Friday, June 13, 2014
John Richardson's Folly
Over the years, I would occasionally come across a photo or two of the homes of Picasso biographer and art historian, Sir John Richardson. The few photos that I found were enough to intrigue me, such was the comfortable elegance of his homes. One photo, which was taken in his country house, showed a table that was laden with books and objects. The wall behind it was a memorable shade of turquoise blue. Another photo captured one room of his set at Albany, a room that was outfitted in refined antiques. As appreciative as I was of the few photos that I had found, I was left wanting to see more of Richardson's handsome homes.
And then yesterday, while flipping through a twenty-year old issue of HG, I found an entire article that was devoted to Richardson's house in New England. (Based on what I have read elsewhere, I believe that this house might be located in Connecticut, but I can't be sure.) Actually, the article wasn't so much about the house itself as it was about his then-newly built folly library, which provided Richardson with a place to write, read, and relax close to the big house.
The folly was designed in the classical manner and was inspired by Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Neue Pavillon at Charlottenburg in Berlin. The structure's classic architecture extends to its interior, whose walls are punctuated with pilasters, a beefy cornice, and pediments. And speaking of those walls, they are painted in the most beautiful, vivid shade of blue. Richardson had wanted "the luminous verdigris tint of certain nineteenth-century Russian rooms", which unfortunately turned out to be difficult to replicate. Instead, his talented painter came up with the solution of painting the walls an icy shade of blue and then treating them to a shagreen-colored glaze.
Richardson wrote that his folly proved so comfortable that he rarely spent time in the main house. After studying these photos, I can understand why.
All photos from HG, July 1993, Richard Felber photographer