Archive for the 'Fine Art' Category

Tissot’s Ravishing Beauties

November 27th, 2012 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

Jeune Femime a Leventail

Only a few times in our 100 years in business have we had the opportunity to own paintings by the famed Belle Époque painter, James Jacques Tissot. His recognizable images of stylishly dressed women of leisure are commanding ever higher prices at auction, and we were fortunate to buy this painting, after years of pursuing it.

Jeune Femme a’ l’Eventail is a study of a young woman dressed in 18th century period costume, seated in  a park, coquettishly holding a fan near her face. Typical of Tissot’s women, this painting displays profound attention to light in the lush landscape of the park and to the soft details of the woman’s clothes.  Our eyes are naturally drawn to the splayed fan – one of Tissot’s favorite props – which adds to the flirtatious nature of the painting.

Tissot’s paintings so often tell a story, and this painting is rich in details with the painter’s love of theatrics. The dramatic striped dress so expertly rendered on this model is one he used in several works. Tissot bought these costumes at local second-hand markets to suit the tastes of his patrons, who preferred portraits in 18th century dress. Even the fan reveals a secret language of women, in this case, that of a coy young woman. The model may be recognizable to Tissot collectors as she was one of his favorite subjects and is featured in several of his paintings.

As our research department delved into the history of the painting, they found it published in three important Tissot books. We were delighted! We also found other paintings that included the same model and the same dress.

This is one of the most exciting paintings we have ever had, so if you are in the New Orleans area, I invite you to come see its beauty in person.

Little Red Riding Hood, You Sure are Looking Good…….

November 7th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene

Little Red Riding Hood by Joseph Gott

As winter approaches, I can’t help but to think about being bundled up and reading a great classic.  In reflecting on childhood classics, I felt compelled to share with you an exquisitely crafted sculpture that is inspired by the well-known tale Little Red Riding Hood. This 19th  century sculpture is expertly carved from pure white marble by Joseph Gott. Known for his unconventional, almost light-hearted approach to his subjects, Gott first entered the Royal Academy schools in 1805.  He went on to win a silver medal in 1806 and gold medals in 1807 and 1819.

Classically sculpted face of Little Red Riding Hood by Joseph Gott

Gott’s approach to sculpture is epitomized in Little Red Riding Hood, where the legendary character’s unmistakable charm is effortlessly rendered.  Captured in a peaceful moment, certainly a rare one in this famous story, Little Red Riding Hood’s innocent expression is echoed perfectly by the fine white marble Gott used to craft this work of art.

Originally from Leeds, England, Joseph Gott began to explore his art at an early age. When you look at this sculpture, you can’t help but think he was inspired by his experience as a young artist! From 1798-1802, he studied under celebrated sculptor and Wedgwood designer John Flaxman. In 1822, Gott went to Rome as many artists did during the time. The inexpensive lifestyle, beautiful landscape and readily available artist materials made it a haven for artists like Gott. And like many artists, Rome was to be Gott’s base for the rest of his life.

A contemporary of John Gibson and Richard James Wyatt, who were also based in Rome, Gott set himself apart from his fellow expatriate sculptors, avoiding high moral or obscure mythological themes and never developing a liking for sweet nymphs. Gott’s work instead responded to the more open-minded patron who wanted sculptures that reflected an unaffectedness and genuine humanity. His work includes a variety of rustics and shepherds, animals – especially dogs – and many portrait busts and medallions, typically in Roman costume. Among his ideal figures, the most characteristic are girls, lightly draped, with Greek foreheads and noses, but their softer faces and chins putting them firmly in the early part of the 19th Century. Little Red Riding Hood has never been more beautiful!

Click here to see more of M.S. Rau’s fascinating sculptures.

Beauty Rediscovered: M.S. Rau Antiques Finds Forgotten Poynter Painting

October 16th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau
"Barine" is a recent rediscovery in the oeuvre of the great Sir Edward John Poynter (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

Barine” is a recent rediscovery in the oeuvre of the great Sir Edward John Poynter (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

After being in business for 100 years, you would think that it would be a tough task to surprise us. After all, the fine art and antiques that M.S. Rau Antiques deals with are older than the company itself. Where’s the surprise in that? But for me, the most rewarding aspect of our business is that there’s always something new to discover. Or in this particular case…rediscover.

I was in Europe earlier this year attending an art exhibition. I was on the last leg of my trip and was actually rushing to catch my train when I caught a glimpse of a magnificent, unsigned painting attributed to Sir Edward John Poynter, a renowned British academic artist. It was stunning, masterfully executed, and I immediately fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I was in danger of missing my train, but I just had to stop if only for a second to inquire about it before heading on my way. To say the least, I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to discover more, and thought I had missed out on a very special opportunity.

The weeks passed and soon, I was in England on business. I had decided to depart from my travel schedule to make an unplanned visit with a friend, and there it was…the very same painting from the exhibition! What were the chances? This time, I didn’t have the pressure of missing a train to contend with, and I was not going to leave the country without it!

The painting is believed to have been created specifically for the 1894 New Gallery Exhibition (M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)

I immediately got in touch with a professor in Australia who is an expert on Poynter’s work and was already familiar with this particular painting. She confirmed that the painting was indeed by Poynter! Entitled Barine, this work was widely known in art circles in the late 19th century, but up until now, the painting’s whereabouts had been unknown for the past 40 years! The masterpiece takes its name from the femme fatale it depicts, the “Faithless Barine” from Horace’s Odes. The ingenious use of subtle symbolism tells the tale of a cold-hearted vixen of indescribable beauty that breaks the heart of every man she woos, leaving only “a train of slaves [which] grows every day.”

Surely, the circumstances of our Poynter acquisition don’t happen every day. But those rare occasions when we do find something “new,” rare and unique is better than winning the lottery. The thrill of knowing that M.S. Rau had a hand in such an important painting’s provenance, and that we get to continue the work’s journey by finding the right client,makes what we do both incredibly challenging and immensely gratifying. Who knew the world of fine art could be so exciting?

The Spirited Style of Art Nouveau

July 25th, 2012 | posted by Liz Beirise
Salammbo Art Nouveau Sculpture by Breton

Salammbo Art Nouveau Sculpture by Breton

As one of the more recognizable movements in art and design, Art Nouveau is pervasive in visual culture even today. The sinewy line of flora, the interpretation of the exotic and the flourish of a bold typeface all typify this imaginative style of art, architecture and decorative arts. From the most famous examples – Hector Guimand’s Paris Mètro station entrances and Antonin Gaudì’s La Sagrada FamiliaI – to the widely-produced posters and advertisements, Art Nouveau can be appreciated in many forms.

Art Nouveau Bed

Art Nouveau Bed

M.S. Rau is fortunate to have in its collection a few outstanding pieces of Art Nouveau that beautifully exemplify the captivating range of objects that possess this style. The silvered bronze sculpture by French artist Paul Eugene Breton brings to life the powerful figure of Salammbô, the eponymous character in the 1862 historic novel by Gustave Flaubert. This stunning sculpture captures the Carthaginian priestess, clad in nothing but her jeweled ornaments and shackles, as she performs a sacred ritual. This figure flawlessly echoes the novel’s pre-occupation with Oriental exoticism, which was a popular artistic movement at the time of the novel’s publication. The circular base on which she stands is covered with the coat of a lion, which adds to this work’s decadent impression.

This enchanting bed is a rare example of furniture which celebrates Art Nouveau’s imaginative use of material. Crafted of wrought iron with decorative iron and wood panels, this ornate bed is composed of a headboard, footboard and sides, with flowing lines artfully arranged in a naturalistic fan motif. The wooden panels, adorned with fantastical creatures and mother-of-pearl accents, add to the bed’s natural allure. Sleep could never be as opulent as it is in this outstanding bed.

Baccarat Crystal Nautical Inkwell

Baccarat Crystal Nautical Inkwell

All the drama and glamour one expects from Art Nouveau can be found in this Baccarat crystal nautical inkwell. Gleaming with beautiful doré bronze and elegant crystal, this enchanting objet d’art is a triumphant nautical piece. Both beautiful and functional, the inkwells take the form of a conch shell and a nautical instrument which match the swooning siren centered in the crystal wave. Subtly erotic and overtly captivating, this piece is a masterwork of both the maker and the style.

Glamorous, just because. Exotic, simply to evoke fantasy. Art Nouveau’s hybrid style is as pertinent now as it was when it emerged as an avant-garde movement in the 1880’s. Owning a piece of Art Nouveau means possessing timeless elegance. Look at our website here for more examples and consider starting or adding to your collection today!

The Sacred Splendor of the Master of Barberino

July 18th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene
Madonna and Child, Master of Barberino, tempura on panel, ca 1368

Madonna and Child, Master of Barberino, tempera on panel, ca 1368

Having gained entry into an elite group of Renaissance Masters by exhibiting at the Uffizi Museum, this painting is certainly an acclaim-worthy work of art. Painted by the famed Master of Barberino, Madonna and Child, depicts the title figures flanked by two apostles.  What is truly eye-catching are the lush robes draping the subjects.  Made from ground lapis, the deep blue that envelopes Mary is a singular, extraordinary pigment known as “lapis lazuli”, sacred blue or sacré bleu.

Taking its name from its tremendous, almost sacred value, lapis lazuli was a costly material equal in value to gold.  Mined only in Afghanistan, the stone had to cross a very long trade route.  Transportation of this pigment was a dangerous endeavor; the carriers of the product were in constant fear of an attack by robbers.  Being of immense value, the painting studios who special ordered lapis would use it sparingly.  This piece, however, is virtually awash in the luscious blue hue, a feat that could not have been accomplished except by a special mandate from an extremely wealthy patron.  This lapis pigment was a favorite of fresco painters during Medieval and Renaissance times, it can be seen in the fresco paintings of Giotto and the tempera paintings of Fra Angelico.  Further planting this work firmly in the Early Renaissance period is the tender exchange between mother and child.  In the painting, the Madonna gazes lovingly at Christ while he gently grasps her veil in his hand. This small gesture reflects a significant shift in the 14th century, when artists began to infuse representations of Christ with human qualities.

Capturing a pivotal moment in religious and art history, this painting would fill an important place in your art collection.  The Master of Barberino had some of the largest commissions of any Tuscan artist of his day, including those for the churches of Santa Maria Novella and Ognissanti, two of the most important churches in all of Tuscany.  I urge you to consider this opportunity to own a piece by this significant early Renaissance painter.

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