Malachite and Dore Bronze Box by Maison Tahan of Paris
The French have a saying: “the smaller, the finer.” I am quite excited to share my admiration for a piece, recently acquired by M.S. Rau Antiques, that flawlessly illustrates this sentiment. This item, or “objet d’art,” is a 150-year-old hand-crafted box by Maison Tahan of Paris. Its maker, Jean-Pierre Tahan, was known to produce the most elegant display pieces for vanity tables and became the favorite of The Empress Eugenie.
Measuring 5 inches by 3 inches, the present box is a perfect example of the superior workmanship achieved by Maison Tahan, and exhibits some of the finest craftsmanship of the 19th century. From the intricate scrolling designs, with subtle nuances of gilding and chasing, to a very charming group of putti (cupids) playing at the very top, it is obvious that this box is of spectacular quality.
In addition to these extraordinary attributes, Bill Rau and I made a discovery while examining this box that left us speechless. While appreciating its beautiful quality, we discovered that the malachite on each side is, in fact, faux malachite! How amazing! Our finding actually increases the quality of this piece quite a bit. The maker, in an effort to optimize the interior compartment and to save extra weight, decorated the box by hand painting the malachite “trompe l’oeil” (“trick to the eye”). The technique of the artist who worked on this piece is so remarkable that it would fool the vast majority of expert eyes!
Please click on the image above to learn more about this important object.
"Mary, Mary Magdalene, and St. John at the Cross" attributed to Bartolomeo di Giovanni
As redundant as it sounds, interest in Renaissance art really is in the midst of a tremendous rebirth. Evolving discoveries coupled with the strong sales performance within the past few years has led to a resurgence in and renewed appreciation for collecting these centuries-old masterworks.
To give you an idea of what I mean, Sotheby’s has held six sales that comprised mainly of works by the “Old Masters” which brought in over $117 million in sales…and that’s only since January! Within the past few weeks, several important Renaissance works have made headlines in the art world, including a long-forgotten 14th century fresco of Jesus’ crucifixion in the Church of St. Anne in Italy’s island of Capri reported just today.
With the art world abuzz with everything Renaissance lately, it’s no wonder there is such a renewed appreciation for these magnificent creations. But it’s not as if there is a 600-year-old painting around every corner. What makes collecting Renaissance art truly an art is the limited number of works that even exist, and the even smaller number of those that actually become available on the market to collect–many of which have been ravaged by the passage of time.
That’s why we are so excited to have several museum-quality Renaissance paintings currently highlighting our art collection here at M.S. Rau Antiques. These works of art illustrate the dynamic range of techniques and tastes that dominated this, arguably, the most important era of art history. These Renaissance paintings attributed to Bartolomeo di Giovanni depict the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdeline and St. John witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus. Active for only a 21-year period between 1480 and his death in 1501, the artist demonstrates a tremendous gift for expressing the depth and richness of detailing that dominated Renaissance art.
The world of Renaissance art was once the exclusive territory of academia, with art historians decoding the works of barely-known artists you could only read about in scholastic journals. Finally, this stratum of collecting is trickling into the mainstream, exposing the world to the unquestionable brilliance of these forgotten masterpieces.