Archive for the 'From Our Sales Team' Category

What Antique Beer Tankards Tell Us About Ancient Monarchs

March 5th, 2014 | posted by Ryan Clark

The worldwide fascination with antiques lies not just in their impressive age, but in the way that centuries ago, people used these prized objects much in the same way that we might today – say, for example, with an exquisite antique beer tankard. From the extravagant palaces of colonial-era Europe to the majestic estates of imperial China, wealthy individuals commissioned the creation of truly luxurious tankards so that they could – to put it succinctly – drink in style. While the function of these antiques is something that most people could relate to, the expert artistry and skill used in their design and construction is probably not. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful antique beer tankards we’ve ever stocked and, along the way, gain an increased appreciation for the artistic, aesthetic, and historical lessons they can teach us:

Large Chinese Export Silver Tankard

This mid-19th century silver tankard made by Lee Ching of Canton, Shanghai and Hong Kong was made specifically for export, with a wealthy Western buyer in mind. The high-quality repoussé work reveals an exciting battle scene, while the handle’s vibrant dragon sculpture evokes Chinese symbolism of good luck and strength. Price: $9,850

German Ivory Miniature Tankard

While the first German ivory sculptures date back to well over a thousand years ago, the ivory trade to Germany was cut off during Ottoman rule in Northern Africa and the art form subsequently went into decline there. In the late 15th century, when the Portguese re-established reliable trade routes to sub-Saharan Africa, ivory began flowing back into central Europe and the famous wood carving artisans of Odenwald subsequently adapted their meticulous skills to ivory. This specialized artistic tradition grew throughout Germany for centuries, yielding such marvellous works as this 4.75-inch-high miniature tankard with a silver plate vessel. Price: $8,850 (SOLD)

Chinese Garden Export Silver Tankard

This double-skinned silver presentation tankard was built for export by Cutching of Canton in the mid-19th century. Its exterior repoussé shows a peaceful garden scene complete with animals, old men, trees, and a sky filled with wispy clouds. Just like the aforementioned Lee Ching tankard, this piece features a powerful looking dragon handle. Price: $14,850

Hester Bateman George III Silver Tankard

Made by Hester Bateman, who is widely regarded as the 18th century’s top female silversmith, this sterling silver tankard harkens back to the golden age – or should we say silver age – of European royal families. The engraved crest on the exterior of this tankard is both immaculate in its detail as well as regal in its design. The hallmark is dated 1787, placing it just before the French Revolution. Price: $14,850

Ivory Artemis and Actaeon Tankard

Carved entirely out of ivory, this 6 3/4″ x 12 1/8″ tankard from the mid-19th century boasts a degree of detail and craftsmanship that is truly wondrous to behold. It tells the ancient Greek myth of Artemis and Actaeon, with the goddess Artemis represented in the nude on the lid, and Actaeon shown in fine detail on the frieze itself. The myth involves the hunter Actaeon stumbling across the goddess Artemis bathing in the forest, whereupon Artemis – outraged that a mortal man had see her nude body – turns him into a stag, at which point he is eaten by his own dogs. Price:$34,500 (SOLD)

German Ivory Tankard, Kings of Poland

Crafted circa 1850, this German ivory tankard pays homage to the 16th and 17th century Polish monarchs Sigismund I, Sigismund II Augustus, Stefan Báthory, and Sigismund III. A national symbol, in the form of the Polish white eagle, stands guard atop the  silver plate vessel and is itself immaculately carved out of ivory. At 12.5″ in height, this antique beer tankard is a large, well-preserved testament to the refined tastes and sensibilities of the 19th century European nobility. Price: $38,500 (SOLD)

Eugene Boudin

February 28th, 2014 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

G. jean Aubry commented that “Boudin is one of the most interesting examples of instinctive creativity, a painter who demonstrates the uselessness of schools and rules, and the supreme virtue of personal effort, long patience, and a steadfast gift.”

Le Rivage de Villerville, Maree Basse, by Eugene Boudin

Le Rivage de Villerville, Maree Basse, by Eugene Boudin

With serene landscapes and dreamlike scenes, this steadfast gift is one that leaves the viewer craving more.  What fueled this personal effort that led Boudin to the heights of artistic success?

Like some of the most impressive figures of our time, Eugene Boudin had humble beginnings.  His father, Leonard-Sebastien Boudin, was born into a family of sailors and would continue to uphold this seafaring legacy.  The younger Boudin, however, would break from this tradition, but his family’s ties to the seas would always touch his canvases in some way.

Landscape with Cows by Eugene Boudin

Landscape with Cows by Eugene Boudin

Boudin received no artistic encouragement from his family, it would be the people he surrounded himself with that would nurture his creative passions.  In fact, it was an early employer who gave Boudin his first set of paints.   At eighteen, he would start his own stationary shop with a colleague.  Situated on a bustling street in Le Havre, he began to meet a cadre of artists vying to have their items displayed in his store’s window.  These artists that undoubtedly helped inspire his artistic vision and they included Eugene Isabey, Constant Troyon, Thomas Couture, and Jean-Francois Millet.

Innate talent, drive, and an aesthetic inspired by and focused on the open ocean make Boudin’s nuanced scenes coveted by art lovers the world over.  We are fortunate to not only enjoy these images in the gallery every day, but also share them with you.

Luxurious Lighting

January 25th, 2014 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter
Regency Cut Glass & Ormolu Candelabra

Regency Cut Glass & Ormolu Candelabra

Before electricity flooded interiors with on-demand lighting, the rhythm of life was dictated by natural light.  While, of course, illumination by flame (whether fueled by oil, tallow, or any manner of other substances) has existed for millennia, its use could often be curtailed by means and access.  Today the singular dance of a flame, and the play of its glow against nearby objects, is a special presence that is too often absent from modern life.  No matter what your taste may be, we have a number of precious items to help you bring back the romance of candlelight.

In the pre-electricity days of lighting design, craftsmen were conscious to maximize light in any way they could.  This was achieved through the use of reflective materials such as glass, crystal, or polished metals.  Dripping with cut glass, these candelabra would be an ideal way to scatter slivers of light around a room.  Maximum light and maximum drama, this 1815 pair attributed to John Blades are the height of Regency elegance.

18th Century Rock Crystal Chandelier

18th Century Rock Crystal Chandelier

While many fixtures have been converted for electricity, some still maintain their bygone allure.  Infinitely more practical than raising and lowering the chandelier every time you need to make a lighting adjustment, this electrified chandelier boasts rock crystal adornments.  The natural mineral characteristics inherent to rock crystal help divert light in novel ways, not unlike candlelight.

Lighting is everything.  To highlight a favorite painting or to set the tone of an evening, your home should have the very best.  I encourage you to look around our gallery and our website for your next candelabra, chandelier, sconce, or lamp.

The Inventor of Nocturnes

November 22nd, 2013 | posted by Danielle Halikias

 

The Dockside Liverpool at Night

The Dockside Liverpool at Night

Many of us spend time daydreaming, lots of “what ifs” flit through our heads and our hearts.  Imagine you work as a clerk for a railroad, but you know you are destined for something else.  You are 24, living in a manufacturing town, and already have a growing family; would you take the leap to follow this dream?  Luckily for us, and in spite of having no formal training, John Atkinson Grimshaw felt the pull towards the art world and followed it.

The year is 1861 and Grimshaw’s first concerted forays into the art world are cautious and meticulous. The delicate early paintings serve as reminders that the artist is taking a huge risk, a risk that would make anyone at least a little hesitant.  Drawing inspiration from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their battle cry of “truth to nature”, however, Grimshaw soon begins to develop his own unmistakable style.

Whitby

Whitby

 

By the late 1860s Grimshaw had firmly established the style and subject matter that led James McNeill Whistler to remark: “I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlit pictures”  This style incorporates tones and luminous qualities that have gone unmatched by other artists.

All in the Golden Twilight

All in the Golden Twilight

Grimshaw’s atmospheric works tend to feature a large expanse of sky with precise consideration to how light reflects off other elements in the scene, often pools of water or crisp autumn leaves.  Another reoccurring theme in the artist’s oeuvre is the lone figure along a path.  This evocative combination of evening and solitude has the effect of producing an overwhelming sense of nostalgia in the viewer.

Moody and patiently crafted, John Atkinson Grimshaw’s works have made him a favorite among discerning collectors.  Whistler’s ode to Grimshaw’s prowess is certainly accurate; you may search far and wide, but simply put, no other artist can capture the passing of the evening sky like Grimshaw.

 

 

Serpents & the Sea

November 15th, 2013 | posted by Deborah Choate

Bursting with the boundless power of Mother Nature, the ocean has been the subject of some of the most evocative pieces in art history.  In considering that economies and lives have been made and ended on the ocean it is easy to understand the fascination it holds, besides its purely aesthetic value.  This role of the ocean in our collective psyche has given birth to countless myths and legends.  Of course some of the most lasting and beloved myths in Western culture have been handed down to us from the Greeks and the Romans.  Poseidon to the Greeks and Neptune to the Romans, this God of the seas plays muse to several dynamic pieces here in the gallery.Sacred to Neptune Ewers

These amazing vessels are crafted in the famed “Sacred to Neptune” design created by renowned artist John Flaxman in 1775. Featuring finely modeled figures of tritons serving as the handles, as well as dolphin masks and swags of cattail plants, the treasures are laden with aquatic symbolism.  The acclaim of this design exemplifying the love of ancient Greco-Roman styles shared between England and France.   This exceptional design is most often found in pottery form, as the renowned maker Wedgwood produced it in both black basalt and jasperware. It was also beautifully realized in silver by the Royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell. However, bronze versions of this neoclassical masterpiece are exceptionally rare, with French examples being even rarer.

30-0977_1Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t share this fantastic work of art we recently acquired when discussing Neptune.  While the dark waters represented here are those off the shore of Hendaye Beach in France, this piece is a phenomenal reminder of the awe-inspiring powers of the sea.  Painted by Hippolyte Pradelles, tumultuous waves and a steel grey sky painted with bravura brushstrokes combine here to create a work with an incredible presence.

This sculpture is a replica of arguably the most famed sculpture ever created.  In fact, Michelangelo referred to the original as “The greatest piece of art in the world”.  This is the fantastic marble sculpture thatLaocoon tells of the death of Laocoön and his sons when the Goddess Minerva sends serpents from the sea to silence them forever.  Their deaths were byproducts of the famed Trojan War; it was Laocoön, a Trojan high priest, who was not swayed by the Greek’s offering of a large wooden horse. He started to warn the people of Troy with the famed statement “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”.  According to Virgil, the God Minerva, anxious to protect her Greeks, immediately sent two sea serpents to kill Laocoön and his twin sons before they could warn more Trojans of this deception.

The sea, its symbols, myths, and bounty figure prominently in all three of these pieces, to fabulous results.  Sinewy creatures and windswept seas are expertly executed in bronze, oil paint and marble.  If you find these items as captivating as I do, let’s talk soon to discuss how we can make them yours.

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