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

Exquisite Craftsmanship: Remington Rifle Canes

August 28th, 2015 | posted by Danielle Halikias
Topped by the classic hound head, this walking stick is covered in a protective plant resin called gutta-percha and is finished by a silver collar.

Topped by the classic hound head, this walking stick is covered in a protective plant resin called gutta-percha and is finished by a silver collar.

The oldest and largest gun maker in the country, the Remington Arms Company still domestically produces products, leading the arms industry in quality and innovation. Beginning with Eliphalet Remington II’s belief that he could produce a gun finer than any money could buy, the Remington Arms Company was established in 1816 and became an overnight success. Now the only U.S. manufacturer that produces both firearms and ammunition, the company played a significant role providing ammunition and arms in both world wars. Yet perhaps their most valuable, recognizable and unique products remain their remarkable rifle canes.

The famous Remington dog head handle surmounts this large percussion rifle cane by the Remington Arms Company

The famous Remington dog head handle surmounts this large percussion rifle cane by the Remington Arms Company

Beginning in the Victorian era, any well-established, respected man would carry a walking stick: a symbol of wealth, taste, and class. While the concept of masterfully disguising a firearm inside the shaft of a walking stick had been seen earlier in Europe, it was not until John F. Thomas, master mechanic at the Remington Company, that this technique was perfected. These types of cane guns were used by men as protection as well as a stylish accessory, as street crime and violence was on the rise in the mid-19th century. In 1858, Thomas received a patent (#19,328) for his “Rifle Cane,” a percussion fired single-shot cane rifle. These rifle canes received high praise and exposure due to their intricacy and taste in design. Within a year, Remington Arms was selling these gun canes to an eager public. It sold well—a successful novelty that any gentleman of means and distinction would have been pleased to own.

Unlike their European counterparts, the entire firing mechanism in these Remington rifle canes is completely hidden by the upper shaft of the cane. On the lower part of the cane lies the inconspicuous trigger button. Remington rifle canes were made with a variety of handles, including ball & claw, dog’s head, full curve, curve with flat gripping area, bulbous-shape, and L-shape – with the dog’s head handle remaining the most recognizable. The Remington rifle cane shaft was covered with either a hard rubber gutta-percha or vulcanized rubber.

It is estimated that only 1,000 of these canine-form rifle canes were produced

It is estimated that only 1,000 of these canine-form rifle canes were produced

At M.S. Rau Antiques, we have two rifle canes that speak to the mastery behind Remington Rifle Canes. An extraordinary rarity, this dog’s head rifle cane depicts the traditional Remington dog symbol as the cane handle. Whimsical, yet emblematic of the Remington Company, this gun cane is covered in gutta-percha and is finished by an elegant silver collar. The ferrule is engraved with “J.F. Thomas, patent Feb’y 9 1858” with the serial number “22.” Similarly, this bold dog topped gun cane boasts exceptionality and is distinctive to any similar counterparts and is in incredible working condition. To fire each of these gun canes, one simply pulls the handle back to a cocked position, aims the cane and presses the small button on the upper shaft.

It is estimated that only 1,000 of these canine rifle canes were produced. Very limited numbers of these canes have survived, making existing examples such as this an extraordinary rarity. Today, these rifle canes are highly prized by collectors, cane enthusiasts, and Remington aficionados.

More than a Prime Minister: The Talent of Sir Winston Churchill

August 18th, 2015 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter
This stunning landscape of the south of France is by Sir Winston Churchill

This stunning landscape of the south of France is by Sir Winston Churchill

Statesman, Politician, Historical Giant. Viewed through the long lens of history, Winston Churchill is heralded as one of the greatest wartime leaders the world has seen. A Renaissance man in the truest sense of the word, his contribution to history extended beyond the realm of the state, civil matters, and its people. For Churchill made a lasting impact on the realm of art history as well through his greatest passion: painting.

Painting was a dominating passion for Churchill in the last half of his life

Painting was a dominating passion for Churchill in the last half of his life

Broad brushstrokes and vivid color are characteristics of the statesman's artwork

Broad brushstrokes and vivid color are characteristics of the statesman’s artwork

In June 1915, Churchill resigned as First Lord of Admiralty following the Dardanelles Campaign, seeking respite from the dark, heavy affairs of political matters. He was forty and exhausted. In spite of (or perhaps due to) a political and state career that would give him his everlasting, Churchill desired a relief from the profound depression that plagued him. He quit London and rented a farm in Godalming for the summer with his wife Clementine. Among the company was Churchill’s sister-in-law Gwendoline, a talented watercolorist. In long leisure moments contemplating the future of the frightful, unfolding war, Churchill observed his sister-in-law’s artistic endeavors, which quickly attracted him to the quiet endeavor of painting. With the same determination that made him a master politician, Churchill set about to master the art of oil painting. His daughter Mary noted the effect of painting on her father, “Problems of perspective and color, light and shade gave him respite form dark worries, heavy burdens and the clatter of political strife… enabling him to confront storms, ride out depressions and rise above the rough passages of political life.”

Signed “WSC” (lower left); Oil on canvas

Signed “WSC” (lower left); Oil on canvas

Churchill was particularly attracted to sun-drenched, sweeping landscape scenes in the South of France, Morocco, and Egypt. Bursting with color and vibrancy, his dramatic brushwork fully embodied the rejuvenation Churchill himself felt while painting. Finding hours of occupation and pleasure in the activity, Churchill was on his way to becoming an accomplished artist. One particular piece displays the bright, peaceful mood he felt while painting: A Distant View of a Town in the South of France. Highly personal, this bold, colorful canvas represents all trademarks of Churchill’s artistic style. Full, saturated yellows occupy the foreground that lead into dense greens and gushing blues. Regarding the work, one can almost feel the breeze from southern France escape the canvas. Afternoon shadows bounce off the canvas, while thick strokes of color create an overwhelmingly peaceful, beautifully composed image. Light and airy, this piece is not only a representation of Churchill’s talent in artistry, but the peace and solace he felt while painting.

“Happy are the painters,” Churchill once described his relationship with painting, “for they shall never be lonely: light and color, peace and hope will keep them company to the end – or almost to the end of day.” In a sequence of resiliency and rejuvenation, Churchill found more than a hobby, but a passion that sustained him.

Master of Glass: Lalique Perfume Bottles

August 7th, 2015 | posted by James Gillis
A graceful scarab beetle scurries around the body of this remarkably rare glass perfume flacon by the famed glassmaker René Lalique

A graceful scarab beetle scurries around the body of this remarkably rare glass perfume flacon by the famed glassmaker René Lalique

Renowned for his impeccable artistry in glass design, René Lalique is a legend of his craft. His illustrious career began in 1881 as a designer of stunning jewelry creations, and he eventually took over the workshop of jeweler Jules Destape in Paris. For nearly a decade, Lalique concentrated exlusively on fine jewelry design, but by 1890 the celebrated artisan began his first experiments in designs using glass. Lalique would, by the early 20th century, fully emerge not only as a master of Art Nouveau jewelry, but also an Art Deco master of glass who would irrevocably change the world of glassmaking.

An elegant viper wraps itself around this incredible Lalique art glass perfume

An elegant viper wraps itself around this incredible Lalique art glass perfume

Lalique’s glass items sparkled with natural forms, curvilinear designs, and stylized women. One of his categories, however, propelled his reputation as a talented glass designer into an international sensation: perfume bottles. It is with these spectacular, unique, and remarkable items that Lalique fully explored his brilliance and creativity. As much as Lalique himself, these bottles became stars of glass design; no other object could parallel these extraordinary flacons in creativity or craftsmanship.

Crafted in the Rosace Figurines pattern, this delicate flacon is molded with lithe, elegant maidens on both sides, and is a superb example of Lalique’s sophisticated Art Deco style.

Crafted in the Rosace Figurines pattern, this delicate flacon is molded with lithe, elegant maidens on both sides, and is a superb example of Lalique’s sophisticated Art Deco style.

While all of Lalique’s perfume bottles evoke a sense of sophistication, and refinement, certain are perfect examples of Lalique’s mastery of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco style. His perfume bottle, “Capricornes,” depicts a graceful scarab beetle wrapped around the body of the bottle. In the Art Nouveau tradition, the flacon utilizes forms from nature to evoke a sense of graceful, natural beauty. This highly desirable pattern is etched onto crisp, clear glass that makes for the ultimate display. Like the motif of the beetle, this “Serpent” perfume bottle depicts a spiraling viper snake around the body of the bottle, whose head forms into the stopper. In the greatest sense of exoticism, this bottle is delicate, yet fiercely powerful.

Dancing nude maidens with flowing floral garlands adorn the bottle

Dancing nude maidens with flowing floral garlands adorn the bottle

In addition to depicting natural forms and patterns, many of Lalique’s rare perfume bottles depict the popular Art Nouveau form of woman in nature, or woman as nature.

Classic and stylish, this enchanting glass perfume bottle was created by the famed glassmaker René Lalique

Classic and stylish, this enchanting glass perfume bottle was created by the famed glassmaker René Lalique

 

 

 

His “Rosace Figurines” perfume bottle shows enchanting depictions of maidens on each side. Equally eye-catching is the bottle stopper that transpires into two more women. Swirling and elegant, these figures perfectly complement the airy, pale blue of the glass bottle. As a beacon of magnificence and splendor, this exquisite piece is a hallmark of extraordinary glass artistry. Similarly, his exquisite perfume bottle “Troise Groupes de Deux Danseuses” depicts dancing nude maidens with flowing floral garlands. Molded from clear and frosted glass with a delicate bronze patina, this perfume bottle epitomizes the glassmakers enchanting Art Nouveau style.

Peridot, Gem of the Sun: August Birthstone

August 4th, 2015 | posted by Peter Hernandez
The enchanting piece is by the legendary artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co.

The enchanting piece is by the legendary artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co.

Finely executed enameling in shades of blue and green fill an exquisite 18k gold filigree design

Finely executed enameling in shades of blue and green fill an exquisite 18k gold filigree design

A truly ancient gemstone that dates back to the Egyptian pharaohs, the peridot is among the most highly desirable colored gemstones in the world. Uniquely light green in color, this gemstone was first mined in the Red Sea on the Isle of Serpents (present day St. John Island), where Egyptian pharaohs prized the magnificent stone, calling it the “gem of the sun.” Ancient Romans were likewise fond of the stone, calling it “the emerald of the evening” due to its radiant green shine in all lighting conditions. Yet, the peridot is also a thoroughly modern stone, experiencing an incredible upsurge in popularity in the 1990s due to a newly discovered mine in Kashmir. For this reason, these verdant beauties are highly prized in in modern jewelry pieces, considered the perfect complement for springtime ensembles.

The 45.60 carat gemstone is bordered by diamonds totaling 1.06 carats

The 45.60 carat gemstone is bordered by diamonds totaling 1.06 carats

 

 

With a color that evokes the lightness of springtime, it is no surprise that the peridot is a popular pick for Art Nouveau designs. Crafted by the legendary artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co., this extraordinary peridot and plique-à-jour enamel necklace is a rare and unique masterpiece of jewelry design. Delicately crafted, the necklace boasts finely executed enameling in shades of blue and green that fill an exquisite filigree design formed from 18k yellow gold. Two perfectly hued green peridots weighing approximately 2.00 carats each accent the enamel, adding the perfect amount of shimmer to this enchanting design.

Weighing an amazing 30.87 carats, this gem is marked by exquisite color and clarity

Weighing an amazing 30.87 carats, this gem is marked by exquisite color and clarity

While peridots can come in a wide range of natural green hues, the most valuable and rare are a vivid, pale green. This 45.60-carat peridot pendant necklace embodies the sparkling green color so prized in this precious stone. Set in an 18K gold setting, this magnificent stone is accented by 117 white diamonds totaling 1.06 carats. Equally stunning is this complementary peridot ring. At 30.87 carats, the dazzling stone is accentuated by 218 diamonds totaling 1.85 carats. As equally monumental in size as meaning, these peridots are sure to please any audience.

Magnificent Meissen: Porcelain Urns

July 27th, 2015 | posted by Susan Lapene
These incredible Meissen porcelain urns depict the themes of Summer and Autumn

These incredible Meissen porcelain urns depict the themes of Summer and Autumn

While the exact details of the development of porcelain are a mystery, its lasting influence and prestige in the realm of the decorative arts remains a constant. Beloved by aristocrats and kings to the bourgeoisie and common man, porcelain has held an integral place in palaces, galleries, museums and homes throughout history. It is the material of the elite, of beauty, and of years of fascination; it remains the definition of versatility, elegance and classic style.

Such grand creations would only have been crafted for Meissen's most affluent clients

Such grand creations would only have been crafted for Meissen’s most affluent clients

Originating in China during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE), porcelain fast became an integral part of Chinese decorative arts. It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE), almost 2000 years later, that Chinese porcelain hit the Western world, when the Chinese export business reached its heights. Western Europe quickly developed a fervor for this fashionable new material, and European craftsman longed to reproduce the popular material.

While experimenting to achieve hard-paste porcelain as magnificent as the Chinese, a small 17th century town called Meissen, located in Germany, set the stage for successful porcelain creation. Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, imprisoned the alchemist, Johann Friedrich Bottger, in order to use his talents to recreate the formula for hard-paste porcelain. It was upon his success three years later that Bottger was freed. Soon after, the Meissen factory was established, becoming the first European center for hard-paste porcelain. Their products evoked delicacy, elegance, and the highest level of craftsmanship that set the standard for porcelain creation in Europe.

The detailing of each urn is explicit, down to each individual flower petal

The detailing of each urn is explicit, down to each individual flower petal

Of the many different types of porcelain pieces Meissen produced, urns remain among the most important and prestigious. This pair of large Meissen urns exhibit all of the trademarks of the Meissen approach. Standing at a towering 50 1/4” high, these urns are a true hallmark of Meissen design. The base of each urn creates a slate for true craftsmanship; flower stems encircle the surface and foliage is scattered throughout. Atop, the middle of the urn is wrapped in a swirl of colorful applique flowers and symbolic female figures that all protrude from the surface in an extraordinarily realistic manner. Completing each urn is a wild bouquet of different types of flowers and greenery. These highlights emerge from the top, swirling through the mouth of the urn as though blossoming from within. Each urn presents an ideal botanical garden; every aspect is shown in full bloom and strength. From the extraordinary details to the profusion of color throughout, these porcelain urns are truly a work of art.

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