Paul Levy is the editor of The Letters of Lytton Strachey. He wrote about Ritz and Escoffier in Out to Lunch.

 (July 2018)


Ritzy Business

The dining room of the Savoy Hotel, London, circa 1898

Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class

by Luke Barr
César Ritz (1850–1918) gave his name to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels—in Paris, Madrid, and London—as well as to the ninety-one hotels in the Ritz-Carlton chain and, posthumously, to a cracker. His surname even became an adjective, “ritzy.” The success of his original hotel enterprises owed much to …

The Painter and the Novelist

Vanessa Bell (1879–1961)

an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, February 8–June 4, 2017

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion

an exhibition at Two Temple Place, London, January 28–April 23, 2017
The Bloomsbury painter Vanessa Bell, née Stephen, lived most of her life (1879–1961) in the chilly, concealing shade of her younger sister, Virginia Woolf—the last twenty years following Virginia’s suicide in 1941. Though the attention paid to the Bloomsbury Group seems to be waning on both sides of the Atlantic, there is currently a surge of interest in Bell.


The V&A Makes a Meal of It

The V&A could usefully have taken a leaf out of its own history. In the catalog foreword by the museum’s director, the historian and former Labour Party parliamentarian Tristram Hunt, we learn that the V&A boasted the world’s first “purpose-built museum refreshment rooms,” designed by William Morris’s firm. The V&A also included, Hunt goes on, “an early food museum, alongside displays of working fish hatcheries—installed by the eccentric, visionary zoologist Frank Buckland.” To be sure, the Comté cheese made using microbes taken from chef Heston Blumenthal’s pubic hair is as playful as it is subversive, but the theme of this scatter-shot show remains elusive: Is it about food really, or is it a show of food-related conceptual art?