moorish screen

Matisse in the Studio shows how the things he loved inspired his painting. He wrote in 1940: ‘I have at last found the object for which I’ve been longing for a whole year. It’s a Venetian baroque chair, silver gilt with tinted varnish like a piece of enamel.  When I found it in an antique shop, a few weeks ago I was bowled over. It’s splendid. I’m obsessed with it.’ The exhibition recreates a set he would have recognised since everything in it was his: a large, nineteenth-century screen on the back wall, a small, eight-sided ornate painted table known as a guéridon from Algeria, and a Moroccan chair. The Moorish Screen (1921) hangs nearby.


There is an excellent (and therefore crowded) exhibition at the Royal Academy (on until mid November). One reason it is so good is that it is not just paintings hung blankly on the wall. There are paintings and objects and furniture and, our favourite, huge black and white photographs. Here is Matisse in the Studio (the name of the exhibition) by Cartier-Bresson. This is why we all love Charleston or Monk’s House or even the exterior of Fred Elwell’s house in Beverley so much: you get a picture of the artist in their environment, at home, and that adds immeasurably to the finished work.

toms copy

And the last Country Living postcard is again by Linda Burgess. We sometimes have bowls of tomatoes (from the People’s Supermarket in Lamb’s Conduit) in the shop, but they rarely look like a Renaissance painting – of which this photograph is reminiscent.

Thur copy 3

A Berkshire Garden, a.k.a a wonderfully overgrown window, was photographed  by Simon McBride.

bench copy

Another bench but with a completely different, rather Roman ‘mood’, this was by Julie Fisher for Country Living.

bench copy

It was a Bank Holiday (funny expression, but we are used to it) yesterday and now this week is very sleepy and languorous as we all gear ourselves up for the back to work/new term mode that will be demanded of us very shortly. On the Post this week, four Country Living magazine postcards dating, probably, from about ten years ago. The Garden Bench was photographed by Linda Burgess, (whose beautiful cards we sell in the shop): this is exactly how a garden bench should look, only a philistine would cut back the ferns or weed the gravel. (That is probably a politically incorrect thing to say, but perhaps it’s okay in the context of weeds and gravel and benches.)

(c) John Hitchens (son); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Finally: Ivon Hitchens Flowers 1942. ‘This work was part of the collection of Diana Maud Stirling King, a passionate art enthusiast who bequeathed many works through the Art Fund‘, which enabled Flowers to be bought by the Pallant, where it is on permanent display.

william coldstream girl reflecting

The John Minton exhibition is well worth going to Chichester to see, But of course there are other marvellous paintings at the Pallant, for example Girl Reflecting 1977 by William Coldstream,part of a small Coldstream exhibition called Measuring Reality, on until October 1st.

Portrait of Kevin Maybury 1956 by John Minton 1917-1957

Portrait of Kevin Maybury is at the Tate. This is a very poignant picture, seen in the context of the entire John Minton exhibition, because Kevin Maybury was John Minton’s final lover and he found him after his alas successful suicide attempt – at the house they shared in Chelsea, 9 Apollo Place (why is there no blue plaque?). Here is more about the portrait, including the suggestion by Frances Spalding that Kevin Maybury has a ‘brittle unease’. Bud does he?

e david

Elizabeth David: cover by John Minton. And we cannot resist quoting from Rachel Cooke’s piece about Patience Gray in the Observer two days ago: ‘Elizabeth David published A Book of Mediterranean Food in 1950, but it was the more user-friendly Plats du Jour, which Gray and Primrose Boyd published in 1957, that would become the bestselling cookbook of the 50s…With its encouraging, non-intimidating recipes for such dishes as moussaka and ratatouille, Plats du Jour, published as a Penguin paperback with its famous cover by David Gentleman, was a huge success, selling 100,000 copies before the decade was out.’ A biography of Patience Gray has just been published – so she is beginning to catch up with Elizabeth David, who has been the subject of two biographies.

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