One of the reasons I love antiquing so much is because I imagine stories behind each treasured find: where it came from, how it was used and who were its previous owners. One such treasured find is Lady Annabelle. After recounting her remarkable story in detail to my friends, they said: “You have GOT to do a blog write up about her.” So, here goes…
This story starts back in September, at the delightful International Antiques & Collectors Fair (IACF) in Ardingly, East Sussex—one of the largest antiques fairs in the South of England. Strolling through with my friend (an Ardingly virgin), we stumbled upon a delightful gentleman selling paintings. We stopped and chatted and as I scoured his stall, my eyes fell on the portrait of a rather stern-looking lady. “God, she looks so scary!”, I said out loud. We laughed about it and decided she might be a little too much for a home but would look epic in a rural country retreat or boutique hotel. I took a picture, just to remember her by.
A week later, I posted her on the Savage Interiors Instagram account and got great comments. I started to get serious buyer’s remorse. I kept thinking about her. I had broken one of my own rules when it comes to antiquing (read this post if you missed it).
I asked my friend if she had gotten the gentleman’s card but she hadn’t (another rule to add to my “top rules” post) so I emailed the IACF with this rather unhelpful request: “Hi! I hope you can help me. I met a stall owner roughly in this area of the fair and he was selling that painting – see attached – any chance you could find out who it was”. They very kindly said they would try, but I honestly thought it was a lost cause.
A week went past until I got a phone call (I never answer unidentified calls but this time I did): “Hello, I believe you are after Lady Annabelle”. Hey? Come again? The delightful Howard had tracked me down, and he still had Lady Annabelle. “Name your best price”, I said. The deal was sealed and a week later, my delightful seller dropped her off on his way to another antique fair and she was mine. Howard said she was painted in the 1800s, was French (I am from the Loire valley), and possibly based on her attire from the western region of Vendée (my mum lives outside La Rochelle). It was just meant to be.
Now that we know her name, I told Savage Junior he is no longer to refer to her as “Scary Lady”. And you can be sure that I will cherish Lady Annabelle forever.
Happy antique hunting!