You wouldn't believe the number of times that I've admired an antique or bibelot in a New York friend's home only to find out that the coveted piece was purchased from David Duncan. David's eponymous antiques shop, located on East 60th Street, is a treasure trove of blue-chip pieces and stylish finds. In addition to his love of antiques, he is also an avid bibliophile, one whose personal library boasts over 2,000 books. David's library consists of treasured tomes on art, interior decoration, fashion, and biographies of influential figures of the design world and society.
Considering his large library as well as his varied interests, I knew that David would be a fitting subject for "What's In Their Library". In addition to listing his ten favorite books, David also provided commentary on each of his choices. Take a look below and I think you'll find more than a few books to add to your wish list. I know that my wish list just got a little longer.
The Givenchy Style; Francoise Mohrt, 1989. Though Givenchy’s career and fortune were made as a master couturier, I'm more interested in the influential interiors and gardens he created for himself, which are beautifully documented in this volume.
Young London: Permissive Paradise; Frank Habicht, 1969. This stylish book captures Mod era London at its height in street photos of Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull.
Vogue's Book of Houses, Gardens, People; Photographed by Horst, text by Valentine Lawford, introduction by Diana Vreeland, 1968. My favorite coffee table book, the gorgeous Horst photographs of self-styled interiors by the illustrious Pauline de Rothschild, Cy Twombly and Emilio Pucci among others are still remarkably fresh.
L'Oeil du Decorateur; George and Rosamund Bernier, 1970 . The L'Oeil magazine editors' selection of interiors with the classic/modern mix perfected by David Hicks and Roger Vivier, most with an inspiring use of antiques in contemporary settings.
Alexandre Serebriakoff, Portraitiste d'Interieurs by Patrick Mauriès, 1996. One of my favorite books, this deluxe Franco Mario Ricco artist monograph is a tribute to the Russian born illustrator’s commissions executed in gouache documenting the ephemeral art of interior decoration for Charles de Bestegui, the Duke and Duchesse of Windsor and other important 20th Century tastemakers.
Pierre le-Tan; illustrations by Pierre Le-Tan, text by Patrick Modiano, 2004. Le-Tan could single-handedly revive the dying art of illustration. I love his signature style of cross-hatching in pen and ink; his fashion illustrations reference Surrealism and his renderings of interiors depict a haunted dream world.
Boldini; text by Patrick Mauriès, 1987. Another deluxe FMR folio artist monograph, each exquisite page with a tipped in plate of a Boldini portrait of a highly stylized Belle Époque beauty such as the Marchesa Casati or the fabulous Rita Lydig.
El Morocco's Family Album. With photographs by Jerome Zerbe and an introduction by Lucius Beebe, privately printed in 1937, this scrapbook-style volume was El Morocco owner John Perona's gift to his elite clientele. Cafe Society, movie stars and members of the cultural elite including Cecil Beaton, Elsie de Wolfe and countless others are pictured cavorting on the famed zebra banquettes.
The Bones of My Hand; Edward James, 1938. Famed English aesthete and patron of the Surrealists, James published this volume of poetry privately. My copy is inscribed in his delicate, spidery handwriting complete with drawings in a beautiful marbleized slipcase.
To the Manor Born. Photography by Mary Lloyd Estrin, Introduction by Robert Coles, 1980. Estrin gained access to the opulent Neo Georgian mansions still occupied by her contemporaries’ parents in Lake Forest, Ill., after returning from art school. The beautiful photographs of David Adler and Francis Elkins interiors have a timeless, haunting quality.
All photos courtesy of David Duncan Antiques.