Updates on a timeless trend
1 of 4
Interior of Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire
2 of 4
Crisp yet classic, lacquered walls are a hallmark of the country house mindset implying ease and elegance.
3 of 4
New York based designer Celerie Kemble injects some style with cane furniture and bright hints of vermilion for a Main Line Philly room.
4 of 4
Sir Alfred Munnings, the preeminent equestrian painter, depicted Virginia expat Nancy Lancaster on horseback with her son Michael Tree at her English estate, Kelmarsh.
Beauty and utility meet in the trappings of equestrian pursuits—hunting, riding and racing—and no amount of strain or mud spatter can dull their appeal. Through its very refusal to bend to modernity, this style, with its country house connotations, has remained classic, and flows easily into many other diversions: home, fashion, travel and food.
New York based designer Celerie Kemble has a knack for shaking up iconic décor schemes. For a Main Line Philly dining room she injects some style with cane furniture and bright hints of vermilion. “I used a dark chestnut brown lacquer for depth and interest,” she says, “but it was applied as a strié for more texture. The red vintage lacquer rattan dining chairs, tape trim, and accessories added that traditional pop of red but in an interesting way. The unusual use of leather beats the overt farm theme.” KembleInteriors.com
The portraits of Derry Moore, 12th Earl of Drogheda, run the gamut from tweedy nobility to demigods like the young David Bowie. A latter-day Munnings, Moore’s equestrian portraits evoke the same timelessness of that artist’s oil on canvas, and his work is found in the collection of Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. DerryMoore.com
Sir Alfred Munnings (1878 - 1959), the preeminent equestrian painter, depicted Virginia expat Nancy Lancaster on horseback with her son Michael Tree at her English estate, Kelmarsh. Lancaster later told her biographer, Robert Becker, that the artist had “wanted to paint all the hunting people in red coats in the pink hall. But as he had been at Kelmarsh for what seemed like weeks by then, painting Ronnie [her then husband], I thought, ‘I’ll be damned if he stays here any longer.’ …What a pity it is; I wish I had let him do it. It would have made a wonderful record of the day.”
Nancy Lancaster Her Life, Her World, Her Art, By Robert Beck, Alfred A. Knopf (New York) 1996.
Visit Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire next summer. Gardens are open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; the house is open on Thursdays April through September. Kelmarsh.com
Munnings’ The Belvoir Point-to-Point Meeting on Barrowby Hill and other paintings in VMFA’s collection were used as inspiration and backdrop for Virginia Living’s Sept/Oct 2007 Fashion shoot. Munnings’ and the work of many of his contemporaries is found in the newly reopened Paul Mellon galleries at VMFA, the largest and most important collection of British sporting art in the United States. vmfa.state.va.us
Kedgeree is one of the sacred “3 Ks” of the English hunt breakfast of 100 years ago: kippers, kedgeree and kidneys. Its origins lie in the era of the British colonization of India: The traditional rice and lentil dish was adapted to colonial taste with the addition of boiled eggs and smoked fish. Given that kippers and kidneys tend to elicit strong opposition, kedgeree might be the dish most receptive to a Southern twist: try smoked Chesapeake oysters instead of haddock, deviled eggs as garnish, and shrimp seasoning instead of curry powder.
Crisp yet classic, lacquered walls are a hallmark of the country house mindset implying ease and elegance. Warrenton’s Barry Dixon uses green as a new twist on traditional claret red for a project in Scottsville. “I did a seven layer glazed wall treatment of Farrow & Ball’s ‘Calke Green’ that evokes the waxy Magnolia leaves outside the window. The lacquered walls have an echo from rooms of manor houses in the English hunt country that, when tempered with southern American sensibility, always translate well into a Virginia hunt country vernacular.”
Heroine meets highwayman on the runway at Dior as resident designer John Galliano renders a highly modernized update on the equestrienne idiom. Supple saddle leather redingotes hijack lacey tunics paired with slightly over scale top hats that feel so very fin de sciecle. Dior.com
(Originally published in the October 2010 issue.)