Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eltham Palace, London

Eltham Palace, London.
Image via Flickr.
One of the Great Houses of London that, sadly, The Devoted Classicist has never visited is Eltham Palace.  Although essentially an Art Deco mansion, the Great Hall dates from the 1470s, built by Edward IV.

The site plan of Eltham Palace
showing the remaining buildings.
Image via
In the 16th century, Eltham was eclipsed by nearby Greenwich Palace which had river access.  Eltham was continued to be used for hunting until the English Civil Was when the trees and deer were removed.

A view of Eltham Palace, about 1653,
said to be by Peter Stent, just before
major demolitions in the 1650s.
Image from English Heritage.
"The North-East View of Eltham Palace in the County of Kent",
a 1735 color engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck.
Image from English Heritage.
Eltham Palace was used as a farm with the buildings leased to tenants. A villa was built within the moat walls in the early 19th century.  A campaign to save the Great Hall resulted in restoration in 1828, but it was still used as a barn.

The Great Hall at Eltham Palace
as it appeared in a 1937 issue of  Country Life
during the residency of the Courtaulds.
Photo from Country Life Library.
Stephen Courtauld, brother of textile magnate Samuel who founded the Courtauld Institute of Art (which, along with the Courtauld Gallery [Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art], is located in Somerset House, London), and his wife Virginia "Ginie" leased Eltham from the Crown Commission in 1936.  Stephen Courtauld did not enter the family business, but after serving in World War I, his wealth enabled him to travel extensively and pursue his cultural and philanthropic interests. Stephen Courtauld was financial director of the famous British film company Ealing Studios, a trustee of the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden, and he provided financial support for the Courtauld Galleries in Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum.

Stephen and Virginia Courtauld
in the Drawing Room of the former home
with their pet ring-tailed lemur
The 1934 portrait was painted by
Leonard Campbell Taylor.
Image via English Heritage.
A property of The Crown Estate, Eltham Palace had essentially been discarded by the monarchy, but the Courtaulds saw the possibilities to make it a fashionable home where they could entertain and develop their interests in orchids (Stephen) and roses (Ginie).  Alterations were allowed with only a few provisions to save the hall and some fragments of 15th century architecture.  Architects John Seely and Paul Edward Paget created an opulent house with an exterior in the Wrenaissance style (named after Christopher Wren) popular in high-style English architecture of the day.

A panoramic view of the entrance to Eltham Palace.
Photo from Wikipedia.
The interiors, however, were sleek Art Deco and reminiscent of a Hollywood film set, not surprising with the Ealing Studios connection.  Having all the modern conveniences:  radiant heating concealed in ceilings and floors, synchronized electric wall clocks, and a central vacuum system, much of the furniture was built-in and the most of the walls were covered in expanses of exotic wood veneers to maximize the modern, uncluttered experience.

Ground Floor and First Floor Plans
of Eltham Palace.
Image from English Heritage.
With the exception of the Entrance Hall, most of the other rooms were designed by Peter Malacrida, an aristocratic Italian playboy/decorator.  (Malacrida also designed the interiors of their luxury yacht "Virginia").

The restored Entrance Hall at Eltham Palace.
Photo from Country Life Library.
The Entrance Hall is an equilateral triangle with curved walls and a domed ceiling.  The 19 ft diameter Art Deco carpet was designed by Marion Dorn;  the original is now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, but a replica has been made to cover the wooden dance floor.  Also, replicas of the original furniture has been made by Neil Stevenson.  Extraordinary inlaid wood panels by Swedish designer Rolf Engstromer decorate the walls of Australian black bean veneer flanking the entrance.

The restored Dining Room.
Photo from Country Life Library.
Another view of the restored Dining Room.
Photo from Country Life Library.
The fireplace in the Dining Room.
Photo from English Heritage.
The walls of the Dining Room, designed by Peter Malacrida, are bird's eye maple with the ceiling covered in aluminum leaf.  A bold Greek key motif in black lacquer and aluminum leaf is featured on the passage doors of the room and the fireplace.

Mrs. Courtauld's Bedroom, restored.
Photo from Country Life Library.
The fireplace in Mrs. Courtauld's Bedroom.
Photo from Country Life Library.
In Mrs. Courtauld's bedroom, pilaster-like vertical elements of contrasting tones of wood-grain feature inlaid motifs in the neo-baroque style.

The tub in Mrs. Cautauld's Bathroom.
Photo from Country Life Library.
Mrs. Courtauld's bathroom was a luxurious modern interpretation of a classical bath with onyx, marble and gold mosaics.

The Boudoir in 1937.
This photo was not published.
Country Life Library.
The Boudoir fireplace
as seen in a 1937 issue of Country Life.
Photo from Country Life Library.
The Boudoir featured indirect lighting and a long sofa built-in with bookcases in a niche across from the fireplace.  An embossed leather map covers the chimney breast.

Mr. Courtauld's Study
as seen in a 1937 issue of Country Life.
Photo from Country Life Library.
Mr. Courtauld's Study featured niches with sliding panels that allowed the display of a collection of watercolors to change.

Mr. Courtland's Bedroom
as seen in a 1937 issue of Country Life.
Photo from Country Life Library.
Mr. Courtauld's Bedroom featured a wide alcove lined with wood veneer and included built-in bedside tables and a corner fireplace.

Mr. Courtland's Bedroom
as it appeared May, 1999.
Photo by J Bailey from English Heritage Photo Library.
Concealed doors along one wall of Mr. Courtland's Bedroom opened to an en suite bathroom and a fitted dressing room closet.

An end of a Guest Room showing the
built-in dressing table and other features
as it appeared in a 1937 issue of Country Life.
Photo from Country Life Library.

The closets and built-in dresser
of a Guest Room as it appeared in a
1937 issue of Country Life.
Photo from Country Life Library.
There were numerous Guest Rooms, all with electric heaters and fitted with built-in furniture in the manner of a fashionable cruise ship cabin.  This type of interior was known as the 'Cunard Style', named after the popular steamship line. 

The pet lemur Jongy in his room.
Photo via makeplaywander.blogspot.
The pet lemur's accommodations were well-designed as well.  Artist Mary Adshead (in the circle of Rex Whistler) was commissioned to paint murals evoking the jungles of Madagascar, Mah-Jongg's native home.  There was a hatch with a bamboo ladder that he could descend into the Flower Room of the Ground Floor. Although dearly loved by the Courtaulds, Jongy was a biter and had numerous disastrous encounters with the guests.  Purchased from Harrod's in 1923, Jongy died at Eltham Palace in 1938.

An aerial view of Eltham Palace.
Photo from English Heritage Photo Library.
The Courtaulds' gardens were laid out after an initial design produced by Mawson and Partners in 1935.  There were modifications to incorporate ornamental plantings, however, as the owners were keen horticulturalists.  New areas were laid out to include lawns, a mixed border, a sunken rose garden, a spring bulb meadow, and rock garden and a woodland garden.

The Triangle Garden.
Photo from Country Life.
Another garden view.
Photo from English Heritage.
The garden created in the dry moat.
The bridge dates from the 15th century.
Photo from Country Life.
The Courtaulds called the house Eltham Hall which they moved into in March, 1936, after first seeing it in 1933 and taking a ninety-nine year lease.  The time they occupied it as they had originally envisioned it was short, however, as bombing during World War II forced them to spend much time in shelter in the basement.  They gave up the lease in 1944 and went to Scotland to live.  In 1951, the Courtaulds decided to go to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia, a self-governing British colony) and establish another house with an elaborate garden there.  Stephen Courtauld died there in 1967, and Virginia moved to Jersey in 1970 where she died in 1972.
Eltham Palace
overlooking the rock garden.
Photo from English Heritage.
Eltham Palace was used by the Army Education Corps after World War II.  In 1992, English Heritage took over responsibility for the site, carrying out a program of repair and restoration, and re-creating furnishings in some of the principal rooms using an inventory taken on the contents in 1939.  Also, the 1937 Country Life photos provided documentation of the interiors.  The house is open to the public and may be rented as a venue for wedding receptions and special events.  For more information about visiting Eltham Palace and Gardens, click here.
Anne Kemkaren-Smith of English Heritage will present a talk, "The Courtaulds of Eltham Palace: A Public Image and a Private Indulgence" on Sunday, June 2, 2013, at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.  Sponsored by Decorative Arts Trust, more information on the 2:00 presentation may be seen on the D.A.T. website here and click on Calendar of Events.  The event is free with regular museum admission and open to the public.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Same House, Same Owners, Different Decorators

The renovated Greenwich, Connecticut
  home of Allison and Warren Kanders
 as it appeared in Architectural Digest, 2001.
In 1997, Warren Kanders bought a handsome Colonial Revival house in Greenwich, Connecticut, that was featured in an Architectural Digest article from 200l.  Allison Smith had quit her job as a coordinator at Comedy Central and they married at the Metropolitan Club in New York City in June, 1998.  Warren Kanders is the Executive Chairman of Black Diamond, Inc., a company that manufactures and supplies armored military vehicles as well as other safety products for defense, homeland security, and commercial markets;  He is also President of Kanders & Company, Inc., a private investment firm.  In addition, since 2011 he has owned, in partnership with hotel investor Alan Kanders, the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut (a John Tackett Design project with Mariette Himes Gomez for the original owners to be featured in a future post).

Homeowners Warren and Allison Kanders
with their son William in the 2001 issue of
Architectural Digest.
Working with architect Oliver Cope  to extensively renovate and expand the house, Mica Ertegun of MAC II was hired as interior designer with the results featured in Architectural Digest in 2001.  Now, the house has been published in Architectural Digest again, still with the Kanderses as the clients, but with interiors redone by Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem Associates.  Warren Kanders is now on the Board of the Whitney Museum and the homeowners wanted contemporary art to play a larger part in the décor.  The aspect that interests The Devoted Classicist is that he would not have been sure which pictures were from a 1990s design and which were from a concept 12 to 15 years later.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, just interesting.

Mica Ertegun (left) who designed the interiors in 2001,
and Joe Nahem (right) who redesigned the interiors in 2013.
Take a comparative look, room by room, and see what you think, Devoted Reader.  The text in the article stated that the owners now wanted a "Cutting Edge" interior to compliment their contemporary art collection.

The rear of the Kander home in Greenwich
as it appeared in Architectural Digest, 2001.
The landscape was done by Peter Cummin and Claudia Levy of Cummin Associates in Stonington, Connecticut, one of the most respected landscape architecture firms in the country.

The Entrance Hall as decorated by
Mica Ertegun, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Entrance Hall decorated by Joe Nahem
as it appears in 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates
In the Entrance Hall, the flooring is wood with insets of tile painted to resemble sandstone, according to the magazine text, reminiscent of Bill Blass's Sutton Place apartment Entrance Hall floor (a project MAC II was associated with).  The sconces and Irish mirror are replaced with art and the lantern is replaced with a contemporary glass dish.  The new chairs flanking the fireplace appear to be contemporary versions of a classic klismos model.  The 1920s table by the windows remains.

The Living Room, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Living Room, 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates.
In the Living Room, traditional furnishings are mostly replaced with intentionally independent pieces giving allusions to different Twentieth Century movements to compliment the contemporary art.

The Dining Room, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Dining Room, 2013.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The walls of the Dining Room remain with a dark glaze although in a different color, but the furnishings are artisan-made rather than antiques.  The Nordic chandelier from the Chateau de Groussay auction is replaced with a specially made hanging light by David Wiseman.  Fox-Nahem designed the table and chairs with replace the antique Irish table and the northern European versions of Louis XVI chairs with custom stenciled fabric (also from the Bill Blass apartment).

The Bar, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Bar, 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates.
A room off the Gallery that has a full bar is referred to as the Bar.  It changed from neutral warm with some antiques to neutral cool with all contemporary furniture.

Master Bedroom, 2001.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
Master Bedroom, 2013.
Photo:  Fox-Nahem Associates.
Master Bedroom, 2013.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
The Master Bedroom also changed from warm traditional neutral to cool contemporary neutral.  Of particular note is the custom made bed fabricated from Corian.

Allison Kanders, 2013,
in her Fox-Nahem living room.
Photo:  Architectural Digest.
According to The New York Observer, the Kanderses have bought a $17.8 million Manhattan townhouse at 16 West 12th Street and are relocating from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Greenwich Village.  Whether or not they will keep both as a Town and Country arrangement, it is not known.  In any case, the 'before' photos of the townhouse and the floor plans may be seen on the Observer link;  perhaps the 'after' will appear in Architectural Digest in the future.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Palacio de Liria: The Madrid Residence Of The Duchess Of Alba

The garden view of Palacio de Liria,
also known as Liria Palace, Madrid, Spain.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
Catetana Fitz-James Stuart was born at Palacio de Liria, the family palace in Madrid, Spain, in 1926.  With more than forty noble titles recognized by an existing government, and 150 hereditary titles, she holds the current Guiness World Record for nobility.  Her senior title is Duchess of Alba.

A bird's eye view of Liria Palace, Madrid.
Photo via Wikipedia.
The only child of the 17th Duke of Alba, Jacob Fitz-James Stuart y Falco, a diplomat, and Maria del Rosario de Silva, 9th Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco, a wealthy with a list of titles herself, Cayetana grew up in her family's art-filled palaces, castles, country houses and estates across Spain. 

The Liria Palace, Madrid.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.
While living in London during the Spanish Civil War, Liria Palace was essentially gutted by the fire that resulted from a bombing.  Fortunately, the most important art works had been sent to the British Embassy in Madrid and to the Banco de Espana.  And the Gobelin tapestries had been sent to the Real Fabrica de Tapices for cleaning and restoration.

The Countess of Quintanilla (now Romanones),
Jacqueline Kennedy, and the Duchess of Alba
at a 1966 bullfight.
Photo via Daily Mail.
James Fitz-James, the Duke of Berwick, settled in Spain in the early 18th century and was the first owner of the Liria Palace;  his descendants completed the palace, described as the most elegant in Madrid, at the end of that century.

The Garden Elevation of Liria Palace, Madrid.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.
 When the previous Duchess Cayetana, a widow and muse of the artist Goya, died without children at age 40, the palace passed into the Alba family via a nephew. 

The Attic Floor Plan, Liria Palace.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.
The Second Floor Plan, Liria Palace.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.
The First Floor Plan, Liria Palace.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.
The Ground Floor Plan, Liria Palace.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.

The duchess's father, the Spanish ambassador to Britain after the Civil War, was familiar with the great architect Edwin Lutyens from some of the earlier work at Liria and hired him to design the reconstruction of the palace. 

A section through Liria Palace, Madrid.
Drawing from the private collection of a
Devoted Reader.
The plans were carried out after the architect's death;  work began in 1948.  The design was based on the plans by the original archtects, first Louis Guilbert and then Ventura Rodriguez.
The first wedding of the Duchess of Alba, 1947.
The groom was Don Pedro Luis Martinez de Irujo y Artocoz.
Photo:  Time Life Pictures, Getty Images via Daily Mail. 
The duchess writes in her memoirs YO, CAYETANA (sadly, available only in Spanish) that she developed a passion for decoration and antiques after visiting so many beautiful houses when she lived in England and the house of her godmother, Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain.  Her first husband, Luis Martinez de Irujo (son of the Duke of Sotomayor), shared this passion and helped in rebuilding the palace.  The marriage was a great union of Spanish noble families and was reported by The New York Times as "the most expensive wedding of the world."  Six children were born before Martinez's death in 1972.

The second wedding in 1978.
The groom was Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate
Photo:  HOLA! magazine.
The second marriage caused some controversy as the groom, Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate, was of illegitimate birth as well as a defrocked Jesuit priest.  But the marriage was a happy one, by all accounts, ending with his death in 2001.  Secure in her great wealth and social status, the Duchess of Alba was unconcerned about the public shock of her third marriage that was widely covered in the European tabloids.

The third wedding in 2011.
The groom was Alfonzo Diez Carabantes.
Photo:  Associated Press via Daily Mail.
Legal paperwork restricting inheritance and a distribution of wealth and property prevented an outrage from her children, according to sources in the press, after the duchess' marriage to Diez Carabantes, a long-time friend almost 25 years her junior.

The garden of Liria Palace
is said to be the largest in Madrid.
Photo by Simon Watson for W magazine, 2005.
There are four floors of the palace with the ground floor containing offices, studies, the library and archives, and the music room.

The Entrance Hall of Liria Palace.
Photo by Derry Moore from
The Library of Liria Palace.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
The staircase at Liria Palace.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
The staircase and cupola at Liria Palace
was designed by Edwin Lutyens.
Photo by Simon Watson for W magazine, 2005.
The first (principal) floor has all the reception rooms, the dining room, and the duchess's own rooms.

The Goya Room.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
The Duchess of Alba, 1965,
American Vogue via Scala Regia.
"The Duchess of Alba in White"
by Francisco de Goya, 1795.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle for World of Interiors.
The other end of the Goya Room at Liria Palace.
The large portrait "Gabriela Palafox y Portocarrero,
Marchioness of Lazan" by Fracisco de Goya about 1804.
Flanking are two portraits of the 13th Duchess of Alba,
one by Augustin Esteve (left) and Joaquin Inza.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
Hall of the Grand Duke
hung with tapestries depicting battles.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
Hall of the Grand Duke
with two portraits of the Grand Duke of Alba.
One in the corner by Rubens painted about 1603
after a lost original by Titian and one by Titian
himself, lower left, painted about 1570.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle via World of Interiors.
The Dining Room at Liria Palace.
Gobelins tapestries from the "New Indies" series
were made after cartoons by Dutch painter
Albert Eckhout.
Photo by Ricardo Lobougle.
The Green Room is next to the duchess's bedroom.
Portraits by Fernando Alvarez of the duchess
(over the sofa) and her eldest son (over the fireplace)
the Duke of Huescar, were painted in the 1950s.
Photo by Ricardo Labougle.
The Blue Sitting Room at Liria Palace.
Photo by Simon Watson for W magazine.
The Flemish Salon at Liria Palace.
Photo by Simon Watson for W magazine.
The Spanish Salon at Liria Palace.
Photo by Simon Watson for W magazine.
The second floor has the private sitting rooms and some of her six children have private apartments there as well.  The third floor has servants rooms, the studio where the duchess used to paint, and a room that houses the collection of royal uniforms.

Armand Albert Rateau,
the renown French Art Deco cabinet maker,
1882 to 1938 in a portrait by Jean Dunard.
Image:  Wikipedia.
Liria Palace has been in the news again lately with the publicity surrounding an auction at Chrisitie's Paris on May 23, 2013.  Some Art Deco masterpiece furnishings designed by Armand Albert Rateau for a suite of private rooms for the Duchess of Alba, dona Maria del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay, the mother of the current duchess, were sold to raise cash for the House of Alba.

Rateau's 1921 plan of the bathroom.
Image via Aestheticus Rex.
The House of Alba issued this statement regarding the sale of furnishings that the decorative arts community had been presumed lost in the bombing during the Spanish Civil War.  "The House of Alba has decided to sell the Armand Albert Rateau furniture commissioned by the 17th Duke of Alba, don Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart in the early 1920s in France, in order to support the funding of its heritage and of its various palaces throughout Spain as well as supporting projects of the family.  This is part of a general reorganization undertaken by the House of Alba, as illustrated by the recent exhibition 'El Legado Casa d'Alba', the first ever organized in Madrid between December 2012 - March 2013.  These pieces of furniture are all that remains of a larger ensemble that no longer exists.  They do not form part of the historic collection of the House of Alba nor do they relate to the history of Spain".

The duchess's bathroom designed by
Rateau showing some of the furnishings
sold at the Christie's Paris auction.
Photo from Musee des Arts Decoratifs
via Aestheticus Rex.
Despite the missing mirror and some other replacements, the coiffeuse (lot 123) in the niche brought $854,696.  The lit de repos (lot 118) placed before it, brought $544,602.  Of the magnificent torcheres which were originally a set of four, two lampadoire aux oiseaux (lots 119 and 120) were sold for $2,151,953 each.  The table basse aux oiseaux (lot 122) shown at the left of the sunken bathtub sold for $2,151,923.  All these were within the estimated price range.  The baignoire (lot 124), the enormous marble bathtub, sold for $79,462, well below estimates.  The canapé (lot 121), not seen in the photograph above, which had restorations and losses, did not sell.

For more about the history of these noteworthy rooms created by Rateau, see the posts of the always interesting blog Aestheticus Rex here and here.  And for highlights of the sale, see the post by everyone's favorite Mitchell Owens for the on-line version of Architectural Digest here.

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