Archive for the 'M.S. Rau Blog' Category

Brush Strokes of a Renaissance Man: The Paintings of Winston Churchill

August 23rd, 2016 | posted by Robert Boese

Few figures in Modern history evoke images of leadership, integrity and political prowess as does Winston Churchill.  His iconic speeches and steadfast direction during World War II galvanized the Allied forces in Britain and abroad. Few people realized that, though he was most revered for his rolls as statesman, orator, historian, politician and writer, Churchill was also an accomplished artist.

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Immediately recognized as one of the most important statesmen in world history, Sir Winston Churchill pursued the art of painting for more than 40 years

M.S. Rau is honored to have two of his important works currently in our Fine Art collection: Pont du Gard, Nimes, depicting the famed Roman aqueduct in the south of France, and a Garden Scene ,which the artist gifted to Lady Lytton, a leader in the British women’s suffrage movement and lifelong friend of the statesman. Those who were close to him confirm to the fact that Churchill loathed giving away any of his paintings, as he held a special connection with each and every work he created. He allowed a select few to leave his hands, only to his closest friends, making the availability of these works even more amazing.

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Churchill’s dramatic brushstroke work and vibrant color palate bring to life this over 2,000-year-old landmark

Churchill pursued the art of painting for more than 40 years, becoming a dominating passion the last half of his life, and often his refuge from the stresses of the outside world. There is little evidence that he had any artistic training prior to his 40s. In fact, his wife Clementine mentioned at one point that before he began painting, Churchill had hardly visited an art museum, much less created art. Churchill first began painting following a personal and political disaster, the Dardanelles campaign, in 1915, with the encouragement of his sister-in-law, Goonie, herself a gifted watercolorist. From that moment on, he would never be far from a brush and canvas the remainder of his life.

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Signed “WSC” (lower right)

By 1920, Churchill had gained enough confidence in his artistic abilities, through the encouragement of established artists such as Sir John Lavery and Paul Maze, to exhibit his works. In 1921, he sent several pieces to the Galerie Druet in Paris under the pseudonym “Charles Morin.” Six of which sold. In 1925, he entered an amateur London painting competition with Winter Sunshine, Chartwell, winning first prize. His body of work remained intriguingly steadfast in both subject matter and style, displaying the obvious influence of the Post-Impressionists that flourished during this period. His color palette grew increasingly vivid, and he returned to the same subjects over and over, each time presenting a composition of distinctive emotional energy.

As Churchill’s political reputation grew in the throws of World War II, so did his reputation as an artist. Shortly after the war’s end, Sir Alfred Munnings, President of the Royal Academy, commissioned Churchill to submit two paintings to the Summer Exhibition. He did so under the name “Mr. Winter” to avoid bias. Both were unanimously accepted for display.

Churchill’s legacy lives on in history as one of the founders of the free world. But perhaps his most overlooked achievement is the incredible artistic oeuvre that gives us a candid glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest men of our age.

Fashion & Function: Ladies’ Walking Sticks

August 18th, 2016 | posted by Deborah Choate

Virtually since the dawning of history, walking sticks have been wielded for utilitarian purposes, and since the 17th century, they emerged as stylish fashion accessories in their own right. Yet, when one thinks of a walking stick, it is often the dapper gentleman that comes to mind, complete with tophat and tails. Yet, this timeless accessory offers a chic addition to the wardrobes of both men and women alike. For women in particular, the right walking stick can add charm and grace to both one’s ensemble and one’s stature.

The highly detailed floral motif is the perfect complement to the sleek ebonized wood shaft

The highly detailed floral motif is the perfect complement to the sleek ebonized wood shaft

In many ways, the walking stick is the ideal reflection of etiquette, elegance, and pure sophistication. Emerging as “the fashion” in the 17th century, canes became a part of a woman’s daily attire. In the elegant Victorian era, any poised and distinguished woman would not enter into the public arena without this stylish accessory. Consequently, the walking stick became a prevailing symbol of taste and class. The more feminine walking sticks were meticulously crafted and designed to reflect the female qualities of sophistication and delicacy.

As walking sticks became more fashionable and en vogue for women, designs became more and more elaborate. Scrambling to appeal to the stylish women, artisans crafted increasingly ornate and luxurious designs to adorn their walking sticks. Falling under the influence of new artistic trends and innovative styles, these canes featured extravagant designs from elaborate enameling to jewel-encrusted knobs by specialized jewelers and artisans.

Painted Porcelain…

This elegant cane features a rare KPM Berlin porcelain handle of exceptional beauty and craftsmanship

This elegant cane features a rare KPM Berlin porcelain handle of exceptional beauty and craftsmanship

Considered one of the greatest and transformative eras in history, the Baroque artistic movement embodied ideals of extravagant and curvilinear properties. This new style put on display extravagant ornamentation, influencing surrounding artisans to follow in its footsteps of movement and emotional exuberance. The KPM Berlin porcelain factory adhered to these new tendencies and produced feminine walking sticks topped with porcelain knobs of veiled maidens to match the elegance and delicacy that its female patrons exemplified.

A gorgeous purple amethyst takes center stage in this elegant cane handle by Fabergé

A gorgeous purple amethyst takes center stage in this elegant cane handle by Fabergé

Floral Canes…

The flamboyant, ornamental trends of the Rococo artistic movement inspired an entirely new era of women’s style in the fashion world. For any sophisticated lady’s wardrobe, new styles now featured striking patterns that exuded a sense of elegance and playfulness. One of the most powerful decorative elements at play were exaggerated floral designs and motifs that had never been seen before. For the most fashionable ladies, these foliate designs embellished all different pieces of their finery, including walking sticks.

Bejeweled…

The dawning of the 19th century meant important and transformative things for ladies’ accessories. Bold statement pieces dripping with large colored gemstones became a lady’s choice jewelry piece. Prominent designs firms, particularly Carl Fabergé, sought to match these new trends with accessories that imbued extravagance with strong feminine influences. Topping walking sticks with precious gemstones and exquisite regal details, such as guilloche enameling and gold, Fabergé was able to appeal to the female taste for finery.

Impressions of Innocence: Dorothea Sharp

August 11th, 2016 | posted by Bill Rau
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British painter Dorothea Sharp captures the joyful spirit of childhood in this enchanting seaside scene

Spontaneity. Pure color. Rapid brushstrokes. These and more are words that come to mind when envisioning the impressionist style, and all embody the oeuvre of the British artist Dorothea Sharp. Yet, unlike the Impressionists who came before her and served as her inspiration, Sharp’s extraordinary canvases also evoke another word: innocence. Her charming scenes capture the simple joys of childhood through swift brushstrokes and bright hues that mimic the energetic lightness of youth. Perhaps more than any other British artist, she understood the simple pleasures of everyday life through the eyes of a child. The result is stunningly rendered, endearing scenes that are both nostalgic and idyllic, and which conjure the purest memories of one’s childhood.

Cheerful yet nostalgic, Sharp's touching tributes to childhood are some of the greatest ever composed.

Cheerful yet nostalgic, Sharp’s touching tributes to childhood are some of the greatest ever composed.

Born in an age when women were expected to aspire solely to a good marriage and motherhood, Sharp’s path to artistic fame was far less idyllic. Like many female artists of her day, Sharp was deeply discouraged by her family to pursue her interests in the arts. Thus, her career did not begin in earnest until the age of twenty-one, when she inherited £100 from an uncle and was able to fund her own education. Her early years as an artist were largely influenced by the English painter George Clausen, and echoes of his style – particularly his renderings of light – can be seen even in her later works. Yet, a visit to Paris would have the most profound effect on her stylistic development, for it was there that she first encountered the work of Claude Monet and the Impressionists.

Her mastery of the impressionistic style imbues her canvases with an almost dream-like sentimentality

Her mastery of the impressionistic style imbues her canvases with an almost dream-like sentimentality

 

 

The spontaneity and boldness of the Impressionist’s canvases enamored Sharp, and her working style abruptly and permanently shift to embrace the ideals of the modern French art form. Inspired by Monet in particular, Sharp sought to replicate his revolutionary technique of using brilliant color to capture both shadows and light. Her masterful grasp of color theory seemed instinctive, and even today her works are admired for their bright, complementary color palettes. As she once said, “Colour is emotional – it is felt, in its finer sense rather than seen.” (The Artist Magazine, April 1931, p48).

In the years after adopting her new style, she quickly rose to fame in the art world, and in 1935 the editor of The Artist Magazinedescribed her as “one of England’s great women painters.” Though she never married, her admiration for motherhood and children is plain to see in her enchanting works. What is also clear is that her young subjects were relaxed in her presence, and as a result her works are free from any artificiality or pretension, simply depicting the happiness of youth at its purest.

Treasures from Brazil: Paraiba Tourmalines

August 2nd, 2016 | posted by Ludovic Rousset

Absolutely convinced he would find treasure buried deep beneath the barren hills of Paraiba, Brazil, the legendary miner Heitor Dimas Barbosa tunneled with a dedication and fury unlike any seen before…

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad are on the horizon to take place in the captivating and colorful city of Rio de Janeiro. Nestled between the endless sea and an upheaval of looming tropical mountains, Rio holds a reputation for excitement with its a lively atmosphere and a high energy, cosmopolitan culture. With celebrations such as the Rio Carnival that surpass even our legendary Mardi Gras here in New Orleans, millions of revelers visit the city every year. As the Summer Olympics near, the vibrant spirit and traditions of Brazil will capture worldwide attention. In the art and antiques world, this country holds treasures that are particularly exciting.

The cushion-cut 3.62-carat jewel displays the exemplary neon blue-green color so prized in these tourmalines

The cushion-cut 3.62-carat jewel displays the exemplary neon blue-green color so prized in these tourmalines

In the gemstone market, the importance of Brazil cannot be overestimated. While it is rich in beryl, topaz quartz, and diamonds, it is the precious and rare tourmaline for which this country is most distinctly known. Only recently discovered in 1987 by the miner Heitor Dimas Barbosa, the gem was excavated from an old, dilapidated mine in Paraiba, Brazil. Barbosa’s obsession began in 1981, with an unshakable belief that “Paraiba hill” held glistening treasure beneath its barren surface. It took five long, laborious years for any sign of value to be discovered.

Brilliant Paraiba tourmalines totaling 2.77 carats showcase the absolutely perfect intense turquoise blue hue synonymous with only the finest specimens Platinum 1 1/2" length

Brilliant Paraiba tourmalines totaling 2.77 carats showcase the absolutely perfect intense turquoise blue hue synonymous with only the finest specimens

Yet, when Heitor first caught glimpses of the gemstone hidden within the intricate shafts and tunnels of the mine, he knew it was all worth it. Word spread quickly as the tireless excavators and miners uncovered countless layers of this luminous tourmaline, which possessed a vividness unlike any other gemstone known. The gemstone market clamored for the new gemstone, coveting the brilliant blue-green hue that until then had only existed in the dreams of jewelry connoisseurs.

With their legendary reputation and virtually unobtainable rarity, these Paraiba tourmalines remain the most exclusive, the finest and the most coveted. While the tourmaline has since been discovered in other mines around the world in a rainbow of colors, no other variation carries the vivid, turquoise glow that truly sets the Paraiba tourmaline apart. To put the rarity of this gemstone in perspective, it is estimated there is only one Paraiba tourmaline mined for every 10,000 diamonds. Even more, it is nearly impossible to discover a Paraiba tourmaline over 3 carats.

This Paraiba is surrounded by 84 shimmering white diamonds totaling 0.64 carats

This Paraiba is surrounded by 84 shimmering white diamonds totaling 0.64 carats

Undeniably, the discovery of the Paraiba tourmaline was a turning point in the gemstone market. With a blue hue that is impossible to miss, the extraordinary vividness of the Paraiba tourmaline is a true treasure. The initial surge of popularity among this gemstone lasted not only through the 80s, but well into our current decade, with prices continuing to climb. However, as the market initially soaked up the modest supply of the stones initially discovered, they are a rarity all on their own. As a truly lasting gemstone, the spirit and captivation of the “swimming-pool-blue” hue continue to captivate jewelry experts and consumers alike.

The Master of Maritime: John Steven Dews

July 26th, 2016 | posted by Bill Rau
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The Mighty Westward racing for the King’s Cup at Cowes on August 8, 1934 Signed J Steven Dews (lower left)

When John Steven Dews failed his “A” level art class in grade school, few imagined that mere decades later he would be regarded as one of the most important living marine artists of his age. As a boy, his early failures only served to motivate him to achieve even higher levels of perfection in his work. With a determined spirit, he proved them all wrong, and today he composes some of the most captivating and highly coveted works of ships at sea.

Coming from a long lineage of seagoers, Dews developed a fascination with the sea at a young age. He was just 5 when he composed his first marine sketches while visiting his grandfather, an assistant harbor master. His keen fascination with the large boats and ocean vessels that glided by him every day inspired him to constantly sketch the bustling Hull Docks of Beverly, North Humberside. A decade later, he was studying at the Hull Regional College of Art.

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The lightning fast schooner became so renowned that she is still celebrated today; in fact, the Westward Cup Regatta, established in 2010, was named in her honor.

Dews stood out amongst his peers with his outstanding ability to depict ocean boats and ships with a remarkable sense of realism. To further hone his crafted (and fuel his obsession), he studied and perfected the different atmospheric qualities of the sea and sky, using model ships, architectural drawings, and countless photographs of ships at sea as his models. Far more than merely mastering his painterly techniques, Dews began his lifelong affair with the sea.

When it came to his most notable works, there is no question that his greatest success lies in his depictions of great racing schooners. In the early 20th century, yachting races were one of the most exciting and anticipated events throughout the England and the northeast United States.  Residents from all over iconic coastal towns  would congregate to watch these vessels slice through the water in a display of majesty and might. Masterfully depicting these gargantuan, yet graceful vessels, like the mighty Westward, Dews was able to imbue these trademark works with an unparalleled dynamic energy and excitement.

One of the most legendary racing schooners in the world, the Westward was designed and built by the famed Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, the architect of numerous award-winning vessels

One of the most legendary racing schooners in the world, the Westward was designed and built by the famed Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, the architect of numerous award-winning vessels

Before Dews, the tradition of maritime painting in art history has a long life of both admiration and acclaim. Naval motifs in art can range from history paintings that reveal much about our past, to picturesque renderings that celebrate the strength and beauty of the water. Artists throughout the ages, such as Francis Augustus Silva, Raoul du Gardier, and Montague Dawson, capture the sea in all her majesty, and often explore the relationship between man and sea with exceptional acuity.

Dews, with his exceptional talents for his craft, contradicts the traditional notion that an artist can only acquire fame after their death. Beginning with his first solo exhibition in 1976, where he sold his entire portfolio, his success his success and commissions have skyrocketed. However, this blockbuster exhibition seems small compared to the sense of achievement that he would enjoy throughout his lifetime due to his permanent connection to the sea.

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