Macon: Design,Wine and Dine festival

Celebrate three favorite Southern pleasures—the art of the home, the kitchen, and the brimming cup—at Historic Macon Foundation’s inaugural Design, Wine and Dine festival coming up very soon on March 7th and 8th. If you haven’t ever been to Macon, or haven’t in a long time, this is the opportunity to visit this cultural center of middle Georgia (conveniently located one and a half hours driving distance from Atlanta) and support the preservation of its beautiful and varied Southern architecture.

 

Sidney Lanier Cottage, Macon, Georgia

 

Featuring an early Spring bouquet of lectures that cost only $10/each to attend, this fundraising event offers opportunities to learn more about art, architecture and design, tablescaping, cooking (I personally can’t wait for the Southern caramel cake presentation by author and TV personality Mark Ballard), wine and moonshine. Here’s a sampling of what’s in store:

 

 

Architectural historian and Professor Emerita of Architecture at Georgia Tech will discuss her new book, Classical Interiors: Historical and Contemporary, an authoritative survey of the best of classical design and the work of its most important figures from the seventeenth century to the present day.

 

Fanny Kemble, 1833 by Thomas Sully

Elegy, 2010 by Thomas Sully III

 

Thomas Sully III, direct descendent of the renowned 19th-century portraitist of the same name (and my husband), will present Romantic at Heart: Soulful Portraits, Transcendent Landscapes, discussing the tradition of the humanistic and empathetic portrait, including the “mysterious sub-genre of the eye portrait,” and the aesthetics and spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of the Romantic landscape tradition.

 

 

 

Susan Sully will present a lecture on Southern Style: Town & Country, comparing cosmopolitan urban houses from Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, and elsewhere with relaxed country retreats in favorite Southern destinations including the Florida coast and the Blue Ridge Mountains. This lecture is not only a delightful romp through time and place, but also a retrospective glance at my lifetime study (and enjoyment) of Southern architecture and interiors.

 

 

 

Popular blogger (The Peak of Chic), House Beautiful contributing editor, and author Jennifer Boles will talk about her latest book, In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z, a charming encyclopedia of the stylish decorating details (including chintz, striped walls, and orangeries) favored by great tastemakers of the twentieth century.

 

And don’t miss the benefit Soiree (advance tickets required), with food and spirits served in good company in a beautiful historic home on Saturday, March 8th from 7 to 10.

 

I hope to see you there!

 

In with the Old, In with the New

In with the Old, In with the New is my mantra this year as I take time to reconnect with why I do what I do as a writer and photographer concerned with Southern architecture and decorative arts. When I first began writing about this subject, I came to it with a deep love of old houses and a fascination for the people who lived in them–particularly those whose families had lived in them for generations or new residents who understood something about the layered, storied way Southerners have long dwelt in their houses. I was so intrigued when I visited an elderly aunt in Wichita Falls, Texas, in my teens that I wrote a short story about breaking a tea cup in her house (or a strangely primitive wish to do so), prompted by a feeling of sheer envy of how she had surrounded herself with so many talismans from the past–all so powerful and beautiful, even in their humblest form.

 

 

Now I am inheriting many of my own family heirlooms and integrating them into my little cottage in the mountains of North Carolina. Some might seem out of place here in the woods, but in fact, most were used on rural plantations or small Southern towns, so what the Heck? Actually, they feel perfectly at home here, especially when used in creative, personal ways that speak not only to their past, but to my present. I love this table setting I created for a party last fall for which I finally turned a length of hand-wood-blocked fabric my sister brought me from Southern France 20 years ago into a table cloth.

 

 

 

I made tiny floral arrangements of wildflowers picked in a nearby field the morning of the dinner party and arranged them in dented silver baby cups and porringers–objects among the type we often inherit but can’t figure out how to use. I added early 20th-century silverware from an estate sale etched with the initial of my maiden name to the table, combining it all with simple white modern plates, antique silver goblets, and new and vintage stemware. The final effect was utterly beguiling and satisfying to me–fresh, personal, filled with the spirit of love and the ever flowing passage of time.

 

 

 

I invite you to try your own “In with the Old, In with the New” table settings or other arrangements in the house and send pictures of them to be reviewed and possibly posted on The Southern Cosmopolitan. I’d love to see how you bring the past and the present together in beautiful, personal ways. Please send images (no more than 1 mb in size) to me at susan@southerncosmopolitan.com.

Holiday Charm Event in Atlanta

Please join me in Atlanta at Glyn Weakley Interiors for a Holiday Open House

Wednesday, November 13th, from 4 to 8 pm

3489 Northside Parkway in Atlanta

Photo by Self Images Photography

I’ll be signing books that are perfect gifts for those who share our love of elegant, sophisticated, and charming Southern style and giving a short talk about the essence of Southern style.

Copies of my newest book, Houses with Charm, will be available, as well as The Southern Cosmopolitan and The Southern Cottage.

 

 

 

 

Glyn Weakley Interiors is a high-end source for traditional, transitional and unique antique reproduction furnishings and accessories. Glyn believes accessories can make or break a room. “Just as jewelry completes an outfit, accessories complete a room. Something as simple as new pillows on a sofa or lamps on a table, a few updated accessories can completely transform a room.” Glyn Weakley also offers design services that reflect her passion for design and her elegant taste and eye for beautiful interiors.

 

For more information, contact Glen Weakley Interiors, (404) 841-6649 or glynweakley.com

 

 

Southern Vogue

 

 

Ride the new wave of Southern vogue

 

According to Lauren Brunk of Brunk Auctions in Asheville, North Carolina, the new wave of Southern vogue is happening NOW—and not just in the South. In the culinary world, there is a lot of buzz about Southern chefs’ love of tradition, commitment to local fare, and unbridled creativity—and much of that talk is going on well beyond the South. Our approach to decorative arts is the same, as we keep our traditions alive, remember our much lauded “sense of place” — and carry those two defining aspects into the here, the now, and the future, with a touch of our trademark charm and eccentricity.

 

 

 

Last night at Brunk Auctions, award-winning Asheville-based interior designer Susan Nilsson and I celebrated the new wave of Southern vogue by unveiling a vignette that expresses its spirit and style. Cherry-picking objects from the inventory that will be auctioned at Brunk’s this Saturday, July 20th, Susan and I assembled a room that celebrated the complex spirit of Southern style.

 

 

 

 

Combining primitive Southern antiques, including a 19th-century huntboard from the Carolinas and a chest of drawers from Kentucky, with Ming-style Chinese chairs, we focused on two enduring aspects of Southern style—its regionalisim and its cosmopolitanism. The South is a land unto itself, but it has also been an international trade and cultural crossroads for centuries—and that has left its mark.

 

 

 

 

A collection of bird prints by 18th-century naturalist Mark Catesby—long a favorite in traditional Southern interiors—shares wall space with an abstract mixed-media print by internationally-known Southern born artist Robert Rauchenberg. Stoneware jars, including a face jug by Lanier Meaders of Georgia, are reminders of how modern traditional arts can look.

 

 

 

 

Combined with a 19th-century Aubusson rug, handwoven baskets from North Carolina, an antique British wine-tasting table, and a polychrome iron rooster, this selection of objects makes the point that Southern style, while region-conscious and tradition-infused, is also as vibrant, inclusive, and engaging as the people behind it.

 

 

For more information about the upcoming auction at Brunk Auctions (this Saturday, July 20, 9 AM) and view the online catalog, visit brunkauctions.com.  To see more of Susan Nilsson’s beautiful designs, featured in Traditional Home and other major design publications, visit susannilsson.com.

Houses with Charm: Simple Southern Style

 

My newest book, Houses with Charm: Simple Southern Style, came out this April, and having begun the rounds of lectures and booksignings (the next is on Tuesday, July 16th, at Brunk Auctions in Asheville, NC; see end of post for details), I can now share with you some of the readers’ choices of favorite rooms. If you don’t have the book yet, please take a look and let me know what your favorite rooms are. One of the nicest comments I heard was from a reader who said, “I could live in any of these rooms.” And really, that’s what charm is all about–that feeling that you can walk right in and feel at home.

 

 

 

This entrance hall in a Greek Revival townhouse in Savannah, Georgia, combines casual details, including a striped runner and painted floors, with an eclectic mix of antiques. Decorated by award-winning interior designer Lynn Morgan, the house combines Swedish, French, and American antiques with a tropical palette inspired by Saint Croix, where Lynn and her husband and children have spent many vacations in a family home.

 

 

 

Southerners love the past so much that they will go to any length to carry it with them…even if it means moving an entire house from the Georgia Piedmont to a hilltop in Highlands, North Carolina. That is just what Teri and Mose Bond did to preserve the farmhouse that had been in her family for generations. Vestiges of original green milk paint still cover the walls in the dining room where the present-day resident remembers sharing family meals with past generations. I recently enjoyed a classic Southern meal including ham biscuits and squash casserole in this room, which was illuminated solely by candlelight–and great conversation.

 

 

 

Collaborating with Sullivans Island, South Carolina, residents Hartley and Ashley Cooper, interior designer Amelia Handegan created this wonderfully eclectic and unexpected space in a simple late-nineteenth century beach cottage. The original pine walls, floor, and ceiling of the entrance room create a warm, natural backdrop for mid-century modern chairs, a Chinese lute table, and a triptych by artist Timothy McDowell.

 

 

 

New Orleans-born and based lighting designer Julie Neill brings the words “simply elegant” to life in this sitting room in her 1880s double shotgun house. In addition to the graceful chandelier, she designed the daybed with antique finials and extra-tall sides that complements the room’s 18th-century Italian commodes and antique French chair.

 

 

Built in the late-18th century in simple Creole style and remodeled many decades later with refined Greek Revival details, this Louisiana plantation is filled with airy, luminous rooms, including this second floor parlor that opens to deep porch. A  nineteenth-century American sofa upholstered in rose-colored Scalamandre velvet offers just the right balance of elegance and simplicity to the decor.

 

 

Architect Norman Askins and his wife, interior decorator Joane, love to decorate their Blue Ridge Mountain hideaway with antiques including this Russian folk portrait and collection of pretty English china.

 

If you like what you see here, don’t just buy the book–go shopping for the furniture and decorative details you need to add more Southern charm to your own rooms.  Two of my favorite sources for appropriate selections of furniture, decorative accessories, and art–much of it surprisingly affordable–are Scott Antique Market in Atlanta and Brunk Auctions right down the road from me in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ll be giving a talk at Brunk this coming Tuesday, July 16th, at 5:30 with Lauren Brunk and interior designer Susan Nilsson (117 Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC). We’ll discuss about how to create great Southern style and unveil a vignette that features a selection of pieces to be auctioned on Saturday, July 20th. Visit Brunk Auction’s website for more details.

 

And please be sure to email me at susan@southerncosmopolitan.com and tell me what YOUR favorite rooms are in the book — or send me pictures of great Southern rooms you think I should know about!

 

 

 

Southern Cosmopolitan Travels: Richmond

Richmond, Virginia: Too much to do, Too little time!

 

Last week I spent a scant 30 hours in Richmond, Virginia, as a guest of the Tuckahoe Woman’s Club, where I presented a lecture entitled “Southern Style: Town and Country.” This was my second trip to lecture in Richmond, and both times, the short period of time I was there was only enough to tantalize me into wanting much, much more.

 

Jeb Stuart Monument, Monument Avenue

 

During my first visit, lecturing for the RAMA Antiques and Fine Arts show, I stayed at the famous Jefferson Hotel (www.jeffersonhotel.com) which, built in 1895, is a fine Southern hotel in the grand tradition and a cultural and architectural landmark. Even if you don’t stay in this beautiful behemoth of a hotel, be sure to take high tea beneath the Tiffany stained glass rotunda in the Palm Court (Friday-Sunday, 3:00 and 4:15 pm; best to make reservations.)

 

The Jefferson Hotel, Palm Court

 

On my recent stay, I had the pleasure of spending the night at Maury Place, www.mauryplace.com, a luxurious bed and breakfast located in a handsomely appointed historic house. Built in 1915, the house stands on Richmond’s famous Monument Avenue, across from the Maury Monument, which honors the father of modern oceanography and Commander of the Confederate Navy, Matthew Fontaine Maury.

 

Maury Place

 

Maury Monument

 

The Fan District

 

Maury Place is a perfect jumping off point for strolling on Monument Avenue (www.monumenthouse.com/Richmond/monument), walking the streets of the Fan district lined with historic townhouses (www.fandistrict.org), and visiting the nearby Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (www.vmfa.state.va.us).

 

Maury Place, Foyer

 

I fell in love with this B&B for several reasons. Its location is without parallel for exploring historic Richmond, its innkeepers Mac Pence and Jeff Wells are charming and attentive, and, should you ask to meet them, the resident dogs, Chico and Lucy, are delightful. Oh, and did I mention breakfast?

 

Maury Place, Parlor

 

Jeff Wells is the decorator behind the inn’s tasteful, retrained, and inviting decor. The furnishings include a combination of antiques from his family’s home in Norfolk, Virginia, objects he and Mac have collected over the years, and antiques that came with the house when they purchased it (Mac and Jeff are only its 4th owners). Colored primarily in shades of brown and earth tones (inspired by the tresses of their beloved terrier Chico and the Roseville pottery Jeff collects), the style is a bit more masculine and tailored than most B&Bs.

Chico

 

Roseville Pottery in the Library

 

“I didn’t want stereotypical B&B style, which is a little bit more feminine,” says Jeff. “I wanted the look to be tailored, not all velvet and Victoriana. The rooms are gender neutral, or a little bit masculine.” The room where I spend the evening, The Fontaine Suite, was a perfect example of this aesthetic. Decorated in beige, tan, and brown, it featured a pair of Victorian settees upholstered in decidedly un-Victorian fabric. For those who, like me, have inherited one or two of these relics, I recommend taking a look at what Jeff did to give them a crisp, updated look.

 

Updated Victorian Settee

 

The highlight of my trip was a few hours spent with the members of The Tuckahoe Woman’s Club (www.TheTuckahoe.org) in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 1936, it is one of the most vibrant woman’s clubs in the South, hosting speakers weekly on a wide range of subjects. The club’s 1954 Colonial Revival brick clubhouse, with an auditorium that seats several hundred and a spacious reception room, embodies the classic Southern woman club’s twin commitment to education and community. In addition to being the site for lectures and other member activities, the club and its gardens are also available for wedding receptions and events.

 

Tuckahoe Woman’s Club

 

 

One of the biggest surprises I discovered in Richmond is Agecroft Hall, an astonishing anachronism among the Colonial Revival houses gracing the beautiful Windsor Farms neighborhood where it stands.

 

Agecroft Hall

 

Built in Lancashire, England, in the late 15th century, it was sold at auction in 1925 to Richmond resident Thomas Williams, Jr., who had the Tudor estate moved to the banks of the James River. For information about tours and events, including the Richmond Shakespeare Festival, visit www.agecrofthall.com. Also contact Agecroft Hall for information about the Seven Historic Homes tour (March 23-24). Another reason to visit Richmond and the surrounding area is the Virginia Garden Week tour of houses and gardens, April 20-27 (www.vagardenweek.org), now in its 80th year.

 

Virginia Garden Week

 

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you something very, very important. When you prepare your walking tour of Richmond, don’t forget to pick up a box lunch from Richmond institution, Sally Bell’s Kitchen (www.sallybellskitchen.com). Since the 1950s, Sally Bell’s has been making delicious box lunches that include a sandwich on a handmade roll (I had chicken salad but they have many choices including cream cheese and olive), a deviled egg with a slice of sweet pickle on top, potato salad, the crispest bite-size cheese wafer, and a little cake to rival anything my grandmother from South Carolina could make…and that’s almost heresy to admit!

 

 

So hurry up and make plans to visit Richmond—it’s gorgeous in the springtime and autumn—be sure to leave enough time to dawdle—and eat a Sally Bell’s box lunch for me!

Joy to the Home

In this season of joy and light, consider giving a beautiful book to someone you love. One of my favorite design books of the year 2012 is The Joy of Decorating: Southern Style with Mrs. Howard by Phoebe Howard (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)–a volume I’m sure will delight those who share my love of  Southern decorating, past and present.

 

 

This recommendation has utterly nothing to do with the fact that I had the pleasure of co-authoring the book and everything to do with the fact that interior decorator Phoebe Howard is delightfully articulate, infectiously in love with her subject matter, inspiring, fun, and gifted. Her very first decorating project (outside of the lovely rooms she has created in her Mrs. Howard stores since 1996) appeared on the cover of House Beautiful, to be followed by countless covers and articles in top decorating magazines.

 

 

“A sea of blue and white embraces you.”

 

Phoebe is a compelling storyteller, and in the introduction she describes her evolution from awkward teenager to full-time mother to a design entrepreneur whose empire includes four Mrs. Howard stores, four Max & Company stores, the Mr. and Mrs. Howard line of furniture, and a thriving  decorating career [for more information and to order the book, visit Mrshoward.com]. The inspiration that launched this journey came from Phoebe’s Aunt Myra, a loving relation who designed an intimate and charming retreat for her teenage niece, teaching her about the healing power of interior design.

 

 

“Make your house an escape from the harsh realities of everyday life.”

 

“I can still close my eyes and recall every detail of that room,” Phoebe writes. “It embraced me and allowed my wounds to heal. When I think back to the impact the room had on me, I realize how powerful our environments can be. They affect us far more profoundly that we realize. In every room I decorate, my goal is to re-create that same sense of inspiration and comfort I felt in that bedroom.”

 

 

“The ability to look at the past with fresh eyes is the secret to timeless style.”

 

Arranged in seven sections with beautiful pictures of rooms decorated by Phoebe (many of them including architectural settings by her husband Jim Howard), she addresses the questions of how to design environments that are Inviting, Inspiring, Timeless, Graceful, Tranquil, Casual, and Comfortable.

 

 

“A graceful room is characterized by the harmonious composition of all its elements.”

 

 

“The best gift you can give yourself is a pocket of tranquility in your busy life.”

 

 

“Inspiration surrounds us all day, every day. You just have to learn to see it”

 

 

“An inviting house embraces you. It’s never intimidating or overdramatic.”

 

These rooms include handsome antiques, contemporary decorative objects, color schemes ranging from the masculine to the feminine, and approaches to style that are both traditional and fresh.

“The contents of the house constantly evoke your interest, inviting questions and engaging you in a never-ending dialogue.”

 

If you love beautiful décor, this is a book to sit back and enjoy. If your passion is decorating, it’s also one to study and learn from. Either way, The Joy of Decorating is a gift that is sure to delight and inspire anyone who receives it.

 

Note: This review by Susan Sully also appears on Ronda Carman’s popular style blog, allthebestblog.co.uk, where you will find any more ideas for holiday giving—to yourself AND others.

Conoisseurshop: Brunk Auctions

 


With Baby Boomers retiring and deaccessioning antiques and heirlooms and Generation X, Y, and Zers decorating in less traditional taste, there seems to be a glut on the market of fine furniture, art, and decorative objéts. All the better for those of us who love such things and are thrilled to have less competition in antiques stores and auction houses … but really, shouldn’t we try to share?

Lauren Brunk

Andrew Brunk

 

According to the Andrew and Lauren Brunk, proprietors of Brunk Auctions [brunkauctions.com], in Asheville, North Carolina, the answer is “Yes.” Targeting a new generation of collectors and auction-goers, they have designed a fresh approach to bringing younger generations back into the fold and onto the bidding floor.

 

 

Now their auction catalogs open with design magazine-style spreads of rooms furnished with objects from upcoming auctions that are handpicked and arranged in fine homes by the region’s top interior designers. “We hope to inspire a younger generation to embrace not only a modern aesthetic, but to mix it with the quality and uniqueness found in antiques,” Lauren writes in the catalog. “In the current design trend, it is no longer ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ All of it is in.”

 

 

 

Asheville-based interior designer Susan Nilsson [susannilsson.com], working with style setter and realty broker Sandy Sellers, created the room designs featured in the first of the redesigned catalogs. Among the featured vignettes are surprising juxtapositions of traditional and contemporary art as well as a gorgeous pairing of 18th and 19th century silver against a darkly stained cypress bookcase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The built-in bookcase is part of the fine Arts and Craft carpentry of the historic late-19th-century Biltmore Forest residence in which the auction items were displayed. Even the house is available for sale through Sellers at Preferred Properties, (sandysellers@preferredprop.com). Located in historic Biltmore Forest, this French-Norman inspired house was the architectural masterpiece of silversmith William Waldo Dodge. Dodge designed the house for William A. Knight, who was a close friend of the Biltmore Estate’s horticulturalist Chauncey Beadle.

 

 

15 East Forest Road, Biltmore Forest, Asheville

 

Brunk Auctions has also launched a program of Connoisseurs Receptions, wine-and-cheese gatherings during which the auction house’s experts present short talks about featured items in the upcoming sale and discuss how these might fit into modern-day collections and homes. These will take place several days before each auction, helping to educate potential buyers about the furniture, art, jewelry, and decorative objects on the block and to stimulate bidding-fever.

 

 

This solid 18kt gold dressing set was featured during this week’s reception as one of the standout items in the tomorrow’s auction. Designed in the early 20th-century, it features Arts and Crafts Dragestil-style decoration with elaborate Viking imagery, interlaced strapwork designs, and images of dragons and monsters. Estimate $25,000 – $35,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the receptions are fun in themselves (we all actually got the chance to fondle the solid gold powder box), the main point is to encourage new audiences to come to the auctions themselves, where they might stumble across a treasure and experience the thrill of bidding for it. “We want this to be fun and exciting,” says Lauren Brunk. “Life is short—don’t sit at a particle-board desk with a poster on the wall when you can have an antique desk and a real painting for about the same price!”

 

 

 

Although not in the bargain basement category, this carved and inlaid dressing table attributed to the Herter Brothers studio was among the pieces highlighted in this week’s Connoisseurs Reception. Made in the late 1870′s, Lauren explained that it originally would have been at home surrounded by potted palms and all of the business we associate with Victorian interiors. “Flash forward to today’s less cluttered spaces. How amazing to be able to notice the carving of the feet and legs, the ebonized decoration and parcel gilt urn that adorns the stretcher. Given their own space, really fine objects like this one make a statement.”

Two of my favorite affordable finds in the auction are a set of six botanical prints created by 18th-century British artist William Curtis and a small oil on artist board painted with great élan turn of the 20th-century American artist Elliott Daingerfield.

 

 

 

 

Six hand-colored botanical plates, William Curtis, British, 1746-1799, Estimate $1,000 – 1,500

 

 

 

Oil on artist board, Elliott Daingerfield (NY and NC 1859-1932), Estimate $3,000 – 4,000

 

The next auction, taking place on Saturday, September 15th, features pieces from many estates and collections including the Chrysler Museum of Art and the R. J. Reynolds Collection. View a digital catalog on the website, and if you want to get an email when the current catalog is available, just sign up on the home page.

Photos courtesy of Brunk Auctions, Asheville, NC

 

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

I regret to say that my server lost all of the stories posted on my blog after October 2011. I promise to post more, even more beautiful stories to make up for this sad loss.

Yours faithfully,

 

Susan Sully

The Southern Cosmopolitan Shops

 

I recently gave a lecture on my book The Southern Cosmopolitan for the Cincinnati Art & Antiques Festival. Beforehand, I prowled the aisles of the  show with show manager Charlie Miller, scanning for objects expressing the South’s enduring passion for the past, fascination with the foreign, and trend-savvy tastes to include in my lecture. While the region is widely recognized as one beguiled by history, outsiders–and even many Southerners–don’t always think of it as a place with exotic tastes or cutting edge style. That’s why I particularly enjoyed selecting items that illustrate these lesser known aspects of Southern style.

 

Roseate Spoonbill, John Jay Audubon, from Arader Gallery

 

The popularity of the Birds of America engravings by French-American John Jay Audubon (1785-1851) in cultivated homes on both sides of the Atlantic is a perfect example of both  the allure of the exotic and the power of fashion in and beyond the South. Although Audubon created the original drawings for his famous work in America, he had to go to England–where the American birds had New World cachet–to find a market (and an engraver). It was only after they became the height of style in England (even King George IV collected them) that they won popularity back in America, where they soon graced Georgian-style drawing rooms like this one in Charleston, South Carolina, featured in my book Charleston: Architecture and Interiors.

 

Branford-Horry House, Charleston, 1755

 

While living in New Orleans, Louisiana, I encountered this wonderful selection of Audubon engravings in the center hall of a Garden District Greek Revival house featured in The Southern Cosmopolitan.

 

 

 

The Cincinnati Antiques Festival stall of Arader Galleries [www.aradergalleries.com] featured several original engravings from the 1827-38 Havell Edition of Birds of America, including the Roseate Spoonbill above and this wonderfully vibrant Purple Heron with its young. I found myself longing to hang the latter in a room decorated in shades of lapis lazuli and taupe.

 

Purple Heron, John Jay Audubon, from Arader Galleries

 

Although I have yet to encounter Palissy ware in a Southern home, this fanciful French pottery has enjoyed popularity off and on since the 16th century, when it was developed by French Huguenot potter Bernard Palissy. Robust and naturalistic, Palissy’s designs depicted snakes, lizards, fish, crustaceans, and water flora in vibrant color and high relief. The potter’s techniques were lost to the ages, but rediscovered by a new generation of French potters in the 19th century. These exotic, not-for-the-faint-of-heart objects began to grace the mantels and tables of polite society once again, and popularity spread to England, where earthenware pottery was also in fashion. Mintons Ltd launched a line of it at the Great Exhibition of 1851 under the name Palissy ware, which soon became known as Victorian majolica.

 

Platter, c. 1860, Victor Barbizet

 

A Pallisy ware platter like the above by Victor Barbizet (c. 1860) would be right at home in a sugar plantation alongside a steamy Louisiana bayou seething with snakes and turtles–especially if it’s owners were of French descent. It was one of several that held me in thrall when I entered the stall of French dealers Philippe Meunier and Jean Alonso-Defrocourt [contact: majolica75@wanadoo.fr or 917-334-7982].

 

Lizard on a Rock, c. 1860, Joseph Landais

 

This very rare piece by Joseph Landais, measuring 7 x 3-1/2 inches, is small but commanding. Although its style is rustic, its purpose is the same as the more refined figures designed by Sevres, Meissen, Darby, and Chelsea in the eighteenth century, all of which found their way into refined Southern homes.

 

Kandler-Meissen, German 18th century porcelain

 

 

Chelsea, English 18th century porcelain

 

Intended to amuse, and impress even the most jaded 19th-century Southern cosmopolitans, they still have the same power to fascinate and delight today.