John Fowler: Prince of Decorators

Overview

John Fowler was an interior decorator who set fashions and changed tastes. The English country house style, which he developed with Sibyl Colefax and Nancy Lancaster, his partners in the firm of Colefax & Fowler, has proved a source of continuing inspiration to decorators and home-owners on both sides of the Atlantic and indeed across the world. Today, a hundred years after his birth, his influence is almost as powerful as it was in the mid 20th century, when he was working on many of Britain's finest and ...

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More About This Book

Overview

John Fowler was an interior decorator who set fashions and changed tastes. The English country house style, which he developed with Sibyl Colefax and Nancy Lancaster, his partners in the firm of Colefax & Fowler, has proved a source of continuing inspiration to decorators and home-owners on both sides of the Atlantic and indeed across the world. Today, a hundred years after his birth, his influence is almost as powerful as it was in the mid 20th century, when he was working on many of Britain's finest and most famous houses, including Uppark, Chequers and Buckingham Palace, as well as dozens of more modest projects. Fowler's style has been so widely imitated that it is easy to forget what an innovator he was. In the 1930s and 1940s his style was a breath of fresh country air, sweeping away heavy velvets and damasks in favour of crisp cotton chintzes, replacing glossy mahogany with painted Regency furnishings, elaborate porcelain and glitzy ormolu with modest pottery and painted tin. Even after the war, when he came to specialize in the decoration of architecturally important interiors, he continued to prefer 'humble elegance' and 'romantic disrepair' to pomposity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780711227118
  • Publisher: Lincoln, Frances Limited
  • Publication date: 11/13/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,473,326
  • Product dimensions: 11.48 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2009

    Can't Refer to it Enough!

    Really great inspiration. Excellent writing and analysis of a master. Highly recommend it. Not for the beginner, but if you've been reading decorating books for a year or so, prepare to be awestruck!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2009

    Disappointing

    The images look very ortdated...or maybe it's just not great photography. I returned it.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    NOT ONLY DECORATION BUT A WAY OF LIFE

    With a remarkable memory for the smallest detail, imagination, and an appreciation of beauty, John Fowler was called 'the Prince of Decorators.' He may well have deserved that sobriquet, but in this lushly illustrated 240 volume we also learn that he was not a prince of a fellow. Early in his career Fowler worked as a painter for Thornton Smith, commercial decorators. It was there that he learned to paint 'the Chinese wallpapers that were so fashionable at the time', and also how to grime and distress furniture. Later, in 1928 or 1929 he set out to work on his own, often freelancing for other decorators. Following a series of commissions, a 1938 House Garden article placed Fowler among England's leading decorators. Rising from a salaried painter to this position in a decade was quite a feat. More success followed as he joined Sybil Colefax in 1938. He was 32 she who enjoyed stature as a society hostess was 64. However, their alliance was dramatically affected with the outbreak of war when decorating all but stopped. After Sybil Colefax's death the firm of Colefax & Fowler was acquired by Nancy Lancaster, a Virginian whose work is thought of as 'English style.' She was to teach Fowler much about comfort and scale, 'how large houses could be used and enjoyed in the modern world.' Fowler, who died in 1977, had an enviable client list. He transformed some of the most famous houses in England, and was commissioned by Buckingham Palace. The style created by the team of Colefax & Fowler endures today, English Country House Style represents not only decoration but a way of life. Many try to emulate it but none capture it as did John Fowler. Those with an interest in twentieth century design will treasure this keepsake volume. - Gail Cooke

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