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

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.

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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!

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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.

The Story of The Tailor Who Sat at The King’s Table

June 21st, 2014 | posted by Ludovic Rousset
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This intriguing porcelain figure is considered one of Meissen’s greatest works

Meissen porcelain is considered to be the first European porcelain ever to be created. Developed in the early 18th century by Johann Friedrich Böttger, this new hard-paste porcelain attracted artists and artisans from all over Europe to establish the first Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen GmbH, considered to be one of the most refined porcelain factories in the western world. Meissen porcelain is perhaps most noted for its allegorical figurines which are often delicately adorned with colorful floral decoration and intricate details. Each piece of Meissen porcelain is unique and often has an interesting story behind it.

We recently acquired one of Meissen’s more curious pieces. This fascinating porcelain statue entitled, “Count Brühl’s Tailor on a Goat,” is considered to be one of Meissen’s greatest works. This particular piece was crafted by Johann-Joachim Kaendler, considered to be the most famous sculptor at the Meissen factory.  As you can see, this piece features exceptional artistry and detail, from the tailor’s jauntily-cocked tricorn hat, bright floral jacket and slightly askew spectacles, to the shears hanging from the goat’s horn. Not only is this piece fascinating in detail, but the story behind it is perhaps even more interesting than the piece itself.

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The tailor is attired in fine clothing and the tools of his trade, all hand-painted with great care

During the early 18th century, Count Brühl, Chief Administrator to the King, was considered the best- dressed man in Saxony (now Germany). With this being said, Count Brühl’s tailor considered himself extremely important since he felt that he was equally responsible for that title. The tailor became very conceited and allowed his new ‘title’ to get the best of him. He politely requested that the Count reward him of his craft by allowing him to dine at Court with the King. The Count, who dared not make such a request to the King, came up with a clever plan that he hoped would fulfill the tailor’s wishes. He commissioned Kaendler to create a centerpiece depicting the tailor for the King’s dining room table, thus fulfilling the tailor’s wishes of dining with the King and avoiding any embarrassment. Kaendler, with his creative mind and clever sense of humor, took advantage of this comical situation and crafted an over-the-top satirical caricature of the tailor dressed in an ostentatious jacket astride an equally extravagant billy goat. Needless to say, Kaendler’s satirical statue of the self-important tailor became a hilarious novelty piece at the King’s Court dinners.

A fantastic conversation piece, this Meissen piece is in great condition and ready for your collection. Display it in your home and share its funny story with your dinner guests. A must have for any major Meissen collection.

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