René Lalique: Master of Glass

June 17th, 2015 | posted by Danielle Halikias

Master of glass, jewelry designer, and creative genius… the talents and artistic mastery of René Lalique are both interminable and immortal. Born in rural France and educated in Paris and London, Lalique is celebrated as an integral part of the artistic revolution of the late 19th century in France. As a young, aspiring jewelry designer, Lalique came into his own during a period on the brink of a new artistic phenomenon: the Art Nouveau style. Beginning with the Paris Exhibition of 1900, the opulent, organic, and asymmetrical designs of the Art Nouveau skyrocketed in popularity about the Parisian fashion elite.

Elongated palm leaves create a dramatic raised motif upon this superb example of Lalique’s clean and elegant Art Deco style.

Elongated palm leaves create a dramatic raised motif upon this superb example of Lalique’s clean and elegant Art Deco style.

 

Producing his own unique twist on this chic new style, Lalique secured a place as one of the leading Art Nouveau jewelry designers of his age. Versatile, stunning, and revolutionary, Lalique’s outstanding creativity in design resulted in some of the most dazzling and original pieces ever seen. Ever versatile, Lalique began his first foray into the realm of glassmaking and design at this time as well, cementing his place as one of the most important designers of the period.

Originally designed for perfumer François Coty, the briar motif soon found its way onto larger works of art such as this incredible vase.

Originally designed for perfumer François Coty, this pattern soon found its way onto larger works of art such as this incredible vase.

Purchasing a small glass making factory in 1909 in Combs, France, called “Verriere de Combs la Ville,” Lalique began crafting and designing stunning Art Deco glass perfume bottles, vases, and table decorations. He rapidly gained international recognition, by securing high profile clientele such as Sarah Bernhardt, and his popularity grew rapidly. Later, while expanded to larger workshops, he always remained the exclusive designer of all glass works. While his pieces catered to the tastes of the elite, Lalique strived to pay close attention to the likes of the European middle class in a strong desire to cater to all social classes. It is this technique that also characterized him as a strategic, brilliant businessman.

As the 19th century came to a close, the 20th brought with it a new, equally revolutionary style: Art Deco. It was the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs of 1925 that propelled the Art Deco artistic movement into the popular sphere. As Europe turned its attention to this new, architectural style, so too did Lalique successfully blend his unique style into the new Art Deco technique. In 1925, without a doubt, Lalique and his glass were one of the major stars of the Paris Exposition, securing his place as a premiere designer and innovator.

Foliate concentric circles are layered to form this rare Lalique vase entitled “Ferrières.”

Foliate concentric circles are layered to form this rare Lalique vase entitled “Ferrières.”

As Lalique strongly adhered to the Art Deco movement, he also perfected the new press-molding techniques. With this, most of his vases had wide necks so that the plunger used to force molten glass into the mold could be easily removed. The result was an exterior with crisp, sharp lines and an interior that was perfectly smooth. This Biskra Vase, for example, depicts a very rare Lalique pattern of sharp, clean lines of elongated palm leaves. In a deep blue color, this vase is the epitome of the streamlined, geometric Art Deco style.

One of Lalique’s most famous Art Deco designs includes the “Ronces” motif. This Ronces Art Glass vase appears to have been woven from a tangle of thorny vines. While many of the Ronces patterned vases were translucent, our Ronces vase is crafted in a deep crimson color that was one of the most difficult to work with. The frosted body of the vase provides a stark contrast to the highly polished, stylized vines that cover the surface. The molded surface of the decorative Languedoc vase was a tight pattern of what look like stylized coleus leaves. This pattern is a perfect example of the pioneering design innovations that characterized Lalique’s career.

Like the unique Ronces pattern, this rich green art glass vase features layered foliate concentric circles that form the unique “Ferrieres” pattern. Like most Art Deco designs, this pattern shows formalized, bold shapes of strict symmetry. Speaking to its own uniqueness, this incredible vase is like no other.

The Everlasting Elegance of Pearls: June Birthstone

June 12th, 2015 | posted by Phillip Youngberg
The pearls range in color from stunning white to glamorous gold, and sleek black to flint gray

The pearls range in color from stunning white to glamorous gold, and sleek black to flint gray

The oldest known of all the precious gemstones, the pearl has been coveted and revered by man for thousands of years. Regarded throughout history as symbols of wealth, power, and love, the lustrous pearl has held a position of importance in nearly every culture that has encountered them. Beloved for its shimmering iridescence and variety of color and size, the pearl is adored today for being both modern and classic, adding instant style to any ensemble.

Of the different varieties of pearls, South Sea pearls are known for their soft iridescence, radiant luster, and incredible size. Magnificent in scale, these pearls are found in the largest type of oyster, the white lipped oyster. Cultivated under the strictest orders of cultivation due to the small numbers they are found in, this type of oyster produces strikingly beautiful pearls. Magnificent in scale, these pearls materialize in different shades and hues of soft, shimmering colors. The nacre (the substance of which pearls are comprised) of these incredible pearls is unusually thick, ranging between 2 mm and 6 mm, compared to the 0.35 mm to 0.7 mm of the more common Akoya pearl. This gives the South Sea pearl its renowned luster, placing it among the most desirable of all pearls.

Two perfectly matched 12.8mm white pearls exhibit all the beauty synonymous with pearls hailing from the warm waters of the South Seas

Two perfectly matched 12.8mm white pearls exhibit all the beauty synonymous with pearls hailing from the warm waters of the South Seas.

This South Sea pearl necklace is a one-of-a-kind treasure all its own. It is compromised of twenty-nine alluring and exotic South Sea pearls that range from white and shades of gray to deep black and vibrant golds. It is the mix of colors that enhance each pearl individually. From 13mm-15mm, these large, substantial pearls establish an atmosphere of elegance, sophistication, and refinement. At seventeen inches in length, this piece is sure to enthuse any pearl devotee.

Classic and sophisticated, these South Sea pearl earrings boast a simple elegance. Two perfectly matched 12.8mm white pearls exhibit all the beauty synonymous with pearls hailing from the warm waters of the South Seas. Approximately 1.82 total carats of sparkling white diamonds top each pearl, adding the perfect amount of shimmer. Set in 18K white gold, these earrings are statement of prevailing class and taste.

1.90 carats of shimmering diamonds complete this Tahitian black pearl ring.

1.90 carats of shimmering diamonds complete this Tahitian black pearl ring.

While the size of South Sea pearls is perfect for a single strand necklace, a single pearl is also large enough for a gorgeous and eye-catching ring. A monumental 17.2mm Tahitian black pearl showcases its mesmerizing beauty in this ring. Attended to by 1.90 carats of white diamonds in its 18K white gold setting, this pearl displays the peerless depth and glow accomplished through the unusually thick nacre for which these gems of the sea are coveted. Prized for their luminous coloring, black pearls hailing from the warm waters of the South Pacific are among the most beautiful in the world and possess the darkest, most vibrant coloring of any other pearl.

 

Perfect Pieces for Father’s Day

June 4th, 2015 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

With Father’s Day only a few short weeks away, it is time to start thinking of a special gift to celebrate one of the most important roles and people in our lives. Recently at M.S. Rau Antiques, we30-1989_1 have acquired numerous items that would make for the ideal gift to fit any personality.

30-2567_1The World Time Watch by Patek Philippe is a beautiful, precise timepiece that would be perfect for any father. When Swiss watch-maker Antoni Patek joined forces with French crafter Adrien Philippe in 1851, the prestigious and respected company Patek Philippe & Co. was founded. Creating timepieces of exquisite craftsmanship, the company pioneered the way for important advancements such as the perpetual calendar, split seconds hand, and chronographs. When considering this 5110P self-winding Patek Philippe timepiece, it is impossible to miss the flawless craftsmanship. Crafted of 22K gold and platinum, it displays all 24 time zones. A transparent sapphire crystal backing, blue guilloché silver dial, white gold applied hour markers, and an outer graduated revolving ring for day and night indication complete the piece. Presented with the original Patek Philippe presentation box, certificate, and manual, this watch is sure to enthuse any watch enthusiast.

Equally stunning is the Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond cufflinks set. Renowned for their sophisticated and avant-garde designs, the firm has consistently 30-0482_1been a visionary of glamour and spectacular creations. These cuff links exhibit the refined and classic designs of the company. In a pure Art Deco motif, the streamlined objects are set in platinum and accentuated by 3.20 carats of caliber-cut rubies and 3.24 carats of glistening baguette diamonds. Bold and stylish, these cuff links would be the perfect 30-0482_3addition to any father’s classic suit or tuxedo.

This 20th-century Indian emerald and ruby chess set encapsulates the perfect and magnificent gift for any chess-loving dad. The set is carved from the finest specimens of rubies and sapphires with the utmost skill by artisans from Jaipur. The two opposing armies, with warriors riding elephants, horses and camels, and pawns on foot, face each other in their best 24K gold-painted finery. The board is set into a mahogany base, making this set one of the most intriguing and luxurious we have ever seen.

Dangerous Elegance: The beauty of the Dagger Cane

May 28th, 2015 | posted by Peter Hernandez

A classic statement of style, a finely crafted walking stick adds elegance to any ensemble. Though modern canes are generally used as a walking aid, they have also served through time as fashionable accessories denoting social status. The luxury of a walking stick was a clue to one’s wealth, and canes were thus topped with jewels, ivory, precious metals – adornments of every kind. Yet, there are some canes whose beauty and artistry lies hidden within, such as these stunning dagger canes.

Canes have been used as weapons since the dawn of time, and the emergence of concealed weapon canes seems a likely progression. Weaponized canes grew from the need for protection for those who expected danger on their outings, but did not want to openly carry a sword or pistol. With the introduction of the firearm, the wearing of swords in public began to be discouraged. This resulted in a resounding upsurge in highly fashionable sword and dagger canes. Today, these intriguing weapon canes are highly sought after by collectors of both antique canes and antique swords alike.

This seemingly innocent bamboo walking stick conceals a lethal assassin’s dagger.

This seemingly innocent bamboo walking stick conceals a lethal assassin’s dagger.

The Bamboo Assassin’s Cane has a deceptively innocent design. This walking stick conceals what was known as an ‘Assassin’s Dagger’. The quatrefoil blade design is what made this weapon so dangerous. At the time of its inception, it was practically impossible for a wound created by a blade of this shape to be repaired successfully. The four sided blade inflicted an amount of damage that the technology of the time was unable to repair, which meant certain death for anyone attacked with this weapon. This cane measures 36 1/4” in length.

The walking stick is topped by a classic L-shaped handle, making this dagger cane both attractive and discreet.

The walking stick is topped by a classic L-shaped handle, making this dagger cane both attractive and discreet.

 

 

 

 

The classic Blue Steel Dagger Cane is both unassuming and handsome. This wooden cane, almost tortoiseshell in appearance, is topped with an L-shaped handle and conceals a beautiful blue steel dagger. The classic, simple elegance of this cane lends itself to discretion. This cane is 35 3/4” in length.

Displaying amazing artistry, this Turkish cane is crafted entirely of metal and enveloped in intricate niello metalwork.

Displaying amazing artistry, this Turkish cane is crafted entirely of metal and enveloped in intricate niello metalwork.

 

The cane that is both breathtakingly beautiful as well as deadly is the Turkish Dagger Cane.  Displaying prodigious artistry, this cane was crafted exclusively of metal that is covered in niello metalwork. This technique uses a black metallic alloy of sulfur with silver, copper, or bronze to fill designs that have been engraved on the surface of a metal object, and is rarely seen on such a large scale. This cane is unquestionably an instrument of defense, containing a nearly eight-inch dagger and a handle that, while elegantly formed in the shape of a growling feline, can be quite easily used as a bludgeon. The pointed ferrule at the foot of the cane can even double as a spear. When it comes to menace wrapped in a façade of beauty, this cane beats out all other contenders.

 

Continental Inspirations: The Furniture of William and Mary

May 25th, 2015 | posted by Bill Rau
William and Mary Bureau

The precision afforded to these creations make them as much a work of art as a functional piece of furniture.

William and Mary Oysterwood Chest

Oysterwood veneers, parquetry and bun feet distinguish this William and Mary period chest.

 

When the Dutch William III and his wife Mary II overthrew King James II in the 1688 Glorious Revolution, their victory signaled not only the end to the tensions that existed between the British Crown and Parliament, but also the beginning of a new era of decorative arts. William’s Protestant beliefs opened the door for Dutch, Flemish and French craftsmen to settle in England. These gifted artisans began to work with local cabinetmakers to incorporate their techniques and decorative forms to create a distinctive style of furniture known as William and Mary.

Though the reign of William and Mary lasted only 13 years from 1689-1702, the furnishings created during this period are unlike any before or since. Characterized by the use of rare woods, dramatic veneers and inlays, and bold carved elements, William and Mary furnishings represented a more refined way of living, replacing cumbersome, over-the-top pieces of furniture from the previous decades.

William and Mary Bureau

Elaborate marquetry envelopes this large William and Mary bureau cabinet

A shining example is this stunning Oysterwood Chest. Thin slices of walnut and olive are precisely placed in a painstaking process to form a distinctive parquetry pattern that resembles oyster shells. The bun feet are also hallmarks of William and Mary-era furniture. As taste changed, it was not uncommon for square brackets to replace the original bun feet, making this chest even more desirable. Remarkable foliate inlay envelops this stunning Marquetry Bureau, effectively illustrating the bourgeoning taste of the period to blend form and function. When in use, this cabinet’s fitted interior and leather-lined writing surface make it an optimal workspace, while the exotic inlay and veneering make this furnishing a true work of art.

The reign of William and Mary was undoubtedly a turning point in the realms of politics and the arts. Their adoption of the English Bill of Rights ushered in an era of political freedoms that would even influence the American cause for independence, and their employment of talented artists from throughout the Continent introduced a new layer of refinement and elegance to the decorative arts. Today the furnishings from this period are extremely rare and highly collectible, and examples that demonstrate extreme care over the centuries are especially desirable.

To see M.S. Rau Antiques’ selection of William and Mary furnishings, click here.

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