John Fowler, the celebrated designer who moved the British interior design needle as co-founder of Colefax & Fowler, hand-selected gorgeous pieces for his home—and dozens of them are now for sale.
More than 30 artifacts that once furnished John Fowler’s home are up for sale in December.
Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler hosts John Fowler & Imogen Taylor sale from 2 to 22Abbreviation II December at 89-91 Pimlico Street, London, a selling gallery of over 100 antiques, more than 30 of which came from the Fowler’s residence, the hunting lodge.
Dubbed the “Prince of Decor” by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, Fowler established a look that remains an inspiration to this day. He and his partner Nancy Lancaster—who had by this time bought Lady Sibyl’s share of the business—would go antique shopping together, with most of the lots being sold at his Brook Street showroom.
Most, but not all: The couple kept cut numbers for their homes. “Fowler had the most exquisite taste, and the 1940s was an exceptional time to buy,” says Roger Jones, head of antiques at Sybil Colefax & John Fowler. In Fowler’s case, the house in question was The Hunting Lodge, an 18th-century folly that he bought in 1947 and lived in until his death 30 years later.
The interior style was, as Jones explains, “quite unpretentious, very comfortable, with a veneer of elegance, informality and the feeling that one could sit anywhere without having to move a chair.”
The furniture was put up for sale by Imogen Taylor, who joined the firm in 1949 and was Fowler’s assistant for 17 years. By 1968 Imogen was a partner in the firm and a respected interior designer in her own right, remaining with Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler until her retirement in 1999 – a remarkable 50 years with the firm.
“John bequeathed the contents of The Hunting Lodge to his friends, and I was fortunate enough to be the recipient,” she says. “I bought a little house in Burgundy on my retirement, which I filled with the furniture and pictures that John had left me.”
In addition to items bequeathed by Fowler, the sale includes Taylor furniture, art and smaller ceramics – including a 1780 Japanese and black gilt elbow chair with rushing seat and cushion painted by George Oakes, several painted chairs of George III and a pair of late 18th century gray painted and gilded elbow chairs. . “It’s the first sale of its kind, and the rarest opportunity to purchase Fowler Collections,” explains Roger Jones.
Sales highlights from The Hunting Lodge—some pictured above—include nearly all of the dining room’s contents, from Fowler’s dining table with a slate-top of fruitwood and walnut flint topped with Northern European marble, both circa 1800, to a set of six lacquered Italianate chairs. Rush, circa 1810, as well as a Regency etagere with cane shelves, simulated bamboo paint, and tole verrière displayed on it.
Other notable furniture highlights include a Directoire period mahogany front desk with marble top, circa 1800, an early 18th century armchair upholstered in green velvet and Fowler’s Friar Chair – a model still available to order from Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler). .
The full catalog will be available online at www.sibylcolefax.com from December 2nd.
Credit: Simon Brown
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