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Archive for September, 2012

A Journey Through Nineteenth-Century Paintings With Bill Rau

September 28th, 2012 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter
 An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century European Painting

An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century European Painting by Bill Rau

From Barbizon to La Belle Epoch,  from Albert Charpin to Federico Zandomeneghi and everything in between, our soon to be released book written by Bill Rau,  An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century European Painting, is a must have for not only collectors but for art lovers in general.

It has been said that the nineteenth-century generated more diverse styles and subject matters than any period before it. Some of this can be accredited to the many technological advances in the painter’s tools themselves: mineral pigments, zinc paint tubes and even photography.  Those developments, along with a quickly expanding railway network, afforded easy travel to the previously inaccessible countryside where many artists chose to paint.

The free spirits such as Boudin, Corot, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Croegeart, Delacroix and so many others that emerged from this period are considered some of the most exciting artists in all of art history.

Oleander by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Oleander by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Over the past few months, our sales team here at M.S. Rau has been studying this book, chapter by chapter. Every other week, we gathered before the gallery opened to participate in what we called “book training.” Each member of the sales team took turns teaching a chapter and the resulting classes were wonderful lessons formed from our different personalities.

For some of us, it was the first time we have taught such classes, and I can genuinely say that we have all emerged stronger and more confident in our art knowledge. In addition to learning this essential reference for nineteenth-century art, we also hold product training on our entire collection of fine art, antiques and jewelry three times a week to make our sales team the most knowledgeable in the industry.

Having read the entire book and taught a few chapters, I can highly recommend the fascinating journey Bill Rau takes through nineteenth-century European art. If you would like to enjoy the experience, order your copy today here.

Wearable Art at M.S. Rau Antiques

September 21st, 2012 | posted by Deborah Choate

A 17th century painting of a "cabinet of curiosities" by Frans II Francken

The origin of the institutions we now call museums lies in the motley 18th century collections known as “cabinets of curiosities.” Assembled by the wealthy, who could afford to travel the world on the Grand Tour and amass souvenirs along the way, these cabinets (which were actually rooms and not furniture) contained everything from exotic animal specimens to automata to fine art. Meant to demonstrate the worldliness of the owner, the cabinets were part side-show spectacle and part educational dioramas.

Micromosaic Necklace, ca 1870. Image from V & A.

One of the most desired destinations of the Grand Tour in the late 18th century was Rome, where the medley of ancient cultures produced artifacts, jewelry and objets d’art were perfect for the educated collector’s “cabinet of curiosities.” Especially desirable were the mosaic jewelry pieces which demonstrated both exacting skill and historical importance.  Mosaic jewelry was made in two distinct styles: micromosaic and pietra dura, differentiated by both geography and technique.

The Romans perfected the micromosaic technique, and their workshops grew to the height of popularity through the entire 19th century. Only highly skilled craftsman could work with the tiny tiles – called tesserae – to manufacture the intricate and beautiful jewelry. Tesserae were formed from metal, marble, stone or glass, and dexterously positioned using cement and precious metals. Each piece could take many months to create, given the level of both complexity and artistry.

Victorian Micromosaic & Gold Necklace at M.S. Rau Antiques.

M.S. Rau Antiques owns one of these stunning examples, a 19th century micromosaic necklace created in the Etruscan Revival style, crafted of 18K gold and painted glass tesserae. Designed en esclavage – which refers to the swag chain and the multiple hanging pendants — the striking Egyptian motif is highlighted by rich, gold beading. Those in New Orleans will instantly recognize the fleur de lis accenting the pendants, suggesting a European’s take on ancient Egyptian style. A similar necklace is found at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, attesting to the importance of this piece.

Influenced by the burgeoning field of archaeology, this micromosaic necklace is a wearable work of art. After donning the piece, one could hang it as if a painting, perhaps in her own “cabinet of curiosities.”

Click here for more images of the necklace and to see more of M.S. Rau Antiques exciting jewelry collection.

Gems of the Gems

September 14th, 2012 | posted by Ludovic Rousset

I would like to invite you to experience a selection of rare, unusual, and stunningly beautiful gemstones. The stones set in these fine jewelry pieces are set apart for being not only exceptionally rare, but also exhibiting the color and presence that are the finest examples of their kind. Less well-known and yet far more unique than traditional gems, these jewels are worthy of any discerning collector. 

Paraiba Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

Paraiba Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

Showcasing a jaw-dropping neon blue hue unseen in any other gem, this Paraiba Tourmaline is the most precious of tourmalines. This 3.15 carat stone glows with the extraordinatry vividness of the bright summer sky. Only having recently reached the market within the last few decades, they are close to being mined to depletion. The aura of this rare precious stone is fresh, spirited, and dazzles with vivacity.

Natural Almandite-Spessartite Garnet & Diamond Ring

Natural Almandite-Spessartite Garnet & Diamond Ring

Warm, rich red garnets have guided and protected mankind for thousands of years. The luminous stone is traditionally worn as a talisman, as it was believed to light up the night and protect the wearer from misfortune. Tradition tells us that Noah used a garnet lantern to help him steer the ark through the darkened night. The 11 carat stone at the center of this ring is a unique hybrid of two types of garnet, Almandite and Spesserite. Almandite gives the stone its deep wine-colored hue while the Spesserite brightens the stone with flashes of fiery golden orange. A timeless gemstone, a classic setting and an exquisite color with a tale to tell; this ring is a standout in any collection.

Edwardian Amethyst & Diamond Pendant and Brooch

Edwardian Amethyst & Diamond Pendant and Brooch

Inspiring and enthralling people for centuries, the regal color of amethyst is shown at its best in this stunning work of Edwardian aesthetics. The amethyst is extravagence in violet. The rarest fine color stones have been prized throughout the ages: Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God, and the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, send thousands of miners into the Ural mountains to look for it. Whether worn as a pendant or a brooch, this piece dazzles. A deep and vibrant violet seven carat amethyst featured at its center, the color and clarity are hightened by the frame of sparkling diamonds that surround it.

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Mysterious alexandrite is famed for its sensational color change. This unique optical characteristic makes it one of the most rare and valuable gemstones of all. “Emerald by day, ruby by night, ” this extremely fine example of alexandrite will appear vivid green in daylight and warm purplish red under incandescent or candlelight. Seldom found in stones weighing over one carat, the 7.27 carat gemstone as the center of this ring is truly a tremendous find.

Whether you are looking for the “wow” factor from a rare gem, or a striking, one-of-a-kind color these pieces have something for everyone. This collection of gem has inspired for millennia. Now let them inspire you.

Beauty Amidst Danger

September 6th, 2012 | posted by James Gillis
Rare Georgian kindjal dagger.

Rare Georgian kindjal dagger. Item 29-8562

Weapons are some of the most intriguing antique pieces, possessing both a tangible strength of material and a symbolic strength of a nation or people.  A few of my historical favorites that we have in the gallery right now are these three elegant examples. With intricate designs and workmanship, and the unyielding form of a serious weapon, these pieces wonderfully embody daggers as both a status symbol and a means of defense.

Known for their impeccable military skills, the Eastern Slavic Cossack people crafted equally impressive weapons. The Cossacks migrated from areas of Georgia and southern Russia to escape endemic regional political persecution by banding together in small settlements for protection. Under the Tsars, the Cossacks were allowed great autonomy in exchange for military service and protection of the Russian frontier regions. Many of their customs of dress and weaponry, including the kindjal, were accepted and adapted by mainstream culture. Even the Tsars were known to wear the traditional long black robe with the kindjal worn on the side, an ensemble which is still worn by Cossacks today.

Gold gilt kindjal dagger.

Gold gilt kindjal dagger. Item 29-8560

The kindjal – a dagger-like weapon– was designed for close hand to hand combat with its double-edged, broad blade. The hilt, grip and scabbard mounts of this Georgian example are decorated in fine niello inlay and gold gilt. Intended to be both a fashion accessory and an essential side arm, this particular kindjal dates to the early 20th century, a very turbulent time in Imperial Russia. The piece bears Georgian makers marks, making it a fine example of a collectable kindjal.

Persian dagger and scabbard

Persian dagger and scabbard. Item 29-5183

Another Russian Cossack example we have is equally beautiful, and one assumes, brutally efficient.  This kindjal boasts fine granulated gold and silver nielo inlay on the hilt and a well forged blade with deep offset fullers. A gold makers mark signed to owner on reverse dates the piece circa 1900.

The incredible beauty of this Persian dagger belies its dangerous capabilities. This stunning weapon features a hilt and scabbard of bronze inlaid with a silver vine motif. Crafted in the jambiya style, this knife has a double-edged, curved blade and is meant to be worn on a belt, with a metal loop integrated into the design of the scabbard. Found in many countries influenced by Arabian culture, the jambiya is a prized possession, worn by men as both a status symbol and as a means of defense. To find one of such elegance and fine workmanship in the West is extremely rare.

Swords, daggers, kindjals and the myriad other forms of side arms are extremely collectible pieces. They excite the eyes as much as the imagination. Click here to learn more about M.S. Rau’s collection of weapons and to explore these powerful pieces of history.