Mark Catesby

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Some of the earliest known American illustrations of natural history are credited to Mark Catesby, an English naturalist who committed his life to documenting the natural world and pioneering the field of modern natural science in the 18th century. 

His watercolors (many of them featured in our prints collection) still capture my imagination with their beauty. As an artist, his etching of birds and plants chronicled the diverse natural beauty of colonial America 100 years before Audubon. (It also turns out Catesby was quite resourceful — at first he was actually unable to afford an engraver… and self taught himself before presenting his first collection of illustrations to the Royal Society of London!). Catesby was the first naturalist to conduct a study of the lush and varied habitat of North America (we have an extensive collection of his botanical prints) and as a scientist, he was the first to empirically observe and recognize the natural and man-made dangers of species survival.  

As both a scientist and an artist at the golden dawn of modern natural science, it’s astonishing how relevant and beautiful his illustrations still are today. Case in point— there is a gorgeous home in the Bahamas featured in House Beautiful’s December issue by interior designer Amanda Lindroth. Hanging above the sofa in the family’s living room is a collection of our Catesby prints — a Flamingo, Wood Pelican and Whooping Crane. Maybe just as Catesby saw them 500 years ago. 

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View a small selection of our Catesby prints on the website here and please do visit one of our stores to see the full collection.

 

Image via House Beautiful

Robyn Pocker on Mirrors

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Decorating with mirrors can be tricky — the right size, style and scale of decorative mirrors can really impact an interior. We asked Robyn Pocker to weigh in on several inspiring spaces that use decorative mirrors: 

"A wall of various mirrors is a real space opener. The best part is the light it can bring to any space. #1 rule is to be sure something attractive is being reflected in the mirrors (i.e. a well conceived wall and not a messy desk!). The mirrors should have some unifying aspect and that's where you can really get creative."

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"The foyer is your personal statement. Make it bold and really set the tone before you guests walk on. The adage that 'you never get a second chance to make a first impression' is in full force in the entryway. The first rule of hanging a mirror is in perfect here. Reflect something pretty. The stairway banister and all the blue and white are filling up the space because the mirror frame is its own statement. And then the reflection, quite a picture."

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"Over Mantles, as they are known in England, become part of the architecture of the room itself. Make sure to show your framer images of accessories and objects you'd like to style as well the interior inspiration — the grand scale of these mirrors become such a statement and focal point of any room, so make sure you work closely with your framer to get it just right."

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"Bathrooms are a place to have some fun with choosing a frame. Bamboo for an Asian inspired wallcovering is fun. In my powder room I have one that is painted blue and the frets of the bamboo are silver leaf. You can add texture with a faux finish or wood grain. A great mirror choice can really be the final polish and detail for a bathroom. Don't settle in this space, you use it every single day."

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"This Spanish style frame is more versatile than you might think... it's a wonderful large scale mirror with drama. It can also work well on small black and white drawings. (It's quite often used on lithographs by Picasso or Braque.) The scale is everything with this style of frame. Drama when you want to make something black and white, more bold and classic on a Braque." 

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I love this modern take on a trumeau mirror. It incorporates the traditional 18th century French mirrors style which is usually exceptionally traditional. A mirror this size and proportion can't help but bring light to a room. It's the focus (yet in a subtle way) of otherwise leftover space.”

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To view our custom mirror collection click here

 

All images via our Pinterest page

 

The Lauder Cubism Show

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‘Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection’ on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through February 16, 2015 contains masterworks by four artists who created the movement: Pablo Picasso (Spanish 1881-1973), Georges Braque (French 1882-1963), Fernand Leger (French 1881-1955), and Juan Gris (Spanish 1887-1927). Coming from Lauder’s personal collection the artworks are sensitively framed and provide opportunities to see what forms of frames are found on such artworks. 

The most prevalent design is the cassetta frame, executed in many variations. The cassetta profile emerged from 15th Century Venice and has a wide, flat panel with raised inner and outer edges (hence the term cassetta or ‘little box’). The cassetta frames are most often black and frequently utilize delicate gold designs confined to the corners and/or midpoints of the frame; their angularity and restraint are an excellent choice for the refracted compositions. Similarly, a gold step frame on Braque’s Bottle of Rum has softened edges of each step and recedes into the composition, heightening the sense of perspective. Black, as a surface in general, is a sophisticated and dramatic choice for such modern artworks and heightens the expressive brushwork and palette. On Leger’s Sketch for Acrobats In the Circus a matte black surface echoes and supports the matte surface of the canvas. 

Carved Spanish designs in black and gold speak to Picasso’s roots and his fondness for 17th Century frames; on his Head of a Woman - Study for Nude With Drapery the robust carving and interplay of black and gold surfaces underscores the drama and boldness of the image. 

In contrast, a pale delicate work by Leger, Drawing for The Card Players, contains both angles and soft rounded shapes. It is sympathetically framed with a similarly curved reverse ogee frame finished in a light, understated gold that does not overwhelm and complements the warmer tonalities of the drawing.

On the whole the frames in the exhibition are excellent choices in terms of both historical precedent and sympathetic designs that support and enhance the Cubist compositions - it is a rare chance to see a coherently framed collection.

Holiday House

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Founded by Iris Dankner seven years ago to raise breast cancer awareness in the design industry, Holiday House is now open on East 63 Street. If you have never attended, this is your year. It has never been more beautiful. After just getting home from the opening night gala, I’m even more inspired by Iris and the inspiring designers that support breast cancer research. It’s really unlike any other designer show house. The wonderful Iris Dankner sends her own energy outward to every corner of Holiday House. Some highlights…

Amy Lau's dining room could make you swoon for sheer scale and tabletop design. Leslie Banker's tropical room for a small dinner party is so inviting and the bookshelves hold so many curiosities to examine. I also loved Caleb Anderson's use of art, almost installed in a bookshelf as bookends. I thought that was a very elegant way to display a small painting. Matthew Patrick Smyth's use of gray mirrors was perfect. Hard to see the line between using those mirrors as art and mirror.


The real highlight is the courtyard gallery. Filled with photos of beautiful breast cancer survivors and short stories about each brave woman. To learn more log onto www.clothingimmaterial.com

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For more information on Holiday House visit www.holidayhousenyc.com