Friday, August 23, 2013
International Set: Albany in Piccadilly
So, the last blog post pertaining to the 1975 International House Tour issue of House Beautiful (well, at least for the time being) has to do with Albany. (Click here to read my previous posts on this famous London residential building.) Although I wouldn't characterize the interiors in this particular article as being extraordinary, the access that the magazine was granted to photograph both the famous "Rope Walk" (see above) as well as a few of Albany's occupants was indeed extraordinary, especially considering the establishment's reputation for privacy. HB must have been aware that such a privilege was rare because the Albany article ended with a special thank-you to ex-pat designer Billy McCarty, who facilitated the behind-closed-doors access.
The first set you see below belonged to a Public Relations executive, John Addey. A quick Google search informed me that Addey later fell from grace due to a legal scandal that involved Sir James Goldsmith, but when this particular issue was published, Addey was evidently flying high. (By the way, Addey's set was once infamously occupied by Lord Byron.) The main floor rooms, including the drawing room and library, seemed to skew traditional with just a splash of groovy, while downstairs, the vaulted dining and sitting room appeared too acerbic for its surroundings. I do, however, like the trellis that was installed outside of the dining room windows; it was designed by another Albany resident about whom I have written in the past, Peter Coats.
And you'll certainly recognize the occupant of the second featured set: Fleur Cowles in sunglasses. I admire Cowles's career, creativity, and flair, but I will say that this version of her spacious Albany set is, well, not exactly to my liking. Of course, what's important is that she liked it, and I have a feeling that she did.
And below the Cowles photos, you'll see a few more prominent occupants of Albany. All in all, a rare glimpse into life at this illustrious London dwelling.
Photos at top: An exterior shot of Albany; also, two separate images of Albany's famous "Rope Walk", which is a covered walkway that extends through the back part of Albany, allowing access to chambers on both sides.
John Addey's set included his ochre-colored drawing room, an acid green vaulted dining and sitting room, and library.
Fleur Cowles was photographed in her study, sitting amongst a plethora of leopard prints. The two additional color photos show a living room, which she "slipcovered" in an "architectural box of her design." (Structural changes are, or, at least, were, verboten at Albany.) The remaining two photos show the "sit-by-the-fire corner" of her bedroom and her drawing room.
Editor, author, and gardening expert Peter Coats was photographed in his set. You can read my blog post about Coats here.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild called Albany his London home. However, according to the article, it was his wife, Pauline de Rothschild, who was the official owner of the set.
Before I read this article, I was not familiar with this couple: John and the Lady Margaret Walker. John Walker was the one-time director emeritus of the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The couple also had homes in Georgetown and Fisher's Island.
The great art historian Kenneth Clark also maintained a home at Albany, although he spent a great deal of time at his country estate as well.
All photos from House Beautiful, January 1975, Feliciano photographer.