Monday, March 13, 2017

New Offerings from Jim Thompson and No. 9 Thompson

I recently spent a pleasant morning at the Jim Thompson showroom at ADAC, perusing the new collections from both Jim Thompson and No. 9 Thompson. Both collections featured such vibrant colors and pattern that I was aching to recover my furniture in anticipation of summer.

First up are two collections from Jim Thompson: Leo de Janeiro and Negresco, an outdoor fabric collection. Ou Baholyodhin, Jim Thompson's Creative Director for Home Furnishings, conceived Leo de Janeiro as a marriage of Chinese culture ("Leo" representing a Chinese lion) with the exotic, exuberant energy of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. One of my favorite introductions is Leo de Janeiro, the namesake of the new collection, which features a whimsical Chinese lion that is up to mischief. This particular fabric strikes me as the type that, no matter how long it's in use as curtains or upholstery, you'll continue to cherish it until the fabric is in tatters. Other favorites of mine include Ming Ming (especially the version in black), Heliconia Dreamin', a sumptuously embroidered fabric, and Cala, which is a fresh and colorful update of a traditional silk moire.  Equally as tempting is Belize, a bamboo print from the Negresco outdoor collection.  It looks like a fabric that might have been used in the home of Betsy Bloomingdale or at Sunnylands, the Annenbergs' Palm Springs estate.

Leo de Janeiro


Ming Ming


Heliconia Dreamin'




Jim Thompson Negresco Collection of Outdoor Fabric:



No. 9 Thompson

For his new No. 9 Thompson collections, Colourfield and All Aboard (an outdoor range), designer Richard Smith cites inspiration ranging from painter Lucio Fontana's slash series and Matisse cut-outs to 1960's Pop Art and African textiles.  The mood of the collection is upbeat, which is an outlook that we could all use these days.  Prints such as Breton, Matelot, and In a Twist strike a nautical note, while Zig Zag seems like the kind of print that would have appealed to Albert Hadley.  The collection is fun, not too serious, and just right for the warmer weather ahead.  Of the selection I'm showing below, all are outdoor fabrics with the exception of In a Twist, Decoupage, and Areso.

For both the Jim Thompson and No. 9 Thompson collections, I'm only showing you a sampling of fabrics.  To see the full range, visit the Jim Thompson website or your local designer showroom.



Zee Urchin

Diamond Life

In a Twist

All Aboard



All images courtesy of Jim Thompson

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Making a Hash of Things

Isn't odd how certain things that have never before been on your radar suddenly push their way into your consciousness thanks to their repetitive appearances in the most random places?  Take, for example, canned corned beef.  Strange that I came across mentions of this tinned meat product twice last week.  The first time was reading E.F. Benson's Miss Mapp (which, by the way, you should read, if you haven't already); in one particularly humorous scene, Miss Mapp, the title character, is discovered to be hoarding food in anticipation of a coal strike.  What gave her away?  A can of corned beef, which became dislodged from a shelf of a hidden closet, only to come crashing to the floor when one of Miss Mapp's guests accidentally opens the secret door.  OK, so maybe you need to have read the book to find this funny.

My second run-in with canned corned beef came a few days later, when my copy of Annabel's was delivered.  The book, now out-of-print, chronicles the history and the legend of this much-loved London nightclub, which, sadly, I have never had the opportunity to visit.  I was prompted to hunt down a copy of the book upon learning of Annabel's impending move to a new location close-by.  Anyway, while flipping through the book, I found Mark Birley's recipe for Corned Beef Hash, which is to be sumptuously served with a poached egg on top.  You'll find the recipe below.

I've eaten neither canned corned beef nor corned beef hash before, so their tastiness (or lack thereof) is a mystery to me.  Perhaps I'll take a stab at the recipe someday soon.  And to make up for this hash of a post, I'm also including photos of Annabel's interiors, taken from the book.  In surroundings such as these, how could food- even canned corned beef- taste anything but delicious?

Mark Birley's Corned Beef Hash

1 medium baking potato, about 200g
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
340g can corned beef
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp English mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Steam the potato for about 20 minutes until just tender. When cool, peel and cut into 5mm dice. Tip into a big bowl.

Saute the onion gently in 1 tbsp. oil for about 5 minutes until softened. Add this to the diced potato.

Cut the corned beef into 5mm dice. Mix into the potatoes with the parsley, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and seasoning to taste.

Heat a thin film of oil in a large frying pan. Cook the hash for 3-5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and crispy in parts. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Friday, March 03, 2017

The Maria Theresa L. Virata Collection at Christie's

A highlight of Christie's upcoming Asian Art Week is The Maria Theresa L. Virata Collection of Asian Art: A Family Legacy sale, which will take place in New York on March 16. The Virata family collection, assembled over the last fifty years under the guidance of the family's late matriarch, Maria Theresa, is notable for its range of Asian art and ceramics. But perhaps the most significant part of the collection are the singular examples of Chinese furniture, something which makes this auction particularly noteworthy.

For Maria Theresa Virata, or Bebe, as she was also known, her passion for collecting Asian art developed alongside her interest in archaeology and the history of her native Philippines. Aiding Virata in her collecting was the late Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, the highly-regarded Asian art dealer. Ellsworth's Fifth Avenue apartment was unique in that he displayed his Asian art alongside English furniture and European decorative arts.  It seems the apartment must have made an impression on Virata, who similarly lived with all three in her house in the Philippines.

Below, you'll see photos of the Virata family house, which is spectacular in its elegance and reserve.  But equally as compelling are the sale's eighty-plus lots, which include a rare pair of seventeenth-century Huanghuali armchairs (see below) as well as Chinese porcelain.  It should be noted that the sale's proceeds will benefit three charitable organizations: Child Protection Network; ICanServeFoundation, Inc.; and Cribs Foundation, Inc.

For more information on the sale, please visit the Christie's website.

QI BAISHI (1864-1957)
Sunrise over Water
Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
51 ¼ x 20 ⅝ in. (130.2 x 52.3 cm.)
Inscribed and signed, with two seals of the artist
Dedicated to Jinqing
Estimate: $500,000-700,000

39 in. (99 cm.) high; 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm.) Wide; 20 1/4 in. (51.4 cm.) deep (each) (2)
Estimate: USD 600,000-800,000

8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm.) high
Estimate: $30,000-50,000

29 1/4 in. (74.3 cm.) high; 87 in. (221 cm.) wide; 51 in. (129.5 cm) deep
Estimate: USD 2,000,000-3,000,000

Photo credits: Interior shots, @Visko Hatfield, 2017; all other images, Christie's Images, Ltd., 2017

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Party Planner for Cafe Society

Party planner or event designer? Frankly, neither title seems elegant enough for the late Jacques Frank, a Paris-based designer who conceived and decorated parties for the crème de la crème of café society, including Arturo and Patricia Lopez-Willshaw, Elsa Schiaparelli, Princess Chavchavadze, and Duc de Talleyrand.  A decorator who worked for decades at the prominent French design firm, Maison Ramsay, Frank was a conjurer of atmosphere, creating inspired settings that transported guests to other times and places.  A student of history, Frank seemed especially proficient in recreating eighteenth-century tableaux.  Based on the photos below (obtained from Connaissance des Arts, September 1957), it appears that a Frank-designed party could be part spectacle, but spectacle executed in a graceful, refined manner. 

I consulted my library to see if I could learn more about Frank, but sadly, the Baron de Redé makes no mention of Frank in his memoirs.  The same goes for both Prince Jean-Louis de Faucigny-Lucinge, who doesn't reference Frank in his highly-collectible book, Legendary Parties, 1922-1972, and Thierry Coudert, who penned the recently-published book, Beautiful People of the Café Society.  I did manage to scare up this tidbit online: it seems that Frank worked on these shores, too, designing Anne Ford's 1961 coming-out party at her parents' Grosse Pointe Farm, Michigan estate, according to a 1961 Time magazine article.

I have a feeling we might be more impressed by his work had these photos been published in color.  After all, what's a party without color?  But if you zoom-in on these images, you'll see that while Frank might have had grand visions for his clients' parties, the décor was never ostentatious.

A Frank-designed party at the Neuilly home of Arturo and Patricia Lopez-Willshaw.  According to an interview with Frank, the party décor was classically-inspired.  Note the reflection in the pool.

Another party hosted by the Lopez-Willshaws at their Neuilly residence, this time oriented, presumably, on the other side of the pool.  The party was a recreation of a 1766 fête given by the Prince de Conti in honor of the Duke of Brunswick.  Frank took his design cue from this Michel-Barthelemy Ollivier painting, which captured the 1766 party:

For client M. Carvalho y Silva, Frank transformed the swimming pool at Deligny (la piscine Deligny), which was located on the Seine, into an eighteenth-century Venetian scene.

A party at l'hôtel Lambert, which Frank designed in collaboration with Baron de Cabrol.

An outdoor arbor, strung with May flowers and candelabra, graced a party hosted by Alain de Rothschild and his wife. 

Inside l'hôtel de Rothschild, Frank covered the walls of a tented room in greenery. The lacquered panels at one end of the room were painted by José-Maria Sert.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spy Les Giacometti

Everyone has been buzzing about Christie's upcoming Diego Giacometti sale, which will take place in Paris on March 6. Titled Les Giacometti d'Hubert de Givenchy, the sale is particularly noteworthy because all of the sale's twenty-one lots are being offered by legendary French couturier Givenchy, a noted Giacometti collector and friend who, according to the book The Givenchy Style, owns sixty some pieces of the artist's work.

Known early in his career as the assistant to his older and more famous brother, artist and furniture-maker Alberto, Paris-based Diego Giacometti eventually established himself as an artist in his own right, producing metal animal-motif sculptures and furniture that became highly coveted by the likes of Bunny Mellon, Henri Samuel, and Givenchy.

Though admittedly sad to sell part of his collection, Givenchy initiated this Christie's sales as a tribute to his late friend, who died in 1986. The sale's lots, scant in number but significant in importance, consist of pieces made specifically for Givenchy, including three highly-recognizable octagonal tables, some (or possibly all of) which have been ensconced in the couturier's country estate, Le Jonchet. Additionally, it should be noted that one of the lots does feature a piece made by Diego's brother, Alberto.

After learning of the sale, I revisited The Givenchy Style to see Giacometti's work in situ.  Below, you'll find photos of both Le Jonchet and Le Clos, the designer's retreat in the South of France.  Look closely at these photos, and you'll spy a number of the sale's lots.  And do be sure to visit the Christie's website, where you'll be treated to additional information on the sale plus a video tour of Le Jonchet's interiors.

Grande Table Octagonale aux Caryatides et Atlantes, c. 1983. Estimate EUR 800,000-EUR 1,200,000

Ensemble de Quatre Tabourets en X, c. 1983. Estimate EUR 300,000 to EUR 500,000

Tourterelle, c. 1975. Estimate EUR 20,000 to EUR 30,000

Grande Table Octagonale aux Caryatides et Atlantes, c. 1983. Estimate EUR 800,000 to EUR 1,200,000

Paire de Photophores au Cerf, c. 1970. Estimate EUR 100,000 to EUR 150,000

Table, c. 1978. (Similar to the one featured in the Givenchy photo.) Estimate EUR 150,000 to EUR 200,000

Paire de Photophores aux Anneaux, c. 1970. (Similar to the one in the Givenchy photo.)  Estimate EUR 80,000 to EUR 120,000

Le Clos:

Deux Tables Basses à L'Oiseau et Coupelle, c. 1970. Estimate EUR 300,000 to EUR 500,000