Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
… and what a strange summer it has been so far. Another year without Summer-Girls visiting. Had they come, we’d be listening to Thomas Dutronc’s album Frenchy and drinking champagne from 19th Century Baccarat Gondole glasses which I had ready for the summer. They were also going to enjoy fixed internet. We’ve got all new equipment after a months long fight with our provider. The boxes don’t restart various times a day, phone calls don’t get cut off, everything works.
The summer weather has been the strangest I’ve ever experienced in Europe, or anywhere for that matter. Bouts of heat followed by bouts of cold, some days it feels like the weather can’t decide what season we’re in. Anyway, the produce is still spectacular this time of year so that somewhat compensates for it.
We’ve had a slight contretemps at building 2 with two tenants moving out at the same time. One got a job in another town and the other is going through a divorce. That means a bit of extra work renting them out again. We like to meet and screen candidates ourselves, just to make sure we know who we’re getting. Mike handles nearly all of that, thank goodness. I don’t have the energy.
In the world of art work has been steadily good this year. Commercially, this is our best summer of all time. That isn’t difficult because the art market generally shuts down for July and August. It seems we’re even saying goodbye to Time Defeated by Hope, Love and Beauty which looked quite excellent at the top of the stairs.
I’ve been researching an absolutely exceptional Spanish piece, school of Martínez Montañés.
She is sublime and reminiscent of a piece at the Cathedral in Huelva.
I’ve also been immersed in reading about lacquerware, mostly Japanese. I know French/Italian/Spanish painted furniture fairly well (and love it), but the Asian varieties are a whole new world. Much more complex. While reading on the topic I landed on an interview with the highly respected owner of Kagedo Japanese Art, Jeffery Cline:
“One day Jeff was called in to see one of his teachers. His teacher asked Jeff, ‘what do you think the art market is about?’ Jeff recounted, ‘To me it seemed like a ludicrous question and none of my answers got him nodding his head. Eventually, he stopped me and said ‘selling art is about human relations — about the incredible people who buy it and love it.’ I pondered that for many years but of course he was right.”
I’d love to do that, but I’m not quite there yet. I still have to place some serious consideration on finances. But, yes, it is wonderful to buy beautiful things and then place them with the exact right person who falls in love with them. This is even more fulfilling when something was sadly neglected, covered in dust in an attic, and then ends up having an important place in the world. Perhaps that’s the subconscious catalyst to my work? Ooh, that was scary, I must stop analysing everything all the time.
Speaking of neglected things, I found an extraordinary set of tables. Christie’s calls this variety a nest of tables, Sotheby’s calls it a set of stacking tables. I lean to the Sotheby’s description because I imagine they were made to be stacked in the corner of a room. Anyway, a near identical set to our neglected set was sold in 2015 for a respectable sum. They belonged to Princess Ismene Chigi della Rovere. The Chigi are one of the princely Roman families. I found an amusing picture of her marriage to Prince Mario Chigi. Her expression says, “I know exactly what you were doing with the bridesmaid last night!” — and his expression is, “she’s going to make me pay for the rest of my life.”
I can imagine a set of tables like that being the home to a spectacular collection of netsuke like the one in The Hare with Amber Eyes. Also, here’s a picture of the David Teniers tapestry I promised which has come back clean from Paris. The colours have mellowed with age and make it look almost like a watercolour, which is a fantastic effect for a tapestry.
And that’s it for now, folks 🙂