devoted Readers will appreciate that David Mees, former assistant to Alec Cobbe, has a most interesting blog, Mad About Interiors.