Archive for July, 2012

The Spirited Style of Art Nouveau

July 25th, 2012 | posted by Liz Beirise
Salammbo Art Nouveau Sculpture by Breton

Salammbo Art Nouveau Sculpture by Breton

As one of the more recognizable movements in art and design, Art Nouveau is pervasive in visual culture even today. The sinewy line of flora, the interpretation of the exotic and the flourish of a bold typeface all typify this imaginative style of art, architecture and decorative arts. From the most famous examples – Hector Guimand’s Paris Mètro station entrances and Antonin Gaudì’s La Sagrada FamiliaI – to the widely-produced posters and advertisements, Art Nouveau can be appreciated in many forms.

Art Nouveau Bed

Art Nouveau Bed

M.S. Rau is fortunate to have in its collection a few outstanding pieces of Art Nouveau that beautifully exemplify the captivating range of objects that possess this style. The silvered bronze sculpture by French artist Paul Eugene Breton brings to life the powerful figure of Salammbô, the eponymous character in the 1862 historic novel by Gustave Flaubert. This stunning sculpture captures the Carthaginian priestess, clad in nothing but her jeweled ornaments and shackles, as she performs a sacred ritual. This figure flawlessly echoes the novel’s pre-occupation with Oriental exoticism, which was a popular artistic movement at the time of the novel’s publication. The circular base on which she stands is covered with the coat of a lion, which adds to this work’s decadent impression.

This enchanting bed is a rare example of furniture which celebrates Art Nouveau’s imaginative use of material. Crafted of wrought iron with decorative iron and wood panels, this ornate bed is composed of a headboard, footboard and sides, with flowing lines artfully arranged in a naturalistic fan motif. The wooden panels, adorned with fantastical creatures and mother-of-pearl accents, add to the bed’s natural allure. Sleep could never be as opulent as it is in this outstanding bed.

Baccarat Crystal Nautical Inkwell

Baccarat Crystal Nautical Inkwell

All the drama and glamour one expects from Art Nouveau can be found in this Baccarat crystal nautical inkwell. Gleaming with beautiful doré bronze and elegant crystal, this enchanting objet d’art is a triumphant nautical piece. Both beautiful and functional, the inkwells take the form of a conch shell and a nautical instrument which match the swooning siren centered in the crystal wave. Subtly erotic and overtly captivating, this piece is a masterwork of both the maker and the style.

Glamorous, just because. Exotic, simply to evoke fantasy. Art Nouveau’s hybrid style is as pertinent now as it was when it emerged as an avant-garde movement in the 1880’s. Owning a piece of Art Nouveau means possessing timeless elegance. Look at our website here for more examples and consider starting or adding to your collection today!

The Sacred Splendor of the Master of Barberino

July 18th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene
Madonna and Child, Master of Barberino, tempura on panel, ca 1368

Madonna and Child, Master of Barberino, tempera on panel, ca 1368

Having gained entry into an elite group of Renaissance Masters by exhibiting at the Uffizi Museum, this painting is certainly an acclaim-worthy work of art. Painted by the famed Master of Barberino, Madonna and Child, depicts the title figures flanked by two apostles.  What is truly eye-catching are the lush robes draping the subjects.  Made from ground lapis, the deep blue that envelopes Mary is a singular, extraordinary pigment known as “lapis lazuli”, sacred blue or sacré bleu.

Taking its name from its tremendous, almost sacred value, lapis lazuli was a costly material equal in value to gold.  Mined only in Afghanistan, the stone had to cross a very long trade route.  Transportation of this pigment was a dangerous endeavor; the carriers of the product were in constant fear of an attack by robbers.  Being of immense value, the painting studios who special ordered lapis would use it sparingly.  This piece, however, is virtually awash in the luscious blue hue, a feat that could not have been accomplished except by a special mandate from an extremely wealthy patron.  This lapis pigment was a favorite of fresco painters during Medieval and Renaissance times, it can be seen in the fresco paintings of Giotto and the tempera paintings of Fra Angelico.  Further planting this work firmly in the Early Renaissance period is the tender exchange between mother and child.  In the painting, the Madonna gazes lovingly at Christ while he gently grasps her veil in his hand. This small gesture reflects a significant shift in the 14th century, when artists began to infuse representations of Christ with human qualities.

Capturing a pivotal moment in religious and art history, this painting would fill an important place in your art collection.  The Master of Barberino had some of the largest commissions of any Tuscan artist of his day, including those for the churches of Santa Maria Novella and Ognissanti, two of the most important churches in all of Tuscany.  I urge you to consider this opportunity to own a piece by this significant early Renaissance painter.

M.S. Rau Antiques To Exhibit Important Impressionist Paintings November 16, 2012 – January 4, 2013, To Top Off Its Centennial Year

July 11th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage de Bretagne, oil on canvas, circa 1892

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage de Bretagne, oil on canvas, circa 1892

Celebrating one hundred years as one of America’s oldest and largest art and antique dealers, M.S. Rau Antiques will mark the end of its centennial with a specially curated exhibit of significant Impressionist paintings, presented alongside the masters who paved the way to the revolutionary movement as well as the innovators who carried the Impressionist ideals into the 20th century. This remarkable collection includes paintings spanning the pre-Impressionist and Impressionist movements with works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, works owned by M.S. Rau as well as works on loan. The paintings will be on display in M.S. Rau’s exhibition gallery from November 16th this year to January 4th, 2013, in the historic French Quarter in New Orleans at 630 Royal Street. The gallery is open to the public Monday to Saturday, 9:15am to 5:00pm. Admission to the exhibition is free. www.rauantiques.com

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with Two Sacks and a Bottle, oil on canvas, circa 1884-1885

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with Two Sacks and a Bottle, circa 1884-1885

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Paysage, Arbres et Lande au Fonde in 1892. This landscape with trees and a moor is a brilliant example of Renoir’s iconic style. The development of his lush brushstroke, carefully conjured atmosphere and scintillating palette of color was a result of his early landscapes such as this one. Renoir, like other painters of his era, was inspired by the lush, scenic peninsula in northwestern France where this was painted.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, L’entrée du Chemin Creux, oil on canvas

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, L’entrée du Chemin Creux, oil on canvas

Vincent van Gogh’s Still Life with Two Sacks and a Bottle (1884) is canvas on a panel. It is one of a series he painted in his somber still life phase. As a post impressionist, van Gogh used intensely contrasting colors against a dark background, transforming the technical exercise of still life painting into a dynamic study of form and color characteristic of the Post Impressionist movement. Such drama emphasized his emotional turmoil at the time over the recent loss of his father and potentially foreshadows mental instability that would plague him so severely later in life.

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot painted L’Entrée de Chemin Creux between the years of 1870-1875. Claude Monet referred to Corot as a master of Impressionism. His techniques of painting landscapes “en plein air” (outside of a studio) were significant in the transition between classical and Impressionist styles, capturing light, natural beauty and classical elements with great ease on canvas. This particular canvas illustrates an exceptional depth of realism. Among his contemporary admirers were Courbet and Berte Morisot.

In addition to the significant works of art which will be part of this exhibition, MS Rau Antiques has an inventory of museum-quality antiques and estate jewelry for sale and for viewing at its gallery. Visitors and collectors are welcome to browse and ask questions of the knowledgeable staff.

From A Talking Scale to President Hoover’s Lawn Balls, M.S. Rau Antiques’ Inventory of American Memorabilia is Unique and Collectible

July 3rd, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau
American Flag Cane

American Flag Cane

Even though America is a relatively young country, M.S. Rau Antiques is celebrating its centennial as one of the country’s oldest and largest, family-owned antique dealers. Third generation owner Bill Rau is at the helm of this renowned gallery which occupies three floors covering 35,000 sq.ft. and is organized according to categories such as sterling silver, music boxes, furniture, globes, estate jewelry and stained glass, with more than one, museum-quality item in each category. Collectors, curators and curious tourists are drawn to its sprawling galleries located in the historic French Quarter.  American history experts and memorabilia collectors who stroll through the galleries will be delighted to discover a unique selection of significant historical items that fit in with the Fourth of July.

            Much smaller than the original flag made by Betsy Ross, which hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., collectors and flag wavers alike will appreciate this truly unique example of an American flag which is cleverly camouflaged inside a cane.  This patriotic collectible holds a 48-star American flag within its ebonized shaft. This lovely antique cane is topped by a silver knob handle, and terminates in a removable brass ferrule from which the Stars and Stripes is unfurled (circa 1915; $1,885)

Moore Talking Scale

Moore Talking Scale

 The precursor to the modern, high tech digital scale was undoubtedly this life size Talking Scale designed by Moore Talking Scale Company in Boston in 1902.  When you consider that diet food and fitness clubs really didn’t exist back then, you have to give this “talking” scale some serious consideration.  Who knew stepping on a scale could be this much fun, or this upsetting?  In order to get weighed, a brave person would insert a nickel, step on the scale, pull the lever and actually hear their weight spoken out loud via a phonograph mechanism inside the scale that would rotate the record to the track corresponding to the user’s weight and play it. The mechanism, known as an “annunciator,” was invented by George Albert Moore and patented in the United States in 1902. Due to the conspicuous nature in which this scale indicated the user’s weight, few were ever made, making this particular example an exceptional rarity. This nostalgic machine is crafted of cast iron with enameling on the directions and sound vents and top sign ($34,500).

Herbert Hoover Lawn Bowling Set

Herbert Hoover Lawn Bowling Set

For fans of summertime leisure games played in the backyard, this set of lawn balls is in perfect condition and was a gift to Herbert Hoover  by the American Lawn Bowling Association in 1931.  As President of the United States from 1929 to 1933, Hoover was more widely known as a mining engineer an effective administrator, but one of his favorite leisurely activities was lawn bowling, a pastime which he enjoyed several times a week. This historic, one-of-a-kind boxed set of lawn bowls was crafted by J. Jaques & Sons of London. Plaques on the bottom of each ball display the initials “H.H.” and the numerals “1, 2, 3 and 4,” respectively. Each ball also features the Jaques stamp etched on the bottom and “Herbert Hoover” is embossed on the cover of the leather box ($32,850). 

These are only a few of the exceptional and unique antiques and collectibles that are available at M.S. Rau Antiques.  For a closer look at the entire inventory, visit www.rauantiques.com.