Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Palatial Glory

I play a game when reading World of Interiors, and I imagine I'm far from alone in doing so; each month, I decide which of the houses, apartments, castles or palaces I most wish were my own.  There is usually a clear winner, and April was no different: I would like the Liria Palace, and Cayetana Fitz James, the Duchess of Alba, is my new style icon (only for interiors, I might add.  I don't think anyone would suggest that she's the poster child for plastic surgery.)  Here are some images from the story:

The Goya room, and the Goya.

The Library, with it's exquisitely painted ceiling (I'm rethinking the stripes as I write this - why shouldn't my bedroom ceiling look like this one?)

The Green Room; please, please, just look at the trim on the sofa and the chairs, and all the cushions.  This room is somewhere close to my idea of heaven.

Isn't it beautiful?  Most of it is quite recently redecorated (comparatively speaking, as in, compared to most palaces I can think of which were generally last decorated a couple of centuries ago) for it was badly bombed and burned during the Spanish Civil War.  The collection of paintings was thankfully saved due to its having been sent to the British Embassy in Madrid and to the Banco de Espana.  Lutyens was called in to help with the renovation in 1942, and the Duchess of Alba chose all the fabrics and colours for everything else herself.  "First I rebuilt it," she explains, "and then I decorated it with order and good sense." I love all of it - and I have no doubt that Edith Wharton would approve too, as the proportions and design of each room are perfect, right down to the width of the mantelpieces.  It makes me think of Alberti's Renaissance churches:  form first, decoration second.  It is becoming increasingly clear that I actually need a palace to be able to fully indulge all my ideas for interior decoration. But in the mean time, here are some more images that I found:

The Lutyens stairs

The other end of the Goya room.  The surface of the desk looks like most of the surfaces in our house, only the objects are probably more valuable, and definitely less dusty.

The Hall of the Grand Duke - the Gobelin tapestries were also saved from the bombing and the fire as they had been dispatched to the Real Fabrica de Tapices for cleaning and restoration.  What you can't see, tragically, is that the ceiling is, I think, coffered, and covered in gold leaf - another, to my mind, brilliant idea to suggest to my husband for our own house.  He might even go for it - he loves gold leafing things - though his efforts are usually restricted to bones or plastic animals. My friend Christopher the jeweller, meanwhile, has bars over his bedroom window which he's been wanting to gold leaf ever since he moved in, in order, he says, to find out what it really feels like to live in a gilded cage.

The Liria palace is open one day a week, for two hours, by prior arrangement, sometimes, apparently, months in advance.  Suddenly I really want to go to Madrid, and there can't be anything last minute about it.