Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Travellers: Classical Rondels

A pair of rondels depicting classical busts.
Image: R. Louis Bofferding Decorative and Fine Art.
As a continuation of the on-going but non-sequential posts of exemplary objects being re-used in different settings, this edition features a pair of oil on canvas paintings depicting busts of Jupiter and Diana (or Zeus and Artemis in Greek mythology).  With a framed diameter of 41.5 inches, they were surely intended as overdoor decoration as they were painted di sotto in sù (as seen from below).  Currently offered for sale by R. Louis Bofferding Decorative and Fine Art, the paintings are described as mid-eighteenth century English, though perhaps by an Italian hand, a follower of Antonio Verrio.  (Verrio, brought to England by the Duke of Montagu, is best known for the frescoed walls of the grand staircase at Hampton Court for King William III).  It is not known if they were part of a larger set.

The painting of the bust of Diana
in the New York home of Gaser Tabakoglu.
Image via R. Louis Bofferding Decorative and Fine Art.
Gaser Tabakoglu, an associate of legendary decorator Renzo Mongiardino, bought the pair from equally-legendary antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs in the 1980s.  Tobakoglu displayed them in his home on Sloane Street in London and then in the master bedroom of his weekend retreat, Brick House, in upstate New York.

The painting of the bust of Zeus
in the Manhattan apartment of
the Carter Burdens by Mark Hampton.
Image via R. Louis Bofferding Decorative and Fine Art.
Bofferding had acquired them for his shop when they were spotted by the late interior designer Mark Hampton.  Hampton knew they would be perfect for a tall-ceilinged Drawing Room he had decorated in the apartment for Carter and Susan Burden, and the Burdens agreed.  Hampton added the frames according to Bofferding, the source of much of the factual information used here.

The Burden Drawing Room
as painted by Isabelle Rey.
Image via Carolyne Roehm.
The rondels do not appear in the published photos of the Burden apartment that appeared in HG magazine or in the Burden chapter of the book MARK HAMPTON: AN AMERICAN DECORATOR.  Undoubtedly a project of great significance to the designer, a view of the room also appears on the book's dust jacket.

The dust jacket for MARK HAMPTON:
features a view of the Burden Drawing Room.
Image via The Devoted Classicist Library.
Who will be the next caretakers of these delightful decorative paintings?  Keep an eye out, Devoted Readers, and let's see if we can spot them again, soon.  For other posts in this series, just type in "Travellers" in the SEARCH THIS BLOG feature in the right-hand border of the regular web version of The Devoted Classicist. 


  1. CORRECTION: Apologies to my Devoted Readers who Subscribe By Email. I just noticed that I named the wrong Mrs. Burden. It should have read SUSAN.

  2. John, these are so special and unique. I do look forward to seeing where they land next to make a room even more stunning.

    The Arts by Karena

  3. Thanks for the news about the rondels. God, it was a magnificent place! Mr. B's dressing room/study/john (I presume?) was fantastic, in all senses. My only gripe about reading your post is that it lead me to a Google search for old pictures of the place; DH's book is at home, I'm not. That search landed me at that dreadful Petkanas piece in the April, 2010 Times. Blech! Now I'm feeling testy and bitchy, but that's not your fault. Anyway, continue to bring us what is beautiful in the world. Thanks. Hap Hanson

    1. Hap, I know all you Devoted Readers are getting tired of my hearing of posts to come, but eventually there will be a post on the Burden apartment. (Yes, that was his bathroom you were thinking about, with the camera positioned to avoid the toilet). Until the post on TDC, and before you are reunited with the Hampton book, take a look at the post of The Peak of Chic titled "Mark Hampton Circa 1992." Our friend Jennifer Boles scanned HG's article on the apartment, but she did not know the owner (and it was not stated in the magazine text). Thank you for commenting.

  4. Covetous of thy neighbour's goods might be one of the deadliest of sins but I crave, and lust for, those rondels. Were my ancestors Vanbderbilts, no time would be lost in buying them.

    But apart from the foreshortened pedestals to the painted busts, are they really "as seen from below"? Forgive the lapse into academic pedantry, but I think not.

    1. Toby, we both have seen paintings where someone is looking down from a railing, etc., with the viewer getting a worm's eye view. Clearly these do not show that angle of view, but I would tend that this was an effort at it with the representation of the socles. But I am glad we agree that the rondels are unquestionably handsome.

  5. I too lust after these, but thankfully can blame the lack of ceiling height as my reason for not delving into my non existent Vanderbilt fortune. I love oculi, and these would be a perfect trompe l'oeil and therefore portable version.

  6. Another very nice post from TDC !
    John, Alexa Hampton was just here, and I did get to chat with her a bit-
    her NY flat is featured in the April AD -
    Rondels have always appealed to my love of the classical in decoration-
    Didn't George Stacey have some in his flat?
    As always,


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