Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guard Pavilions

One of the most distinctive elements of the French château are the paired guard pavilions (guérites) that flank the entry to the forecourt and that announce and distill the estate's architectural style. We have become quite fond of these small architectural jewels and have been searching for and painting a number of them in the past few years.

Until well into the 18th century, the rectangular block created by the château and its forecourt, and occasionally the garden parterre also, was often delimited by a wet or dry moat—an esthetic holdover from the middle ages when châteaux were actually châteaux forts, or fortified castles. Even after moats fell out of fashion, the forecourt was still enclosed by high stone walls or ironwork grilles that abutted the guérites for privacy and security.

Even Louis XV's Petit Trianon, safely ensconced in the Great Park of Versailles, held to these traditions, though its architect Gabriel reduced the guard pavilions to dollhouse-like miniatures barely large enough for a sentry to stand in. Others, such as those built at Chanteloup for the king's disgraced First Minister, the duc de Choiseul, are small cubic pavilions set far from the château itself. (Below, top: Petit Trianon, bottom: Chanteloup)

At Blérancourt and Chantilly, both dating from the 17th century and sharing the same distinctive slate roofs, the pavilions border moats, dry and wet respectively. Quite clearly, guérites also lead charmed lives, as many of them—including those at Chanteloup and Blérancourt pictured here—survived the destruction and parceling of their estates after the French Revolution.
(Below, top: Blérancourt, bottom: Chantilly, shown also in the lead photograph)

A personal favorite are the rococco guérites at Champlâtreux, with their overscaled oculus windows set in gracefully sweeping mansard roofs.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The 2011 Arthur Ross Awards

We have been honored by the 30th annual Arthur Ross Award for Fine Art from the Institute of Classical Architecture/Classical America. From the ICA/CA website:

Established in 1982 by Classical America chairman of the board, Arthur Ross, and its president, Henry Hope Reed, the Arthur Ross Awards were created to recognize and celebrate excellence in the classical tradition. From the beginning, the awards have recognized the achievements and contributions of architects, painters, sculptors, artisans, landscape designers, educators, publishers, patrons, and others dedicated to preserving and advancing the classical tradition.

Past honorees for architecture have ranged from well-known practitioners such as Allan Greenberg and Quinlan Terry, to relatively unknown but no less accomplished ones such as A. Hayes Town and Harold H. Fisher.

The awardees are chosen each year by a selection committee made up of members of the ICA&CA Board of Directors, Advisory Council, Fellows, and distinguished members of related professions.

This year's honorees include Franck & Lohsen Architects for Architecture and Ralph Lauren for Patronage. The awards ceremony will be held at the University Club in Manhattan on the evening of Monday, May 2, 2011.

Watercolor Magazine, Winter 2011

Watercolor Magazine's current issue contains a ten-page article on our work written by Naomi Ekperigen, "Attaining Perfection with Watercolor." We certainly strive to live up to that title, and the article is copiously illustrated with a variety of our watercolors, as well as with our porcelain designs.

Bernd was interviewed while on a trip to New York and Andrew by phone in Paris, and the resulting text is extensive and engagingly written, touching upon our formative years as well as the mechanics of our watercolor technique and the design process for the china services.


Under the category Better Late than Never, we are remiss in not having mentioned Anticomania, the remarkable and recently ended exhibition at Galerie J. Kugel, the Parisian antiquaires located on the quai Anatole France near the French National Assembly.

The sumptuous exhibition, mixing exceptional Greco-Roman antiquities with Renaissance and Grand Tour objects, was staged by Pier Luigi Pizzi, who designed a spectacular coffer-domed Palladian rotunda that stood in the gallery's courtyard and housed Antique marbles. The objects assembled, as is the case with every one of the Kugels' exhibitions, were of exceptional quality, beauty and rarity, and their presentation in the gallery recalled the grand interiors of Roman palaces.

The brothers Alexis and Nicolas Kugel requested a design for the invitaton and cover of the catalogue that would evoke the paintings of Hubert Robert, the Ancien Régime's master of Italian ruins, and the final image is the result of weeks of consultations and refinements.