Monday, October 26, 2009

ARTIST'S PORTRAIT * MARK HAMPTON


Mark in his Southampton rose garden

Mark Hampton - The Art of Friendship. A collection of Mark's watercolors.

Relaxing with his family; (L-R) wife Duane, Mark, daughters Alexa and Kate

Painting on the porch with daughter Alexa

The Hampton women hanging out together

Watercolor of the Melhado family's interior

A corner of designer Albert Hadley's apartment

Chiswick House, London, England

Courtyard of Samuel Reed's home in Hobe Sound, Florida

The late Mark Hampton is a man best known for being a world class interior designer and decorator, however, he excelled as an artist as well. I first saw his work as a young girl growing up in Michigan. My grandparents had proudly displayed a Christmas card from the President and Hampton's watercolor illustration of a room in the White House graced the front. I was captivated by the detail and overall beauty of his work and have maintained an interest in Mark and his career ever since.

Mark, a Plainfield, Indiana native, was a man of many talents and a very diverse background. He attended DePauw University, with a junior year abroad at The London School of Economics. His time spent living there had a profound influence on his tastes and interests and he became a lifelong Anglophile. His keen artistic skills opened the door for a job with the very hip and legendary English decorator, David Hicks. He returned to DePauw to complete his history degree and then went on to University of Michigan Law School for a brief year until he decided to switch to Art History. From there, he went on to receive a master's degree in fine art from New York University. He was hired for a Summer job by Mrs. Henry (Sister) Parish, the legendary American decorator, and this was instrumental in feeding his already growing interest in the decorative arts. He was awarded a Ford Foundation fellowship upon graduation, which facilitated travel abroad and curatorial study at the Metropolitan Museum and Museum of Modern Art. Upon completion of his studies, he started out as an American representative for David Hicks, followed by a six year stint at the venerable American decorating firm McMillen. He finally started his own business in 1976, Mark Hampton, LLC, which continues to thrive to this day, headed by his daughter, Alexa Hampton, who has distinguished herself in her own right.

During his long and fruitful career, Mark painted countless watercolors, many of which are included in a book created by his wife, Duane, in a book titled "Mark Hampton, The Art of Friendship". On many occasions, Mark created personalized works of art, in the form of handpainted birthday cards, for family, clients and friends. Even though Mark counted presidents, politicians, celebrities and socialites as his clients and companions, he never lost his down-to-earth Midwestern values. These were most evident in his work ethic, his warmth and his devotion to his wife Duane, daughters Kate and Alexa and his scores of friends. His accomplishments, too vast to list here, are many and impressive. Perhaps he is best known for being the "First Decorator" for the senior Bushes when they moved into the White House in 1989, having already done their quarters at the residence of the Vice President. He also redecorated Blair House, the President's official guest house.

In her book, Duane Hampton quotes Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of The American Academy in Rome, as she observed that "Mark was routinely described as a Renaissance man, because [in addition to being a decorator] he was a considerable art historian, a builder, a reader, a writer, a gardener, a painter, a musician, an avid traveler, a man of wildly high spirits and IQ and a screamingly funny, champion friend." His work is detailed, personal, witty, beautiful and is never without an aspect he highly prized - coziness. The Art of Friendship is just one of several books by or about Mark, all of which I am certain you would enjoy!


Images are from the book Mark Hampton - The Art of Friendship and House Beautiful - January 1991

23 comments:

The Peak of Chic said...

What a wonderful tribute to such a wonderful designer and artist! I so admire Hampton (as well as his daughter Alexa). What I would do for one of his watercolors!!!!!!

design for mankind. said...

I LOOOOVE Mark Hampton! An Indiana native myself, I never miss the chance to keep up with fellow Hoosiers!

Thanks for this feature!

Cote de Texas said...

What a wonderful post - and so perfect to come from you!!! I just adore his watercolors and feel exactly like Peak = I'd love one myself. He seems like he was such a sweet, gentle man, I have no idea if he was or not, but just judging by his paintings, he must have had immense patience and this usually is the mark of a reasonblel person.

Joni

annechovie said...

Thank you Jennifer, Erin and Joni! So glad you enjoyed this. I thoroughly enjoyed putting this together and learning more about Mark myself. I very much admire his work. I wish I had been given an opportunity to meet him. From everything I've heard, he was an exceptional man and a genuinely kind person. As for his unique talents - his work is STILL speaking for itself.....he has left the world of design AND art a legacy.

Style Court said...

You already know I'm a fan of his work, but this post makes me want more of his vintage books :)

I love the images you used -- especially that Hadley interior.

Courtney

halcyon said...

Anne, Thanks for posting this. I loved his style and most of all his sketches and paintings. I have seen several in books that he presented is friends, Sister Parish and the Bush Srs. I might say, I was reminded of his style when looking over your beautiful prints. This was a nice tribute. I can hardly believe he is really gone. His books are a treat for they eyes.
Kevin

annechovie said...

Thank you, Kevin! Mark was amazing and whenever anyone tells me my work reminds them of his I am very flattered. Thanks for stopping by!

patricia gray said...

I have long been an admirer of Mark Hampton, since my Design School days. I have his book "Mark Hampton on Decorating" which is dog earred from my constant looking at it. I think this post you have done is a wonderful tribute to this talented man. Well done Anne!!

Things That Inspire said...

Great post! I was not aware of his artistic side. Very interesting, it made me curious to learn more about him.

designflute said...

love this post! Amazing talent and great tribute!

Zuniga Interiors Design Studio said...

Thanks for the information on Mark Hampton! So interesting! What beautiful watercolors!

have a beautiful day!

Michelle

Molly Jean said...

oooh, i love renderings so naturally i'm in LOVE with these watercolors. what an amazingly talented artist. thanks for sharing this!

Style Redux 2 said...

Anne-So strange-I was just reading Mark Hampton on Decorating last night for the zillionth time. I was such a fan of his. His talent will stand the test of time. Thanks for a great post.

Renee Finberg said...

hmmmmm....
his watercolors remind me of someone else's.

xxxx

MrsLittleJeans said...

Thanks for this informative post! Watercolor is really my favorite and his watercolors are gorgeous, soothing! Have a great day!

xx

Laura Casey Interiors said...

One of my favorite books. Wonderful post.

Emily Regan said...

I just happened to come across your blog and I love the description and tribute to my uncle Mark. He was my great uncle and I grew up receiving hand painted birthday cards from him every year. I know that he would be very proud of Alexa right now as she is carrying out so many amazing accomplishments. It is just so great to hear that he appreciated by so many people. Thank you!

~Emily

annechovie said...

Thanks to all of you for your great comments and Emily Regan most especially. So wonderful to get feedback from a family member and how fortunate for you to have had him for your Uncle! I would love to see your cards sometime!

annechovie said...

Thanks to all of you for your great comments and Emily Regan most especially. So wonderful to get feedback from a family member and how fortunate for you to have had him for your Uncle! I would love to see your cards sometime!

Tracy @ Comfort and Luxury said...

What a nice post. I've long admired Mark Hampton both for his work and for the warm and interesting person he seemed to be. I don't know why I don't own this book... every time I see it, I put it on my mental "to buy" list. Maybe I should put it on an actual list this time!

pve design said...

I have several books on Friendship and none says it more beautifully than the artwork of Mark Hampton.
Whenever I gift my art, it truly is "priceless" and so is friendship. Money cannot buy everything, but it does help buy supplies right!
pve

Jaime said...

What a wonderful post and just as Joni noted, so appropriate coming from you. I received a signed copy of this book from Duane when she first released this book, a treasure for sure;)

Tickled Pink And Green said...

I've been a fan of Mark Hampton for years and years and was so shocked and saddened when he died. I have a file of magazine clippings on all the family...even House Beautiful did a feature on him at his sister's house? one time and I remember loving her use of chintz and her great front porch. One of the daughters went to Brown with Hubby (I think)...I even have clippings of Alexa's wedding in Greece. I never hear much about the other daughter, wonder what she does? There is a new book coming out by Alexa I think (did you mention that - might have missed it)....Any-who, LOVE those pictures of the family in the early years. Duane is so chic. I always wondered if I was pronouncing her name right?? Thanks Ann!

 
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