Evening Standard - ES Magazine
LEARN FROM THE MASTER
A sale of items belonging to the so-called ‘inventor’ of interior decorating can teach us a thing or two, says Adam Bray
Lineage is an interesting thing; the passing of knowledge from teacher to student, the transmission of tradition and certain ways of doing things that are adapted and remodelled by successive generations while retaining the germ of the original idea. In the same way that monks pass a spiritual tradition down a line — and you can find pianists who are able to trace their practice directly back to Beethoven, and thence to Mozart and Haydn — the same is true of interior decorating.
John Fowler, a founding partner of Colefax and Fowler, is often credited with the invention of interior decorating in this country. His sensitivity and appreciation of historic houses, architecture and craft were exemplary, as was his ability to make the grandest rooms habitable and the simplest rooms chic. The latter is exemplified in the furnishing of the Hunting Lodge, his cottage in Hampshire.
When Fowler died in 1977, he left the contents of the house to his assistant Imogen Taylor, who after 50 years at C&F and a happy retirement in Burgundy, has decided to offer these items and some of her own collection for sale.
“John Fowler’s ability to make the grandest rooms habitable and the simplest rooms chic was exemplary”
It’s rare to find a group of things with such an interesting provenance and see a snapshot of a particular taste and moment in design history. It’s also interesting to observe that so many things that were the height of chic then, still seem entirely relevant now. My favourite items are the ceramic handwarmer decorated with spongeware kisses, and a set of Italian dining chairs with painted rush seats.
The sale is on a firstcome, first-served basis with a catalogue available online at 9am on 2 December. To ensure success, sharpen your elbows and be prepared to buy boldly. You might just come away with a little piece of interiors history.
The John Fowler & Imogen Taylor Collection — a Selling Exhibition, 2-22 Dec, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, 89-91 Pimlico Road, SW1 (sibylcolefax.com)