For over 100 years, "Country Life" magazine has been recording the country houses of the British Isles and Europe. From the start, its weekly articles on the subject were illustrated with specially commissioned photographs by some of the century's pre-eminent architectural photographers. Photography remains the lifeblood of the magazine, and it has built up an unrivalled archive of architectural photographs of some of the finest houses in Western Europe. "Great Houses of Europe" brings together a collection of over 200 colour and black-and-white photographs by the master of natural-light photography, "Country Life" photographer Alex Starkey. And the distinguished architectural writer and historian Marcus Binney contributes an illuminating text, providing an essential historical background to some of Europe's most remarkable houses and their magnificent interiors. The book covers a wide range both geographically - there are houses in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden - and in terms of architectural style - from Dutch Classical architecture (Het Loo) to spectacular Gothic revival (Kastel de Harr).
There are astonishing interiors: the stunning stucco ceilings of the Venetian Palazzo Abruzzi, and the beautiful mirror rooms done by the ladies of the Court for the enchanting "lust schloss". Schloss Favourite near Baden; the magnificent Baroque interiors of Schloss Bruhl, built for the Elector of Cologne, and the early 18th-century Baroque Castello Guarane in Piedmont with its fine frescoes; the early 20th-century Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, built for a diamond tycoon with its fantasy gardens, half underground; the palatial Chateau de Roquetaillade near Bordeaux, gothicised in the 19th century by Villet-le-Duc, and the quintessential medieval extravaganza, the Chateau de Meillant in Burgundy; and, finally, the dramatic Swedish post-Renaissance Castle Stokloster, arguably the finest house in Europe.