Inspiration was easy for Pauline de Rothschild-she need look no further than the exquisitely framed eighteenth century Chinese painted panels in her Mouton bedroom. The panels would come to life on her table landscapes- petite orchards of wild cherry, apple and pear branches, cache pot with achillea- yarrow and candytuft clustered around the fruited branches -all for Beauty's sake.
In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things.
In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me.- John Fowles
I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility.
Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time.-Robert Browing
a small forest of apple and pear branches, white achillea, white candytuft in tiny pots on a pale apple green tablecloth. The nineteenth-century Bordeaux plates have pale-green borders,black-and-white designs. In the background: a seventeenth-century Italian wooden horse with a horsehair tail, a sixteenth-century Italian artist's jointed wooden figure. (Valentine Lawford in VOGUE)
Pauline de Rothschild would liaison with staff member Marie Gyselinck in the mornings to give her instructions for the day's table landscapes. Gyselinck collected the agreed upon branches, fruit- mosses and flowers and then worked her magic in the flower room of the original chateau. The pair completed there work sitting at the tables assuring no guest's view was obstructed by these landscape fantasies. Plates and linen were chosen from household books holding photographs of 170 different porcelain services and swatches of linen for the table.
Valentine Lawford writing for VOGUE about his "Wildest-dreams weekend-with Pauline de Rothschild" describes another of the tables:
A table setting for five for luncheon in the Grande Piece (but it could have been anywhere in the chateau)-planted with blue and white or scarlet Japanese pots and Landscaped on a flowers and butterflies embroidered white Porthault tablecloth. Blue and white monogrammed napkins; blue and white Chantilly china.
This table landscape at Mouton set for 7- with pampas grass, Cedar atlantica, Equisetum-horsetail, wild rose, wild orchis and Gyposphila all set again in cache pot or mounds of moss. The Persian cotton tablecloth depicts legendary lovers, Mejnoun and Leila.
If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature's way. Aristotle
The Baroness' imagination ran wild with the seasons-here Winter tables-with the scenes changing for each dining experience. From The Best in European Decoration- " The Baroness prefers white (linens), for Mouton she chooses solid colours in delectable shades of orange, coral, yellow, lavender, or hand-blocked printed small designs. The Baron added- "When one lives in the country-variety is essential."
Sevres plates decorated with the Revolutionary cockade on pink with an abundance of kale.
Physalis alkekengi, the Chinese Lantern plant, is in abundance at this table setting with English stoneware, decorated for the English trade in Japan. The knives and forks mix ivory, vermeil and silver.
Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels;
only when the clock stops does time come to life. -William Faulkner
An intimate table in the Long Salon looks out onto the vines of Mouton. Narcissi appear to grow out of a mossy mound, a yellow tablecloth is used with Chantilly plates. The 19th century silver is English, made for the Baron's grandfather, and decorated with hunting scenes. The sphere is a bronze and ivory 19th century clock that moves up and down along a chain telling the time- something that must have faded away when dining at Mouton.
Inspiration from Nature led the Baroness to set her tables for a fleeting moment-just long enough to linger over food, conversation-and wine, there must have been a great deal of wine at Mouton. Little need for staid lasting bouquets- each meal brought a change-much as the seasons of the year.
In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant,
it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches,
and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. -John Milton
In Nature-we all have an unending source of Beauty.