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Hunting Lodge Sitting Room, John Fowler
The Hunting Lodge sitting room, a painting by SJ Axelby based on a photograph by Horst P Horst. The collection will include the Friar’s chair and Portrait above sofa.

24th November 2022

The John Fowler & Imogen Taylor Collection A Selling Exhibition,

2nd Dember


In the 1940s, John Fowler and partner Nancy Lancaster – who had bought Lady Sibyl's share of the business - would go on antiques-buying trips. Most were sold in the Brook Street showroom, but choice pieces were kept for their own homes. "Fowler had the most exquisite taste, and the 1940s were an exceptional period to buy in," explains Roger Jones, head of the Antiques Department at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. In 1947, Fowler purchased The Hunting Lodge, an 18th-century folly, his home until his death. He decorated it, he said, in a way that was "utterly unpretentious, very comfortable, with a veneer of elegance and informality and the feeling that one can sit down anywhere without having to move a chair."


Few homes hold icon status, but The Hunting Lodge is without question one of them. For much of the time that John Fowler lived there, his assistant and later right-hand woman was Imogen Taylor. She joined the company just after the war, having studied textiles at art college. The 23-year-old got a job as an office junior under Fowler. She would take the bus every morning from her parent's home in the suburbs, a far cry from the intensely grand clients that darkened the doorstep of Brook Street. With this and the exacting demands of John Fowler, many a young assistant wouldn't have been blamed for buckling under the pressure. Not, Taylor. She toughed out due to her love of design. Over the years, she moved up in the company, eventually becoming Fowler's right-hand woman. On his death, she inherited many of his clients, as well as that Fowler, had bequeathed the contents of the Hunting Lodge to his friends; Taylor was lucky enough to be among them.


Taylor eventually retired in 1999. On her retirement, she purchased a house in Burgundy, signing on the dotted line the very day she saw it. It was here that the furniture would make its home. After years of designing homes for others, Taylor was able to use her talents for herself. The house was featured in House & Garden in 2019 and was a testament to her exceptional career. As Elfreda Pownall put it, 'That this most English of designers has cast her spell over this simple French house is proof of her adaptability and her 'eye', acquired over her long professional life at the pinnacle of decorating.'


Taylor has now decided to part with her belongings in a selling exhibition at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler's Pimlico Road showroom from December 2–22. There will be over 100 antiques belonging to Taylor, more than 30 of which furnished The Hunting Lodge. As Roger Jones, Director of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, explains, 'It is the first sale of its kind, the rarest of opportunities to purchase Fowler's collections. Ideal for those keen to hold a piece of decorating history."


Everything will be on display in the showroom from 2nd – 22nd December on Monday to Friday, 9.30 am until 5.30 pm, and on Saturdays from 10.00 am – 3.30 pm. The full lot listing will go live on the firm’s website at 9:30 A.M. GMT on December 2nd, Click Here To View.


Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - Early 19th century French octagonal tole wall clock
Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - Early 19th century French octagonal tole wall clock

Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor's late 18th c Italian painted chairs
Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor's late 18th c Italian painted chairs

Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor - George III painted elbow chair with full seat, circa 1790
Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor - George III painted elbow chair with full seat, circa 1790

Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - John Fowler 3 x Besler botanical copper plate engravings
Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - John Fowler 3 x Besler botanical copper plate engravings

Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor - mid-18th century French provincial walnut three drawer commode
Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor - mid-18th century French provincial walnut three drawer commode

Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - set of 6 Italian dining chairs w striped seats, 1810
Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - set of 6 Italian dining chairs w striped seats, 1810

Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor - Regency penwork box circa 1810 (2)
Sibyl Colefax - Imogen Taylor - Regency penwork box circa 1810 (2)

Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - Regency etagere with bamboo paintwork
Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - Regency etagere with bamboo paintwork

Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - 18th century pottery handwarmer
Sibyl Colefax - From The Hunting Lodge - 18th century pottery handwarmer

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