If you want to take a look at or possibly even own a a small piece of a seminal designer's work, this is your week to do so.
More than any other project, this drawing room at Hambleden Manor shows the influence of Italy on John Fowler's work. In the 1950s Fowler went to Italy and toured several of Palladio's villas. After returning to England, John was able to pair his inspiration with a new client's heritage. John gained his first Italian client, Maria Carmela, Viscountess Hambleden in 1956. Together with Lady Hambleden, John created an Italian atmosphere in this Buckinghamshire manor.
Although not totally apparent from this photo, the room was initially painted quite a bright pink. Lady Hambleden found the color too strong and asked John to revise the scheme. Yet John refused, saying "If you start with such a pale shade it will fade to a terrible yellow." Lady Hambleden acquiesced and the room eventually faded to a lovely apricot as seen here.
Sadly, the room has now been dismantled and the contents will be sold. Colefax and Fowler, Then and Now is happening this coming Wednesday at Christie's in South Kensington and nearly all of the contents of this room are coming up on the auction block, including:
A set of three Italian giltwood armchairs, third quarter 18th C. Est. £5,000 – £8,000.
A Murano glass chandelier designed by John Fowler in 1955. Est. £10,000 – £20,000. Notice the faded apricot walls?
A pair of Regency giltwood, ebonised and bronzed large convex girandoles, circa 1810. Est. £20,000 – £40,000.
A near pair of green velvet banquettes. Est. £300 – £500. Sure, the upholstery is tired, but they're still wonderful. Images above from Christie's.
Top image from John Fowler: Prince of Decorators by Martin Wood.