Archive for the ‘Castle Coole’ Category

Mixing Greek and Chinese Regency style at Castle Coole

September 8, 2011

The Saloon at Castle Coole. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Having touched on the Regency libraries at Stourhead and Ickworth, I could not fail to show some of the Regency interiors at Castle Coole, in Co. Fermanagh.

Gilded couch supplied for the Drawing Room at castle Coole in about 1816. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The house was built by James Wyatt for Armar Lowry-Corry, 1st Earl of Belmore, between 1789 and 1797. The cost of building turned out to be so high that initially the house was only sparsely furnished.

The State Bedroom, said to have been prepared for a visit by George IV in 1821. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

But when Somerset Lowry-Corry succeeded as 2nd Earl in 1802 he set about decorating Castle Coole in lavish Regency style, using the Dublin cabinetmakers and dealers John and Nathaniel Preston.

Chinoiserie cabinet, one of a pair supplied by the Preston firm and originally used as a bookcase, in the Morning Breakfast Room. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

They supplied the massive gilt and mahogany furniture in the principal rooms, and also many of the curtains and upholstery materials.

The Bow Room, a private sitting room for the ladies of the house, decorated with chinoiserie wallpaper and chintz which was remade for the National Trust in 1979-80. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Apart from the goût grec running through much of the decoration, there is also a discernable strand of chinoiserie.

Detail of the re-woven chinoiserie chintz in the Bow Room. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Although classical decoration is predominant in the more ‘serious’ rooms, and chinoiserie was used more in the ‘feminine’ areas of the house, the division was not absolute, as the japanned bookcases in the Morning Breakfast Room show.

As it happens, the BBC is currently broadcasting historian Lucy Worsley’s amusing and informative series about the Regency.

Beth Katleman’s Rococo vision

June 6, 2011

Beth Katleman, Folly. ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

I recently spotted these images of an extraordinary porcelain relief entitled Folly, by New York-based artist Beth Katleman. The work is five meters long and consists of 3,500 individual porcelain pieces. It is inspired by the riotous wall decorations of the Rococo period.

Facsimile of a Regency chinoiserie wallpaper in the Bow Room at Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Folly is reminiscent of eighteenth-century Rococo and chinoiserie tapestries, wallpaper and printed cotton, with their floating islands populated with whimsical figures and fantasy structures.

Folly (detail). ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

The work also references the more extreme forms of plaster decoration, and the phenomenon of the porcelain room, with its walls covered with figurines, vases, cups and plates.

Detail of the mantelpiece in the Paper Room at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

But upon closer inspection Katleman infuses these ‘high culture’ sources with a healthy dose of kitsch. The floating islands are populated by porcelain casts that the artist has taken from flea-market finds, including pencil sharpeners in the shape of famous monuments and cast-off plastic dolls.

Folly (detail). ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

Katleman aptly emphasises the surrealist potential of the Rococo style. At the same time she subverts the domestic associations of interior decoration, transforming the elegant into the uncanny. 

Detail of toile de Jouy in the Ante-Room at Plas Newydd, Anglesey. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Folly will be shown by Todd Merrill at Design Miami/Basel from 13 to 18 June. Subsequently it will be part of the exhibition Flora and Fauna, MAD About Nature, at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, from 28 June until 6 November.

Folly (detail). ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

Another edition of the work will travel to London to be shown, again by Todd Merrill, at the Pavilion of Art and Design, from 12 to 16 October. 

Chinoiserie plasterwork and carved wood decoration in the Chinese Room at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Todd Merrill website features a short video about Folly featuring Beth Katleman.