Peter Copping fondly recalls visiting the British Museum as a child and taking in the sight of the Portland Vase, that blue-black glass marvel that dates back to Roman times. Now, an Elizabeth II silver-gilt replica from 1973 can be found in his dreamy, centuries-old manor in Normandy, France—at least in the decorative arts fantasy rendered by London-based room portrait artist SJ Axelby.
Copping, an avid collector and the former artistic director of Oscar de la Renta, was approached by Christie’s to handpick lots from its The Collector: Online sale that he would enjoy furnishing his abode with. (The online component just kicked off and will run through May 20, while The Collector: Live is set to take place in London on May 19.) For Copping, long smitten with auction catalogs, “it was a complete dream” to visualize these antiques from the 17th through 20th centuries adorning six rooms at La Carlière, the country estate he shares with his husband, floral designer Rambert Rigaud. Those grand, colorful spaces were then brought to life in Axelby’s mixed-media paintings.
“It was like going on a major shopping spree,” Copping tells AD PRO. “Afterward, I was able to look at these pieces in watercolor, interpreted by the artist through the lens of La Carlière, and it was a nice way to see them.”
The copy of the Portland Vase, which Copping found best suited to the Petit Salon, sparked a powerful memory. But other treasures he selected for these vignettes, like a large Art Nouveau–style Wedgwood Fairytale Lustre ‘Temple on a Rock’ vase from 1925, were a more surprising choice, he admits: “It had such gorgeous colors and was in perfect harmony with the bookcase housing my collection of The World of Interiors magazines.”
Axelby’s aspirational depictions of La Carlière, which also showcase Copping’s own line of handmade cushions named for his home, are enchanting. The Christie’s lots seamlessly mixed with Copping and Rigaud’s everyday layout. The dining room, with its elaborate, late-17th-century ebonized cabinet melding Italian gilt bronze, marble, and ivory-inlaid rosewood, for example, appears as if it has always been a backdrop to a meal served out of the Chelsea porcelain ‘Hen and Chickens’ tureen from 1755, or that someone has just stood up from one of the mid 18th-century dark blue velvet Venetian Lacca armchairs in the guest bedroom.