This spring, from 29 April to 20 May, Christie’s London will be staging the Collector sales. Featuring an exquisite array of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century furnishings, it comprises 400 lots of varying styles, from the high Rococo of Louis XVI to English Regency and into the Japanese-inspired and revivalist motifs of the 19th century, as well as all aspects of the decorative arts dating from the 17th to the 20th century. To bring the lots to life, the auction house has collaborated with the designer, and former creative director of Oscar de la Renta, Peter Copping.
Copping has drawn inspiration from the glorious interiors he and his partner have created within their manor house, La Carlière, in Normandy, France – the name he has also given to his own brand of haute cushions. After a gruelling 12-year restoration, the designer has unveiled the final furnished rooms of their 17th-century home, and curated lots from the Collector sales to furnish and decorate six of these rooms, as reimagined in paintings by specialist interiors portraitist SJ Axelby.
He tells us what inspired this collaboration and shares his lifelong passion for antiques…
What first sparked your interest in antiques?
“One of my earliest memories was attending with my parents the sale of the contents of Bletchington Park, an 18th-century Palladian Estate. I can remember vividly all of the pieces: tiger skin rugs, huge gilt mirrors, antique furniture lined up ready for sale – I thought it was fantastic. We lived in a village just outside of Oxford and we would make regular visits to the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums. I think these trips gave me an appreciation for the decorative arts and taught me how to look at objects.
“There was an antique shop in our small village. Every Friday after school I would drop in. The two women that owned it always made me very welcome – I was never the annoying child that risked breaking something! It was here that I made my first purchase: a 19th-century English plate. I have always had a love of china ever since.”
What has the process of renovating La Carlière been like?
“It has taken my husband Rambert and I a long time to renovate the house, but at the same time we were not in a rush. The house was liveable when we bought it. We wanted to create different ambiences throughout the house, for instance, the Petit Salon is decorated in the Napoleon III style. This contrasts with the Grand Salon, which is light and airy, mixing modern and antique pieces in more of an English spirit. Collecting has given the house a sense place and personality.”
Where do you go to search for antique treasures?
“We love to buy things when we travel – it helps to create a more eclectic interior. We regularly buy at auction and also from antique shops in Paris. Some of the local brocantes and dealers in Normandy have provided good finds.”
What has been your favourite find?
“A French 18th-century-style four-poster bed upholstered in a bold red-and-white stripe. It was the very first thing that Rambert and I bought for the house.”
What was it like recreating these rooms for Christie’s?
“It was extremely exciting for me to see La Carlière captured in the bespoke paintings of six rooms in my home – I have long been a fan of this medium for interpreting interiors. In creating the rooms, it was a dream come true to be able to select amongst the wonderful selection from Christie’s Collector sale. There are so many pieces I would be tempted to bid on – only now as we have moved on to developing the garden, I equate all antique purchases as to how many box balls and topiaries I could buy instead! My selection of lots from the sale are listed.”
How does fashion influence your own interiors?
“I think fashion influences the texture and pattern I like to create within an interior. For creating the Haute La Carlière Cushions, the process was very similar to fashion design. I initially research fabrics, decide which ones to mix together and where to add embroideries. I make mock-ups and then looked at them in different rooms around the house – it feels very much like fitting a dress.”
‘The Collector: Online’ is open for bidding from 29 April to 20 May at www.christies.com. ‘The Collector: Live’ will take place at Christie’s King Street from 14 May to 20 May, and will include highlights from ‘The Collector: Online’. Estimates range from £300 to £25,000.