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Archive for November, 2011

Master of Ornament: André Charles Boulle

November 25th, 2011 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

Boulle Régence-Period Ormolu Candelabra

André Charles Boulle is considered one of the most important and talented French cabinet-makers of all time. He mastered the technique of marquetry using brass and tortoise shell inlay on his elegant cabinets. Furthermore, the majority of his work was owned and cherished by one of the most discerning and important historical figures, Louis XIV. Although Boulle is known for his cabinet work, he was also quite prolific in making doré bronze lighting fixtures that exude the luxurious aesthetic of Louis XIV.

This particular set of candelabra (circa 1715-20) is a prime example of early Rococo style. In a close study of the candelabra’s stems and arms, cast from acanthus, we find scrolling foliage, strapwork, bearded masks, while the pierced tripod base is cast with masks and seated putti. Additionally, these candelabra were owned by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, the British banker and politician from the important international banking family making them even more significant.

Boulle utilized the ormolu technique to bond gold to bronze in both his lighting fixtures and his furniture. The highly toxic process involved heating mercury to very high temperatures in order for the gold to bond to the bronze. Unlike most gilders who utilize this technique, Boulle lived to be 90 years old!

Like so many other artistic geniuses, Boulle’s creations have been copied by many other artisans, to satisfy the demand for his style. To own one of these is a great find for any collector. However, in the case of this rare pair of Régence-period, four-light candelabra, we are confident in attributing them to Boulle himself.

Though we are accustomed to offering our clients the rarest and finest of all antiques, fine art and estate jewelry, this magnificent pair of candelabra is a first even for our internationally renowned gallery. To see more Boulle and Boulle-inspired work, click here.

Boulle Régence-Period Ormolu Candelabra

The Preeminent Painter and Politician

November 18th, 2011 | posted by Jim Cottrell

Chateau de l'Horizon by Sir Winston Churchill

I seem to know more about Churchill than any other artist whose work we sell.  Churchill is deeply woven into the history of the 20th Century. I find it fascinating to read about Churchill’s influence on the 20th century and relate it to his personal life and passion for painting.

Churchill received encouragement to seriously develop his art practice after receiving an amateur prize for 5 paintings he sent to Paris in the 1920’s. The paintings Churchill entered in the competition were some of his earliest works; lacking confidence in himself as an artist, Churchill actually submitted his work under a pseudonym. However, his winning the contest inspired him to take painting more seriously and paint under his true name.

Churchill possessed the heighted perception of an artistic genius to which no scene is common place. Churchill had the dedication of a true craftsman and understood the principles of art. He consulted professional art teachers and adopted the principles of Ruskin’s The Elements of Drawing. He spent time in Avignon, France studying the elegant Provençal light that inspired so many artists before him.

In this particular work, we look onto an intimate scene of Churchill’s son, Randolph Churchill and the Lady Castlerosse enjoying a quiet game poolside at the famed Chateau de l’Horizon, then owned by American actress and businesswoman Maxine Elliott. The chateau is nestled between the French Riviera and the rolling hillside of Cannes, and was a favorite holiday spot for the Churchills. Here we see the rich use of color that dominated his paintings. Between the flowing red awnings and the various shades of blue that encompass the pool, sea and sky, we really get a sense of the talent that emanated from this important statesman.

Painting outdoors to Churchill was half passion and half philosophy; it was there that he found another world. Painting was a means to escape from the pressures of his life. This quote sums up Churchill’s fulfilling relationship with the hobby, “When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years painting, and so to get to the bottom of the subject.”

To see another lovely Churchill painting that we currently have to offer, please click here.

The Ultimate Example of Prodigious Architectural Marquetry

November 8th, 2011 | posted by Ludovic Rousset
Gilbert Secrétaire

Gilbert Secrétaire

Our collection is so extensive that it can, at times, be overwhelming to try to be knowledgeable about every piece.

Today, I would like to tell you about an unforgettable treasure of the neoclassical period in France: a Secrétaire by André Louis Gilbert.

While Louis XV’s taste is remembered as Rococo, Louis XVI preferred a much more clean and linear style, as inspired by the Neoclassical movement that generated a lot of interest in European Courts. The resurgence of classical taste was incited by the discovery of antique Roman sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid-18th century.

Among the most talented Cabinet-makers of his time, Gilbert decorated his pieces with superb architectural inlaid designs. While most cabinet makers incorporated mostly flat designs, comprised of musical, floral or geometric motifs, Gilbert truly embraced the potential of marquetry to create three-dimensional scenes in a two-dimensional medium, just as artists would do with paint. Gilbert paid particular attention to the issues of composition and perspective in his designs. And they had so much detail! But what truly set his marquetry apart from his contemporaries was the timely incorporation of idealized Neoclassical landscapes, and it is particularly fitting for these scenes to be housed in a piece of furniture that embodies Louis XVI style. It is simply spectacular!

Of course, this piece has many other fascinating features, as it is a museum-quality piece.

Nonetheless, it is apparent that Gilbert invested all of his talent into making this secrétaire truly exceptional. Might I mention that the marquetry includes rare amaranth wood and mother of pearl?

A few years later, Gilbert would discontinue his work as a cabinet maker to take part in the storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution in general…

Life is short, why not own the very best?

A Night at the Round Table

November 7th, 2011 | posted by James Gillis

Round Dining Table by Robert Jupe

For years, furniture designers tried to figure out how to make round tables expand while still maintaining their shape.  Several designs have come about, but none have come to close to the elegance, sophistication, and engineering genius of “Jupe’s Improved Expanding Table,” invented by London upholsterer Robert Jupe, registered as patent 6,788, on September 11 1835.

Made of Cuban mahogany in the 1830s and in exquisite condition, this Jupe table is an extremely rare find.  Designers of the Regency era sought to combine the most advanced technical innovations of the day with superb and beautiful craftsmanship.

The Table Expanded

The Table Expanded

Though Robert Jupe’s incredibly innovative table was well received, his company, Johnstone, Jupe & Co., produced it for only 5 years (1830-1835.)  Jupe’s clever mechanism has been widely copied by designers such as Oscar de la Renta in New York and Theodore Alexander in London.

Eight crescent-shaped iron bars are attached on one end to the undersides of eight pie-slice shaped pieces of wood that comprise the tabletop. The iron bars are attached on their other end to the table’s central base in a circular fashion.

By turning the tabletop 90 degrees, counter clockwise, the crescent-shaped bars move the slices outward, leaving gaps into which leaves made of the same wood as the original table top can be inserted, instantly expanding the table’s seating capacity. The leaves can be removed by simply twisting the tabletop 90 degrees clockwise, and rejoining the eight pie slices to form a circle again.

The table is complete with its original leaves and extends from a smaller diameter of 66” to an expansive 92,” creating a beautiful dining table for eight.

One of only a handful known to exist, the table belongs center stage in any home.

The Table Expanded with Leaves

Perfection from the Past

November 4th, 2011 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

Baccarat Ruby Glass Cavé Liqueur Set

What do Belter, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Thomas Chippendale have in common?

They all were so passionate about perfection and precision that they never even turned a profit!  Added to this list is Steuben Glass Works, who just went out of business last week.

Today, if you took our best craftsmen and asked them to duplicate the furniture, lamps, porcelain, etc. of previous centuries, the end retail price would be so astronomically high you would never buy it!

The things you took for granted even 50 years ago, Wedgwood or Minton China, Gorham tea and coffee sets, Waterford Crystal, they are all gone; the factories are closed.

With that in mind, please visit our website or our shop and take a look at the countless beautiful items that were made the old fashion way.

——- Tiffany Sterling flatware in the original fitted boxes

——- Baccarat Cavé Liqueur sets

——- Sèvres Music Box Cabinet

——- Art Deco Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre

——- Paul Storr wine coolers

——- English mahogany partners desk

——- 200-year-old pair of globes

The list goes on and if you want the very best items for your home, we have it.  What really sets a home apart is the special pieces that you put in it.  Please let me know how I can help choose what is right for you.  I am looking forward to hearing from you.