Friday, March 14, 2014

Rolling In Style

A custom-made 1927 Rolls-Royce
known as the Gasque Phantom for the
man who commissioned it for his wife.
Image: Hagerty.
The Devoted Classicist loves the full range of the decorative arts, particularly when they are far-reaching, such as this example, into automobiles.  The famous Rolls-Royce company was founded in 1904 when Charles Stewart Rolls, the 28 year old son of Lord and Lady Llangattock met 41 year old car-builder Frederick Henry Royce.  Rolls, with partner Claude Goodman Johnson, had an automobile dealership in London that specialized in importing luxury cars from France and Belgium.  Royce gave Rolls the exclusive rights to sell his car, and the brand was born.

A general view of the 1927 Gasque Phantom.
Image: The Telegraph..
The early Rolls-Royce cars followed the latest trends because the bodies were always custom made by coachbuilders on the R-R chassis.  The first chassis was the Silver Ghost, introduced in 1907, which was replaced by the New Phantom in 1925 which was basically the same but with a more powerful engine.  In 1929, this was replaced by the Phantom II which was again basically the same chassis but with an up-dated engine.  So this car is sometimes referred to as a Phantom I.

The interior woodwork of the Gasque Phantom
Rolls-Royce features inlaid satinwood detailing.
Image: The Telegraph.
The coachwork for this car, a Brougham de Ville, was made by Charles Clark & Son, Ltd.  By this time, the Clark company concentrated on the highest-end work.  After building several bodies for one of the directors of the British franchise of the F.W. Woolworth & Co., the Clark firm was introduced to C.W. Gasque, the franchise's American finance director.  Gasque wanted to give his wife, related to the Woolworth family, an especially made car "different to anything else, and also better."  The only other stipulation was that there be a French theme, and Mr. Gasque did not want to see it until completed.

An interior view with the cabinet doors closed
with the jump seats open.
Image: The Telegraph.
One of the jump seats.
Image: The Telegraph.

An interior view towards the front
with the cabinet open to reveal facing jump seats
and a drinks cabinet.
Image: The Telegraph.
The interior of the drinks cabinet.
Image: The Telegraph.
An enameled ormolu clock sits on the cabinet.
Image: The Telegraph.
A view of the main seat which is like a sofa.
Image: The Telegraph.
A visit to the Victoria & Albert museum resulted in finding inspiration in a sedan chair designed by Robert Adam.  All the woodwork for the interior was produced in the Clark shop although some of the more elaborate carving was done in London. 

Robert Adam's design for a sedan chair for Queen Charlotte, 1775.
Image: V & A via Jane Austen World blog.
The Aubusson petite-point upholstery was a special commission which took nine months to complete.  The ceiling was painted by an unnamed French painter living in London.

The interior with Aubusson upholstery.
Image:  The Telegraph.
A detail of the Rolls Royce ceiling.
Image: The Telegraph.
Hallmarked silver interior hardware, much of it gilded, was commissioned from Elkington & Co. 

A detail of the interior door pull.
Image:  The Telegraph.
It is believed that the car, including the chassis, cost about GBP $6,000 (roughly $30,000 at that time and $1 million today) according to West Peterson in an article for Hagerty, the source of much of the history of this car.

One of the most unusual features is a pair of vanity cabinets.
Image: The Telegraph.

A view of a cabinet open to reveal enameled bon-bon boxes.
Image: The Telegraph.
C.W. Gasque died in 1928 but Mrs. Gasque continued to own the car until her death, around 1950, although the car had been in storage since 1937.  Car enthusiast Stanley Sears bought the car from the dealer who had purchased it from the estate.  Sears added the straw-colored basket weave caning and replaced the 23 inch wheels with a smaller size since the large tires were not available.

An exterior silver lever.
Image: The Telegraph.
A rear view.
Image: The Telegraph.
Starting in 1986, the care was own by a series of Japanese collectors until the end of 2001 when it was bought by Pennsylvania Jack Rich.  The unrestored car was exhibited in several shows until bought by Charles Howard and returned to England.  In 2013 it was reportedly for sale for over one million British pounds at P & A Wood, Great Easton, Essex.

The 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom.
Image: P & A Wood.
But today's music stars (many of whom TDC has never even heard of) often are driven in cars that cost between one and two million dollars, so such extravagances have not entirely died out.  It is just a different taste in wheels among those flush with cash.

The silver coach light of the
Gasque Phantom Rolls-Royce.
Image: The Telegraph.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One Man's Folly

The driveway to the estate of Mr. Fulow Gatewood
is lined with pots of hydrangeas.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.
Three great Southerners, each a much-admired acquaintance of The Devoted Classicist, have come together to produce a new book, ONE MAN'S FOLLY: THE EXCEPTIONAL HOUSES OF FURLOW GATEWOOD by Julia Reed (whose home was featured in a previous post here).  Furlow Gatewood, 92, has been an associate in the wildly successful to-the-trade source John Rosselli Antiques for more than 40 years.  Bunny Williams, my friend of over 32 years since our days at Parish-Hadley, wrote the Foreward to the new book.

Phillip, and Italian greyhound, sits in the entrance hall
of one of the guest houses known as Peacock House,
before a 17th-century Italian table below a
19th-century Dutch chandelier.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.

It was Rosselli's wife, the reining queen of decorators, Bunny Williams, who convinced Mr. Gatewood to do the book, according to the article in the March-April 2014 issue of Veranda.  "Gatewood never went to architecture school, but he creates these buildings with fabulous style because he has this innate feeling for architecture," Bunny is quoted to say.  "Then he furnishes them in the most delightful, eclectic way.  He has a real flair that often eludes professionals."

Another view of the entrance hall
at Peacock House.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.

The property near Americus, Georgia, consists of eleven acres with five houses and numerous outbuildings.  Peacock House, featured in the current issue of the magazine, originally began as a dirt floor greenhouse before becoming home for 40 peacocks.

Flush boards face the walls of the living room in Peacock House.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.

Now, with a few rooms added, it is a guest house, although no one has ever slept there overnight, according to the article written by Mimi Reed and produced by Carolyn Englefield.

A bed from John Rosselli fills an alcove at Peacock House.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.

Furnishings from John Rosselli decorate a guest room
at Peacock House.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.

A guest bath at Peacock House.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.

Architectural salvage played an inspirational factor in the design.  Fretwork from the noted West Cornwall, Connecticut antiques dealer Michael Trapp led to the creation of an elegant open garden room.  Porch posts from the Atlanta flea market, Scott Antique Market, set the theme of the gothic gingerbread exterior.

A porch with salvaged fretwork
becomes an outdoor garden room
with furnishings from John Rosselli and Treillage.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.
Architectural salvage was effectively used to give
character to a storage building near Peacock House.
Photo by Max Kim-Bee via Veranda.
An earlier article featuring different aspects of the property can be seen on the Veranda website here.
The Devoted Classicist Library
The new book, to be released by Rizzoli on April 8, 2014, may be ordered now at a discount at The Devoted Classicist Library here.