Archive for August, 2011

Royal Rococo

August 24th, 2011 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

This magnificent Meissen porcelain mirror is a tour-de-force of Rococo design

One of the greatest pleasures derived from owning a great work of art, is that no matter how often you view it, you may often see something you have never noticed before. I have found this to be true without exception when enjoying our amazing collection of fine art. Often times, even the slightest change in lighting and direction may present an entirely new perspective.

Such is surely the case in this incredibly detailed mirror created by the Meissen factory near Dresden. Each time the viewer beholds it he or she will be amazed by a simply overwhelming number of intricately crafted, winding flowering vines, butterflies, birds and small insects. It could be that one may never take in the details in their entirety.

Renowned as the pioneers in producing the first “true” hard-paste porcelain in Europe, it was Meissen’s commitment to painstakingly delicate detail that elevated their creations above all others. A mirror of this size could only have been created by one of Meissen’s most skilled and talented artists.

Each flower portrays individually handcrafted petals, some so tiny in size it is hard to imagine how they could have possibly been created. The butterflies almost seem to flutter above as they seek nectar from the flowers, while the tiny bugs draw the attention of the nearby songbirds.

We have had many wonderful Meissen works through the years, yet none have been grander than this one.

Breaking out of the Ordinary

August 19th, 2011 | posted by Susan Lapene

Baroque South Sea Pearl Necklace; Twenty-three Baroque pearls, each beautiful in its own right, comprise this captivating necklace.

This year I had the great fortune of being invited to the Kentucky Derby. To say that it is the most exciting 2 minutes in one’s life, is an understatement. Not only was I there to witness all of the amazing hats, unbelievable outfits – both incredible and outlandish – but I also had the extremely good fortune to sit behind one of the owners of Animal Kingdom…..yes, the horse that won the Derby! She was beautiful, with a fantastic hat that looked like it was designed just for her, elegantly dressed in a dark suit that fit her to a T. And, to further compliment all of the above, she was wearing two strands of baroque pearls, one black and one white. Instantly pearls became my latest fixation – especially the iconoclastic shape of the baroque pearl. I am not alone in my adoration.

Pearls were first introduced during the reign of Alexander the Great, whose extraordinary imperial ambitions took him and his army to the mouth of the river Indus on the far borders of the Persian empire between 334 – 330 B. C. Upon his return, the general brought with him precious stones of all types, including pearls, which were accompanied by tales of their creation, how they were fished and their magical attributes.

Throughout the ages, pearls have adorned nobility, queens and kings and up until about 100 years ago, were more costly, desired and precious than diamonds. In fact, there is a very famous story of Mrs. Morton Plant who in 1910 sold her fabulous mansion at 52nd Street & 5th Ave. in New York to Cartier for a strand of pearls, which was worth, at the time, $1,000,000. Mrs. Plant traded her mansion to Cartier for the pearls enabling Cartier to occupy the location that they still maintain today!

There are even famous pearls like the tear-drop-shape Le Peregrina pearl that was discovered in the Gulf of Panama in the 16th century and was owned by several European royal families. In 1969, Richard Burton bought it for $37,000 at auction as a Valentine’s Day present for Elizabeth Taylor, who proceeded to lose it in the shag carpet of a suite at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. It was soon found slightly chewed up in her dog’s mouth.

The love affair with pearls continues on today with movie starts, chic politicians, president’s wives, savvy business women, brides, women whose horse just won the Kentucky Derby or any woman who wants to add an air of sophistication to any outfit from jeans to a ball gown.

The most valuable of baroque pearls are the South Sea and Tahitian pearls. These pearls are produced by the Pinctada margaritifera (black-lipped oysters), and the Pinctada maxima (gold-lipped and white-lipped oysters). Although there are a variety of cultured saltwater pearls, the amount of time that the pearls are cultured dramatically increases the depth of the nacre and the likelihood of producing a baroque pearl.

If you have read this far down, you probably have gathered that we have a strand of Baroque pearls…..good assumption! It’s a gorgeous strand from the warm South Seas and are an amazing size of 16 – 15 millimeters. Each one is a separate and individual work of art by Nature. Baroque pearls are unique in style which sets them apart from any other pearl. Don’t get me wrong, traditional round pearls are beautiful and elegant but Baroque pearls are exciting and tell of the wearer’s free spirit and non-conformist style.

You may know the very woman these would be perfect for and she doesn’t ever have to have a horse running in the Derby. Give me a call as soon as possible. I have a feeling these pearls will not be around for very long.

Official birthstone for the month of June.
Pearls are also given on the 3rd, 12th and 30th anniversaries

Center, one of the owners of Animal Kingdom wearing a double strand of Baroque pearls

Brush Strokes of a Renaissance Man: The Paintings of Winston Churchill

August 12th, 2011 | posted by Bill Rau

The Tower of Katoubia Mosque, was the only painting Churchill did during World War II (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

Few figures in Modern history evoke images of leadership, integrity and political prowess as does Winston Churchill. His iconic speeches and steadfast direction during World War II galvanized the Allied forces in Britain and abroad. Few people realized that, though he was most revered for his rolls as statesman, orator, historian, politician and writer, Churchill was also an accomplished artist.

M.S. Rau is honored to have two of his historically significant works currently in our Fine Art collection: The Tower of Katoubia Mosque, created and given by Churchill to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in commemoration of their trip to Marrakech in 1943, and The Beach at Walmer, which the artist gifted to his close friend and military advisor, General Hastings Ismay. Those who were close to him confirm to the fact that Churchill loathed giving away any of his paintings, as he held a special connection with each and every work he created. He allowed a select few to leave his hands, only to his closest friends, making the availability of these works even more amazing.

Churchill pursued the art of painting for more than 40 years, becoming a dominating passion the last half of his  life, and often his refuge from the stresses of the outside  world. There is little evidence that he had any artistic training prior to his 40s. In fact, his wife Clementine  mentioned at one point that before he began painting,  Churchill had hardly visited an art museum, much less  created art. Churchill first began painting following a  personal and political disaster, the Dardanelles  campaign, in 1915, with the encouragement of his sister-  in-law, Goonie, herself a gifted watercolorist. From that  moment on, he would never be far from a brush and  canvas the remainder of his life.

By 1920, Churchill had gained enough confidence in his  artistic abilities, through the encouragement of established artists such as Sir John Lavery and Paul Maze, to exhibit his works. In 1921, he sent several pieces to the Galerie Druet in Paris under the pseudonym “Charles Morin.” Six of which sold. In 1925, he entered an amateur London painting competition with Winter Sunshine, Chartwell, winning first prize. His body of work remained intriguingly steadfast in both subject matter and style, displaying the obvious influence of the Post-Impressionists that flourished during this period. His color palette grew increasingly vivid, and he returned to the same subjects over and over, each time presenting a composition of distinctive emotional energy.

As Churchill’s political reputation grew in the throws of World War II, so did his reputation as an artist. Shortly after the war’s end, Sir Alfred Munnings, President of the Royal Academy, commissioned Churchill to submit two paintings to the Summer Exhibition. He did so under the name “Mr. Winter” to avoid bias. Both were unanimously accepted for display.

Churchill’s legacy lives on in history as one of the founders of the free world. But perhaps his most overlooked achievement is the incredible artistic oeuvre that gives us a candid glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest men of our age.

A superb seascape by Winston Churchill given to his friend General Ismay

To learn more about these paintings, and other items of Churchilliana in M.S. Rau Antiques’ collection, click here.

The Glass Master

August 1st, 2011 | posted by James Gillis

Lalique Perles Perfume Bottles, circa 1926. This set of three flacons by René Lalique displays the exquisite Perles pattern. Lalique remains one of the most popular designers and sculptors during the Art Deco period, and glass aficionados and amateur collectors alike the world over continue to marvel at the grace, magnificence and authenticity of his creations.

René Lalique’s work is universally admired around the world. We here at M S Rau Antiques and the new Musée Lalique in Alsace France, the first museum solely dedicated to René Lalique’s glass and crystal works, have some of the finest and rarest of his beautiful pieces.

René Lalique was a significant contributor to the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century, and is best known for his pioneering style of glass making which is elegantly demonstrated in the current example. This penchant for innovation and eye for style made Lalique one of the premiere craftsmen at the Paris Exhibition of 1925.

Over the course of his celebrated career, Lalique made perfume bottles, chandeliers, clocks and other items for various jewelry and design houses, and later showed a genius for using glass in interior architectural elements, most notably in the lighted walls and glass columns that graced the dining room and grand salon of the legendary French liner SS Normandie.  He also excelled in crafting fine jewelry for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Later, near the final years of his life, he designed a series of automobile hood ornaments that are considered tiny masterpieces.

The Lalique pieces we have here in the gallery are Museum quality and are cornerstone pieces for any collection.  I would love to help with your collection, please call me!