I have had another long day sorting books as I approach the floor of my library. I have realised why I hate doing this. It is like clearing up someone’s effects after they have died, the only difference being that I am that person. Anyway, I have made a few more discoveries en route:-
1. A book on Country House Baroque, published, I am intrigued to discover, in 1940, by Heywood Hill Ltd., which gives its address then as 17, Curzon Street (when did it change to no. 10 ?). The photographs, which are of stuccowork in English and Irish country houses, are of the highest quality (stuccowork is at all not easy to photograph, not least because much of it is on the ceiling) and are by Anthony Ayscough, to whom the book is also dedicated. He had died the previous year, aged only 29, a painter, who had also produced a book on German Baroque Sculpture, with an introduction by Nikolaus Pevsner, had travelled widely in Europe, including Bavaria, Greece and Ireland, and died in a car crash ‘in Christmas week 1939’.
2. I couldn’t work out where to shelve Sacheverell Sitwell’s book on Southern Baroque Art and looked at its introduction to assess whether it belonged in Italy or Spain (it’s about both). My eye was struck by an intriguing comment about taste where he comments (the book was published in 1923) how ‘Too many people, looking like each other, and all talking in one and the same voice, may be heard at this time loud in the praise of Matisse and André Derain, while they have already returned to Raphael, and will soon come back to admire Guido Reni, falling victims by this to a strong and complete mental boomerang’. Is this, I wonder, a jibe against Bloomsbury taste ?
3. The catalogue of an exhibition entitled Vitruvius Americanus: Colonial Newport in the Palladian Tradition, pubished by the Redwood Library in newport, Rhode Island. I didn’t realise that there was a new edition of Palladio’s First Book of Arhitecture published in 1721 at the height of the Palladian Revival, but ‘with a New Model of the Cathedral of St. Paul’s, London, as it is now rebuilt’, suggesting that, at the time, the work of Wren was viewed as neo-Palladian. The library has a perfect set of books relating to neo-Palladian taste, as one might expect from the character of its design by Peter Harrison.
4. As with Sitwell, I couldn’t work out where to shelve Austin Dobson’s Rosalba’s Journal and other papers. It was previously in my section devoted to Horace Walpole, which is surprisingly extensive (Walpole had a portrait of John Law by Rosalba Carriera in his Long Gallery). Maybe it can go in the section on Samuel Johnson, also extensive, because there’s an essay on Streatham Place. In the end it goes back to Walpole, by reshelving Jenny Uglow’s The Lunar Men, which doesn’t belong there.
5. A copy of Vittorio Lampugnani, Urban Design as Craft . This is a series of interviews about the task of townplanning, which got me interested in the modern practitioners of the genre. Much good work is being done in Bond Street and, I hope, in due course, in Burlington Gardens and the surrounding streets by Publica, which follows many of Lampugnani’s precepts.