Archive for March, 2013

The Very Best of Art Deco

March 29th, 2013 | posted by Susan Lapene
Egyptian Art Deco Chandelier

Egyptian Art Deco Chandelier

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Art Deco Diamond and Rock Crystal Brooch

I just returned from the Art Deco World Congress 2013 held in Habana, Cuba and have been thoroughly inspired to present my very favorite Art Deco pieces to you.  I want to share a range of items that came out of this movement, because the way it transformed everything from sculpture to lighting is truly astounding.

Though the movement was an expression of the progressive and forward-thinking attitudes of the Machine Age, this eclectic style was greatly influenced by the so-called “primitive” arts of Africa and ancient Egypt.  The worldwide press coverage that the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb drew certainly popularized these elements.  Translating organic themes into streamlined, mathematical shapes is one of the most well-known signatures of this striking design aesthetic.  Take, for instance, this fabulous chandelier that displays a geometric Egyptian motif.

Mounted in luminous platinum and 18k gold, as well as featuring a link of the purest rock crystal, this Art Deco pin radiates the opulence associated with the movement.  Whether worn as a brooch or in place of a buckle at the waist, on a wide grosgrain ribbon as a bracelet, as a hair ornament, or glitzing up a classic black satin evening clutch this pin is as versatile an accessory now as it was during the heyday of Art Deco.

Bearing the telltale streamlined elegance of Art Deco, this Cartier clock is crafted from a plaque of exquisite jade set into a frame of enamel-accented silver. This wonderful 8-day clock would have been at home in the most stylish of offices or residences.

Cartier Art Deco Jade Clock

Cartier Art Deco Jade Clock

Art Deco Gold Box by Cartier, Paris

Art Deco Gold Box by Cartier, Paris

Also by Cartier, this gold box captures the essence of Art Deco sophistication. Crafted entirely of 18K yellow gold, this exceptional objet d’art bears a sleek geometric pattern accompanied by contrasting black champlevé enamel on all sides. The box was most likely used as a cosmetics compact and would have been an essential accessory for a well-heeled lady. Such diminutive works of art are found most often in prestigious collections throughout the world, representing a bygone “golden age” of luxury and style.

Even the fine arts were impacted by the new ideals of Art Deco. “Friends Forever” by Demetre Haralamb Chiparus is a charming figure of a young girl and her two borzoi, or Russian wolfhound companions, comprised of patinated, cold-painted bronze and intricately carved ivory, a combination known as chryselephantine. The combination of ivory and bronze was pioneered in Belgium at the turn of the 20th century. Sculptors of the Art Deco period embraced this technique, re-interpreting the classical style to create figures of subtle beauty. Chiparus was a champion and master of this technique and he is credited with both perfecting and giving this form its Art Deco flavor.

 

Friends Forever Bronze and Ivory by Chiparus

Friends Forever Bronze and Ivory by Chiparus

All of these pieces express the various wondrous qualities of Art Deco.  My time in Cuba certainly reinvigorated my love of Art Deco, and I hope this selection has piqued your curiosity. Which item interests you the most?

Good Things Come In Small Packages

March 11th, 2013 | posted by Ludovic Rousset
This rare English 18th-century agate and gold étui exhibits a graceful Rococo style. Adorned with exceptional carving and gold mounts, this charming étui opens with the push of a button. Circa, 1770.

This rare English 18th-century agate and gold étui exhibits a graceful Rococo style. Adorned with exceptional carving and gold mounts, this charming étui opens with the push of a button. Circa, 1770.

Flawlessly crafted in the neoclassical style, this container is made of various shades of gold and is distinguished by panels of peaked guilloche engraving. Borders of foliate, floral and ribbon chasing complete the design. Circa, 1760.

Flawlessly crafted in the neoclassical style, this container is made of various shades of gold and is distinguished by panels of peaked guilloche engraving. Borders of foliate, floral and ribbon chasing complete the design. Circa, 1760.

About a year ago, M.S. Rau purchased a collection of étuis – the jewel-like decorative cases used in the 18th century to store small items or to discreetly pass notes between members of nobility. Within weeks, we had sold them all, delighted to learn that in the current age of technology, people still appreciate the possibility of a handwritten note. We recently acquired another set of étuis, each one distinctive and utterly collectible. What makes these gems of history so special is not just their beauty, but their fascinating biography as well.

Étuis take their name from the Old French word “estuier,” meaning “to keep or hold.”  Although we now associate them with secret written exchanges of the European elite, an étui is a very versatile item. These ornamental cases could be made of any material, from precious metals like gold or silver, to exotic materials such as tortoiseshell or shagreen. Though many were used for more clandestine reasons, some also served the more practical purpose of holding small items such as scissors, thimbles, needles, or even a doctor’s lancet. To maintain the security of the more confidential notes contained within these items, sometimes the exteriors would be sealed with wax.

I cannot think of a more elegant way to give a small gift, or make a note special, than tucked into one of these pieces, can you?  View all of our available étuis here.

 

Global Advantage: Antique Globes

March 1st, 2013 | posted by Bill Rau
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Globes, such as this pair of 18″ examples from J.& W. Cary, afforded their owner a wealth of information right at their fingertip.

Arguably the most valuable tool in business today is the computer. Within seconds, an entrepreneur can answer any question, accessing information from around the world. For the 19th-century businessman, the globe often served that same role.

In matters of commerce, especially shipping, geography and exploration, the globe was an invaluable asset when determining the best and most cost effective ways to get your goods from one point to another. Accuracy and timely information meant everything, and firms such as John Newton & Son, John and William Cary, and Dudley Adams excelled at crafting globes that were as technically precise as they were beautiful.

A good cartographer encompassed the qualities of an artist, engraver, geographer and even an astronomer. Bodies of water, mountain ranges, major land routes, islands, constellations, planets and a host of other topographical and celestial elements necessary for navigation were rendered with incredible precision, based upon the findings of such notable explorers as Captain George Vancouver and Captain James Cook. This stunning pair of Rare 18-Inch Cary Globes are a perfect example of the craftsmanship and meticulousness afforded to these elegant spheres. Such superior globes were also outfitted with additional navigational instruments. For instance, the terrestrial globe features an analemma, which provided a scale of the Sun’s daily declination, while brass meridian and horizon rings on each globe notate monthly and astrological calendars. Their handsome mahogany bases even have integrated working compasses.

To own a globe was to have a bounty of information at your fingertips. Though our computers and smart phones may have the advantage of speed, none of our clever electronic devices can be referred to as a true work of art.