July 26, 2016 | There’s trouble on Monument Avenue. This grand boulevard in Richmond, Virginia, is the symbolic heart of the city. It is leafy and quiet, and lined with grand architecture dating largely from the early twentieth century. As its name suggests, it also features a series of monuments. One is dedicated to the tennis player Arthur Ashe. All the others pay tribute to the leaders of the Confederacy—and that, of course, is where the problem comes in.
Confederate symbols, particularly the “Stars and Bars” battle flag, have become extremely controversial. The flash point was the tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were killed by a white supremacist. Across the South, activists demanded that Confederate imagery be removed from government flagpoles and from license plates. Many governors (including Terry McAuliffe of Virginia) concurred. For most Americans this seemed the right decision, and a long overdue one. Given that the Confederacy fought…» More
March 9, 2016 | Despite its dainty name the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is not an outfit to be trifled with. Nor is it one to do anything by half measures. Founded in 1858, it is comprised of twenty-seven members, each representing a state in the union at that time, who approached and still approach the project of preserving George Washington’s estate with an almost military rigor. Mount Vernon was virtually empty when the association was formed; the members set about furnishing it by having the representative from each state adopt a room. In 1858 these representatives were the wives and daughters of powerful politicians, jurists, and cultural figures, and thus well positioned to locate and donate important objects. Alice Mary Longfellow, for instance, daughter of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, located George Washington’s desk and brought it back to the estate, where it remains today.
Mount Vernon Ladies Association Council of 1884. All photographs courtesy of the Mount …
July 28, 2014 | The son of Dr. William P. Spratling, a celebrated neurologist and pioneer in treating epilepsy, William Spratling had a tragic childhood, losing his mother and a sister when he was ten, and his father five years later. He went on to Auburn University in Alabama, where he majored in architecture and was apparently teaching the subject there within two years of his arrival. At twenty-one he became an associate professor of architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, and during the ensuing years he also wrote on architecture and related subjects for Scribner's Magazine, the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, and other publications.
His personal charm, his intellectual abilities, and his writing (he was eventually the author of eight books including an autobiography) gained him entrée into literary circles, where he forged close friendships with such luminaries as Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, and William Faulkner. Faulkner and Spratling lived together …» More
June 24, 2014 | In the five short years since its creation, Masterpiece has established itself as London's most prominent and anticipated fair. Its intent is to present the highest caliber art and antiques alongside a wide range of similarly distinguished luxury goods from cars to wine. However, because it was created by leading dealers from the former Grosvenor House fair, Masterpiece retains decorative arts firmly at its core.
Engraved map of London by Richard Bennett, London, 1760, mounted as a fan on bone sticks with carved ivory end-pieces. Daniel Crouch Rare Books, London.
This year's highlights veer toward unapologetic opulence. Ronald Philips features an astounding Charles II cream-japanned cabinet on a silvered stand; Chiale Antiquariato, a massive carved and inlaid table of 1905, which was made in Turin based on a design by Edoardo Smeriglio; and Anthony Outred, an entire suite of fanciful grotto furniture carved in shell forms made in Venice in the second half of the nineteen…» More
May 21, 2014 | Although the earliest surviving illustrated botanical manuscript dates from AD 512-the Vienna Dioscurides, a copy of the important medical treatise by the first-century Greek physician and herbalist Pedanius Dioscurides-botanical illustration as a distinctive artistic genre developed in the fifteenth century with the rise of illustrated herbals, manuscripts explaining the medicinal and culinary uses of plants and flowers. After all, in an age living close to the ground, it was crucial to distinguish between a plant that could induce sleep and one that would induce it forever. The introduction of exotic new plants from Asia and the Americas during the sixteenth century prompted continuous publication of accurate pictures to help botanists study, name, and classify the new discoveries. Continued refinements to reproductive engraving and lithographic techniques furthered these publications during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most techniques produced black-and-white…» More
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All