John Koch painting (New York, 1909-1978), "The Plasterers", 1967, oil on canvas, 40 x 49-7/8 in
Sold For USD210,000
I feel I should be getting plastered, or at least supervising someone plastering, in a small area around an airconditioner in my bedroom, but the joy of a flat free of staff and tradesmen over the weekend is too much to pass up. Last week I arranged for the six-monthly maintenance of all the airconditioners in the flat, which always requires at least one follow up visit to restore one of more of the machines to its more quiet mode of operation. I truly do not know what the technicians do, but invariably a rattle or vibration manifests itself after the so-called maintenance. And it's not that there is more money involved, or that that they are unwilling to return. Sometimes I leave my maid to supervise the return visit, because I am not able to do so myself, but this usually results in a third visit and the excercise this time around was no exception. Actually, they will have to come again, because the aircon in the kitchen which sounded like a demented cat at times, now has another noise that irritates fragile nerves. Such are the tribulations of an idle life.
I was trawling through my database of auction items and came across this rather excellent picture by John Koch, which caught my fancy briefly last year. The price tag rather put off any thought of serious indulgence.
in the shape of garden statuary, can be arranged in numerous shapes, to depict one large centerpiece or two smaller ones. Includes figures on pedestals, urns with lids on pedestals, planters; some straight, some curved. All with raised decanthus and leaf designs. Tallest 6.75" H. Good condition, 2 heads repaired, several small chips on urn lids and fingers of figures, minor staining, green felt on bottom of most pieces. Estimate USD400-600, Midwest Auction Galleries, Oxford, MI.
The concept of this changeable centrepiece is rather charming, but possibly too twee and fiddly to be practical, and if you had guests who were bored, they might start re-arranging it during dinner, which could be very tiresome.
This section of the picture of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment by Louise Pragnell, in full here, (click on Household Cavalry), was unveiled by The Princess Royal to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Household Cavalry. The unveiling ceremony of the oil painting - which measures 3 metres high by 1 metre long - took place in the Officers Mess at Hyde Park Barracks in London. The portrait features 25 officers of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment dressed in a selection of military uniforms.
The full picture is slightly reminiscent of John Singer Sargent's portrait of General Officers of the Great War, 1922 at the National Portrait Gallery in London, although the obvious difference is the size - 3 metres high by 5.3 meters wide, and of course the much less formal pose of the new picture.
In my previous post I mentioned that I find the colour combination of blue and red to be irresistible, and here are two further examples of that scheme working together, in entirely different contexts.
In the first picture, the C19th Chinese reverse mirror painting has a significantly distracting gilded wood carving, and in the second the Serapi carpet has a variation in hues, to empahsise the durability of the combination. This durability is enhanced by the fact that both pieces come from very different cultures.
Gustave D. Riquet (France, 1866-1937) "Une Course de Taureaux aux Arenes d'Arles" (The bull fight at Arles). Oil on canvas, signed lower left Gustave Riquet. Accompanied by a 1930 era letter from the artist and correspondence from Musee De Picardie in Amiens, France. Canvas measures: 25.25" x 31.5". Ht: 29" Width: 35.5"
With much of the world's attention centred on another spectator sport viewed from an arena, mine has been on securing this at auction. I am particularly drawn to the blue of the sky and the burnt orange red of the fencing at the bullring's lowest level, a combination I find quite irresistable. At the moment I'm not entirely sure about the frame, which I'm reluctant to label, but I think would be described more as art nouveau than anything else. However, as this and other recent purchases are investments, it will be stored in Scotland, so the niceties of hanging are not important. Indeed original frames, unless completely hideous and out of character, are best left on the pictures.
A letter (above and below) from Riquet to the owner in 1930 describes his drawing and painting process, which is a very interesting piece of history and background relating to the picture.
This rather unusual photograph taken in 1890 was up for auction at the weekend, and described as "Siamese Temple Dancers", which didn't really make any sense. Perhaps someone could come up with a more amusing, but culturally sensitive title.
I've always thought I'd like a set of these Fornasetti Adam plates ever since I watched an interview of Lynne Franks, the inspiration for Edina in Absolutely Fabulous. The interviewer, Adrian Chiles accidentally broke one of the plates, presumably in the melee of people and camera equipment whilst filming at Franks's flat. Her new found serenity from her New Age lifestyle was sorely tested. But having seen how much these plates cost, I am really not that surprised.
I much prefer the way the plates are hung in the first picture, rather than the splayed leg effect (for Adam), in the second. Both variations would require painstaking measuring to get the best display, and then as Franks learned to her cost, hang them somewhere that is unlikely to be brushed by a passerby.
Given the interest shown by myself and others in the Etienne Turgot map of Paris, discussed here, and here, it is not surprising that the Danish company Ferm Living has produced this Voila wallpaper from an old map of Paris. I'm not sure if the original map was Turgot's, but the definition appears less clear than that previously discussed. Excuse the added pieces in the picture I've scanned, but it's from House & Garden's Decorator's Notebook, and the rope is the cord of a lamp they featured too.
Before we evacuated from Bangkok last month I clipped this piece from the Telegraph, of a rather nice surprise for an attendee at the Antiques Roadshow. The irony now upon re-reading the piece is that it was renamed The Refugee, which seems particularly apt in the circumstances. The above picture is a self portrait by Sir William Orpen, c.1910 at the Met.
We returned to Bangkok on Wednesday afternoon after more than two weeks away during the civil unrest. It is good to be home. There was an immaculate reception. The flat was spotless, the fridge well stocked, and no evidence of our hasty departure two Sunday's previously. In the intervening period I had spoken to our maid a couple of times and established that she was fine and that the road had reopened and she had been able to come in and tidy up the few loose ends.
Since then I have been out and met with various people and talked of their reactions and feelings about the recent disturbances. Things are not business as usual, and there is a nervousness and uneasy calm, as people wait to see if there will be any resumption in hostilities. Business is down, and people are worried about their jobs. I am taking a more positive view and living life as normally as I can. But we have decided we will make an emergency back up plan to be implemented in a worst case scenario.
Whilst away I bid unsuccessfully for this watercolour by Edward Seago (1910-1974) Rue de la Hughette, Paris, (above). I was deliberately not agressive in my limit, because although I like Seago's work tremendously, I was not prepared to pay the premiums he is attracting. Seago painted Hong Kong harbour from just above the house in which we stayed whilst in Hong Kong, and our host has several Seagos on the walls of his office, bought by his company in the 1960s. The auction was the more thrilling as we watched it online from a spit away from where the artist had once painted.
Architect's drawing of the house where we stayed in Hong Kong c.1943
Two nights ago I played a similarly lukewarm hand for a portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn, and my bid was well and truly eclipsed. It would have been nice if that could have returned, (from New York) to its native Scotland - back where it belongs.