A Village Ramble

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Townhouse stoops on the Upper West Side. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Overcast with light rain turning in to light snow (with no accumulation in the forecast), yesterday in New York. It’s that cold-and-grey time of the year.

This past Friday, out East, there was a kick-off cocktail party welcoming the annual highly anticipated East Hampton House & Garden Tour. This annual event, now in its 36th year, was held at the historic Maidstone Club, ringing in the East End holiday season in style!

Maidstone Club in East Hampton Village (Old Beach Lane).

This Cocktail Party was well attended by history buffs, local dignitaries, architects, interior designers, home enthusiasts, and design aficionados. Distinguished guests included Media Sponsor HC&G’s Kendell Cronstrom and Alejandro Saralegui, East Hampton Village Mayor Jerry Larsen, Michael and Dwyer Derrig, interior designers Dianne Benson and Lys A. Marigold, Tom Samet and Nathan Wold, Barbara Ostrom, and Marshall Watson, Architect Nick Martin, East Hampton Historical Society Executive Director Steven Long, members of the Board of Trustees, including President Michael Clifford, First Vice President Mary Busch, Second Vice President Debbie Druker, Treasurer Arthur “Tiger” Graham, and House & Garden Tour Committee members Joseph Aversano, James Blauvelt, and Dale Ellen Leff.

House & Garden Tour Co-Chair Joseph Aversano and Robert Caruso.
EHHS new Executive Director Steven Long.
EHHS Volunteer Randy Wallace and Donald Smith.
James Zimmerman, Frank Morgan, Brent Feigenbaum, and Daniel Spelman.
House & Garden Tour Co-Chair James Blauvelt and Jonathan Stas.
Lys Marigold and Dianne B.
House & Garden Tour Co-Chair Dale Ellen Leff, with Nick and Christina Martin.
Austin Salisbury with Doris and Gil Meister.
Electra and Calista Washburn.
Olivia Brooks, Lisa Larsen, EH Village Mayor Jerry Larsen, Joseph Bell, and Peter Longo.
Dawn and Marjorie Diamond.

The following day, the East Hampton Historical Society hosted the 2021 House & Garden Tour showcasing some of the finest examples of architecture in the Hamptons, “A Village Ramble.”  This year’s tour comprised five noteworthy homes and gardens.

Gwathmey House at tour location 130 Bluff Road.

Face it, everybody loves to see the “inside” of these houses, to see how others live. This tour offered a one-time-only glimpse inside some of East Hampton’s most storied residences. There were more than 600 attendees this year, the East Hampton House & Garden Tour’s biggest attendance in their 36-year history.

Event Chairman Joseph Aversano said, “The House & Garden Tour is one of our most important fundraisers, and all proceeds will support the East Hampton Historical Society’s museums and programs.”

Homeowners Susheel Kirpalani and Yulia Fomenko with Kukla and Kumar.
Nick Peterson, Jack Bevington, and Nathan Small.
Garden Tour Co-Chair Jim Blauvelt.
Anne Keating, Cindy Lewis, and Kim Seybert.
Kathy Doyle and Beth Werwaiss.
Homeowners Michael and Dwyer Derrig.
Some of the over 600 attendees.

Which, speaking of the way people live, our friend, antiquaire Louis Bofferding sends out a mailing of his latest acquisitions that sometimes fascinate this tourist. To me, it’s not so much the “choices” people make in acquiring — which is always interesting in another way — but it’s learning the history that it reflects that touches my curiosity.

For example, his recent mailing included a rustic looking mirror which was not particularly alluring to me but reading about it suddenly changed the way I looked at it. Because it had belonged to John Richardson, the biographer, art critic and raconteur. I had the good fortune of knowing him over the years. He was hugely intelligent and especially knowledgeable in his fields of interest.

The sitting room of John Richardson’s house in Litchfield County in 2018. John had just sold the house to Stavros Niarchos and while Bofferding spent a day there evaluating the pieces he wanted to sell, he took this photograph.

John was also extremely observant. His last apartment here in New York was located in a loft building on Fifth Avenue and 15th Street. It was his work space as well as living quarters — with very high ceilings. He turned the space into an English enfilade of grand rooms brimming with art and all kinds of collectibles, as well as plants and flowers. Because there was so much space, it was like visiting a very comfortable and storied treasure chest.  He had what was once called “taste” — an eye for what naturally pleases the senses.

Victorian table mirror, American or English, circa 1875. Carved oak, original mirror plate. H: 27 ½” W: 27” D: 12”. Provenance: Sir John Richardson, Connecticut. $4,000

Louis wrote about “The rustic aspect of this Victorian table-top mirror may suggest to some that it was made for the dressing table of a man. Around the second half of the 19th century, furniture styles were ‘gendered.’ The rustic was seen as suited to men rather than women. That said, the mirror could have been made to suit a place — a country house — rather than a person.

At that time, men were no less likely to primp at a dressing-table mirror than a woman. But by the second half of the 20th century, men and women alike came to dispense with them, favoring, as they still do, the rudimentary bathroom mirror above the sink. Thus was yet another nail hammered into the coffin of gracious living.”

Soon-to-be Sir John with the master.

“The former owner of this mirror was nothing if not civilized. He was the English-born art historian who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Sir John is best known for his magisterial (and fascinating) four-volume biography of Picasso.”

As a young man, Richardson was the lover of Douglas Cooper, an art historian whose personal fortune allowed him to assemble one of the greatest Cubist collections of the work of Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Léger, which he purchased at the beginning of their careers for an aggregate in total for far less than $75,000.

In the 1960s, Richardson eventually left Cooper, and settled in Manhattan, taking a position establishing Christie’s in New York. He was a very productive individual, also writing several books besides the Picasso biography, as well as articles for Vanity Fair and The New York Review of Books.

When he was in his 90s, Larry Gagosian hired him to organize important exhibitions which were hugely successful. By then, during the week Sir John was living on lower Fifth Avenue and on weekends at his Litchfield County compound with house, pool, and a free-standing double-height library. And in the bedroom of that house he positioned this mirror on the marble top of a mahogany Empire commode.

Victorian table mirror, American or English, circa 1875. Carved oak, original mirror plate. H: 27 ½” W:  27” D:  12”.  Provenance: Sir John Richardson, Connecticut. $4,000.

Louis Bofferding
The Fine Arts Building, 5th floor
232 East 59th Street
New York, 10022

Photographs by Richard Lewin (East Hampton House & Garden Tour).

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