Friday, February 26, 2010

A Fascination with Grottoes.....

Boboli Gardens Florence, Italy

Grottoes have always fascinated me. The word grotto comes from the Italian grotta- or cave. So simply, a grotto is a cave.

This is the entrance to the Boboli Gardens grotto in Florence, Italy. Leave it to an artist to not leave well enough alone and go and tweak mother nature! Artificial garden grottoes, such as the Boboli gardens were conceived in the 16th century. Artists took the concepts of stalactites, shells and mythological figures and glorified them in these false grottos.

This is why I have always wanted a grotto....a garden grotto with stalactite sheep and mythological figures emerging from the calcium carbonate formations against faded fresco walls....who wouldn't want a grotto after seeing this?

An artist's interpretation of a grotto...with classical urns and fountains, frescoes and large clam shells formed by man, not nature....

Even the ceilings in the Boboli gardens are examples of controlled nature...dripping sections of della robbia frame the painted panels.

Boboli gardens ceiling

Such a perfect combination of man's ability and nature's best!

The romancing of nature-combining sculpture with found objects, always linking to the ocean and water.

Carlo Marchiori has a modern grotta on the grounds of his home Ca' Toga in California. Carlo created his home and all architecture to give the illusion of Italian ruins. This shot shows the oculus dome inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The grotta is made from woven rebar, metal mesh, abalone shells and "hundreds of buckets of concrete mix."(quote from Festa Veneziana a Ca'Toga)

I took these photos in Rome ten years ago....sculptures on Via XX Settembre...mythological subjects with grotto style renderings.

It would be a few years later before I would go to Florence and became totally smitten with grottoes.

Man continues to imitate nature...this is a stalactite ceiling done in plaster in the early turn of the 20th century in the United States.

...and the fascination continues with this recent installation in the U.N.'s Palace of Nations ceiling by Spanish painter Miquel Barcelo.

Maybe if I snag an incredible grotto chair like this one from Michaelsamantiques I will be satisfied.....for a while!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


An enfilade can be a piece of furniture, usually a buffet, with a minimum of four cabinet doors opening to reveal connected compartments in a row.

The Baroque era-Mannheim Palace in Germany

Enfilade(ahn'-fe-lahd) comes from the french verb "enfiler" meaning "to thread" and more commonly refers to a suite of rooms formally aligned with each other.(wikipedia def.) 

This baroque enfilade is from Catherine the Great's Palace -

I love the chinoiserie theme with this enfilade...the design mimics the pattern in the leaded glass windows.

These are the Fine Rooms at Burlington House, part of the Royal Academy of London. They remind me of a set of fired porcelain tea cups with gilded edging.

Enfilades can carry out a larger theme with each doorway varying in detail from the next, note above the doorway how each one has a different motif.

Photo courtesy New York Social Diary

This enfilade leads to the Salon des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) in Versailles.

The Golden Room in the Charlottenburg Palace is an exuberant example of Baroque

Even Marrakech architecture can be defined as enfilade...these windows repeat the pattern

I love how the classical pediments repeat, slightly different from the previous set.

Photo from Ca'Toga

No one "works" the concept of enfilade better than Carlo Marchiori in his home Ca'Toga. Venetian born, he frames the outer doors with replica gondola moorings. Pediments over the door continue with the second set of doors and the story is completed with the hand painted chest and trompe l'oeil curtains and sky with Campanile on the back wall.

As much as I love Baroque art, I must end this with a newer interpretation of an enfilade. It fits the definition perfectly.

Along your travels in life, have you seen an example of an enfilade that made your heart skip a beat? Please share your experiences with me!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm Blushing.....!

Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart of Through the French Eye of Design surprised me with this wonderful award this week!  JAD has a wonderful blog concerning all things European and decorative. She was born in Tunisa, lived in Paris... Africa and  now resides in New York.  Her blog reflects her unique background and covers a variety of style and design issues.

Upon receiving this prestigious award, I have now been decreed to share ten things about me......

1.I have met Dale Chihuly and am greatly influenced by his work in glass.

2. I wear Hermes parfum every day....even when on scaffolding covered in sheetrock dust, painting away!

3.I drive a Jeep

4.Paris owns my heart....Italy owns my soul.....

5.I will give up a meal to buy a book.

6.I have a BFA in Art History

7.I have a *thing* for Prada.....!

8.I live in flip-flops

9.I paint to Puccini....

10.I watched in awe as a man walked on the moon and mourned when President Kennedy was shot.

Blogging has widened my knowledge and feeds my brain daily with visuals and printed word. I would like to share 15 blogs I visit each day that feed my soul, jumpstart my brain and make me smile! To be fair, I put all twenty names(yes, the list grew!) together and randomly drew them out to list below....

Design Inspiration. Planet Stencil Library


(In)Decorous Taste

The Sartorialist

My Castle In Spain

Paris Breakfasts

Chinoiserie Chic


Paris Parfait

A Thousand Clapping Hands

Cote De Texas



The Style Saloniste

New York Social Diary

Ok....just five more, there are too many good ones!

A Gift Wrapped Life

Mrs. Blandings


The Ribboned Crown

Vosges Paris

I actually visit more than these twenty daily, but felt I would overwhelm if I let the list get longer!
 I have made good friendships through many authors of these wonderful blogs. Each blogger represents a specific area from this planet-New York, Philadelphia, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana,.Virginia, Florida, California, Granada, England, Amsterdam and Canada. I hope you click on these links and find some new friends!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day in Paris......

Le Train Bleu
For the past ten years, I have been in Europe on most Valentine's Days...many times in Paris.

Paris is the place to celebrate Valentine's Day. Le Train Bleu , with it's belle epoch architecture, is just one of those places to celebrate. It is located inside the Gare de Lyon train station and was built for the 1900 Exposition.

Rue de Rivoli offers many places for romantic, at the Belle Epoch tearoom, the Angelina, would be a perfect place for tea and dessert.

I can just taste their hot chocolate with a Mont Blanc........

Stroll further down the street to the Hotel Crillon....

their Hemingway bar is the place to be for Valentine's!

Photo-Daniel Cruz
...or maybe the Ritz for a decadent souffle with their initial stenciled on top...

Turn the corner onto Rue Royale and go inside Laduree.....

This is one of the oldest tearooms of Paris, with it's bakery beginning in 1862....

Known for their macaroons and pastries, the line is ofen out the door to make purchases.....

...such a special place to celebrate Valentine's Day.......!

This florist in the 6th arr., covered the sidewalk last year for Valentines with hundreds of large red and pink rose petals for the block leading to their door....I almost didn't want to walk on them....

If you can't be in Paris this year, don't forget the little details to make the day, scattered petals, good food and , best of all, great company!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Things we Collect.....

Home of Alex Papachristidis  Courtesy of New York Social Diary

We all have collections we enjoy....they represent travels, maybe milestones in life, gifts or personal indulgences.

It is how we decide to display them to the world that can reveal a little about our personalities.

Some collections can be displayed simply in utilitarian fashion.

House and Garden UK edition

They can be treated as art on a wall....

And then there are books....I have them everywhere!

..and I want MORE! Look at these "carved" books by artist Brian Dettmer.

So tedious, so tactile.....they are mini sculptures!

I love  odd, unusual examples of art...

How clever would you be with these on your shelves?... vellum......ummmmm.....bespoke vellum books..these actually create an elaborate scene when stacked together.

E. Lawrence, Ltd. produces bespoke vellum and leather books covered in script....

and sets of different heights in bold colors with calligraphy accents.....

This set is classic vellum....with engraved designs. Still craving more books? Check out French-Kissed blog post on vellum books. Jermaine has a wonderful eye and her blog is a treat every week!

Brad Ford courtesy of New York Social Diary

So, how do you display your collections? Do you group them together? Treat them as art in your home?

Do your collections make you smile when you see them on your tabletops?

Photo from Brabourne Farm Blog

Do you treat them as architectural pieces? I love the collection of stacked boxes in the corner of the room.

Look how this collection of old maps was displayed. They were used as wallpaper and framed the panels in the door, not elevated to high art, but treated in a primitive manner.

So, don't "loose your marbles" over worrying how to display your treasures. The point is to enjoy them...don't keep them packed away in boxes...integrate them into your daily life!
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