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Archive for October, 2012

A Celebration of Color: Beautiful Baccarat Vases

October 20th, 2012 | posted by James Gillis
Baccarat Opaline Glass Vases

Baccarat Opaline Glass Vases

Cartouche Windows with Decorative Enameled Flowers

Cartouche Windows with Decorative Enameled Flowers

The beauty of Baccarat takes so many forms. From dazzling crystal chandeliers to ornate ormolu and crystal centerpieces, the elegance of Baccarat design is recognized by museums, collectors, and royalty worldwide as some of the most desirable pieces of decorative art.

Although some historians have argued that he was not a particularly effective king, Louis XV did bring France to a cultural high point during his reign.  Thanks in part to his famed mistress, Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV patronized painters, cabinetmakers and sculptors, the ornate style of which now carries his namesake.

During Louis XV’s reign, the Baccarat glassworks company was founded in the town of Baccarat in the Lorraine region in eastern France. The year was 1734, and the company began producing stemware and mirrors for the wealthy European elite and royalty. After receiving its first royal commission in 1823, Baccarat was launched into worldwide demand, with designs that were beautifully ornate and uniquely French.  Under the reign of Napoleon III, the use of opaline glass – an opaque and colorful decorative glass often accented with gilding – was introduced and became very popular. With a high lead content and jewel-like tones, the decorative pieces were meant to mimic Venetian glass, produced in Italy in the 16th century.

We are fortunate to have a pair of opaline glass vases from the Baccarat factory here at M.S. Rau. Possessing all the desired qualities of the very best opaline pieces – vibrant hues, lux gilding and ornate design – these vases are all the more exceptional because they are a complete pair. Cartouche “windows” are expertly hand-painted to house bouquets of delicate flowers. They are eye-catching, even in a gallery full of remarkable items like we have here.

The peak of Baccarat’s opaline glass production was from 1850 – 1860, and these vases are dated to 1850. They are true masterworks of the Baccarat house and are vibrant pieces to behold. To learn more about these vases or M.S. Rau’s collection of Baccarat pieces, click here.

Beauty Rediscovered: M.S. Rau Antiques Finds Forgotten Poynter Painting

October 16th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau
"Barine" is a recent rediscovery in the oeuvre of the great Sir Edward John Poynter (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

Barine” is a recent rediscovery in the oeuvre of the great Sir Edward John Poynter (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

After being in business for 100 years, you would think that it would be a tough task to surprise us. After all, the fine art and antiques that M.S. Rau Antiques deals with are older than the company itself. Where’s the surprise in that? But for me, the most rewarding aspect of our business is that there’s always something new to discover. Or in this particular case…rediscover.

I was in Europe earlier this year attending an art exhibition. I was on the last leg of my trip and was actually rushing to catch my train when I caught a glimpse of a magnificent, unsigned painting attributed to Sir Edward John Poynter, a renowned British academic artist. It was stunning, masterfully executed, and I immediately fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I was in danger of missing my train, but I just had to stop if only for a second to inquire about it before heading on my way. To say the least, I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to discover more, and thought I had missed out on a very special opportunity.

The weeks passed and soon, I was in England on business. I had decided to depart from my travel schedule to make an unplanned visit with a friend, and there it was…the very same painting from the exhibition! What were the chances? This time, I didn’t have the pressure of missing a train to contend with, and I was not going to leave the country without it!

The painting is believed to have been created specifically for the 1894 New Gallery Exhibition (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

I immediately got in touch with a professor in Australia who is an expert on Poynter’s work and was already familiar with this particular painting. She confirmed that the painting was indeed by Poynter! Entitled Barine, this work was widely known in art circles in the late 19th century, but up until now, the painting’s whereabouts had been unknown for the past 40 years! The masterpiece takes its name from the femme fatale it depicts, the “Faithless Barine” from Horace’s Odes. The ingenious use of subtle symbolism tells the tale of a cold-hearted vixen of indescribable beauty that breaks the heart of every man she woos, leaving only “a train of slaves [which] grows every day.”

Surely, the circumstances of our Poynter acquisition don’t happen every day. But those rare occasions when we do find something “new,” rare and unique is better than winning the lottery. The thrill of knowing that M.S. Rau had a hand in such an important painting’s provenance, and that we get to continue the work’s journey by finding the right client,makes what we do both incredibly challenging and immensely gratifying. Who knew the world of fine art could be so exciting?

Tickled Pink

October 4th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene
Natural Pink Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

M.S. Rau's Natural Pink Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

Jewelry is serious business. The very best jewelry, like we have here at M.S. Rau, is endorsed by qualified gemologists and has been certified in labs. Gems are inspected and rated for physical characteristics and the source is noted – whether South Sea pearls or Golconda diamonds. There is so much sophisticated science involved in that it’s easy to forget just how much fun jewelry can be.

We have a new piece in the gallery that is pure fun. It’s a natural pink tourmaline and diamond ring with a simply magnificent hue. Depending on the light, the stunning tourmaline varies between a honeyed rose to a slight lavender. Pink is among the rarest hues in which to find this colorful gem, and at 15.29 carats, it is truly impressive. I have never seen a tourmaline in the unique Asscher cut, which makes this ring even more spectacular.  The white gold setting and two sparkling baguette diamonds perfectly frame the joyful pink gem. This ring shines!

And since we are serious about jewelry at M.S. Rau, I will let you know that tourmaline is rated as a natural pink transparent with very good clarity and the diamonds are near colorless with a VS1 and VS2 clarity.

This pink tourmaline and diamond ring would be the life of the party of any jewelry collection. Click here to see more of M.S. Rau’s beautiful jewelry.