Lucky Kids

Sigh. It's so sad to know I will never have any of these, though I might strangle one of these children to get one:

Oh, I could never. But I might try to tempt one of the darlings away from said furniture with candy or elaborate toys. And what of these silly Parisians, with their smug sheep?

Too unfair! Here are the creators: Claude Lalanne and Francois Xavier. Observe, in their studio hard at work on a sheep:

But really, doesn't it just look like he's petting it?

I will say, as much as I love these pieces, a little bit goes a long way. More than a single piece in a room and it looks pretty laughable.

All images found and borrowed here.


Rokeby House

The Crow Room at Rokeby House on the Hudson:

Pang. of. palpable. jealousy. This beautifully decrepit room, with its murals by Robert Chanler, has my heart aflutter; I find the murals to be amazingly current, no?

More images and a fascinating article on the 43 room estate and its inhabitants here.


Sacred Foxes Supplant Mr. Potatoe-Heads in My Affections

A friend recently traveled to Japan and snapped a picture of these sacred fox emma in Fushimi Inari-taisha, a large temple complex in Kyoto:

He writes, "I believe that the plaques are correctly called emma, and one generally writes a wish on the back and hangs it up at the shrine. In this case, you also draw the face of the fox, which is kind of like the 'wishing Daruma' dolls, where you fill in one eye when you make the wish, and the other eye when the wish comes true, but I really have no idea about this."

I must admit I find these endlessly charming, and can only imagine how much I would have loved them as a kid. Somehow drawing the face of a fox on a prayer card seems a lot more fun than counting out Hail Marys, which is what I spent quite a bit of my childhood doing.

I think my favorite is the fellow in the rectangular glasses.


For Our Lost Forests: Part 3 (Ten or Twelve, Only Ten or Twelve)

Binsey Poplars

felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918

I was clued into both this poem and John Clare's To a Fallen Elm in a New Yorker review of Adam Foulds' The Quickening Maze, which is high on my list of books to read on these waning days of summer.


Good in Any Era

Edward Wormley sofa by Dunbar covered in a silk velvet flame stitch:

(I especially love this as I have many of my grandmother's Wormley for Dunbar pieces, including her Janus line tables, which incorporate Tiffany glass and Natzler tiles.)

Also, I like this quite a bit:

The state bed at Parham Park. What do we think? Does it suit us?


Ed Kluz

I found these hidden in a folder where I stashed them months ago: the beautiful work of Ed Kluz:

These remind me of 17th century English needlework frames. So lovely:

And like those frames, they are 3d collages. Here is a detail:

Ed Kluz is represented by St. Jude's Gallery, where I want literally everything.


I Need Some Lanvin

.. but not the clothes, this time: Just hand over the andirons and no one gets hurt.

They were created in 1920 by Albert-Armond Rateau for the Paris apartment of Jeanne Lanvin, and I adore them. Look at the fluting!

Here they are, in situ, in a horrible grainy photo that still manages to suggest the excellence of these lost rooms. Look deep into the room ...

And their beauty would only improve with fire. For some irrational reason I gravitate to certain types of objects: lamps, paperweights, sticks, and andirons. And these are so perfect.

Perfection comes at a cost: they were sold at Rago late last year, I believe, for 60,000. And that was 20,000 under the low estimate!

More background, c/o Wikipedia:

"For this domicile, Rateau designed some remarkable 1920–22 furniture in bronze. During 1921–22, Rateau was manager of Lanvin-Sport and he also designed the Lanvin spherical La Boule perfume flaçon for Arpège about 1925–34 (originally produced by the Manufacture Nationale de Sévres). To this day, Arpège perfume containers are imprinted with Paul Iribe's gold image of 1907 of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite. Rateau also designed Lanvin’s fashion house and managed the Lanvin-Décoration department of interior design (established 1920) in the main store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré."

Oh, to have shopped in that store. The article also mentions that several rooms from this apartment were reassembled in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1985 ... does anyone know if these are sill in existence, and if so, are they missing their andirons?


Sweet and Tender Hooligan

He looks enticing, but beware: Lewis Paine attempted to kill Secretary of State William Seward, stabbing him repeatedly, and was hanged for his involvement in the planning of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

My friend Paul used to check a book out of the library with these Payne portraits when he'd get his hair cut and tell his barber he wanted precisely the same coiffure.

Payne was aware of his star power, and carefully directed the production of these portraits, with the thought that they might become cartes de visite or some other souvenir. This somewhat mystifies me.


Come Back To Me, Sweet Frost

I'd rather be here ...

than here:

Both images of the Dalrymple Boathouse in Roger Williams Park, in Providence, RI. Strangely, it looks as though the building has lost a few chimneys over the years.


The Aloof & The Heavyweight

I'm all about it. Count me in, sans cigarette. I'm really not kidding -- dance partners//victims, beware of the Heavyweight ...

Apparently this is what Beyonce's Single Ladies video is based on, but seriously? How did something so alive end up so dead?


For the Edification of My Walls

I have long admired the work of Adelphi Paper Hangings, of Sharon Springs, NY, but only in my convalescence did I start to look very carefully though their collections, and make note of the patterns I might want to use in my nonexistent house. Observe ...

I know the whole damask thing is DEAD, but Webb House Damask of 1770--80 doesn't read damask to me; it doesn't have the symmetry that I (perhaps wrongly) associate with damasks, and the motifs also read more organically. I included two colorways, and a snippet of the Adelphi team photo, in order to indicate its scale. I'd be happy with either color, but think the black (or a custom very, very dark indigo) would be lovely in a dining room:

Bixby vine and Drapery of 1811--17 I absolutely adore, both in its sedate blue colorway and the raucous primary variant (it looks like it would go nuts with 3d glasses). I'd put the blue one anywhere, heck, even in the closet, but I'd like to reserve the primary coloring for a guest bedroom for my dearest Holly, who I know would relish it:

My love of Dagobert Peche is well documented, and Orchid Vine was most likely designed by the master 1911--1920. It reminds me of something that might have hung in the breakfast room of the Schlegel's London townhouse in Howards End, the shock of the modern with all their Georgian furnishings. Those Schlegel girls. I would also like the yellow colorway in my breakfast room, and maybe the green in a hall or staircase:

But I've saved my personal favorite for last: Viennese Trees of the 1920s, likely by Joseph Hillerbrand. If this is what trees look like in Austria, can I use my compromised state to buy an ill-advised ticket to visit them in Vienna?

I would love the blue version in my bedroom -- what a pleasant sight to wake up to -- a forest like lollipops, or the silly parasol pines of Rome.



Fun Gallery Opening in NYC, Especially if You Have Kids, But Still Fun If You Don't

One of my oldest college friends (and my first roommate at RISD), Prescott Trudeau, is the curator of the Children's Museum of the Arts, at 182 Lafayette in New York City. He just sent word of a neat exhibition to open this Thursday, the 15th of July, devoted to works of Tape Art, and titled "Let's Draw Together."

Past works:

Their materials are limited to multi-colored masking take, and their work lasts only as long as the tape holds. A closer view:

For the Children's Museum of the Arts, they will be illustrating the collected stories of patrons, an excerpt of which are collected below:

Monkeys taking over the world in a taco spaceship ... I've always enjoyed tacos and singerie, so I'm betting I'd enjoy this scene. I'm sending this image reference to Prescott:

Other ideas:

Future designer, perhaps.This girl clearly wants to direct:

And leaving nothing to chance, on the reverse she illustrates her vision:

The show has two openings -- both are on Thursday, July 15th, at 182 Lafayette -- the Children's Reception is from 4:o0 to 6:00, while the General Reception is 6:30 to 8:00. I wish I could be there! I expect it will have all the charm, naivete and sophistication of a Henri Rousseau painting.

For Our Lost Forests: Part 1 (Deeper Than By the Attribute of Words)

I can't even handle how beautifully this is written. Here's to quiet perfection:

To a Fallen Elm

Old Elm that murmured in our chimney top
The sweetest anthem autumn ever made
And into mellow whispering calms would drop
When showers fell on thy many coloured shade
And when dark tempests mimic thunder made
While darkness came as it would strangle light
With the black tempest of a winter night
That rocked thee like a cradle to thy root
How did I love to hear the winds upbraid
Thy strength without while all within was mute
It seasoned comfort to our hearts desire
We felt thy kind protection like a friend
And pitched our chairs up closer to the fire
Enjoying comforts that was was never penned

Old favourite tree thoust seen times changes lower
But change till now did never come to thee
For time beheld thee as his sacred dower
And nature claimed thee her domestic tree
Storms came and shook thee with aliving power
Yet stedfast to thy home thy roots hath been
Summers of thirst parched round thy homely bower
Till earth grew iron—still thy leaves was green
The children sought thee in thy summer shade
And made their play house rings of sticks and stone
The mavis sang and felt himself alone
While in they leaves his early nest was made
And I did feel his happiness mine own
Nought heeding that our friendship was betrayed

Friend not inanimate—tho stocks and stones
There are and many cloathed in flesh and bones
Thou ownd a language by which hearts are stirred
Deeper than by the attribute of words
Thine spoke a feeling known in every tongue
Language of pity and the force of wrong
What cant assumes what hypocrites may dare
Speaks home to truth and shows it what they are

I see a picture that thy fate displays
And learn a lesson from thy destiny
Self interest saw thee stand in freedoms ways
So thy old shadow must a tyrant be
Thoust heard the knave abusing those in power
Bawl freedom loud and then oppress the free
Thoust sheltered hypocrites in many an hour
That when in power would never shelter thee
Thoust heard the knave supply his canting powers
With wrongs illusions when he wanted friends
That bawled for shelter when he lived in showers
And when clouds vanished made thy shade ammends
With axe at root he felled thee to the ground
And barked of freedom—O I hate that sound

It grows the cant terms of enslaving tools
To wrong another by the name of right
It grows a liscence with oer bearing fools
To cheat plain honesty by force of might
Thus came enclosure—ruin was her guide
But freedoms clapping hands enjoyed the sight
Tho comforts cottage soon was thrust aside
And workhouse prisons raised upon the scite
Een natures dwelling far away from men
The common heath became the spoilers prey
The rabbit had not where to make his den
And labours only cow was drove away
No matter—wrong was right and right was wrong
And freedoms brawl was sanction to the song

Such was thy ruin music making Elm
The rights of freedom was to injure thine
As thou wert served so would they overwhelm
In freedoms name the little so would they over whelm
And these are knaves that brawl for better laws
And cant of tyranny in stronger powers
Who glut their vile unsatiated maws
And freedoms birthright from the weak devours

--John Clare, 1832

Was political commentary ever so exquisite?

The second half of the second stanza kills me, as soon as the mavis enters the scene. I've learned that the mavis "is a common bird that's aft fund in gairdens, shaws an widland wi muckle plaunt growthe athort Europe sooth o the Arctic circle."

Sweet little thing.


Best Pick-Up Line, Like, Ever

"... when she was stepping from her carriage one day, an Irish dustman exclaimed: 'Love and bless you, my lady, let me light my pipe in your eyes!,' a compliment which she often recalled whenever others complimented her by retorting, 'After the dustman's compliment, all others are insipid.' "

Ah, Lady Georgiana Spencer. Friend to dustmen, snappy retorts, preposterous hats and illegitimate babies, I admire thee. Here she is in a Joshua Reynolds portrait with the latter:

Though I do think not having a portrait done (Gainsborough, maybe?) with the Irish dustman was a mistake. It certainly would have been no more unconventional than many of her other life choices.


Yeah, Pretty Much ...

this is what my house looks like:

Friends and enemies confirm this.

Image stolen from Hibernian Homme.


Cockroach of the Sea

My buddy Melly's stepmother maintains that lobsters are "the cockroach of the sea," and I'm inclined to agree. I can't imagine anything I'd rather not eat, the little scavengers. But unlike cockroaches, lobsters are very beautiful. And when I see them, I want to let them go, or pet them, and last weekend on Cape Cod, I was at last allowed to touch:

They were in a massive tank in a shop in Orleans, and you could reach over and grab them. It was weird and wonderful and pretty sad, really. I was with my friend Holly and her old friend Amy, who said that if you pet the underside of their tails, they fall asleep. This seemed odd, but we tried it:

Hmm, not alseep, but they sure feel weird. Better left in the sea, the little dears.


The Fourth of July is a Textile, a Flame Stitch in Time

Steven and I spent the fourth at his parent's place in Barrington, RI, which is just off Narragansett Bay; the end of the night was a special treat: watching the fireworks going off in each of the coastal towns ringing the bay, from Newport, to Bristol to Barrington, to Pawtuxet to Warwick, to East Greenwich and Kingston beyond.

I hate fireworks. They're noisy and I can't wrap my head around the idea of buying something just to burn it. However, I must say it was stunning, the rippling black water and all of these sedate little towns bursting into flames, noiselessly, distant and abstract. It was one of the prettiest things I've ever seen.

And it occurred to me that glimmering as they did, washed, distorted and reflected in the inky black of the bay, all of these towns on fire created a flame stitch in the water.

Patriotism is tough for me to swallow. The aftertaste is too extreme, the undercurrent too dangerous, and my anecdotal understanding of history has taught me how ephemeral great nations, The Greatest Nations!, are.

How perfectly the broken pattern, dissolving into nothing, illustrated my thoughts on the day and our admittedly glorious nation: Here lies one whose name was writ in water.

But my it was pretty, wasn't it, while it lasted?
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