A VIEW ON A ROOM
Antiques expert JUDITH MILLER tours her favourite room from this issue’s houses – the drawing room in Clementina Stiegler’s converted mill house
1 WOODEN FIRE SURROUND
This 19th- century reproduction of an 18th- century ‘Adam’style chimney piece has been stripped of its original painted finish to reveal the underlying pine wood from which it was made. The style was an 18th- century variant of neoclassicism, formulated by the Scottish architect and designer Robert Adam (1728–92), who studied first hand classical Roman architecture and decoration in Rome and Pompeii. Configured symmetrically like the entrance to a temple, and comprising a pair of columnar pilasters supporting an entablature and frieze all based on the ‘Orders’ of classical architecture, the chimney piece is also carved with discreet rows of decoration known as ‘fluting’.
2 MONOCHROME PAINTING
The painting above the chimney piece is by the eminent 20th- century artist Caziel (1906–1988). Polish-born, Caziel moved to Britain in the late 1950s, following his marriage to his second wife, the Scottish artist Catherine Sinclair. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1975. His formative years were spent in Warsaw, Paris, and Aix- en-Provence, where influence and inspiration was largely Post- Impressionist: especially the works of Gauguin, Matisse, Cézanne, and Picasso (who befriended Caziel). Although most of Caziel’s work became rigorously geometric in the 1950s, evolving into pure abstraction during the 1960s and beyond, this painting – Caziel lovingly imagining his wife Catherine as a young woman working on a dairy farm during the Second World War – recalls his earlier, more figurative style.
3 SCULPTURAL FIGURES
The sculptures on the mantelshelf are by Clementina’s mother Catherine Sinclair (1919–2007). While most are wood- carved – three in black ebony – during the 1950s, the three female forms in the centre are clay. Sculpted in the 1980s, they may originally have been intended as figural finials for the lids of ceramic cooking pots. Sinclair’s considerable talents as a sculptor also extended to painting: the portrait of Clementina as a child to the right of the fireplace and the still life garden landscape on the left wall are both by her. The Bloomsbury Group- esque composition of the still life is no coincidence – while growing up, Sinclair moved in circles that included artists such as Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, while her aunt was the Fitzroy Street Group artist-hostess Ethel Sands.
4 DECORATIVE FIRE BELLOWS
Throughout the course of the 18th and 19th centuries the practical ‘impedimenta of the hearth’ – the tools required to make, sustain, and clear domestic fires – became increasingly decorative. A figural and foliate decorated cast-iron fireback, and a brass fender, poker and tongs – the former with pine cone finials, the latter with rope-twist shafts – are accompanied here by some particularly splendid wall-hung bellows. Housing a brass studsecured leather airbag, its wooden frame is red and black lacquerware decorated with oriental figures in a chinoiserie style.
5 BUTTON-BACK ARMCHAIR
While the basic shape or form of this 19th- century, buttonback, leather upholstered armchair has its roots in French designs that emerged in the 18th century, it is in fact English. However, the ‘show’ wood of the frame also tips its hat to the bold and elaborate carving found on some continental chairs of the period, most notably from Italy. The motifs employed, primarily scrolling foliate forms, are also stylistically diverse, drawing on Renaissance, Palladian, classical revival, and even rococo precedents – a stylistic eclecticism typical of the mid to late Victorian period.
2 3 1