Archive for the 'Fine Art' Category

A Classic Beauty

January 12th, 2013 | posted by James Gillis

Venus a La Tortue, after Antoine Coysevox

Collecting art is one of the most enjoyable pastimes. The thrill of the hunt for your next favorite piece is matched only by the joy of watching your collection grow. Collectors tend to have two different philosophies: the encyclopedic approach and the focused approach. Those who favor encyclopedic collections will carefully select examples from the spectrum of art history so they have a dynamic timeline of periods, artists and mediums. Focused collectors hone their tastes and collect intently on just that subject.

We have a sculpture in the gallery that would be an impressive piece for both a classical or encyclopedic collection. Venus á La Tortue depicts the captivating goddess of love as she kneels in a stream accompanied by a tortoise, a classic symbol of fertility. Sculpted in beautifully polished bronze, and resting atop a base of Rouge Griotte marble and ebonized wood base, Venus embodies the idealized female with her perfectly sculpted face and delicately proportioned body. Created after the artist Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720), a similar piece is housed in the Louvre.

Coysevox was one of the most important court painters under Louis XIV, executing many official portraits for the king and court. He is known for a mix of styles – the ornate baroque admired by the king and the classical, which resonated with aristocrats who liked the association to the great Roman Empire.  Like all art students of his time, Coysevox became skilled at copying classical sculptures to develop his talent. He later progressed into what would become his greatest legacy: portrait busts. His profound ability to capture both the physical likeness and the intangible ethos of his subjects won him many commissions, in addition to the king. He created the official tomb carving for the Cardinal Mazarin, now housed in the Louvre, an honor that would have only been bestowed on the preeminent artist of the period.

This statue particularly appeals to me for its still beauty. The Roman goddess Venus is one of the most captivating figures in mythology and one of the most depicted by artists of the ages. The sensuality depicted in this sculpture is subtle, certainly an influence from Coysevox who used nuance as one his greatest tools. Classical sculptures like this one bring new understandings each time they are viewed, and this is certainly the case with Venus á La Tortue. Every time I present Venus to clients in the gallery, I am drawn to new elements, whether it’s her soft musculature, the lovely drapery or the detailed adornments.

If you are in the New Orleans area, I invite you to come see this lovely depiction of Venus. You can also view this sculpture and the rest of our collection here.

Bouguereau and the Impressionists

December 13th, 2012 | posted by Deborah Choate

Secrets de l’Amour by William Adolphe Bouguereau

The holidays are in full swing here in the French Quarter, and that means decorations, parades and parties! It is also a special time here at the gallery as we recently opened our very first exhibition Impressionism: Influences & Impact. Showcased are impressionist masters like Claude Monet, Alfred Sissley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, along with artists like Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, who influenced them, and Vincent van Gogh, who was inspired by the revolutionary movement.

You may instantly recognize Secrets de l’Amour (Cupid’s Secrets) as the work of one of the most decorated artists of the 19th century, William Adolphe Bouguereau. With the influence of light and color from the Impressionists, Bouguereau painted classically themed portraits of women. This masterpiece is the ultimate expression of Bouguereau’s artistic ideals and even features his favorite model, Odile Charpentier.

The artist’s passion for the classical past is felt powerfully in this exceptional composition that depicts a coy cupid draped over a young woman’s shoulder, which he appears to be advising in matters of the heart. Finessed with the utmost academic rigor to which Bouguereau was dedicated, this painting also seems to have a deeply personal significance as it was painted the same year he married his long-time love Elizabeth Gardner.

Bouguereau received tremendous acclaim during his lifetime; he so dominated the Salons of the Third Republic that the official Salon became known unofficially as “Le Salon Bouguereau”. He is still highly sought-after today and his works are held in a number of prestigious private collections, as well as museums around the world.

We are fortunate to have this stunning piece in our collection, and as one of the gems of the exhibition. If you are in the New Orleans area, I encourage you to visit the gallery and explore the fascinating history of Impressionism. Impressionism: Influences & Impact runs until Janurary 4, 2013 and more information can be found here.

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?

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