18 November 2014

A Mellon Aviary

The unprecedented ease of Bunny Mellon's style. 
Over a Regency red and yellow japanned faux bamboo bookcase, c.1805, hangs a Braque painting, Les Deux Oiseaux and housed in the bookcase-a collection of birds.

In a world of rooms touted by magazine editors full of beige this and that-to my eye most mudane, Mrs. Mellon's genius style lies in her having kept her eye honed for what she loved, and artists she revered. She surrounded herself with nature inside her houses when she could not be in her gardens. No doubt with the wealth she had before marrying Paul Mellon, it could have been easy for some to lapse into rooms of souless, staid grandeur.

Not so, Mrs. Mellon gives us a glimpse of beauty in rooms, in its highest form. 
Pure, personal, and what appears uncalculated, precisely edited.

There pipes the woodlark, and the song-thrush there
Scatters his loose notes in the waste of air.  

-Couplet about Birds, Thomas Gray, 18th c. poet

1 of a Pair of Italian Scagliola Panels, 18th c., Lot 307

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all-
-314, Emily Dickinson, American poet, 19th c.

A Dutch delft six-tile pictorial panel second half 18th c., Lot 923

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A dove house filld with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro all its regions 
-Auguries of Innocence, William Blake, c. 1803
Le Balcon Et La Cage D'Oiseau, Tsuguharu Foujita, 1917. Lot 408

Friends shall I have at dawn, blackbird and thrush
To rouse me, and a hundred Warblers more;
And if those Eagles to their ancient Hold
Return, Helvellyn's Eagles! with the Pair
From my own door I shall be free to claim
Acquaintance as they sweep from cloud to cloud.
The Owl that gives the name to Owlet-Crag
Have I heard whooping, and he soon will be
A chosen one of my regards. . . 
-Home At Grassmere, Wordsworth, c.1806.

An Aviary, Madeline Hewes. Lot 1491

Hail to thee blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert, 
That from Heaven, or near it, 
Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art. 

-To A Skylark, Percy Bysshe Shelley, 19th century Romantic poet

Two Victorian painted Tôle Birdcages, second half 19th c. Lot 992

Young Girl Holding A Bird, Jean Braun, 1749.
Lot 344

 The lark that shuns on lofty boughs to build Her humble nest, 
lies silent in the field.
-Of The Queen,Edmund Waller,17th c.

Bunny Mellon teaches us the art of living at home, rather than so today-those who are ever seeming to perfect that art, yet never staying home to inhabit it.


  1. Hello Patricia Gaye
    This warmed my heart as I glanced through Bunny Mellon's home and collection which can only be achieved by love and purity and no other motive than she loved each piece.
    As I glanced and pondered the warmth of this home and compared it in my mind to many we see in today's magazines of homes totally renovated and items purchased in a matter of months and the owner moves on with their life. I conclude we cannot rush nor hurry through creating a home, it is a lifetime of collection loved items
    The last line speaks volumes and sums it up: Bunny Mellon teaches us the art of living at home, rather than so today-those who are ever seeming to perfect that art, yet never staying home to inhabit it.
    Thank you for this introduction.
    Helen xx

    1. Helen, It can be a real art-if mastered as Mrs. Mellon did so. pgt

  2. Her style is much done by women of a certain age. Have mentors with her exact style, sadly most are dead. Unable to have children I've had women friends in their 80's since my 20's, now in my 50's.

    Aside from their material style, their love of Nature was redolent in every fiber of their life. I think of them as the last of those raised with fumes of the Stoics.

    What do you name Bunny Mellon's style?

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

    1. Tara, I have much the same in my mentors. At the age of about 6 my favorite neighbor and friend was an 80 year old, dear Mrs. Baker. You are so right about a love of nature instilled at an early age-as it was with Mrs. Mellon, serves one well for a lifetime. It is hard to pen a name-but I think her style was quintessentially American, at its best. It all looked right-not exotic, not fleeting. PGT

  3. I think this may be my favorite of all your fabulous posts. This one is beautiful and inspirational. I have bookmarked it for reading and re-reading!

  4. Gaye this shows the true importance of making a home of comfort and filled with love. Bunny Mellon accomplished this by being true to herself, her style, what was so meaningful to her in life. Thank you!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Karena, her library is testament to that love. thanks Karena, pgt

  5. I second Helen Tilston...the last sentence sums up the WORLD OF INTERIORS today, and I don't mean the magazine. May I add another note....your quip mentioning 'beige this and that - to my EYE mundane'...a malady made worse by those refusing diagnosis. As a fellow homebody, one who shuns the Public for Private world, I adher to the vision of surrounding oneself with that which is the detritus of MY EYE...Beauty truly is in the EYE of the beholder, and Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon had sharp sight!

    1. It is all so public at the moment,decorating, isn't it? perhaps some will take a diagnosis from Mrs. Mellon and look inward to what really matters to them personally and find it easier to end the malaise of beige. pgt

  6. 'Precisely edited, yet appearing un-calculated'---beautifully put!
    That would seem to be Mrs M's style in a nutshell.

    1. Mr. Worthington- could you drop in to my personal email at some point to update your own? pgt



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