Friday, January 29, 2010

trouvée: a turkish lady

This one is for Little Augury. It is a page taken from an album ~ another one of those things I would liked to have seen in whole (why do people tear old books apart?). Inscribed: "Turkish Lady." {click to view larger}

No links today. I am feeling quiet, and very ready for the weekend. They say snow is in the forecast. More Emma on Sunday (thanks to Courtney for identifying the divine Squerryes Court) ~ and The Park looks interesting.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

a postscript on book week

It is said that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I say: why not? Here are a few reasons:

* The Art of Books, 1815-1930
* Beauty for Commerce: Publisher's Bindings, 1830-1910
* some 19th-century French bindings
* and a collection of Sarah Wyman Whitman bindings at the Boston Public Library

This on a day when news came of J.D. Salinger's passing. For 20 years, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in American schools and libraries. And yet, is there anyone out there who hasn't read it?

(from top to bottom: In Ghostly Japan, by Lafcadio Hearn; The Flight of the Shadow, by George MacDonald; The King of Folly Island, by Sarah Orne Jewett; The Marble Faun, by Nathaniel Hawthorne; and Walden, by Henry David Thoreau)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

morning at the museum

There is nothing better than arriving at the museum first thing in the morning, right at 10:00, just as they open. The smell of floor wax still fresh, and the morning sun casting long shadows through the skylights. If you walk purposefully, you just might make it to your destination before anyone else. Empty galleries. It only lasts for a little while, but it is bliss while it does.

My destination last thursday morning: the newly-renovated American Wing at the Met. Quickly through the Medieval galleries, right through Arms and Armor, and there you are. An atrium full of light and sparkling Tiffany mosaics and glass ~ the gateway to three floors of period rooms. One of the best places to get lost for a few hours. The next best thing ~ a series of essays on the decorative arts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

bright lights, big city

Well, I ran off to Manhattan for a few days. There was not nearly enough time for everything on my agenda, but in between appointments I did manage a morning at the Met, a special lunch at the Morgan (with time for Jane), an evening tour of the fabulous Merchant's House Museum, and dinner with friends (including this lovely lady).

Phew! I am tired.

More when I have recovered...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the lady is a muse

My dear EEE ~

When I heard the news of your nuptials (fait accompli), I was thrilled. However, when Mrs. Blandings followed by announcing a shower in your honor, I admit to more than a few pangs of anxiety. What, after all, do you give the divine Ms. EEE, whose sense of style and sophistication is par excellent? Lucky for me (or should I say, you), there is a fabulous round of winter auctions. Goodness everywhere ~ fabulous English silver from Christie's Newton House sale (no, too predictable), or a gorgeous enameled tea caddy from the Elinor Gordon Collection at Sotheby's (hmmm...still not quite right). And then I saw it. A quietly elegant piece, no more than a whisper on paper: a pencil and ink drawing by George Romney of a female muse and her male admirer.

Because, your gentleman has found his muse. May you always inspire each other so.

xo, JCB

Friday, January 15, 2010

trouvée: marne and the muff

Inscribed: "Marne Wilkinson / Perry, Iowa / 1918." Can't remember where I found this, but wherever it was, it cost 25¢. I am also pretty sure that if my friend Anne had been born about 50 years earlier, this is how she would have dressed: bonnet, muff, velvet coat and boots. Who says you can't be stylish in cold weather?

Some things worth looking at:

* Priya Kambli
* Andy Freeberg: The Guardians
* Joni Sternbach (especially the Abandoned series)
* Miroslav Tichý and Atget (opening January 29)

And I love, love, love this (via a cup of jo)!

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

thawing out (a little)

For the first time in weeks the mercury has inched above the freezing mark, and the local meteorologist promises 50s by the end of the week. I won't hold my breath.

In the mean time, I am adding to my list of winter reads. Last summer Little Augury sent me two volumes of the Paris Review interviews. I remarked at the time that they were the perfect thing to save for cold winter days, curled up on the couch, cup of tea in hand (though I should point out that certain interviews may require something slightly more spirited). She agreed completely and said I should do a post on why we yearn to read certain things at certain times of the year. Like Anna Karenina (winter), Wuthering Heights (winter)...or any Agatha Christie (summer). Jane Austen can (and should) be read all year round. This is something I cannot explain, it's just a feeling. And you may not feel the same way, though I would venture to say you have an opinion!

So on that note, some additions to the winter list ~ two for the history books, and one for those who loved The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves (released today).

Monday, January 11, 2010

in the kitchen

Some time between 8:00 and 9:00 this morning, I managed to lose the USB cable to my new camera. Never fear, there is a new one already headed toward my mailbox. However, it does mean that today's intended post is trapped on my camera for the near future. the mean time, I thought we might talk kitchens. You know, the historic sort. The sort that make you cringe at the thought of producing even a simple cup of tea (much less a Christmas pie for 40). Last night, fueled by several bottles of wine and a copious selection of cheeses, a small group of revelers found themselves cursing Frank Lloyd Wright for his horribly impractical kitchens. At least his, for the most part, had convection ovens and refrigerators. Historic kitchens are a rare breed, so often lost to time (or the ubiquitous museum gift shop). Those at Mount Vernon are relatively intact and lovingly restored (see above). This past year, I have also seen great kitchens at Tudor Place, Poplar Forest, Stratford Hall, Ten Chimneys, Hillwood, the Cappon House, and the Hammond-Harwood House ~ all part of a growing trend to save and preserve these often-overlooked spaces.

Friday, January 8, 2010

trouvée: not this side

This morning, the lady was running around, at once trying to remember to put stamps on her bills, iron her tuxedo shirt, eat her daily bowl of oatmeal, and find a particular photograph she had in mind for today's post. The latter task was turning out to be wholly unsuccesful. So, says the gentleman "use one of mine."

His find: a nineteenth-century carte-de-visite by Abraham Bogardus of an unidentified girl. Inscribed: "not this side││."

The lady wonders "hmmm, what does that mean?" The gentleman says "I think it's a direction to the printer to crop the image on the right side." Of course (he is a genius).

A few links:

* a wonderful collection of oddities and rarities
* the girl with a long blue bow
* and Raymond Weeks latest: Carousel

Cheers and happy weekend!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

a new year's outing

I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the seat of government by the officers of state and the representatives of every power in Europe. ~ George Washington, in a letter to David Stuart, 15 June 1790

To me, the new year is a time of celebration and quiet reflection. A time to be spent with good friends, be they people, books, or...houses! This place needs no introduction ~ it is timeless and it never changes. And yet there is always something new to discover.

A logical destination for a new year's outing, right? Well, the piles of snow from the December blizzard may have melted away, but I can assure you it was a cold day. The green grass and masses of holly and boxwood belie the fact that it was 14 degrees, with a wind chill factor near zero! As our frozen guide reminded us however, it was not nearly as bad as the Christmas day in 1776 when Washington crossed the Delaware. All I can say is, thank goodness for Thinsulate and Madeira. Huzzah!

(more photos here)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

on a cold winter's night

Make yourself a pot of soup. Pour a glass of wine. Grab a blanket. And curl up with a good book (see below).

JCB's new fiction picks for the winter:

* Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
* Once on a Moonless Night, by Dai Sijie (A.S. Byatt's review here)
* Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier

Alternate activities may include watching Cranford (and Return to Cranford) on Masterpiece Theater. Here's hoping you are staying warm...somehow!

Monday, January 4, 2010

jingle bells!

A Boxing Day sleigh ride! A surprise from my father. How he managed to get eight sleepy people out the door that morning (on time), I have no idea. But, it truly was the best gift ~ the kind that makes you cry when you think about it (a few more images here...and here!).

And another extraordinary gift (thank you, thank you my friend, I am still speechless).

Welcome 2010...!

Friday, January 1, 2010

trouvée: a new year

Inscribed: "Here's wishing you + all a very prosperous New Year."

Cheers to 2010...and all good things! xo