Tuesday 15 February 2011

Broken chandeliers and Italian curses

Merisi's post yesterday, over at Vienna for Beginners (go and check it out, it's a daily visual treat), on a window display of broken china in a Viennese porcelain shop, reminded me of the first time I saw this amazing chandelier at Waddesdon Manor. 

This is  Ingo Maurer's "Porca Miseria!" chandelier, constructed with broken china, commissioned by Lord Rothschild to hang in the dining room at Waddesdon. 

Photo source: http://www.theresasimon.com

I love those moments of surprise, of seeing something so unexpected in a given context that you stop dead and look at everything differently. I love how this modern explosion of smashed plates looks in the centre of this classical 18th century French-style dining room.

source: http://www.theresasimon.com

German designer Ingo Maurer made this chandelier in 1994 in response to what he felt to be the slick, overly-designed look of contemporary furniture. He initially called it 'Zabriskie Point', after the slow-motion explosion in Antonioni's film, but when some Italians came to its first showing and muttered "porca miseria!" in amazement, he changed the name. 
Maurer makes about ten of these a year.  Porcelain plates are smashed with a hammer or dropped on the floor, the chance, random pieces determining the final arrangement. So yes, you too can buy one of these, providing you have the ceiling height and a Rothschild-size budget (Christie’s sold one in 2008 for a bit over £37 000). You might want to settle instead for a cute little winged Maurer desk lamp from the Conran shop, at £400-ish ...

Waddesdon Manor is the Rothschild family estate in Buckinghamshire, built in the style of a French Renaissance château. It was used for a lot of the interior and garden scenes in The Queen, with Helen Mirren.

source: http://www.theresasimon.com

Although bequeathed long ago to the National Trust, it is still the personal project of the current (4th) Lord Rothschild, Jacob (below, painted by Lucian Freud) who lives nearby, and thanks to him an accessible venue for an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional art.   

source: http://www.theresasimon.com


  1. Oh, thank you, for these views interior, exterior of an amazing estate, and also for the close up views of the chandelier and of the Freud portrait.

    I do have to admit that from the vantage point of my tiny apartment, it is not so easy to actually imagine someone living in such a place. But...it does make fabulous dream material.


  2. Thank you, Karen, you are so very kind mentioning my little blog!

    I was thinking of exactly that chandelier when I spotted the broken china in the Augarten shop window! Almost obsessive-compulsive, since I have tried to figure out how to create one of my own, always giving up on it, of course. ;-) And one day, I shall buy that winged Glühbirne, even though I think it is way overprized. I wonder how it will look with the new EU-mandated energy-saving light bulbs. ;-)

  3. Absolutely fabulous post!!
    So glad I found you at Merisi's
    Why have I never been to Waddeson manor pray tell? I have not lived...

  4. I bot yr Rose Tremain Going Home(?) book instantly once I read yr review..it should be here tomorrow!
    I love yr 4-legged peeps too but Amazon said NO on them...

  5. @ Carol of Paris Breakfasts & Karen:
    I love Karen's review and am tempted to order as soon as I can throw my non-fiction reading material into a corner.

    Karen, have you thought of putting an amazon link here?
    Or is it me who missed it? I imagine that you tempt more readers to order these books.

    (Yes, I buy at my local bookshops, but English language books are so expensive there, I have taken up a relationship with the UK amazon branch.)

  6. Hello - thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope you make it to Edinburgh soon. You might wish to visit Holyrood Palace during one of your trips.

  7. The chandelier is stunning. Amazing that it is from 1944. Thank you for information on Waddesdon Manor.

  8. Oooops.....a closer look ( I wanted my husband to see this) reveals 1994---not1944! Good grief!Put on your glasses, Firelight!

  9. OMG... how in the world are the plates held together??

  10. I've seen a Maurer chandelier similar here in Toronto in an exhibition at Gardiner Museum of ceramic art. Too cool!

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