Interior paints are totally in fashion

Peter Copping fondly remembers visiting the British Museum as a child and admiring the Portland Vase, that marvel of blue-black glass from Roman times. Today, a silver-gilt replica of Elizabeth II from 1973 sits in her century-old dream mansion in Normandy, France, at least in the decorative arts fantasy rendered by London portrait painter SJ Axelby.

Copping, an avid collector and former artistic director of Oscar de la Renta, was approached by Christie’s to select lots from its The Collector: Online sale with which he would like to furnish his home. (The online component has just kicked off and will run until May 20, while The Collector: Live is set to take place in London on May 19.) For Copping, a long-time fan of auction catalogs, “it was a complete dream” of viewing these 17th- to 20th-century antiques adorn six rooms at La Carlière, the country estate he shares with her husband, florist Rambert Rigaud. These large, colorful spaces then came to life in Axelby’s mixed-media paintings.

A room in the Norman house.

Photo: Courtesy of Christie’s

“It was like going on a big shopping spree,” Copping told AD PRO. “Afterwards, I was able to look at these watercolor pieces, interpreted by the artist through the lens of La Carlière, and it was a beautiful way to see them.”

Another illustration, which captures the ‘Hen and Chicks’ soup tureen.

Photo: Courtesy of Christie’s

The copy of the Portland Vase, which Copping found best suited to the Petit Salon, evoked a powerful memory. But other treasures he selected for these vignettes, such as a large Art Nouveau Wedgwood Fairytale Luster ‘Temple on a Rock’ vase from 1925, were a more surprising choice, he admits: “It had colors so beautiful and was in perfect harmony with the library housing my collection of The world of interiors magazines.”

Axelby de La Carlière’s ambitious depictions, which also feature Copping’s own line of handmade cushions named after his house, are enchanting. Christie’s lots fit in perfectly with the daily layout of Copping and Rigaud. The dining room, with its elaborate late 17th-century blackened cabinet of Italian gilt bronze, marble and rosewood inlaid with ivory, for example, seems to have always been the backdrop to a meal served from the china from Chelsea. Soup tureen for hens and chickens from 1755, or someone just got up from one of the mid-18th century dark blue velvet Venetian Lacca armchairs in the guest bedroom.

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