Archive for the Belter Category

Afton Villa, a Southern Gothic Tragedy

Posted in Afton Villa, American South, architecture, Belter, George Greig, Gothic Revival with tags on August 23, 2010 by babylonbaroque

This blogging is a curious business, the following , is a suggestion from a reader. In my opinion, a reader of great merit, not only an avid history buff and preservationist, she happens to be the great, great, great niece of the artist George Miller Grieg. Mr. Grieg was the painter commissioned by Queen Victoria, to paint the interiors of Holyrood. I posted about Holyrood and it’s interiors in June. I suggest you take a peek , marvelous stuff.

Through this happy meeting I have been introduced to the fantastic, now lost, antebellum estate, Afton Villa.

Afton Villa

St. Francisville Parish, Louisiana

Gothic Revival plantation

ca. 1840

destroyed by fire 1963

The following images taken by the WPA ( now available through the Louisiana Historical  Photographic Collection) testify to the magnificence of this lost treasure. Always fond of American Gothic Revival, this 40 room plantation house , was a stunning example.

B&W photo, circa 1940’s

charming image

Afton Villa, front entrance

detail of porch

detail of entrance gallery

Definitely my favorite image in the series, the lack of interior shots curious. Perhaps the then unfashionable interiors were not deemed  a worthy subject for documentation.

a particularly romantic image

A striking image showing the stair tower.

Just look at that thing!


Avenue of live oaks.

Southern enough for you??

We all need a gatehouse.

Another romantic view of this great beauty.

Rear view?

I love this shot, slightly ungainly,  a charming quirkiness.

As a contrast to these tasteful images, I present a few of those really garishly colored 60’s postcards I so love.

Rather forlorn image

The reverse describes Afton Villa as “a famous French Chateau (????), now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Percy’, it goes on to describe “it’s hand carved Rosewood suite”, one assumes Belter or some knockoff.

another image, same room, same “Rosewood suite”.

I love how stiffly formal interiors appeared in the 60’s.

The following is of a bedroom, presumably Master.

The reverse describes the “original Rosewood bedroom suite by Mallard.

Love the crucifix.

I sincerely thank the great, great , great ,niece of the talented Mr. Grieg. I will close with an image of Mr. Grieg from her family photo album, a treasure.

George Miller Grieg



Good Night.



good shabbos chair/ week 1

Posted in 19th cent., Belter, furniture, Rococo Revival on February 26, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As the Lord seems intent on our taking a day of rest; I have decided to highlight one fantastic chair per week. If we must rest, the chair better be beautiful.

For my first chair, I have chosen a slipper chair by John H. Belter, it is part of the Met’s collection. I have had ambivalence concerning Belter for most of my life. Perhaps because most of Belter’s designs were in the Rococo Revival style,and my love of “true” Rococo prevented my appreciating what a novel and  truly wonderful aesthetic he created.

Slipper chair, 1850-60

John H. Belter (American, born Germany, 1804-1863; firm active New york City, 1844-66)

Rosewood, ash

The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

I no longer have any hesitation at all, I have fully embraced “the modern French style”; so complete is my conversion that I dream of finding a piece at some obscure auction. That of course is ridiculous, price is always ‘upon request” when Belter shows up. Perhaps some forlorn knockoff will appear at Bonhams.

This is indeed a beauty, the shallow carvings are a writhing mass of foliate excess, no hint of French origin. This is German, German, German, with a layover to say hello to the Pompadour.

My family has a apocryphal tale that my Nana’s family, German Jews who came over mid-19th century were fine cabinet makers. I have found no proof of Whittenborn/burg glory, yet I still hold on to this tale. It explains  to me my fascination with German fastidiousness and finesse; which can  truly border on the vulgar, nonetheless  I am wild for it.

This chair, just creeps to the edge of extreme, I am struck by the proportions, the height 44 “, with a relatively low seat, it IS of course a slipper chair.

The fine blue silk is a happy nod to the House of David.

Good Shabbos.