In 1984, shoe designer Vince Camuto created his own fairytale by purchasing Chateau Ridge, a neglected estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, and converting it into one of the most eclectic and intelligently curated properties on the East Coast.
Together with architect and designer Anthony Ingrao, Camuto spent five years turning every space at the chateau into a distinct world — from a great hall adorned with fibre-optic stars reflecting the constellation on Camuto’s birthday to a ‘hall of mirrors’ dressing room decorated in gold leaf — and filling its interiors with the finest art and furniture.
For Ingrao, ‘This was my very first project as an interior designer and I will always have happy memories of the adventures Vince and I had in hunting down treasures to fill that beautiful home — he was a joy to work with.’
According to the late designer’s wife, Louise Camuto, ‘Vince was really interested in telling a story. When you go into the English room, it’s all about 18th-century English [design], and when you go into the living room it’s Italian Renaissance. As you walk throughout the house, each room has a story but they weave perfectly together.’
To assemble the collection, the pair travelled to Paris, Florence, Rome and London, and ‘scoured the auction houses for the best and the finest things that they could find,’ Louise Camuto says. ‘They had sort of kindred spirits.’
‘As you walk throughout the house, each room has a story but they weave perfectly together’ — Louise Camuto
As the collection comes up for auction at Christie’s, we highlight the stories behind seven standout selections.
An Italian scagliola table top, dated 1723, now fitted as a low table
Louise Camuto has spoken of how important Vince’s Italian heritage was to his taste for design — explaining that he built Chateau Ridge as ‘a true home for what he thought was the best of where his family had come from’. This remarkable Italian scagliola tabletop epitomises that sentiment.
Created, as with all scagliola works, using materials such as the minerals from the Apennine Mountains in Emilia, it has two coats-of-arms at its centre thought to belong to the Hohenstaufens and the Hauteville family — both dynasties with connections to Sicilian nobility.
A pair of Italian giltwood stools, circa 1740
These elaborately designed giltwood stools are another exceptional example of 18th-century Italian craftsmanship. Each features floral needlework seats, foliate supports and X-form stretchers, the last of which with their central finials closely reflect those found on two stools at Turin’s Palazzo Reale. The golden simulating tassels circling the seats, meanwhile, are reminiscent of Piedmontese tables now in private collections in Turin, suggesting these works derive from this famed region of Italian 18th-century furniture.
A pair of Chinese export famille sose soldier vases and covers, circa 1750
The universe that Camuto and Ingrao created at Chateau Ridge encompassed not only Italian but also the finest French 18th-century furniture and objets. This pair of monumental soldier vases are made of famille rose, a type of Chinese porcelain that enjoyed great popularity in 18th-century Europe and beyond. Each vase rests on a carved giltwood stand and is enamelled with images of two phoenixes in a garden rich with floral life — peony branches mingle with blossoming chrysanthemum and prunus. On the neck, scholar’s objects appear enclosed in panels while large Buddhist lion finials sit atop the covers.
A Louis XIV giltwood lit de repos, circa 1700
Perhaps the most striking feature of this luxurious lit de repos is the damaged label on its reverse, with its references to ‘Madame Sophie’ and ‘Madame Therèse’. This suggests that the object may have been part of Louis XV’s daughters’ personal collection, while a mention of ‘à Fontevrault’ may also locate it specifically to their time spent at the Convent of Fontevrault.
Upholstered in a rich red velvet, it features a silver-thread passementerie trim, with imagery of acanthus, sunflowers and scrolls carved onto the frame and stretchers. An accompanying cushion complements in both style and comfort.
A pair of Irish silver candlesticks, circa 1750
These two spiralling silver candlesticks with baluster stems feature an array of fascinating details — among them cast rocaille, scrolls and roses. There are also three cartouches at the base: one featuring an earl’s coronet, the other two a horse and rider, a combination suggesting these were the possessions of Alexander MacDonnell, 5th Earl of Antrim. The 5th Earl was a successful racehorse owner, and it is thought that these candlesticks may have been a racing prize, perhaps one given to Gustavus, his prize horse foaled in 1745.
An assembled Venetian glass part stemware service, 20th century
Camuto’s love for Italy extended across the ages, as is reflected in this assemblage of stemware glasses, most likely produced by leading Murano glassmaker Salviati. Salviati was established in 1859, though the five water goblets, nine wine glasses, five champagne coupes, group with gilt-flecked decoration, eight wine glasses, nine champagne coupes, and six clear-and-ruby-glass wine glasses included here all date to the 20th century. The burst of colour from the ruby-glass glasses is enhanced by their enamelled foliate scroll.
Daniel Ridgway Knight, Marcelline Meditating
Just as important as the antiques in Chateau Ridge were works of fine art, and few examples captured the romance and magic of the estate as well as Ridgway Knight’s portrait of a peasant lost in thought. Ridgway Knight studied with influential artists such as Mary Cassatt and Lucien Cipron in Philadelphia before moving to France, where he would spend much of the rest of his life. He lived in the commune of Poissy, and gained renown painting scenes such as this, which conveys a vision of rural life utterly unique in its atmosphere of contemplation and tranquillity.