on 18 November 2011
Aurum Press has published more than twenty books on houses and gardens based on the archives of Country Life Magazine. Each book has selected the houses, their interiors and gardens from a certain perspective, such as region, period, architect or having been demolished. This book is the latest in these series, now based on the Arts & Crafts movement. Country Life displayed clearly some preferences in their magazine. The magazine had favourites such as Edwin Lutyens and his collaboration with Gertrude Jekyll, this is also the case for this book, which gives therefore some overlap with the volumes published earlier on both and also a limited view on the Arts & Crafts movement. You will miss Charles Rennie Mackintosh. From Voysey and Baillie Scott only a few examples are given. The text of this volume is still informative and well documented, with chapters on different perspectives and views on the subject, including typical examples of houses and interiors as presented in Country Life. The greatest strength of this book is the selection and arrangement of the beautiful photographs along the text. The time span of these pictures is more than hundred years, from old fashioned black and white to modern colour photographs, here presented in an coherent manner, by selecting either colour or black and white photographs for most houses or topics discussed, which gives the book a pleasant presentation. Some of the pictures will be familiar, if you own more books of the series. As stated by the author, The Studio Magazine has been much more the promoters of Arts & Crafts. Their archives have unfortunately been bombed in the war. Reediting their "Year-Book of Decorative Art" which were published from 1906 onwards, could perhaps be an idea for another series of books on this subject.
on 23 April 2013
Clive Aslet writes regularly for Country Life and has produced a typically charming, beautifully written and stimulating account of the period in architectural history that coincided with a growing desire among the wealthy to regain the ideal of an English arcadia which inspired the magazine itself.
Readers who enjoyed the subtle undercurrent of the march of history and social change, which is a background theme to his equally delightful book on the English House, will not be disappointed. The insightful understanding of the dynamics that shaped the period takes his architectural writing beyond a mere account of the technical details of these spectacular houses into the stories of their owners and architects and the broader social history of which they form part.
In my opinion this is a book that anyone with an interest in the country houses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and in good writing will heartily enjoy.