Archive for May, 2012

The beauty of French Provincial furniture

May 31st, 2012 | posted by James Gillis
A fantastic Louis XV French Provincial Table

Every so often, a piece of furniture comes along that perfectly embodies both the form and function of the period in which it was made. This magnificent French Provincial centre table captures the spirit of the Louis XV period and the craftsmanship of the Provincial style in a quintessentially French piece.

Crafted of sturdy walnut and topped with rare Breccia marble, the table features bold carving on all sides, with majestic high-relief Rococo elements flowing along the frieze and down the cabriole legs. The natural warmth of the walnut wood contrasts beautifully against the striking landscape of the marble surface.

The beauty of this period of French decorative arts lies in its contrasting noble and humble origins. Louis XV style is the ornate style of a king, with highly ornamental decoration and unrestrained spirit. Designed and executed by elite guilds of craftsmen, much emphasis was placed on the quality of the materials and the excellence of the execution.

The translation of this style to the French provinces meant the use of regional woods (oak, walnut, elm, and fruitwoods) and an emphasis on more functional and long lasting pieces.  This makes this piece a “best of both worlds” table, exhibiting the grandeur of a king’s design with the workmanship of the region’s best workers.

Detail, Louis XV table

Detail, Louis XV French Provincial Table

The endearing story behind French Provincial furniture weaves beautifully with the story of our own homes. With great elegance and great purpose, it would be a great addition and conversation piece.

Do you have space in your home for this beautiful and functional table?

To all of our French furniture, click here.

The Splendor of Natural Colored Diamonds

May 30th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau
This astounding 4.05-carat Green Diamond is one of the rarest gemstones in the world
This astounding 4.05-carat Green Diamond is one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
Another masterpiece from M.S.  Rau's extensive Jewelry Collection: A veritable rainbow of colored diamonds are showcased in this exquisite bracelet
Another masterpiece from M.S. Rau’s extensive Jewelry Collection: A veritable rainbow of colored diamonds are showcased in this exquisite bracelet.
Less than 1/1,000,000th of all yellow diamonds are graded as Natural Fancy, and even fewer bear the Intense color grading of this spectacular specimen
Less than 1/1,000,000th of all yellow diamonds are graded as Natural Fancy, and even fewer bear the Intense color grading of this spectacular specimen.

Few objects in the world posses the beauty and allure of natural colored diamonds. Ancient peoples first discovered these wonders of nature circa 3,000 B.C.E., and wore them as talismans to ward off evil spirits. Once cutting techniques emerged in the late 15th-century, colored diamonds quickly became associated with power and wealth, with the grandest examples finding their way into crown jewels and prestigious private collections throughout the world.

M.S. Rau Antiques has the honor and distinction to offer a select few of these opulent treasures in our expansive Fine Jewelry Collection. The star of the show is this incredibly large and exceptional 4.05-carat Natural Fancy Green Diamond. Since the precise environmental and geological conditions that are necessary to achieve such a brilliant verdant color seldom occur in nature, green diamonds rank among the rarest gemstones in the world. Surrounded by 40 full-cut Natural Pink Diamonds in a beautiful platinum and 18K rose gold ring, this green diamond is in a class by itself.

Intense fancy yellow diamonds are the most rare and valuable of all the yellow diamonds, and hence, are the most desirable. The vibrancy of this Natural Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond is found in less than 1/1,000,000th of all yellow diamonds. This particular example weighs an incredible 7.59 carats and is set in a fine platinum and 18K gold ring, with sparkling white diamonds on each side. Again, only exact conditions lasting over millions of years are needed to achieve such a gorgeous specimen.

Nature has proved to be the greatest artist of all time. It takes millennia to create just one of these stunning gemological masterpieces; the majority of which weigh well under one carat. For the few who have ever had the chance to view natural colored diamonds in person, the awe and fascination they inspire is as undeniable as their beauty and rarity.

To learn more about M.S. Rau Antiques incredible selection of rare diamonds, and to view our latest Jewelry Catalog, featuring colored diamonds and other gemological rarities, click here.

Birds of a feather…

May 28th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene

Summertime is just beginning here in New Orleans.  It’s not too steamy yet, but we’re on our way.  Surprisingly enough, I am looking forward to it.

With the heat of summer comes a fun-loving attitude, which is why I would like to introduce you to my new favorite painting. It’s an arresting portrait that is full of a vibrancy and instantly commands the attention of everyone in the room.  Crafted with the technical precision and observational prowess that made the works of Émile Friant  some of the most desirable of the early 20th century, The Familiar Birds is absolutely breath-taking.  Despite the obvious qualities that would assumedly draw attention, it is the sitter’s warm smile and bright eyes that truly captivate one’s focus.  Featuring a semi-nude girl surrounded by exotic birds, the artist captures perfectly the mirthful expression on his subject’s face.  The young girl’s pose–with arms akimbo and sparkling eyes–lends personality to the painting and fills the canvas with a carefree, joyous air.  Also, please note the thieving bird who has stolen her shoe and attempts to quickly hightail it out of the frame.

A native of Nancy in northeastern France, Friant displayed a talent for art from a young age.  He debuted at only fifteen years old at the the Nancéienne Salon des Amis des Arts exhibition, an event which both proved his talent and earned him great notoriety.  Within a few years, Friant was one of the most sought-after portraitists, fulfilling commissions for patrons such as artist Georges Jeanniot and sculptor Ernest Bussière.  His talents as a portrait artist, and the increasing influence of the Dutch Masters on his art, are evident in viewing The Familiar Birds.  Hallmarks of Dutch portraiture, concentration upon everyday subjects and a special attention to the treatment of light and perspective, elevate this painting to new levels as a knockout stunning work by a great artist.

Émile Friant’s renown as a gifted portrait artist make this offering an exciting opportunity for any lover of art.  Between the vibrant colors, light-hearted composition, beautiful woman and fantastic artist, it would truly be a wonderful addition to anyone’s collection that would lift your spirit for many years to come.  After all, life is to enjoy!

Un peu de joie de vivre!

May 22nd, 2012 | posted by Ludovic Rousset

Femme en Priere by Jean Beraud

This fantastic painting by French painter Jean Beraud depicts a woman in prayer. Jean Beraud is typically categorized as a Belle Epoque painter. Though the theme and lighting of this painting are grave, Beraud injects a sense of playfulness with the woman’s stance and expression. As the light enters from the upper right corner of the painting to hit her figure and bible, it subtly reveals a smirk on her splendid red lips. By leaning on a backwards-facing chair, this young and jovial woman seems to embody the joie de vivre for which the Belle Epoque is known, simultaneous to her attempts to be devout.

Beraud’s immense talents as a painter are apparent in this substantial painting of 20 ¾ x 13 ½ inches. His use of chiaroscuro implies influence from Italian Masters like Caravaggio from the late 16th century. The diagonal composition created by the figure’s dramatic stanse gives a dynamic feeling to the painting, which helps to contrast with the relatively dark palette.

Beraud does an impressive job subtly including psychological implications in this painting. Perhaps the woman is praying out of societal or familial expectations rather than an inner urge to do so. She seems to be playing with the idea of religion, but remains distracted by other worldly occurrences. To emphasize this point, we see, from the shadows, the face of an older woman deep in prayer. Her rigid posture and intense gaze upon her bible contrast with the young and beautiful lady in the foreground.

This painting will be included in the upcoming Catalogue Raisonné on Jean Beraud’s work, being prepared by Patrick Offensfadt in affiliation with the Wildenstein Foundation.  With such a timeless theme, and executed so elegantly, who wouldn’t want to make this painting their own?