Fall’s amber-tinted nostalgia

By Karen Parr-Moody


As the air chills, autumn invites us to retool our rooms into cozy cocoons for the cold days to come, layering them with the warm tones that remind us of crunchy leaves.


Despite her bare feet, the figural subject of this painting is cozily bundled up in tones of orange, brown and rust, the very palette of the fall landscape (photo, right). Called “Woman with Striped Blanket,” this 28-by-16 inch oil painting on canvas is by painter Nina Sheperd (American, 20th Century) and dates to circa 1940 to 1950. It is signed in the lower right by the artist ($435; Booth W-499).


The eccentric Edie Bouvier Beale, a cousin of Jackie Kennedy, was immortalized in the 1975 documentary “Grey Gardens” filmed at the down-at-heels mansion where she lived with her elderly mother. In one scene she says, “Mother wanted me to come out in a kimono, so we had quite a fight.” Kimonos were a fascinating garment in the era of the elder Beale, a stylish socialite born in 1895; many fashionable American women took to wearing them after Commodore Perry opened Japan to the West in 1854. Even though those days are gone, today's chic ladies should own at least one. The one in the photo, left, is particularly beguiling with its palette of fall colors ($235; Booth S-519)


Ah, resin grapes … where to begin? These amber ones, seen in the photo, below right, are so fitting for the fall season and would look as perfect in a stylish home of today as they did back in the 1960s, when they were all the rage ($45; Booth B-150). Even Laura Petrie, played by Mary Tyler Moore, had some in her kitchen on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” (watch Episode 3, Season One from 1961; they are on a shelf). These were also popular in the Mormon community of that era, in which crafters made them by hand, usually attaching them in some way to a natural piece of driftwood or oak.


I was recently watching the film “Gosford Park,” set in the Edwardian era, and saw Lady Trentham, played by Maggie Smith, holding a hot water bottle similar to the one in the photo at left ($32.50, Booth B-134). Those English mansions of yesteryear were so draughty, after all. While we still use hot water bottles occasionally in modern times, they are rubber and unattractive; in the Edwardian eras and prior, they were made of ceramic and looked a bit like sculpture. Back then, they were not only used to warm beds, but to place at one’s feet while traveling by coach or train. Brrrr!


This “Study in Oranges” piece, signed Gusini, is in such glorious fall colors, even though it features a fruit from sunny climates ($305; in the gallery). Every once in a while, when I see an orange, I think of Christmas. Years ago I interviewed a group of octogenarians and they told me that at Christmas, getting an orange in one’s stocking was a real treat. Then there is a story about Marilyn Monroe who, in 1951, got only an orange for Christmas while in a foster home. She ate it while gazing out the window at the RKO film studios’ water tower and dreaming of being an actress there someday.


Fall is such a nostalgic time, one in which we find ourselves missing the sun-kissed days of summer while anticipating the family-filled days of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And with its warm array of golden colors, fall provides ample inspiration for home décor.


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