Tuesday, 7 February 2012


I have been collecting and dealing in antique prints for as long as I can remember, the moment I had my own house I looked at the blank walls from skirting board to ceiling.............empty. 17th, 18th and early 19th century prints were affordable, where pictures were not, and so a life times collecting started. The house, an early 19th century mews house in Notting Hill, now one of the smartest areas of London was then a home to myself, sundry Australian cousins who came to stay and then friends from what was then The London Festival Ballet. It was also a gallery where I held exhibitions of prints, and somewhere where there was always something going on. Dinners were frequent, relaxed and fun, you never knew how many were coming until the end of the evening.

Sunday lunch......showing late 18th century prints of fruit on the end wall, luxury living in 1992!

Living and dealing from home meant an ever changing scene, in this photograph taken by Simon Brown for House & Garden in the early 1990s shows a large set of framed early 18th century bird prints by George Edwards and a set of mid 18th century framed Vue d'Optiques. 

On the left are coloured 19thc. images of Oxford, in the centre is a late 17th century etching after Poussin over a 19th century architectural print. On the right are a pair of 18th century engravings of Rome with wonderful original colour. 

The dining room in London is now hung with only black and white prints, in the centre is a rare collection of late 16th century images of horses after drawings by Stradanus, simply framed in narrow water gilt frames. The table is set with antique silver and ivory knives and forks and covered in an antique French linen cloth. Above the table hangs a large nickel lantern available from Charles Edwards
These exceptional prints are portraits of the various European horses in the 1580's On either side of them hang large 18th century decorative prints.

The dining room in Provence is smaller and less formal than London here I have chosen botanical engravings in painted frames, with the colours of both the prints and the frames tying in with the colour scheme of the room. There is a single black and white architectural print in the centre of the wall. We also have low ceilings in France so I have hung the prints in a single row. 

In the country in Northamptonshire we have a long hallway where we have hung a collection of French braces and garters framed in gessoed and painted frames.........bought in France and part of the travelling salesman's wares. The colours and design of these early 20th century trade samples are wonderfully mad and make great decoration in the 21st century.
In the bathroom in Northamptonshire we have hung old photographs framed in their original oak frames......photos of Shrewsbury School, my mother's polo team in Australia c. 1932, (they learnt how to play from Pear's Encyclopaedia) and group photographs from Oxford and the army. 

Back in the kitchen in London the wall  is closely hung with prints and photographs of English Pointers,  a previous blog titled MERLIN explains why the passion for pointers..........................
I have always hung prints close together and at home in profusion. In this month's House & Garden the editor Sue Crew writes about the pleasure of hanging prints. She rightly points out the wonderful look that can be obtained from dense hanging whether it is on a staircase or elsewhere in the house and showcases a house on page 100 where the 18th century prints are hung from the floor to the ceiling. 

In the shop we always have sets of framed antique prints that can be seen on our website, above is a set of six 17th century copper plate engravings by Antoine de Pluvinel

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