Archive for the 'From Our Sales Team' Category

The Ultimate Souvenir from the Grand Tour

July 6th, 2013 | posted by Phillip Youngberg
Circa 1845, 35 ½" diameter x 29 ½" high

Circa 1845, 35 ½” diameter x 29 ½” high

Travel during the late 16th century all the way through the early 19th century was considered a privilege and a symbol of wealth shared only by those who were fortunate enough to afford the luxury.

During this time period, young, upper-class, European men would embark on a Grand Tour of Europe after having finished their academic studies. These young men would spend time traveling throughout Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome visiting the great masterpieces of art and architecture that they had studied throughout their time in school.  During their Grand Tour, they would also gather unique souvenirs along the way as a means of capturing the beauty and glory of each destination. Often times it was common for a young traveler to gather rare pieces of marble or granite that were unique to each specific region that he had visited. He would then bring these specimens back home with him after completing his Grand Tour and have a local artisan craft a ‘souvenir table’ for him.

In this incarnation, the final result is an ornate table decorated with micromosaic scenes framed by rare marble and granite samples.  These tables not only served as personal souvenirs for the traveler but were also symbols of great wealth and knowledge. Anyone who visited the traveler’s home would see this table and be able to tell just how worldly he was, based on the amount of unique marble and granite samples he had collected along his journey.

Click here to learn more about this incredible piece.

Lebasque in the Summer

May 31st, 2013 | posted by Phillip Youngberg
Lebasque embraces the techniques of the post-impressionists, the Nabi painters and the fauvists.

Lebasque embraces the techniques of the post-impressionists, the Nabi painters and the fauvists.

Summer is in full bloom here in New Orleans and has been for some time. As the temperature rises and the Creole tomatoes appear, our thoughts turn to the carefree days of vacation – maybe a quick trip to the Gulf Coast for a weekend or, if you’re lucky, a proper holiday to the south of France.  The vibrant feeling of summer days is captured perfectly in a painting we just acquired by the artist Henri Lebasque that depicts a mother and daughter in an intimate embrace looking out toward a vivid Mediterranean sea. Colorful and sentimental, this work embodies the myriad influences on Lebasque’s technique and the absolute beauty of coastal France.

Lebasque and his family first went to Saint-Tropez in 1904 at the invitation of fellow artist Henri Manguin, who had taken to painting there part of the year. By the 1900s Saint-Tropez had become well established as a destination for Parisians seeking sun and relaxation and had attracted a number of artists, including the post-impressionist painter Paul Signac. Under Signac’s influence Lebasque adopted the post-impressionist technique of dividing color into complementary tones which created greater tonal brilliance in his paintings.

Promenade a Saint-Tropez was painted a year before Lebasque’s first solo exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris and exactly one year after the famous Salon d’Automne show of 1905.  We can see some of the influence of fauvism in the present work with the artist’s use of juxtaposed color to suggest light and space as well as his bold, frenzied and passionate brushstrokes. The subject matter of domestic life in natural surroundings is quintessential Lebasque, a result of his time spent with the Nabi painters, Vuillard and Bonnard, and the contrasts of deep purple and mauve tones with brilliant greens recall the palette favored by his fauvist contemporaries, Matisse and Manguin.

Just about everyone who walks by this painting in our gallery has a strong reaction to its beauty. If you are in New Orleans, you simply must come by and see it in person. The dramatic brushstrokes and color will transport you to the magnificence of the Mediterranean in an instant. Click here to see more of M.S. Rau Antique’s fine art collection.

The Mystery Within

May 24th, 2013 | posted by Susan Lapene
The flicker cane is ready for danger at the flick of a wrist.

The flicker cane is ready for danger at the flick of a wrist.

What provocative objects can be hidden inside a cane? Man and his ingenuity have managed to come up with thousands and thousands of tools, personal necessities, and weapons to defend themselves…all tucked neatly away inside an unassuming cane.

At first glance, the flicker cane looks like a fine, old walking stick. A polished, knotty wood shaft culminates in a bird-shaped handle, giving the cane a sturdy, but handsome look. With the flick of a wrist, the cane reveals

Two-sword cane conceals a pair of swords.

Two-sword cane conceals a pair of swords.

its hidden purpose: a blade darts out of the top of the handle, sharp, and ready to be used as a weapon. And just as quickly as you can snap the very base of the cane onto the ground, the blade disappears without a trace.

Hidden within this demure and substantial cane are not one, but two long, narrow blades. The two-sworded cane, or “sword stick” as it is often called, became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries as a bold accessory. A clever disguise, these canes have roots in ancient Rome and Japan, where similar style weapon canes were carried mainly for ceremonial purposes.

La Diabolique cane hides spikes in the shaft.

La Diabolique cane hides spikes in the shaft.

La Diabolique is a captivating cane, with an equally intriguing history. Known as a notorious weapon used against French authorities by rioters in the famous 19th century street riots, La Diabolique quickly transforms from a simple walking stick to a harmful weapon. With the twist of the handle, spikes jut out of the shaft allowing the owner to inflict brutal wounds upon opponents.  It is no wonder these canes are so valued by collectors!

We have had the opportunity to acquire hundreds of interesting canes over our 101-year history, and yet, each new walking stick we acquire is even more fascinating than the next! Please visit our website to see the range of these beautiful collector’s items. Maybe you will be enticed to start your own collection!

The Write Stuff: Beautiful Antiques That Celebrate The Art of Writing

May 16th, 2013 | posted by Deborah Choate
Burma Ruby and Diamond Fountain Pen

Burma Ruby and Diamond Fountain Pen

It is easy to forget the pleasure of the quickly disappearing art of writing.  Away from the distractions of technology, and more capable of infusing your personality and character into your work than

Paul Storr George III Silver Inkstand

Paul Storr George III Silver Inkstand

the modern alternative, hand writing anything is epically more satisfying.  I wanted to share with you some of my favorite pieces that I hope will inspire you to once again return to the pen.

Of course, we must start with this stunning triumph of precision and unbridled elegance, a Burma ruby and diamond encrusted fountain pen. More than 150.00 carats of invisibly set Burma rubies and 15.00 carats of diamonds embellish this one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Putting ink to paper from this piece is to deposit a perfect line from a nib and body crafted of platinum and 18K gold.

On a more traditional, but no less elegant note, we have this George III Silver Inkstand by the preeminent silversmith Paul Storr. Although the three cut glass jars set upon an elevated pen tray once served as an inkwell, quill stand and pounce pot, these versatile items are still useful for modern necessities, whether in the home on a vanity or on your office desk. This set also boasts the rare inclusion of a chamber stick and snuffer.

If doré bronze is more to your taste, however, than you may appreciate this opulent turn-of-the-century inkwell.  This fine antique desk accessory retains its original clear glass insert and its top is set with a large malachite cabochon.  The vivid green of this mineral, which was prized by the most elegant homes of the time, provides a wonderful contrast to the doré bronze body.

Important French Bureau a Cylindre and Fauteuil de Bureau

Important French Bureau a Cylindre and Fauteuil de Bureau

Malachite Cabochon Inkwell

Malachite Cabochon Inkwell

If there is one piece certain to invite you to sit down and write a while, it is this absolutely stunning French Restoration-era roll-top desk.  The finest ormolu fixtures swathe rich Cuban mahogany in this matching pair of desk and swivel chair; these exquisite details elevate this piece from merely functional to a work of art.  Just as with the ormolu adornments, every aspect of the desk itself is crafted with the utmost care.  In fact, the interior drawers and compartments are crafted of quarter-sawn oak, which is harvested from the inner most sections of the oak log. This intensive and costly process produces sections of wood that resist warping and help ensure that this desk will maintain its beauty for generations to come.  The desk is appointed with a fitted interior of compartments, lockable drawers and a retractable red leather lined writing surface. For added security, the lower right compartment contains a hidden, lockable coffer to store precious valuables.

Any of these pieces, alone or paired with the others, would serve as a welcome step back from the ever-extending reach of technology, if only for a moment. Click here to view more of our writing-related antiques and reminisce about the lost art of writing.

We Simply Cannot Contain Ourselves!

May 10th, 2013 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

Container 1This has been an exciting week at M.S. Rau Antiques. Every spring we receive a shipment from our latest buying trip in Europe, which sent us to the very best estates and collections to find the rarest and most fascinating antiques and fine art available on the market. After a whirlwind buying excursion, all the objects are carefully packed for freight and then sent to New Orleans on a ship. With great anticipation, we await the delivery of our container, and once it clears customs, the fun begins.

The staff gathers before the gallery opens and unpacks the container’s boxes, which provides the first glimpse for many of us of our newest acquisitions. This year’s first container held a trove of fascinating objects – from a majestic onyx and doré bronze clock to a gleaming art deco bar. Although the newly acquired items have not been through our research and photography departments, I have a few pieces I would love to share with you.

We have had many desks over our 101 year history, but a Thomas Chippendale desk we just bought really captivates in both size and design. The desk is a stunning example of Chippendale’s late Container 218th century aesthetic, with demure neoclassical design and excellent detailed workmanship unique to Thomas Chippendale pieces. Crafted of lavish mahogany and doré bronze fittings, this desk possesses an outstanding patina that intrigues with its evident use by a dedicated businessman.

Container 4A very heavy and very secure crate contained an impressive early 17th century safe. With a robust design, and clever locking mechanism, our newly acquired Italian safe would have provided the utmost safety in storing precious documents and possessions. Three locks on the front of the safe require three separate keys and three different turning methods to gain entry to the interior. An additional lock inside provides extra security. The back of the safe allows for wall mounting, further securing this monumental, 400 year old safe.

Dozens of other pieces accompanied the above treasures. We can’t wait to share with you all the newly acquired items, and we will be sending an email in a few weeks showing you even more. Better, yet, why not come down to the gallery on Royal street to see them for yourself?

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