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

The Extravagance of the Fabergé Bell Push

October 21st, 2014 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

The House of Fabergé rests as one of the most important and influential workshops. The company is steeped in a rich history. Founded in St. Petersburg, 1842, Gustav Fabergé founded an atelier that would soon gain worldwide recognition, extending to multiple countries, as one of the most remarkable designers of exquisite jewels and ornamental objects.

Fabergé Bell Push Item Number 30-1574

Fabergé Bell Push
Item Number 30-1574

Although known for their lavish and ingenious jewel encrusted Fabergé eggs, originally designed for the Tsar of Russia, The House of Faberge also designed unique, intricate, and marvelous objets d’art. These lovely and lavish objects, such as ornate jewelry and timepieces, often matched the extravagant and bountiful lifestyles of the elite and aristocratic.

At the end of the 19th century, the world encountered the glamorous and praised invention of electricity. It is with this creation that the elite societal classes were able to further demonstrate their wealth and influence. The Faberge workshops, nonetheless, were able to keep up with these progressing times.

Soon, the Faberge workshops designed small “bell pushes” for stately homes. These bells would be wired through electricity and used by members of the elite to alert their servants and household helpers within the home. Not surprisingly, these bell pushes followed the beautiful traditions of typical Faberge designs. Though tremendously functional, they are undeniably magnificent.

Fabergé Rhondonite Bell Push Item Number 29-5305

Fabergé Rhodonite Bell Push
Item Number 29-5305

This delicate hand-held Faberge bell push (left) features beautiful nephrite jade and gilded silver that works into an intricate foliate design. This piece bears the mark of esteemed and recognized work master Mikhail Perkhin, of the Faberge Company. The bell is a perfect example of the everlasting quality and timeless traditions of the Faberge workshops.

Similarly, this Faberge bell push (right) evokes excellence and immutably magnificent characteristics. Crafted of brilliant rhodonite and chased silver with gold gilding, this piece also announces affluence and technological progressiveness. This bell push displays the revered mark of Carl Faberge, son of founder Gustav, and states the silver composition by a mark of “88.” The black veined rose hues are emphasized by a stunning piece of sapphire that tops the central push button.

While the materials of these pieces are exquisite in themselves, it is indisputable how important and stunning they are when crafted into spectacular objects by skilled hands of the Faberge workshops.

The Duck Press – Strange and Delightful

October 11th, 2014 | posted by James Gillis
Silver Plate Duck Press by Joseph Heinrichs - Item Number 30-1042

Silver Plate Duck Press by Joseph Heinrichs – Item Number 30-1042

Foie gras, sweet crepes, escargot, ratatouille…the list could go on. French culture constantly amazes the world by remarkable dishes that leave many dumbfounded and in complete awe. Traditionally appealing to high taste, these dishes display the immense influence and popularity that French cuisine possesses.

Of many things in this inspiring and resilient food culture, however, nothing can be quite as unique as this!  These Silver Duck Presses, or press à canard, are examples of a type of large kitchen tool that developed in 19th century France used to create Canard à la Rouennaise. While many took a sudden liking to this delicate meal of rare duckling, a French dish at an identically sumptuous and elegant level as any other, the more curious immediately praised (and feared) the press by which the duck dish was prepared.

Not surprisingly, the dish and its press gained immediate attention within lavish French restaurants and the culinary elite due to its brutal, yet beautifully extravagant cooking and preparation processes. Almost immediately after its development, the duck press was embraced by restaurants that appealed to high taste and society. Table side preparations of this dish would occur, giving prosperous societal classes a direct view of the press in action.

Meat Carving Trolley with Duck Press - Item Number 29-9907

Meat Carving Trolley with Duck Press – Item Number 29-9907

So, how exactly does this weighty, yet stunningly imposing instrument operate? First, a duck is roasted to rare and tender perfection. After, its breasts, legs, and liver are removed. Left with an almost bare carcass, the skeletal remainder is packed into this grand, elaborate silver press. By cranking the lever clockwise above, the carcass is compressed in order to extract the rich juices. Then mixed with essential French ingredients, such as pureed duck liver, red wine, and butter, this sauce accompanies thin slices of the duck breast. The result is a dish so incredibly detailed, thorough, and magnificent.

Though not for the squeamish, the press was an indispensable item in any applauded French restaurant. Today, however, these duck presses are rare and difficult to acquire. In the M.S. Rau Gallery, however, the Silver Plate Duck Press (above) is one example of the traditional device. Created by renowned New York Silversmith, Joseph Heinrichs, this instrument is exactly like that of an original French duck press. In impeccable condition, this antique boasts efficiency, beauty, and French tradition. It is cast in a sleek, crisp metal frame and fabulously stands on two overt silver duck feet – an outstanding touch. This humorous tactic not only signifies the instruments purpose but gives the piece high embellishment and a lively personality. Similarly, Bruno Wiskemann’s Meat Carving Trolley (right) features an attached duck press locked on a glossy serving service. In faultless state, this shining apparatus features nine food storage compartments in exquisite dining perfection.

Bearing perpetual and elegant tradition, these two duck presses are marvelous and prime interpretations of a classic French style.

John Atkinson Grimshaw: Truth to Nature

September 18th, 2014 | posted by Bill Rau

The consummate, self-taught Victorian artist John Atkinson Grimshaw possessed an unquestionable gift for painting. The influence of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement is apparent throughout Grimshaw’s oeuvre, and he worked these ideals to create awe-inspiring land and cityscapes unlike any artist before or since.

Disappointed by the “mechanized” ideologies of academic art, the Pre-Raphaelites utilized exacting details, luminous palettes and sincerity to subject that ushered in a new era of expression in the 19th-century British art world. Grimshaw took their teachings and used them to craft amazing nocturnal scenes and landscapes, which bear striking photographic qualities unmatched by any other artist. Tranquil urban lanes with leafless trees and ports with the still figures of docked ships silhouetted against the moonlit sky have become synonymous with this incomparable talent.

 John Atkinson Grimshaw

The ethereal light of the moon cast a glow upon this nocturnal dock scene painted by John Atkinson Grimshaw in 1883 entitled “Whitby.”


Whitby, executed in 1883, displays Grimshaw’s mastery of atmosphere and light, with a stark contrast between the moonlight and the gas lantern light of the shops lining the dock. A gentle fog can be seen over the water, while the clouds attract the moonlight like a magnet, glowing with an ethereal realism. His moonlit scenes were so majestic that James Abbott McNeill Whistler, a famed nocturne artist in his own right, stated “I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlight pictures.” The soft glow of the setting sun illuminates his home, Knostrop Hall, in All in the Golden Twilight. The artist captures the ephemeral moment of the sun setting, presumably in fall, utilizing a palette of yellows, greens, browns and reds to convey the fleeting essence of time itself.

 John Atkinson Grimshaw

This serene landscape, entitled “All in the Golden Twilight,” captures the artist’s home at dusk, and exemplifies John Atkinson Grimshaw’s tremendous eye for detail and composition.


Since Grimshaw worked primarily for patrons, his works have historically been held in private collections. It is only recently that his paintings have earned the acclaim and appreciation of the broader art world. Considered among the most prestigious and important Victorian painters, Grimshaw’s works are undeniably distinctive and are some of the most highly sought-after 19th-century British artworks on the market.

The Ultimate Diamond

September 16th, 2014 | posted by Susan Lapene

Have you ever looked deep into the facets of a diamond and said, “That’s the most beautiful diamond I have ever seen?”  With 25 years under my belt in the jewelry business and after seeing thousands of diamonds, that’s exactly what I said when I saw this particular diamond.



Not only is it the most smashing diamond you will ever see, but its size is so impressive…22.11 carats of perfect diamond.  Also, imprsive are its credentials.  They are absolutely indisputable.   Certified by The Gemological Institute of America as being “D” in color and “VS2″ in clarity, plus a major bonus of being a Type IIa diamond. In layman’s terms, Type IIa diamonds are absolutely free of nitrogen making them the purest of white, even whiter than a “D” color diamond that is not a Type IIa.

Not only is The Ultimate Diamond one of the most beautiful diamonds in the world that can be worn and cherished for generations, it can also be a very smart investment!












At Your Leisure, Madame – With Berthe Morisot

July 29th, 2014 | posted by Deborah Choate

Girl in a Green Coat by Berthe Morisot

Natural, contemporary, spectacular, and radical. The amount of new artistic talent and influence of 19th Century French Impressionism is nearly indescribable, almost unbelievable. Breaking from religious and static scenes, French impressionists sought to capture the unaffected, ephemeral, fleeting effects of Parisian bourgeoisie leisure life. These artists broke from academic practice and from tradition of exhibiting at the public Salon; these artists turned exclusive. Seemingly dominated by a group of exclusive male painters, such as Monet and Degas, few female artists were able to break into the close-knit circle of the impressionist exhibitions.

However, Berthe Morisot portrayed talent and value worthy of active participation and acceptance into the Impressionist world. Unlike her contemporaries who consistently portrayed bourgeois landscape scenes painted en plein air, Morisot’s career was dominated by interior and domestic views of elite Parisian woman. By representing the private world of her own social class, Morisot granted viewers access to the intimate and secluded world of elite Victorian era women.

Morisot’s Girl in a Green Coat shows us exactly that. The featured woman, Morisot’s young Russian neighbor Marthe, is elegant, refined, and reserved. Though intimately painted, the young woman dominates the large oil painting. Her sophisticated, polished green verdant coat pops against Morisot’s signature soft, shy colors. Her elite social class is clear amidst the sketchy, exceptional brushwork. Set in the interior of Morisot’s apartment on Rue Weber, she is a perfect portrayal of the choice domestic woman.

With the study for this exact work in the Lehman Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is certain how precious and respected the work of Berthe Morisot is today. She nearly dominated the field of Impressionism, towering above many others in her permanent importance and everlasting significance. In the explosion of French Impressionism, Morisot was able to successfully forge her way into extreme popularity, admiration, and esteem.

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