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

A King Among Stones: The Ruby

July 19th, 2016 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

Without a doubt, the ruby is one of the most fascinating and memorable stones in the gemstone market. The rich crimson red of this coveted gemstone is said to stir passions and enhance emotions. Due to their blood-red beauty, people of ancient times believed rubies held the power over life and death. Other cultures deem the stones symbols of wisdom and beauty. With a history that dates to 200BC and the ruby trade on the North Silk road, today it is regarded as the most culturally important colored gemstone, and it remains one of the most sought-after gems. With its fine hardness, durability, and luster, the ruby exudes rarity, importance and paramount quality.

Ten exquisite Burma rubies display their prized "pigeon blood" hue in this elegant bracelet.

Ten exquisite Burma rubies display their prized “pigeon blood” hue in this elegant bracelet.

Because rubies can range in color from bright, striking red to darker hues and reddish-browns, there exist different variations of the gemstone. The most rare and valuable of this gemstone is the Burmese ruby. Standing as spectacular examples of the most sought after deep, rich color known as “pigeon’s blood” red, Burmese rubies are among the rarest of all gemstones. A location marked by richness in mineral resources, Burma has existed as a source of exceptional rubies since 600 AD. For centuries, Burma has been associated with the world’s finest rubies, though by edict of the King himself, the finest stones were never allowed to leave the kingdom. Due to increasing political unrest, the country closed itself to the world in 1962, further restricting trade and increasing the rarity of these magnificent stones. Whether used as earrings, rings, or any other jewelry variety, Burmese rubies are simply considered the best for their exceptional coloring and rare origin.

A ring of rubies surrounds the base of the knob, which is further accentuated by grisaille enamel plaques and golden guilloché enamel

A ring of rubies surrounds the base of the knob, which is further accentuated by grisaille enamel plaques and golden guilloché enamel

Suited to more than just magnificent jewelry pieces, the ruby can add a dazzling touch to a variety of rare antiques. In many ways, the addition of a ruby gemstone is the ideal way to add a flair of richness and desirability to any item.

Emerald, ruby and mother-of-pearl cabochons embellish the gilt handle of this resplendent decorative walking stick

Emerald, ruby and mother-of-pearl cabochons embellish the gilt handle of this resplendent decorative walking stick

Walking canes accentuated with inset ruby gemstones transform the cane from an object of practicality to a stylish accessory. Possessing a fascinating history, the walking stick has evolved into a symbol of power and prestige. Far from its humble roots as a tool for animal herders and intrepid travelers, rulers and high class style icons alike have wielded luxurious staffs and opulent canes. Luxury adornments such as ruby cabochons elevate the walking stick from an already respected accessory into a fashion statement all on its own.
Thanks to the success of the ruby gemstone, the celebrated Moser glass firm began to utilize the spectacular effect of its crimson color to accent their glass pieces. Exhibiting in international fairs and exhibitions in order to showcase their best pieces, Moser was able to expand its audiences, clientele, and prestige. One such piece created for an exposition is this urn-shaped ruby glass vase. Created in 1885, the deep red color is a signature of Moser’s crlebrated ruby glass. Decorating this magnificent, rich color is gilt-accented designs of colored oak leaves and flowers connected by thin, delicate vines. Standing twenty-two inches tall, this vase’s ornate and lavish design allows the luxurious ruby glass to reveal itself and its sophisticated shape.

How to Spot It: Louis XIV, Louis XV, & Louis XVI Antiques

July 13th, 2016 | posted by Danielle Halikias
Louis XV-Style Side Chairs

Louis XV-Style Side Chairs

In many ways, 18th-century French furnishings are the ideal of an antique; they are meticulously designed and exquisitely constructed! Similar only in name, the prevailing French styles of the 18th century are Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI.

From the lavishly adorned Louis XV to the quiet elegance of Louis XVI, each style uniquely reflects the rich social and political history of its time. Check out the brief primer below to learn how to easily spot Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI-style antiques!

Louis XIV

Approximate date: 1660-1700


Louis XIV-Inspired French Linen Press

Louis XIV-Inspired French Linen Press

Louis XIV Period Tortoiseshell Mirror

The Sun King’s rise to the throne in 1661 inspired an era of splendor in the French decorative arts. The sophisticated Louis XIV style may be generally described as Baroque and is characterized by symmetry, which exudes a sense of firm balance and majesty. The powerful decorative elements of the Louis XIV style are heavily influenced by architecture and often feature ornamental motifs including mythological creatures, flora, and fauna.

The dawning of the 18th-century also brought with it a taste for individualized, use-specific furnishings and led to the popularization of functional objects like mirrors, candelabra, and chandeliers.


Louis XV

Approximate date: 1700-1750


Louis XV Period Console Table

Louis XV Period Console Table


French Giltwood Chairs

Considered one of the greatest eras of European furniture, the Louis XV style may be described as the French iteration of Rococo. The lavish furnishings of this period display great creativity and a penchant for extravagant decoration. With an emphasis on comfort and exuding a strong feminine influence, Louis XV style antiques are marked by curvilinear lines and asymmetry. Typical ornamentation of the period includes exotic flora, fauna, shells, and animals.

Louis XVI

Approximate date: 1750-1800



Louis XVI-Style Music Chair


François Linke Vitrines, Louis XVI Style

The handsome Louis XVI style was termed goût grec or “Greek taste” when it emerged during the mid-18th century. It developed as a reaction to the florid designs of the Louis XV style, as is demonstrated by its restrained geometry and allusions to ancient architecture. Free of Rococo lavishness or Baroque excess, Louis XVI style antiques achieve a spontaneous elegance. Classical motifs are typical of the period, including the egg-and-dart, acanthus, laurel, and cornucopias along with traditional architectural elements.



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A Real Knockout: The Rumble in the Jungle Boxing Contracts

July 8th, 2016 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

Muhammad Ali – Photo by Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated

On October 30, 1974, the Rumble in the Jungle World Heavyweight Championship pitted the then undefeated boxing champion George Foreman against challenger Muhammad Ali. The match ended with Ali winning by knockout just before the conclusion of the eighth round and is now considered one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century.


The Rumble in the Jungle boxing contracts are housed in a customized, hard cover portfolio

The legendary fight was promoted by Don King, a hugely successful American boxing promoter best known for his work organizing the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manila. King convinced both Ali and Foreman to sign contracts stating that they would compete if he could acquire a purse of 5 million dollars. However, King did not have the funds and sought an outside nation to sponsor the event. The President of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, requested the contest to be fought in his country, eager for such a high-profile event to spark publicity.

The resulting match was fought before an audience of approximately 60,000 and largely thanks to the efforts of boxing promoter and telecommunications expert Henry “Hank” Schwartz, was the first ever telecast from Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Schwartz’s valiant efforts were responsible for establishing not only a successful global boxing event but also building an entire telecommunications infrastructure for the country, an act which earned him the position of Minister of Communications of Zaire.

The Rumble in the Jungle Boxing Contracts

The Rumble in the Jungle Boxing Contracts

The Rumble in the Jungle Boxing Contracts pictured here come directly from the private collection of boxing promoter and telecommunications expert Henry “Hank” Schwartz. Not only are the contracts a great memento from the most spectacular sporting event of the 20th century, they are an extraordinary relic connected to the late Muhammad Ali.

The Story of Sterling: 19th Century Silver Patterns

July 5th, 2016 | posted by James Gillis

Chrysanthemum, English King, Fairfax, Chantilly. Elegant, luxurious names given to some of the most pioneering designs in craft: silver patterns.


A pair of Tiffany & Co. sterling silver entrée dishes crafted in the Chrysanthemum pattern, exhibiting the motif’s exuberant flowers and elegant scrolled feet.

The creation of a well-designed pattern is the work of an artist. Different designs can immediately suggest the personality of the silver piece and assert its value and context. More than just simple decoration, silver patterns hold a place of unforgettable beauty. Coffee poured from a slender shining Chrysanthemum pot, and a carving knife graced with the elegant, mythological forms of the Tiffany Olympian pattern become active participants in the dining occasion. Conversation pieces all on their own, the different patterns and styles of silver are a not not only a testament to the innate artistry of silversmiths, but windows into the fascinating history of silver.


A sterling silver water pitcher by Tiffany & Co. crafted in the Japanese pattern that features distinguishing hand-hammered finish and applied naturalistic decorations

Of all the periods in history, the 19th Victorian era is comprised of the most revolutionary and pioneering efforts in the silver arts. While the 18th century welcomed hints of opulence and luxurious items into the homes of aristocracy and the upper class, the 19th century saw lavishness in full bloom, translating into intricate silver patterns in undeniably spectacular varieties.

This period ruled as the one of the most triumphal epochs as peace, prosperity, and most importantly, wealth reigned as an entirely new way of living and socializing. With this privilege of wealth came the strong desire for things that would best reflect it and a desire was formed to dine in complete and utter elegance. The new, sumptuous tastes were on full display and extensive silver pieces for the home and dining room served as visual affirmation of economic prosperity and affluence. The prestigious jewelry and silver firm, Tiffany & Co., recognized the need for ornate dining pieces and immediately clamored at this opportunity to design different patterns, like their iconic Chrysanthemum, to grace silver pieces that would match the opulence of the dining occasion. As one of the most enduring patterns to date, the Chrysanthemum pattern is an excellent example of the exuberance of this period. Silver entrée dishes, for example, that bear this pattern are crafted with motifs of opulent foliate and intricate, elegant scrolls. Other patterns, like their Japanese pattern that featured applied décor of organic, naturalistic forms, also put lavishness on full display. Now, nearly every surface of a silver piece was engraved and ornamented.


Widely considered the firm’s finest, the Francis I pattern by Reed and Barton’s is comprised rococo-style fruits and flowers.

Tiffany & Co. was not the only one to see success and desire from their sumptuous silver pieces. As the social calendars of the elite continuing to fill with evening gatherings and economic prosperity to continually rise, other silver firms, like Reed and Barton, also crafted extravagant silver pieces. Their quintessential Francis I pattern, depicting different intricate fruit clusters, is a dazzling sight of artistic talent and abundance. Used for vegetable bowls, compotes, and even sandwich trays, the Francis I pattern reigns as one of the most highly collectible patterns to date. Named for the Renaissance Duke, Francis of Angouleme, the Francis I pattern reflects dazzling height of architecture during this fascinating monarch’s reign.

In 1863, yet another powerhouse silver firm began designing opulent silver pieces. Gorham Silver, comprised of some of the most talented American silversmiths, introduced a new type of hand-wrought silver that would take the silver world by storm. Their Martele pattern, that followed the curvilinear and naturalistic qualities of the Art Nouveau movement, became the companies crowning achievement. Meaning “to hammer” in French, this pattern was entirely hand crafted and featured elegant, elongated handles, slender edges, and graceful proportions.

Whether stately or extremely decorated, all patterned silver pieces possess a balance and scale that makes them not only comfortable to use, but attractive. Establishing rich silver style traditions that still prevail and exist today, the talent of Gorham, Tiffany & Co., and period styles continue to be an enduring force in the silver world today, inspiring generations of artistic achievement.

Interested to learn more about the profound world of silver? Read more to understand more about the important role of silver in the dining room.

Opposites Attract in Antebellum Pop!

July 1st, 2016 | posted by Amanda Kennedy

Guest Blog: Interior designer Ellen Kennon shares her experiences creating a custom color palette for renowned artist Hunt Slonem’s exhibition Antebellum Pop! at the LSU Museum of Art. The exhibition incorporates antique furniture on loan from M.S. Rau Antiques with the Pop art stylings of Slonem, and is on view through August 5, 2016. 


The English mahogany table seats 32 when extended. The Chippendale and George II dining chairs are mingled together, much like in the dining rooms at Hunt’s two Louisiana homes

The Hunt Slonem: Antebellum Pop! exhibit is getting rave reviews. 225 Magazine’s article “Inside the Stunning Design of LSUMOA’s Hunt Slonem Exhibit” describes it perfectly: “The LSUMOA team brings together striking and creative design and dynamic pieces to create a space that feels separated from the rest of the world”. As an interior designer and color consultant who worked with Curator Dr. Sarah Clunis and the LSU exhibition team, I can tell you trying to recreate Hunt Slonem’s magical living spaces in rooms as vast as those at the LSU Museum was daunting. Although Hunt’s homes have enormous rooms, they’re not nearly the size of the exhibition spaces. We could not have pulled it off without the spectacular chandeliers, mirrors and grandiose antiques on loan from M.S. Rau Antiques to anchor such huge spaces. Turning a 34’ x 26’ area into a dining room, we really needed Rau’s over-sized English Mahogany Pedestal Dining Table and Satinwood and Mahogany Pedestal Sideboard, for instance.



Hunt, who came up with the name “Antebellum Pop”, said the show took years of brainstorming and is the product of a ten-year intent to exhibit in this space. The artist’s surreal expressionism and repetitious imagery is magnified by its juxtaposition with the traditional furniture design of the 19th century Antebellum South, including signature international styles such as Gothic, Rococo and French Revival. Slonem fills and charges his canvases with color and texture, and does the same with his roomscapes.

The “Juliet’s Potion” green used in the bedroom was also used in Hunt’s new Brooklyn Studio. The pair of Gilt Rococo Mirrors and Regency Rosewood Settee are on loan from M.S. Rau Antiques.


I came on board after Sarah spent many hours with Hunt visiting his two Louisiana planation homes to get a feel for his unique decorating style. The colors we selected for this exhibit were chosen from a special palette of colors I developed for Hunt to coordinate with his new fabric and wallpaper collection that are featured in each room. Although the colors we used in his plantation homes were of the period, the colors I create for Hunt are much more saturated. If you’re wondering why Hunt Slonem would hire a color consultant when he’s already known as a brilliant colorist who understands the connection between color and mood, it’s because I have a line of full spectrum paints with special formulas that use a minimum of seven pigments to create each color, excluding the black pigment (which turns colors muddy). This is how Impressionist painters mixed colors and, of course, how Hunt mixes the pigments that go into his paintings.

Ètagères on loan from M.S. Rau flanking Slonem’s portrait of Countess Xacha Obrenovitch, the 1920s spiritualist.

Ètagères on loan from M.S. Rau flanking Slonem’s portrait of Countess Xacha Obrenovitch, the 1920s spiritualist.



Although Hunt Slonem’s work can be seen in hundreds of museums and galleries internationally (he recently showed at the Moscow Museum of Art), this exhibition is very unique in that it is a retrospective of his work showcasing over 40 years of his paintings. In addition to his wildly popular paintings of bunnies, birds, butterflies and Lincolns, this exhibit also incorporates many portraits, including a 12’ wide portrait of Valentino and Gloria Swanson, as well as tropical vignettes and landscapes.

Chandeliers from Rau Antiques were hung in each of the five rooms. “Antebellum Violet” was created especially for this exhibit to coordinate with Hunt Slonem’s “Bunny Wall” wallpaper by Groundworks.





Sarah said she loves Slonem’s work because it takes her out of her world into an “Alice in Wonderland” fantasy world, which is exactly what we created with this exhibit. “I love what they did with this show,” Slonem says. “It’s what I envisioned.”  The exhibit is up through August 5th and at 2:00 pm on Sunday, July 10th I’ll be giving a gallery tour and talk of the exhibit. I hope you’ll join us!


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