Dumfries House in Architectural Digest, February 2012

Posted in journal articles, on site by Editor on January 31, 2012

It’s a widely-shared sentiment, but I think Margaret Russell is doing a fantastic job as editor at Architectural Digest (Penelope Green’s New York Times coverage of the appointment is available here). This month’s issue of AD includes a fine feature, with lovely photos by Derry Moore, on Dumfries House (having just returned from Venice, I’m especially struck by the stunning Murano chandeliers!, original to the house). A Christie’s press release for the planned 2007 sale underscores just how fortunate we are to have the house and its contents still intact. The design team included Piers von Westenholz and David Mlinaric (along with the 2008 book on Mlinaric’s work from Frances Lincoln publishers, there’s an interesting interview with him at the V&A’s website) . -CH

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From Architectural Digest:

James Reginato, “Prince Charles Unveils Dumfries House,” Architectural Digest (February 2012): 58-69.

Scotland’s most dazzling historic country house opens its doors after a rejuvenation spearheaded by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales

John and Robert Adam, Dumfries House, Ayrshire, Scotland, 1754-59 (Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest)

Several years ago, a major drama unfolded in Great Britain when Dumfries House, one of the most significant and beautiful historic properties in the Commonwealth, teetered on the verge of sale and dispersal. The 18th-century Palladian villa in Ayrshire, Scotland, is a seminal work of renowned architect Robert Adam and his brothers, John and James; it contains a world-class collection of British Rococo furniture, including some 50 examples from a fledgling cabinetmaker named Thomas Chippendale. Ordered straight from the craftsman’s workshop in 1759 by the fifth Earl of Dumfries, who commissioned the house and took up residence there the following year, the furnishings now form part of a magnificent
ensemble that embodies, in the words of His Royal Highness
the Prince of Wales, “British craftsmanship at its best.”

Blue Drawing Room, Dumfries House (Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest)

The fate of the mansion had begun to seesaw in 2005, when John Crichton-Stuart, the seventh Marquess of Bute (a celebrated Formula One driver whose family had inherited the Dumfries title in the early 19th century), felt the strain of balancing its ownership with that of Mount Stuart, the immense Victorian Gothic palace and grounds where he currently resides. Dumfries, exquisite and well looked after though it was, had not been lived in by the family for some 150 years, except for a near-40-year residency by the fifth marquess’s widow, from 1956 to 1993. It truly was a sleeping beauty.

Family Bedroom, Dumfries House (Photo by Derry Moore for Architectural Digest)

When a deal to sell the 2,000-acre property to the Scottish National Trust fell through, Lord Bute took the bold move of marketing it via an estate agency and hiring Christie’s to sell off its holdings. Experts at the auction house began documenting the contents of the mansion; a two-volume catalogue was produced, and sale dates were set for July 12 and 13, 2007.

Just weeks before the auction, however, Dumfries’s plight came to the attention of Prince Charles—a tireless, and rather fearless, advocate of British heritage. . . .

More of the online excerpt of the story and additional photos are available at Architectural Digest.com

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For bloggers and bloggers-to-be, there’s a useful video clip of Margaret Russell speaking in New York at Kravet’s Design BlogFest (18 May 2011). Her appearance underscores, I think, both how hard she’s working to breathe new life into AD and how much blogs have changed the design landscape.

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