20 April 2017

Madeline Weinrib's Camilla

Inspiration has a way of finding those who seek it out.
When something completely new emerges from our search–a distillation of that inspiration, it's known as an Original. Madeline Weinrib is at her best working in this sphere.  Her travels and art from disparate cultures and centuries have inspired her newest rug design called Camilla.
Camilla is Inspired, & Original.

Where did Madeline look for inspiration?

I took inspiration from Indian mogul flowers as well as Botticelli's the four seasons. Botticelli's flowers are rambling and wild, while mogul flowers are placed in lines and patterns so précisely. It was challenging putting the two ideas together that are such polar opposites. ~MW

Camilla in Pink & Red

"Mogul Painting, Small Clive Album p. 54, a lady with a wine flask and cup, opaque watercolour on paper, Mughal, late 17th or early 18th century.  This painting is part of the Small Clive Album is thought to have been given by Shuja ud-daula, the Nawab of Avadh, to Lord Clive during his last visit to India in 1765-67. It contains 56 leaves on which are Mughal paintings, drawings, and flower
studies on both sides. from the V&A"  See them all and read more here

The flowers are based on fantasy. They are not taken from real flowers but rather designed to be able to translate to a weave. This is difficult to do with a flat weave. 

I hope they feel both orderly but free. ~MW

John Ruskin found inspiration in Botticelli's Primavera as well
Ruskin's Study of Roses, 1874 Pencil, ink, watercolour

 detail of Primavera by Botticelli, above and below

Camilla & Spring, perfection underfoot.

See Camilla at Madeline Weinrib here

14 April 2017


A book  I discovered in the fall set off a behind the scenes conversation with its author David Byars. Our Time at Foxhollow Farm–A Hudson Valley Family Remembered by Byars is the Dows family story and that of their illustrious neighbors and friends during the early decades of the twentieth century.

The Dows family life in the Hudson Valley is chronicled in photographs taken by patriarch Tracy Dows. The home and outbuildings on the estate were designed by architect Harrie Lindeberg, and the grounds planned by the Olmsted Brothers– all set in Rhinebeck New York on the Hudson.

Beyond taking the photographs, Tracy Dows was involved in the day to day running of the 800 acre Foxhollow Farm estate. When Dows married Alice Olin in 1903, two great New York families were joined. When the couple and their young family finally settled on Rhinebeck— it became their permanent place of residence & Tracy began planning the house of their dreams. It just happened to be a "Mount Vernon on the Hudson."

Prior to the completion of their home, the couple lived in a handsome fieldstone cottage on the estate.

Very early in the Dows' marriage the couple rented the rambling Woodland Cottage in Irvington. Alice Dows was photographed lounging in the cottage parlor with framed etchings by Paul César Helleu .

Of the book, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz writes, David Byars has opened up a view into the world of a family that seems almost like a dream now. It is what I tried to imagine when I began Living in the Hudson Valley over twenty years ago, among the remnants and the ruins of buildings designed by Harrie T. Lindberg."

Seven years in the making Our Time at Foxhollow Farm, David spent the first years in researching the family and property. He also designed the book and culled over 26 photo albums and a few boxes of loose photographs—13,000 in all.

When asked about the process, David said, the photographs are "in excellent condition, some being over a hundred years old. A few here and there have faded, but most are in their original state. When Hudson River Heritage got possession of them in 1994, they were put in storage. Years later, the organization took each album apart and scanned every page for archive purposes. I took those low-resolution scans and assembled each album as PDFs. That is what I used to design the book, and when the layouts were final, I rescanned each chosen original image at a higher resolution and neutralized the colors to match overall. The originals are in tones of black and white, and many shades of sepia. For my book, I thought it would be too jarring to see them that way, so I decided they should all be harmonious in the same color tone."

Architect Harrie Lindberg striding down the steps of Foxhollow Farm's 'Stone Cottage' in 1907

The Dows Family Abroad
Margaret, Olin, Deb, Alice & Tracy strolling along the promenade in Menton, 1922

With the overwhelming number of photographs to consider, Byars narrowed down the book's photographs to 400. His resulting choices tell the narrative of a family, an idyllic era, the life of neighbors and their estates, and the architecture of Foxhollow Farm. It is beautifully edited, managing to leave viewer and reader lingering over certain images & fortunately David graciously shared several of my most memorable.

Architect Lindeberg standing in the loggia fireplace of the main house with Olin Dows in 1912.

1914, Margaret Dows posing in the family's favorite room, the Loggia, with floors of green tile, the furniture was a comfortable mix of rattan, traditional dark wood tables & chairs, books, large topiaries and many plants.

As the children of the Dows family grew up & the financial shift in the states occurred, the family scattered. The Dows marriage faltered in the mid-1920s, and Alice Dows decided to move into a house on O Street in Washington and began spending most of her time in the nation's capital.

"Mrs. Tracy Dows is one of the most distinguished of the New Your visitors of the national capital where she is always cordially greeted by a host of friends." -Vogue, July 24,1924

In Washington Alice began writing poetry and published two books in the thirties. Olin Dows, a noted artist, painted murals in the O Street library and they are still intact today. Tracy Dows left Foxhollow Farm in 1930, and the house becoming a girls' school for a time. Later in the thirties and forties the house was maintained as it was once— a country estate

Around the time that Alice started living in Washington, she had an affair with Nicholas Longworth, the Speaker of the House. His wife, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, was also a friend of Alice Dows’s and she didn’t seem to care! Alice and Tracy never got divorced and he died in 1937.

Olin Dows photographed while traveling in Mexico, 1931.

In 1925, Margaret Dows married Swedish diplomat Knut Thyberg at Foxhollow. The pair were living in Copenhagen when this photograph was taken in 1932. The couple, along with their bullmastiff Antoinette, are seated in front of an exceptional 8 panel screen with zebras in the Art Deco style painted by Olin.

After Tracy Dows died, Alice, Olin and Deb returned to Rhinebeck living in her family home Glenburn. Deb built a house on the estate, and when Olin married in 1950, Alice move out of the house and into a cottage next door, painted it pink and christened it Garden House, where she lived until her death.

Our Time At Foxhollow Farm will linger, it conjures countless quotations from a fellow traveller of an era long gone–and longed for, Scott Fitzgerald:
"in a sort of breathless hush, 
as if they feared that any minute the spell would break and drop them out of this paradise of rose and flame." 
-Scott Fitzgerald , This Side of Paradise

A Louisiana native, David Byars is the Deputy Managing Editor of Vogue, now living in the historic Bronx neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil set on the Hudson River.

11 April 2017


Thank you for reading Little Augury for years, and I hope you love the book.
 "Decorating is Autobiography." – Gloria Vanderbilt

The wait is Over!

27 March 2017

House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth

A monumental exhibition at Chatsworth, home of the Devonshires, began when Laura Cavendish Countess of Burlington went in search of a christening gown withn the estate's many textile storage spaces.
What results is House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth.
Upon folding back the tissue papers covering one gown, her first thoughts upon reading the handwritten label— “Christening robe made for Nancy Mitford by her mother Lady Redesdale in 1907. Also worn by her brothers and sisters,” was what lay beyond this single treasure.

The Countess of Burlington on Chatsworth’s terrace wearing a Gucci suit with the necklace from the  Devonshire parure (1952) and Debo’s bejeweled bug brooches. —Photograph by Anton Corbijn

The Countess, along with Hamish Bowles and costume historian and exhibition curator Patrick Kinmonth and his creative partner Antonio Monfredo have mounted Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth. She also sought out Hubert Givenchy's advice, saying to Vogue UK, “He told me not to make it all about couture and grand things – personal things, he said, are as important as great craftsmanship – and that I should look for Andrew Devonshire’s embroidered slippers.”  Along with those slippers, his jumpers (sweaters to the colonies) emblazoned with pithy quotes, there is a coronation gown worn by Duchess Evelyn in 1937, and Duchess Mary in 1953.

photograph by Thomas Loof

The Exhibition runs from March 25 until October 22
See all the images of the Exhibition and read the story by Violet Henderson at Vogue UK here.  Hamish Bowles writes about the Exhibition here.

There is no doubt this Exhibition will rival the Costume Institute's Spring Exhibition. I am certainly intent on England before Chatsworth closes its doors on Five Centuries of Fashion.


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