Home is where the art is

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Not content with curating a museum-quality art collection in her own home, Valeria Napoleone has created an art cookbook The art world is full of thin, stylish women, and Valeria Napoleone is no exception. But sitting in her huge, light-filled apartment, dressed in Miu Miu and Issey Miyake, and surrounded by her collection of contemporary art, Napoleone is waxing lyrical about…lasagne. And lentil soup. And tiramisu. Famous in the art world for her dinner parties, it is her passion for cooking, combined with her love of art, that has led her to write a cookbook with a difference – part family recipes, part coffee-table art book filled with images of work by 49 of her favourite artists. “Food and art go together in my life,” she explains, sitting in her drawing room next to a mural by Lily van der Stokker that reads “100% stupid”. “I grew up watching my mother and grandmother make traditional Italian food. My mum has an old handwritten recipe book, and when I got married I copied all the recipes in it.” Casa Napoleone is in a huge, red-brick Arts and Crafts house on a smart street of gigantic homes in Kensington, West London. “This is the first apartment I saw 12 years ago when we left New York,” she says. “And I said, ‘This is it.’ I love the space. We grew a family of children here, plus a live-in nanny, and the entertaining space is very big.” Napoleone lives here with her husband, Gregorio, who works in private equity, and their three children, Federico, 12 and twins Gregorio and Letizia, 9. (Some of the proceeds from the book are going to a Down’s syndrome charity: Letizia was born with the condition.) But it’s not so much the family space as the entertaining space that is crucial. Napoleone, who is in her early forties, hosts intimate dinner parties twice a month, but has been known to throw buffets for up to 130. “That’s a nightmare,” she says, smiling. “It’s comfortable up to 100, but sometimes it gets out of hand. We try to be strict with invitations, but artists bring a friend or a partner…” Writer Ruth Corbett

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