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In Entertaining, Uncategorized on
November 14, 2018

Formal Folly: A Thanksgiving Tablescape

While I am not one to pine for a turkey feast all year, I do enjoy the all-American feeling of Thanksgiving and the gathering of lots of family and friends around the table. I like any Thanksgiving celebration I’m invited to whether it’s a casual midday lunch complete with a fried turkey (I’ve never tried it and I very much want to!), or a formal candlelit dinner with pancetta chestnut stuffing. One thing I am partial to? Canned cranberry. My mom and mother-in-law both make lovely, fresh cranberry relishes but I just prefer good old-fashioned Ocean Spray jelly.

This year, I’m zhushing up my penchant for canned cranberry with a more formal tablescape. My muse? Richard Ginori’s Oriente Italiano china, an original 1926 design by architect and decorator, Gio Ponti. A couple of years ago, fashion house Gucci invested in the esteemed porcelain manufacturer and resurrected classic patterns such as this one for a new generation of old world admirers. Now you can find Oriente Italiano at Richard Ginori showrooms and china shops like my local favorite, Charles Willis.

Thanksgiving Tablescape featuring Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano china on Stuffy Muffy

Does anyone have a great tip for getting lipstick out of linens? Thinking ahead!

To make the cranberry-hued chinoiserie carnations on the plates really pop, I kept the linens simple with a white hemstitch tablecloth and napkins. The traditional two-letter napkin monogram was done locally at South of Hampton—they always deliver with pretty personalization and helpful input in thread color selection. The buttercup patterned silver is my mom’s and lends nicely to the floral motif.

Thanksgiving Tablescape featuring Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano china on Stuffy Muffy

Is there anything more delicious than just-polished silver?

In keeping with the theme of classic designs, Moser “royal” crystal glasses are at the ready for water and wine. This particular style, a diamond cut pattern with a 24-karat gold rim, was commissioned by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of England in 1907. They are quite special in person as you’re able to get a sense of just how much time went into the hand-cut diamond design. If it’s starting to sound like I’m finding the dining accoutrements more delicious than the impending dinner… guilty as charged!

Thanksgiving Tablescape featuring Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano china on Stuffy Muffy

Moser crystal ready for a generous pour! Available at Charles Willis.

If you love a clever brand, you’ll be as besotted as I am with The Punctilious Mr. P’s Place Card Co. A few months ago, I found them on Instagram and I’ve been waiting for an occasion to give them a place at the table (pun intended!). These magnolia lovebird illustrated place cards are a way to plan your seating arrangement and provide a piece of art for your guests to enjoy throughout the meal. Mr. P’s will add digital calligraphy to any set you purchase and the shipping is lightning fast!

Thanksgiving Tablescape featuring Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano china on Stuffy Muffy

Each name goes on the back of the card and the silver holder is also a Mr. P’s delight.

Thanksgiving floral arrangement on Stuffy Muffy

Flowers do so much for a table!

The centerpiece is my mainstay Scalamandre Baldwin Bamboo planter that I use for everything—sometimes it’s a wine chiller and often times it’s a flower container. Here’s a tip I learned unexpectedly—if you don’t have any floral tape to make a grid for your flower arrangement, use your husband’s electrical tape! It works just as well. All the autumnal blooms are from Whole Foods, they have a lovely, varied selection right now. I chose an assortment of brass candlesticks with lit cream tapers to make everyone at the table look well-rested and glow-y come evening. Just a little something else to be thankful for!

From our table to yours, wishing you a most wonderful Thanksgiving! xo

family portrait by Mary Catherine Brownfield on Stuffy Muffy

Happy Thanksgiving from the Jacksons! Emily, Louisa, Wally and Thomas. Family portrait by Mary Catherine Brownfield.

In Entertaining, Uncategorized on
November 11, 2018

Have a Very Herend Holiday with Charles Willis

Herend on Stuffy Muffy

If Herend porcelain pieces could talk, they would regale us with tales of dinners at Queen Elizabeth’s table, Rothschild family festivities and which figurine, tucked into Princess Diana’s Christmas stocking each year, was her favorite. The European porcelain emporium to the royals since 1839 has continued to delight collectors for nearly two centuries and today, many of us remain completely enchanted by Herend.

If you’re a collector or admirer, you’ll be pleased to know that Charles Willis, the premier shop for all things fine china in Atlanta, is hosting a Herend trunk show through Christmas. An Atlanta tradition since 1948, Charles Willis caters to couples registering for their weddings and clients wanting special occasion items such as crystal and silver. Now on display are hundreds of hand-painted Herend pieces, from plates to figurines, to marvel at and help you check names off your Christmas list. If you’re a Herend connoisseur, you’ll be treated to rarely displayed platinum, copper, lavender, and turquoise collections as well as limited edition porcelains. Let’s take a gander at the goods, shall we?

For the Table

Herend Place Setting on Stuffy Muffy

Serve in style on Herend’s fine china and don’t forget the fabulous foo dogs too! Shown here is the ever-classic Rothschild Bird pattern.

Herend cake stand on Stuffy Muffy

An elegant cake stand available only during Herend trunk shows! Aren’t the confections splendid? The three-tiered cake would make a lovely wedding gift.

Herend china on Stuffy Muffy

More exquisite china—the green striped butterfly motif is hard to come by.

Festive Folly

Thanksgiving Herend on Stuffy Muffy

Add some charm to your Thanksgiving table with a little bunny pilgrim and beautifully detailed turkeys, seen here in Herend’s rich copper hue.

Christmas Herend on Stuffy Muffy

A true work of art, this limited edition nativity set is one of only thirty in the world! You’ll enjoy displaying it year after year.

Christmas Herend on Stuffy Muffy

Deck the halls with these darling (bunny) reindeer friends in a rainbow of yummy colors.

Easter Herend on Stuffy Muffy

It’s never too early to start planning your Easter tablescape. Have some happy bunnies hopping around the table!

Gifts Galore

There’s an animal figurine for just about everyone!

Herend on Stuffy Muffy

Find a sweet piece to start baby’s Herend collection. The raspberry and green patterned bear is a trunk show exclusive!

Herend on Stuffy Muffy

We all know a dog lover! With plenty of breeds and themes to choose from, one of these canines is sure to set tails wagging.

Westie Herend on Stuffy Muffy

I have my eye on this Westie—hint, hint Santa!

Herend on Stuffy Muffy

The coastal collection is one of my personal favorites. Have a friend with a beach house? Pick up the perfect little hostess gift for them.

Herend on Stuffy Muffy

We are in the South after all! Don’t forget the college sports fan. Charles Willis has done all the work for you by selecting a mascot for each school’s team and they are extra spirited.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this small sampling of all the Herend goodness available at Charles Willis through Christmas. While at the shop, don’t forget to enter their drawing for a pretty piece in November and December! You could be the lucky winner of an alligator or, the grand prize, an antelope figurine. For the quintessential Atlanta holiday experience, pop by Charles Willis for some shopping followed by lunch at Buckhead Diner just down the street and a can’t-miss performance of The Nutcracker at The Fox Theatre. It’s the perfect way to drum up some Christmas cheer!

Herend on Stuffy Muffy

Two lucky winners will receive these fabulous figurines by entering their in-store drawing. Bonne chance!

P.S. Not local? Charles Willis is offering select trunk show pieces on their website and will happily take orders over the phone at 404-233-9487. For shop happenings and tabletop inspiration, follow them on Instagram here.

This post was brought to you by Charles Willis.
In Art, Decor, Uncategorized on
August 23, 2018

Ravishing Renderings: Remembering Jeremiah Goodman

Betsy Bloomingdale's Holmby Hills House by Jeremiah Goodman

The curve of an antique secretaire, a swath of silk curtains and the movement of a master painting live exquisitely in the renderings of artist to the grand, Jeremiah Goodman. His works are so outrightly splendid, viewers want to walk right into the marvelous milieu the late Mr. Goodman created. Revered interior decorators and social fixtures alike called on Jeremiah to immortalize their spaces in paint and it is our good fortune that in 2006, he published a tome celebrating their cherished quarters. Yesterday morning, I was in the doldrums; a place of plain thinking only cured by the art of inspiration. A quick survey of my coffee table books later, I was transfixed by the elegant living rooms, worldly dining rooms and enchanting bedrooms in A Romantic Vision. A few pages in, I realized that the one year anniversary of Mr. Goodman’s passing is in two weeks and I’m grateful for the timely opportunity to celebrate his art by sharing a few of my favorite renderings below.

Jeremiah Goodman's rendering of Leonard Stanley's bedroom on Stuffy Muffy

Interior designer Leonard Stanley’s Hollywood Hills bedroom, 1976.

Carolina Herrera's sitting room by Jeremiah Goodman on Stuffy Muffy

Carolina Herrera’s Manhattan sitting room in rich hues.

Jeremiah imagined his arrival in New York City as a young artist to be an exciting welcome full of professional promise and he was spot on. He started out as an illustrator for Lord and Taylor’s newspaper adverts showcasing interiors and fashion which caught the eye of Interior Design magazine’s editor. Goodman illustrated the cover of the magazine every month for 15 years all while having work published in House and Garden, The New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Esteemed commissions from decorators the likes of Billy Baldwin and Henri Samuel led to him painting the private homes of First Lady Nancy Reagan, Cecil Beaton, Besty Bloomingdale and Diana Vreeland to name a small few.

Nancy Reagan's living room by Jeremiah Goodman on Stuffy Muffy

President and First Lady Reagan’s Bel-Air living room, 1992.

Mario Buatta bedroom by Jeremiah Goodman on Stuffy Muffy

A Mario Buatta decorated bedroom; well-appointed frills abound!

Many qualities of an artist transfer to that of a designer such as proportion, scale and color all of which are punctiliously mastered in a Goodman rendering. It comes as no surprise that Jeremiah had wanted to become a decorator before pursuing a career as a painter. Photographer Bruce Weber once remarked “In reality our rooms are a mess and filled with books and dogs’ beds. But Jeremiah’s interpretation of these rooms always makes one look as if they have the crème de la crème of taste.” A fine balance of real life recording in combination with artistic liberty keeps the viewer guessing as to what Goodman drew from directly and what was added for flair.

Bruce Weber by Jeremiah Goodman on Stuffy Muffy

Bruce Weber and Nan Bush’s living room interior in Golden Beach, Florida. 2001.

David Hicks by Jeremiah Goodman on Stuffy Muffy

Decorator David Hicks’ living room.

Jeremiah’s expert impressions have become a historical archive of interior decoration in the latter part of the 20th century. The pieces from his patrons’ collections of art, decorative objet, books and artifacts have been preserved in their interior habitat, a rare treat to look in on. To capture these distinguished delights, he would travel to Europe, Asia and beyond. Goodman would return Stateside to his Big Apple apartment and a carriage house in East Hampton that he painstakingly restored. He once had friend and decorator Albert Hadley come by and help him rearrange his entire living room only for them both to realize that it was perfect in its original state. Of his varied aesthetic aptitudes Jeremiah mused “the artist today should be a Renaissance-type man who applies his talents in many fields.” I hope Mr. Goodman’s inspired ouvre helps you, like it did me, to take a break from the bustle of life and rouse a dormant passion or two – whatever they may be!

Henri Samuels by Jeremiah Goodman on Stuffy Muffy

Designer Henri Samuel’s country living room. Lush & lovely!

Diana Vreeland's "garden in hell" living room by Billy Baldwin on Stuffy Muffy

Diana Vreeland wanted “a garden in hell” in her Park Avenue pad and Billy Baldwin delivered. Note the playing card needlepoint pillows behind the sofa!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might like a similar one I wrote about portrait artist Aaron Shikler. It’s a bit more history heavy and full of beautiful portraits of faces you will most certainly recognize! Read it here.

All images via A Romantic Vision, 2006.
In Art, Entertaining, Uncategorized on
June 15, 2018

Meet the Murphys: Art and Entertaining on the French Riviera

sara-and-gerald-murphy-antibes

Al fresco dinners overlooking the ocean towards Cannes, fantastical art soirees in Paris and a true joie de vivre made Gerald and Sara Murphy the hosts with the most in 1920’s France. Their incandescent sensibility as a couple inspired works by the most prolific authors and artists of their time, while their entertaining prowess transformed the way the French Riviera summered. This is a tale of an American expatriate twosome who The New Yorker coined “masters in the art of living.” Welcome to the wonderful world of the Murphys!

GIRL MEETS BOY

sara-wiborg-murphy

A young Sara Wiborg, 1905.

Sara Wiborg enjoyed an idyllic upbringing singing classic opera with her sisters, becoming fluent in French, Italian and German and frolicking on the beaches of East Hampton. Her family home, the Dunes, was a 30-room mansion complete with an operating dairy, Italianate gardens, flagstone terraces and stables. The Dunes would set the stage for the meeting of Sara and Gerald, a 16-year-old boy 4 years her junior, at a splashy party in 1904.

the-dunes-east-hampton-murphys

The Dunes, image courtesy of the East Hampton Historical Society.

Gerald’s father pioneered the first wrist watch, introduced the Thermos bottle to America and turned Mark Cross, a humble leather goods supplier, into an elegant 5th Avenue destination. While Gerald didn’t care to share this business ingenuity with his father, he did inherit his sense of style and was voted best-dressed man in his 1911 class at Yale.

the-dunes-east-hampton-murphy

Another view of the Dunes, isn’t it spectacular?! (Image courtesy of Curbed Hamptons.)

Gerald the clotheshorse would tie the knot with Sara, the warm and very direct socialite, 11 years after their meeting at the Dunes. The Murphy marriage was one of wonderful contentedness, admired by their friends and inspiring the characters of Nicole and Dick Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night.” Their Bohemian bond allowed them to blossom individually and both felt as though Boston was a stifling place for their creative pursuits. In 1921, with their three young children in tow, they set sail for Europe and didn’t look back.

BON VOYAGE

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Attending Compte Étienne de Beaumont’s Automotive Ball in 1924. Photographed by Man Ray.

Thanks to a highly favorable exchange rate for Americans, Sara and Gerald arrived in the City of Light and became unpaid apprentices to Serge Diaghilev at the Ballets Russes. Ballet Russes was the epicenter of the modern arts movement and where the duo met most of their European friends, all of whom had favorable impressions of the Murphys.

gerald-murphy-ballet-set

Gerald produced Within the Quota, a production for Les Ballets Suédois at Theatre des Champs-Elysees, 1923. He created the décor and costumes, the music was by Cole Porter. (Image courtesy of MoMa)

Their memorable debut as party hosts was a famous 1923 bash to celebrate the première of Stravinsky’s ballet Les Noces. It was held on the Seine in a barge in front of the Chambre des Députés with the who’s who of the modern movement onboard. The party lacked flowers, as they were not sold in Paris on Sundays, so the Murphys purchased a boatload of toys from a local bazaar and arranged them down the middle of the long banquet table. It is said that Picasso was entranced by the décor! The champagne dinner was legendary, filled with music, convivial conversation and performances by ballerinas. While Gerald and Sara were enchanting their new amis, they, in turn, were being influenced by these modern thinkers and artists.

THE ARTIST MOVEMENT

gerald-murphy-cocktail

Gerald Murphy, Cocktail, 1927. Oil and pencil on linen, 29″ x 30″. Whitney Museum of American Art permanent collection.

On a winter day in Paris, the couple wandered into the Rosenberg Gallery and Gerald was immediately taken by Picasso and Braque works which he was seeing for the first time. He turned to Sara and remarked “if that’s painting, it’s what I want to do.” Gerald began his only formal training by taking art classes from Natalia Goncharova. Accompanied by Sara, they would go to Natalia’s home and he would learn techniques attributed to the Precisionist, Cubist and Pop Art movements. Gerald Murphy would produce 8 prominent paintings from 1921-29 in the Realism and Abstraction genres. A single painting would take months to complete due to his meticulous attention to detail of objects like a wasp or pear. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1923 and 2 of his most notable works are currently in the Dallas Museum’s permanent collection. While Gerald was busy painting, Sara was enjoying being painted.

woman-in-white-picasso

Pablo Picasso, Woman in White, 1923. On view at The Met, gallery 830.

Mrs. Murphy became a muse for Picasso in 1923 and was the subject of many of his works including Woman in White. She wore pearls over her shoulders at the beach, explaining that it was good for them and Picasso took note. Her signature pearls can be seen in some of his classical representations of women during this time. The Murphys’ sun-splashed life on the French Riviera was also captured by friend and photographer Man Ray.

sara-murphy-children-manray

Sara and her children Baoth, Patrick and Honoria captured by friend Man Ray in 1926.

SWEET SUMMER TIME

villa-america-murphys

Villa America: the first flat-roofed house on the Riviera. Photo from Wendy Goodman via The Cut.

Gerald and Sara set up camp in Cap d’Antibes and purchased a humble home they named Villa America. The villa was unpretentious but the garden was exquisite. The previous owner had grown exotic choices such as lemon, date and olive trees that paired nicely with Arabian maples, pepper and fig trees. They would break bread under a large silver linden tree surrounded by camellia, tulip and rose bordered gravel paths. It wasn’t long before their friends like Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker and Cole Porter would come to visit.

gerald-murphy-antibes-france

The Mad Beach Party, photo by Francois Biondo, 1923. (Sara and Gerald Murphy Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

The couple is credited for single-handedly making the French Riviera a summer destination. In 1923, they convinced the Hotel du Cap to stay open during the summer months so they could entertain their globe-trotting pals. Sara introduced their set to “sunbathing” and made it an acceptable form of leisure hosting picnics and relaxing on the shore before a late afternoon swim at Eden Roc. Provençal and traditional American fare kept guests satiated while they overlooked the coast from the Villa America garden. The Murphys kept three boats; a small looper dubbed Picaflor, Honoria a larger vessel named after their daughter, and a 100-foot schooner called the Weatherbird after a Louis Armstrong record. I found many pictures of Gerald sailing the seas on the Picaflor in little more than a hat but thought best not to include them here!

sara-gerald-murphy-france-beach

Gerald and Sara Murphy at the beach, late 1920s. Image via The New Yorker.

The spirit of the U.S.A. was kept alive with the expatriates always reading the latest American books and playing the most current jazz records in the villa. They made sure to have the newest American gadgets, such as the waffle maker, shipped to them much to the delight of their young children and European friends. These little touches were examples of how while guests were not entertained lavishly with big parties, the intimate setting they were welcomed into would charm them greatly. Their daughter Honoria remembered them as “a comfortable unit. Comforting to their friends when they were discouraged.  Mother was warm and friendly and direct. Father was reserved and very funny. It was an exchange of minds.” The Murphys’ legacy will always be the original, beautiful life they created for themselves and their friends.

murphys-cole-porter

Gerald and Sara Murphy with Ginny Carpenter and Cole Porter.

In 1934, one of their sons fell very ill and the Murphys came back to the Hamptons. Shortly after returning Stateside, both of their sons passed away of meningitis and tuberculosis, respectively. Gerald became president of Mark Cross in Manhattan out of necessity and was relieved to retire in 1956. Sara’s family home the Dunes became too expensive and vast to upkeep and they wound up demolishing it in 1941 when they couldn’t find a buyer. Sara and Gerald converted the dairy barn into Swan Cove where they would live for the rest of their days.

sara-gerald-murphy-swan-cove-1963

The Murphys at Swan Cove, East Hampton, 1963.

Interested in more things Murphy?

Head to Mrs. Blanding’s blog to see the Pink House, the original servants’ quarters of the Dunes property, owned and enjoyed by daughter Honoria’s children until 2010.

Add this book, a portrait of Sara and Gerald’s legendary life written by Honoria Murphy Donnelly, and this volume about their love story penned by family friend Amanda Vaill, to your summer reading list.

First image: Sara and Gerald Murphy Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY