Saturday, July 2, 2011

Albemarle Revisited

Our piece last year on Sotheby’s auction at Albemarle House remains our most popular post to date. Now with the estate and Patricia Kluge once again making headlines lets revisit this infamous Virginia mansion that continues to fascinate.

Here in the entrance hall a massive piece of Greek art pottery displayed on a pedestal does double duty as a hat stand, the basket of firewood lends a rustic note to the classical formality.

The doorway to the left of the fireplace leads to the Gun Room with masculine wood trim and a view over the forecourt of the rolling Virginia countryside subsequently purchased by the Kluge’s friend Donald Trump.

The fireplace is flanked by custom Asprey gun cabinets and sports an elaborate gilt convex mirror that pops against the deep green walls. Not far from these finely housed firearms sits a Chippendale dresser set up as a chic little bar for serving after-hunt libations.

A marbleized Palladian window framing a distant piece of garden sculpture, dominates one end of the Drawing Room. The fluted Corinthian columns mirror those flanking the staircase on the opposite entry wall seen in our previous post. This scheme of a curved stair framed by columns and mirrored by a Palladian window is repeated again in the Dining Room to dramatic effect.

Yet more marbleized classical moldings are off set with trompe l’oeil swags of fringed fabric in the series of galleries linking the entrance hall with the main rooms and twin staircases. These faux-finishes that characterize the interiors typify the lavish style of the era.

The Library returns to a more masculine atmosphere with rich wood paneling and a billiard table filling one end. The view through the curtained doorway looks into the stately Roman Gallery furnished with a set of swaged neoclassic stools custom designed by the architect David Easton.

These lavish little jewels complete with architectural detailing, faux finishes, and elaborate trimmings seem to sum up the design philosophy of the whole estate, if not the opulent spirit of 80’s excess that created them. Now these furnishings like all the rest have long been auctioned off while the sprawling red brick manse that once showcased them sits emptily awaiting its fate.

All photos via Sotheby’s.
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