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on 8 November 2012
The first edition of this book had been out of print for a few years and although secondhand copies were sometimes offered for sale, the high asking prices reflected the book's scarcity. Consequently, most ordinary readers seeking a copy wouldn't have been tempted. Hurrah, then, for this re-print by The National Trust which returns the hardback volume to the bookshops at a very reasonable price. But is it worth it? For someone like me, with an interest in architecture and design, I think so.

Let me say straight away that my bookcases are stacked high with architectural reference books and monographs. And I've plenty of other stuff on Lutyens, the architect - some of which is repeated or refreshed in Ms Wilhide's text. But as the foreword states, this volume is intended to focus more about Lutyens the designer of interiors, too. Others, more knowledgeable, may be disappointed and point to the fact that Country Life has similarly previously published much information about his interior and furniture design while giving many examples of his working drawings. As well, there's been good work published by others over the years featuring individual Lutyens' properties. However, the problem with much of the earlier published work on Lutyens is that the photographs tended to be rendered in monochrome - at the time, colour printing was unthinkable for cost and practical reasons. Nor has Lutyens' variable reputation always warranted colour printing.

So this book studies his interior designs further. However, the reader has to plough through almost half of the text and photos to get there. Perhaps I'm being ungenerous. Some of his well-known houses are here, pictured in colour, some with Lutyens' furniture displayed in situ. And, sometimes, the story behind it. There are examples, too, of Lutyens' granddaughter's contemporary cabinet-making from his original designs. Ms Lutyens, in the foreword, discloses the fact that although her grandfather designed the original interiors and furniture - down to the door and window locks - often the owners took away the portable furniture with them when they sold the property. Therefore in those domestic designs recorded here, not everything can be viewed as the definitive composition Lutyens' intended. It's an obvious difficulty for the author to overcome in a project such as this.

Those interiors and furniture that are on display are pictured in colour as they should be. The reader may appreciate at first hand the contrasting materials and textures used - without the book looking like a volume of National Trust visitor guides and published articles spatchcocked together. But some may find it doesn't deliver enough on the main theme.

This book has long been on the reading lists when researching Lutyens; having purchased this edition, it easier to see why. The casual reader will find much to enjoy here. I just wish it had more visuals on the subject of his interiors and less on other views. Why, for example, are there single photographs of domestic property exteriors without at least one related reference view of the interior or its furniture? Doesn't always make sense to me - except, perhaps, for ownership/copyright reasons. Or maybe it's simply that the interiors have been `modernised' and no longer resemble the original concepts. Will we ever find out?

Nevertheless, a solid addition to my bookshelves.
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on 7 March 2018
Fanatstic photos, but I miss some of his iconic gardens (it would have been interesting to follow up on those that no longer are kept in shipshape order)
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on 2 January 2014
liked this book. good illustrations and photos. can't say I have read it all yet but hope to use it as a reference when reading more about Lutyens
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on 26 July 2017
All as expected, thank you.
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on 20 October 2015
A fascinating read about one of Britains most brilliant builders
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on 7 December 2014
Beautiful book. Husband loved it
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on 30 September 2001
Quite understandably, a lot has been written over the years about the life and prolific work of Sir Edwin Lutyens and although most of the literature is now out of print, it might seem that there is little to add that is new. However, it has to be admitted that although Lutyens' output as an architect is well documented, this has tended to overlook the fact that his work, given the opportunity, often encompassed a much wider and thorough field of design in general. Typically, the 'old' books gave details of his buildings, gardens and monuments largely illustrated in black and white with the original early 20th century photgraphs which appeared in Country Life forming a classic and dependable visual reference. This book by Elizabeth Wilhide is, however, illustrated with many recent high quality photographs showing interiors and exteriors of a selection of Lutyens' buildings, as the emphasis of this book is focused on design especially of interiors and homes. Helping enlarge on the points made are, once again carefully selected, old black and white images and several small sketches made by Lutyens annotated with his characteristic urgent, almost indecipherable handwriting.
The life of the great man is documented quite well and forms a very adequate and readable biography within the space available; for this book presumably attempts to cover many aspects without becoming oversized and out of reach of the average pocket. In some ways, this has the unavoidable effect of leaving the reader a shade less than fully satisfied and wanting more but it would be impossible to cover everything in such detail. The complex, often playful yet determined mind of Lutyens is revealed which helps in the appreciation of his work all the more. I myself have on a second reading of my own copy noticed in one photograph, pilasters in the interior of one building which take the form of obelisks ..... inverted! This kind of visual joke must have been made with the straightest of faces yet it seamlessly blends perfectly with the otherwise cool classicism of the architecture. The author similarly has chosen to include amusing items such as unique and delightful clocks and chandeliers, quality photographs of which say more than words have done in the past.
Furniture made to designs by Lutyens feature very often, apparently available to order from Lutyens' granddaughter, Candida, who has written a pleasing foreword to this book and collaborated in it's production. Thanks to my recollection of the photographs in this book, I was able quite by chance to identify the interior location of a recent dramatisation on TV which somehow seemed strangely familiar. To this end, a list of Lutyens' houses which may be visited by the public is included towards the back of the book. Sadly, it would seem one house, listed as a hotel, is no longer open to guests.
With today's buoyant interest in interior design, this book reveals much that will catch the eye and capture the imagination and as a first reference to Lutyens, it performs a splendid service. It was a lovely stocking filler for me and would be for many others.
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on 27 August 2012
always on the look out for better illustrations of built projects, furniture and drawings, this booked promised much and delivered little that hasn't already been covered in older books....
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