What do you collect?
Anne Dell Prevost: ‘18th century furniture, objets d’art and antique jewellery.’
How did you first start collecting?
‘My grandmother, who was from an old family from Charleston, South Carolina, had stunning antiques and objets d’art in her home. I was educated by her in their styles, their quality and their provenance, and was completely enraptured and stimulated by her appreciation. Thus, my passion was born and nurtured. As a young bride, she and my grandfather gave me a small French 18th century commode and antique silver pieces, and at their deaths I inherited many things from their collection.’
Who taught you about the sorts of objects you collect?
‘My grandparents. And I’ve been a lifelong student of art history and the decorative arts.’
Was there a house somewhere, or museum, that particularly inspired you to collect this style?
‘The Wallace Collection in London, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and its library, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Wrightsman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and living for four years in Paris on Rue de Beaune, completely surrounded by antiquaries.’
How big is your collection?
‘There are eight rooms in my home that are groaning with my collection — even in the kitchen!’
Is there a specific period or style that you particularly love?
‘Eighteenth century French.’
Do you change the objects around regularly — or are they always bought for a specific spot in the house?
‘Yes, I adore changing things around often. It is not so easy with the larger pieces and paintings, but the objects are a movable feast.’
‘The dog, Ludwig van Beethoven, seems quite fond of his antique Lit à la Polonaise dog bed.’
Which is your most precious object?
‘A late 18th century or early 19th century English penwork curio cabinet which is a jewel, and my 12-foot tall 18th century Lit à la Polonaise.’
Anything that you love and your family doesn’t?
‘No, my daughter is also an avid art historian and collector. My son and daughter-in-law have some of my things in their home and are great appreciators. That leaves the dog, Ludwig van Beethoven, who seems quite fond of his antique Lit à la Polonaise dog bed.’
What’s the Holy Grail for you — is there something you would love to own and don’t yet?
‘A lacquer commode by the ébénistes Charles Cressent or by Bernard van Risenburgh.’
Do you ever go to markets to find things — or do you buy mainly at auction or from dealers?
‘Of course! Particularly to buy objets d’art.’
Do you ever go abroad specifically to find pieces elsewhere?
‘I travel a great deal and inevitably find something irresistible. Sometimes I go to France or to Italy specifically for fabrics, passmanerie and linens.’
How often do you go looking for pieces to add to your collection?
‘I fall asleep at night scouring Christie’s catalogues.’