Life goals


I don’t know who Lady Stern is/was, but there’s something about the no-nonsense gaze and stack of books, combined with the comfort of that rug, vase  of flowers and cornflower suit that I can get behind. Portrait by Lance Cattermole, an artist who lived till he was 94 (1898 – 1992); his style reminds me of Enslin du Plessis.

Photo via Art UK, the renamed website of Your Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation. It’s a free website, dedicated to cataloguing all the public art across Britain, much of it held in provincial museums, fire stations and council buildings and provides a fascinating social history survey of a time between 1890 and 1960 when local pride and a belief in the inspiring powers of art were strong.

Podcast of the week

A riff on Blog of the Week, as tout le monde tells me blogging is dead. Whatever.


I love a good podcast too, as those who’ve had me bang on about Chat 10 Looks 3 or Backlisted will attest. This one features two women who made a sci fi film in the first episode, and the other two broadcasts of The Violet Sessions so far sound just as good. One to settle in with on the train home / the sofa and a cup of tea – serving suggestion included above courtesy of Raphaelle Peale, my photo from the Met.

The red gleam…

On a pouring wet Sunday night in December last year a special meeting was held at the House of the Sacred Flame in Knocklatchers Row…Nigel Bathgate, looking disconsolately out of his window in Chester Terrace, noticed its sign for the first time. It was a small hanging sign made of red glass and shaped to represent a flame rising from a cup. Its facets caught the light as a gust of wind blew the sign back. Nigel saw the red gleam…

An atmospheric opening to Ngaio Marsh’s “Death in Ecstasy”. Such clever writing; as well as setting a strong sense of atmosphere, all the psychological clues are already there. Marsh is so good at mood, whether it’s a tense evening party, a shabby artists’ colony or wet, dark night.

A Gentleman In Moscow



More autumn reading? I also saw this in New York and sort of regret holding off buying it. The cover might be carefully designed to appeal to current taste but the writing seems good (funny, well-paced, rhythmic) & has whetted my appetite:

“However the table is arranged!” the Count would exclaim. “Delightful conversation! I’ll have you know, dear sister, that careless seating has torn asunder the best of marriages and ended the longest of detentes. In fact, if Paris had not been seated next to Helen when he dined at the court of Menaleus there would never have been a Trojan war.”

A charming rejoinder, no doubt, reflected the Count from across the passage of the years. But where were the Obolenskys and the Minsky-Polotovs now?

With Hector and Achilles.

“Your table is ready, Count Rostov.”

“Ah. Thank you, Andrey.”

Eyes as big as plates



How phenomenonally beautiful is this idea & this photo from Karoline Hjorth and Riita Ikonen? Their Kickstarter page is here & I wish I’d seen it when it was open. Instead I’ll keep an eye out for their book.



The rhubarb camouflage made me laugh too – my dad has killed more rhubarb with his lawn mowing than a school kitchen’s worth of crumble, so this hideout would be perfect for him!


An artist who I’d never encountered until an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum this week. I still don’t really know about his life, except that he only took up art seriously in his 40s (like another of my favourite artists Agnes Martin), and was remarkably diverse in his style.


Touchingly, when he first began to paint he wrote to a friend that “I must learn to draw properly.”


From top to bottom Vache, Double Self-Portrait; Le Metro, Jazz Band, Vue de Paris; 2 x Corps de Dames


All photos by me.




This stunning portrait (rather different from the grey dresses Jane Eyre insisted she’d wear) is of Anne, Duchess of Chandos.

Henry Brydges, the 2nd Duke, first saw Anne at The Pelican Inn in Newbury in the early 1740s. One of the inn staff was beating his wife, Anne, and in an episode that could have come from a Hardy novel, taking her to market with a halter round her neck. The Duke intervened and married her himself in 1744, a couple of years later. Interestingly this doesn’t seem to have led to any social stigma, although I wonder if the fact that the Duke’s first wife had already given him three children and that the 1st Duke died a few months prior to this remarriage might have affected that.


The Chandos family made their money as paymasters of Marlborough’s army in the early 1700s, lost most of their fortune in the South Sea bubble and were patrons of Handel. Their country seat, Cannons, was one of the first private art collections to be visited by the public, being so popular that a ticketing system had to be introduced, but was dismantled and demolished in 1748. However, I note from Ashley Hicks’ Instagram that their chapel at Little Stanmore is still easily reached from central London. Time for a trip, I think.

First image via Wikipedia and the second from Visit Churches, which has more directions on how to reach the chapel.