Year-End Book Ideas

Posted in books by Editor on December 31, 2013

Having taken off a week, I return just barely in time to offer a few year-end suggestions, books that may not focus on the eighteenth century—but books many of you will find interesting and perhaps just the thing for any bookstore gift cards you may have received over the holidays.

Thanks for your continued support and happy new year. All the best for 2014! -CH

P.S. Now is the perfect time to join HECAA or renew your membership; rates go up next week.

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From the University of Chicago Press:

James W. P. Campbell with photographs by Will Pryce, The Library: A World History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-0226092812, $75.

9780226092812A library is not just a collection of books, but also the buildings that house them. As varied and inventive as the volumes they hold, such buildings can be much more than the dusty, dark wooden shelves found in mystery stories or the catacombs of stacks in the basements of academia. From the great dome of the Library of Congress, to the white façade of the Seinäjoki Library in Finland, to the ancient ruins of the library of Pergamum in modern Turkey, the architecture of a library is a symbol of its time as well as of its builders’ wealth, culture, and learning.

Architectural historian James Campbell and photographer Will Pryce traveled the globe together, visiting and documenting over eighty libraries that exemplify the many different approaches to thinking about and designing libraries. The result of their travels, The Library: A World History is one of the first books to tell the story of library architecture around the world and through time in a single volume, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern China and from the beginnings of writing to the present day. As these beautiful and striking photos reveal, each age and culture has reinvented the library, molding it to reflect their priorities and preoccupations—and in turn mirroring the history of civilization itself. Campbell’s authoritative yet readable text recounts the history of these libraries, while Pryce’s stunning photographs vividly capture each building’s structure and atmosphere. Together, Campbell and Pryce have produced a landmark book—the definitive photographic history of the library and one that will be essential for the home libraries of book lovers and architecture devotees alike.

James W. P. Campbell is Fellow in Architecture and History of Art, Queens’ College, Cambridge. 
His most recent books include Building St Paul’s and Brick: A World History, also with Will Pryce.
Will Pryce is an award-winning photographer of international acclaim. His previous titles include Architecture in Wood: A World History, Brick: A World History and World Architecture: The Masterworks.

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From the Vendome Press:

Oscar Tusquets Blanca, Martine Diot, Adelaïde de Savray, Jérôme Coignard, and Jean Dethier, Staircases: The Architecture of Ascent (New York: Vendome Press, 2013), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-0865653092, $75.

staircases book coverThe essential purpose of a staircase is utilitarian: to facilitate ascent and descent. Yet the design of even the simplest stair is complex, requiring great knowledge, skill, and ingenuity. This volume showcases the astonishing diversity of staircases over the centuries, from the stepped pyramids of the Maya to the exquisitely proportioned stairs of the Renaissance, to the elaborate balustraded confections of the Baroque period, to the virtuosic, computer-aided designs of today. Among the scores of featured staircases are Michelangelo’s double stair at the Palazzo dei Senatori on the Capitoline Hill in Rome; the double-spiral stair at Château de Chambord in France’s Loire Valley; the entrance stair in the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage) in St. Petersburg; the radical spiral ramp of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum; and the exterior stair at the Pompidou Center in Paris. Architectural tours de force all, often charged with religious, mystical, and hierarchical meaning, these staircases are inherently dynamic, as is every page of this fascinating and beautifully illustrated book.

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From English Heritage:

Philip Davies with photographs by Derek Kendall, London: Hidden Interiors (London: Atlantic, 2012), 448 pages, ISBN: 978-0956864246, £40.

9781566499767_p0_v2_s600Following his successes with revealing London’s vanished architectural heritage in Lost London and Panoramas of Lost London, Philip Davies now turns his attention to 180 of London’s best conserved and least known interiors, revealed in over 1200 spectacular photographs—most taken specially for this book and not previously published. . . .  The most exciting new book about London in generations. . . presents an expert introductory essay followed by the most extraordinary collection of contemporary photographs of London’s historic interiors ever published.

The increasing popularity of Open City has stimulated the curiosity of local Londoners and visitors from afar, awakening renewed interest and comprehension of London’s success in preserving amazing interiors, from private salons to traditional public houses, from ornate churches to industrial plants. London: Hidden Interiors has one hundred and eighty examples which have been selected from a complete range of building types to convey the richness and diversity of London’s architectural heritage and the secrets that lie within. It concentrates generally on the buildings and interiors that are lesser known and to which the public are not normally allowed the hidden and the unusual, the quirky and the eccentric, although there is space too for some of the better known. The careful composition, superb lighting and exposure of the images featured in this book are themselves a lesson in conservation, capturing the sense of these unique spaces whilst at the same time revealing the important architectural detail; Derek Kendall’s photographs, perfectly reproduced, make this book a visual delight and a major contribution to the architectural history of London.

To learn more, please visit the London Hidden Interiors website.

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From Thames & Hudson:

James Peill with photographs by James Fennell and a foreword by Julian Fellowes, The English Country House (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013), 224 pages, ISBN 978-0500517079, £28 / $55.

english-country-house-book-review-the-aestate-3The houses range from Kentchurch Court, a fortified medieval manor house that has been the seat of the Scudamore family for nearly 1,000 years, to a delightful Strawberry Hill-style Gothic house in rural Cornwall, the ducal palace of Badminton in Gloucestershire, and Goodwood House, England’s greatest sporting estate. Many of the houses remain closed to the public—and some have never been featured in a book before.

James Peill recounts the ups and downs of such deeprooted dynasties as the Cracrofts, whose late 18th-century Hackthorn Hall is a perfect example of the kind of house Jane Austen describes in her novels (indeed, she appears on their family tree), as well as the Biddulphs, who constructed the Arts and Crafts masterpiece Rodmarton in the first decades of the last century. James Fennell provides superb photographs of a wealth of gardens, charming interiors, bygone sporting trophies, fine art collections and evocative family memorabilia. A stirring source of inspiration for all those concerned with living traditions and classic interiors, here
is a proud celebration of England’s country house heritage.

James Peill is the curator of Goodwood House in West Sussex. Formerly a director of Christie’s, where he was a specialist in the Furniture Department, he is the co-author (with the late Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin) of The Irish Country House and Irish Furniture.
James Fennell specializes in interior, architectural, portrait, fashion and travel photography. His work has been published in Condé Nast Traveller, World of Interiors, Elle Décor and Architectural Digest. His books include The Irish Country House, The Scottish Country House and The Irish Pub, all of which are published by Thames & Hudson.
Julian Fellowes is the creator of the hugely successful period drama Downton Abbey.

Exhibition | Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 31, 2013

As Courtney Barnes noted back in November at Style Court, America’s fascination with England’s country houses will continue into the new year (and 2015). While Houghton Revisited, which brought dozens of paintings back to the house from Russia for display this summer and fall, was awarded Apollo Magazine’s 2013 Exhibition of the Year, pictures and objects still in the Houghton Hall collection will travel to Houston, San Francisco, and Nashville. From the MFAH press release (22 November 2013). . .

Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 22 June — 22 September 2013
Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 18 October 2014 — 18 January 2015
Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, 13 February — 10 May 2015

Curated by Gary Tinterow and Christine Gervais with David Cholmondeley


William Hogarth, The Cholmondeley Family, 1732
(Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall)

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Family portraits by Hogarth and Sargent, exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain, and unique pieces of William Kent furniture from this aristocratic English family chronicle three centuries of art, history, and politics.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Director Gary Tinterow today announced an unprecedented exhibition: Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House, which will be on view at the Museum from June 22 to September 22, 2014. The exhibition marks the first time the renowned collection of the Marquesses of Cholmondeley, housed at Houghton Hall, the family estate in Norfolk, will travel outside of England.

Houghton Hall (Photo: Nick McCann)

Houghton Hall (Photo: Nick McCann)

The house and much of its collection were built in the early 1700s by Sir Robert Walpole—England’s first prime minister and the ancestor of the current marquess. Renowned as one of the finest Palladian houses and one of the most extensive art collections in Britain, Houghton became notorious when Sir Robert’s collection of Old Master paintings was sold by his grandson to Catherine the Great, in 1779. But the house and all of its furnishings, considered to comprise William Kent’s Georgian masterpiece, remained intact; Walpole’s descendants added considerably to the collection of paintings. From great family portraits by William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, and John Singer Sargent, to exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain, rare pieces of R. J. & S. Garrard silver, and unique furniture by William Kent, the exhibition vividly evokes the fascinating story of art, history, and politics through the collections of this aristocratic English family over three centuries.

Organized by Tinterow; Christine Gervais, associate curator; and Lord Cholmondeley, the exhibition will tour nationally after the Houston presentation, beginning with the Legion of Honor of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (October 18, 2014–January 18, 2015) and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville (February 13–May 10, 2015).

The White Drawing Room at Houghton Hall, with paintings by John Hoppner and George James (Photo: Nick McCann)

The White Drawing Room at Houghton Hall, with paintings by John Hoppner and George James (Photo: Nick McCann)

“Houghton Hall and its superb collections epitomize the historic legacy of art, architecture, and patronage among the great families and country houses of England,” commented Tinterow. “I am delighted to partner with David Cholmondeley to bring this extraordinary heritage to American audiences. Given our fascination with Downton Abbey and its similar story of a great English house and its family, I know this exhibition will be highly anticipated.”

“I was enormously gratified by the response to Houghton Revisited, the exhibition in which we reunited the paintings sold to Catherine the Great with their home at Houghton Hall,” commented David Cholmondeley on the success of that recent project. “I look forward to working with Gary Tinterow and his colleagues at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to share Houghton Hall and our family’s history with visitors in Houston, San Francisco, and Nashville.”

About Portrait of an English Country House

Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House will assemble more than 100 objects in settings that combine paintings, porcelain, sculpture, costume, metalwork, and furniture to evoke the stunning rooms at Houghton Hall. Bought or commissioned by eight generations of descendants of Sir Robert Walpole, together these objects comprise a fascinating chronicle. (more…)

Apollo Magazine’s 2013 Exhibition of the Year: Houghton Revisited

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 31, 2013

From Apollo Magazine:

Apollo Magazine’s 2013 Exhibition of the Year
Houghton Revisited at Houghton Hall, Norfolk

9781907533501_p0_v1_s260x420There have been some great international blockbuster shows this year: Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925 at MoMA and Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum. At Apollo, we also like to celebrate focused exhibitions that enlighten us with the exceptional intelligence of their curation on a smaller scale: Piero della Francesca in America at the Frick Collection brought together most of the panels of the Sant’Agostino altarpiece, while the Ashmolean Museum’s Francis Bacon/Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone tuned into a conversation between two artists that few had previously heard with such clarity. At the St Louis Art Museum, and later the National Gallery in London, Barocci: Brilliance and Grace provided revelations about one artist’s restless inventiveness; while The Springtime of the Renaissance, at Palazzo Strozzi and now the Louvre, brought superb loans together in sharp and surprising ways.

But one exhibition ran away with the laurels this year. Once-in-a-lifetime is a phrase that gets bandied about too much—but this was not just a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, but something we may have to wait another two and half centuries to see again. It reunited many of the works from Robert Walpole’s magnificent collection, including many simply audacious loans from Russia and elsewhere, recreating their original hang at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, and bringing 114,000 visitors through the doors. I am delighted to present this award to curator Thierry Morel and Lord David Cholmondeley for Houghton Revisited.

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