A ‘half-house, half-exhibition’ apartment in Battersea with a design inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings and sketchbooks is up for sale.
With a price tag of £1.35million, the one-bedroom gallery house is the work of award-winning artist Mark Humphrey, who bought the apartment in the Montevetro building in 2000.
“I don’t see why works of art should only be in a gallery or in a public space. I don’t see why an interior can’t be an artwork as an installation – except it’s in a property rather than a gallery,” says Humphrey. “Every little part of this apartment was designed and crafted, down to the faucets, doorknobs, floors, objects, dishes, floor lamps – everything.”
During an 18-month transformation, Humphrey drew on his design experience to open up the 645 square foot space, maximize storage and bring in light.
“I like to pioneer and I like to experiment,” Humphrey says of his choice of materials. The floor, for example, is in patinated buffalo leather in briquettes; the lobby’s brass and marble flooring is decorated with semi-precious stone agate flower tiles, while the kitchen and dining room are finished with marble, onyx and walnut. Elsewhere there’s macassar ebony, rock crystal, nappa leather, and gold-leaf kiln glass.
Humphrey’s design is influenced by his travels, he says, drawing inspiration from historical art, the ancient city of Babylon, Roman design and 1960s Helmut Newton Vogue shots.
Around the living space there is a set of paneled cabinet doors, hand painted with 17 ‘dancing portraits’ in eglomized glass.
In the bathroom, separate from the main living area, is a golden Cleopatra freestanding tub, overlooking the river. Humphrey says, “I imagined how Cleopatra would have bathed. I had the tub handcrafted the way it would have been done at the time to evoke that emotion, feel, and atmosphere in the space.
Humphrey painted Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks on one side of the rock crystal shower door handles, installing a micro-mosaic of her eye on the other side. “It’s quite an undertaking, to push and excel in every finished detail, and to be ruthless on this file,” says Humphrey. “Even the toilet roll holder and the soap dish – all of these things are integral to the design and concept of the whole place.”
“It’s breathtaking,” says Knight Frank agent Sian-Louise Tangney. “It’s a living, breathing work of art.”
There is a balcony across the full width of the apartment and a 24 hour concierge, gym and private tennis courts on site.
Humphrey has lived in the apartment since it was completed in 2003, enjoying the fruits of his labor. “The way it illuminates at night is different from daylight. The sun comes over the river and sets, so sunlight comes in in the evening, then moonlight comes in,” he says. “With the all-glass facade, it really comes to life and becomes very emotional when you experience it in different light forms.”
The success of the apartment, however, inspired him to take on another even bigger project, turning another house into art.
After 20 years, Humphrey has put his apartment on the market. “In a way, I don’t want to let go of it, because it’s still very nice. I love it. It’s just that I want to do another one. There’s so much fun in designing it, building it and living in it – I want to do it again.
“I want someone else to enjoy it too – someone who cherishes it and loves it as much as I do.”
The apartment is listed with Frankish Knight for £1.35million.