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!


Celebrating the American Dream: Impressionist Guy Wiggins

June 28th, 2016 | posted by Susan Lapene

To me, the American Dream is being able to follow your own personal calling. To be able to do what you want to do is incredible freedom. 

American designer and artist, Maya Ying Lin


Guy Carleton Wiggins, about 1959

During the United States’ relatively brief history, the country has produced some of the world’s finest craftsmen and artisans. From silver makers Tiffany & Co. and Paul Revere to painters Norman Rockwell, Martha Walter, and Daniel Ridgeway Knight, the American spirit has inspired generations of artistic achievement. Perhaps the most revolutionary of all American painters is 20th-century Impressionist Guy Wiggins.

Blizzard in Manhattan by Guy C. Wiggins, 20th Century

Considered by many to be the “last great American Impressionist,” Guy Wiggins was the son of renowned Barbizon School painter Carleton Wiggins. Under the guidance of his talented father, Wiggins demonstrated an aptitude for painting at a young age. He later studied at the National Academy of Design under the hugely gifted William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri.

As a young man, Wiggins was influential in developing a uniquely American form of French Impressionism, and at a mere 20 years old, he became the youngest artist to have work in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wiggins also became one of the youngest members of the Old Lyme Art Colony, where he painted alongside his father, Frank Vincent DuMond, and Childe Hassam.

Guy Wiggins enjoyed great success during his career, earning numerous awards including membership in the National Academy of Design and the prestigious Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal from the Art Institute of Chicago. He became best known for his iconic winter cityscapes, particularly of New York City’s urban streets.

Blizzard in Manhattan by Guy C. Wiggins, 20th Century

Perhaps the finest example currently on the market, Blizzard in Manhattan depicts a busy New York boulevard blanketed in snow. Vivid reds, greens, and yellows pop against the artist’s primarily blue and grey-toned monochrome palette while seven American flags wave proudly along the thoroughfare. It is no wonder that the work of Guy Wiggins remains popular today, held in important collections worldwide and in America’s finest cultural institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

This Independence Day, join us in celebrating the American Dream through the artistic achievement of our predecessors. Boasting superb quality and outstanding beauty, it is truly remarkable to be “Made in the USA!”

Sizzling Summer Jewels

June 23rd, 2016 | posted by George Peralta
Exhibiting a deep turquoise blue hue, the stunning tourmaline is joined by approximately 0.51 carat of shimmering diamonds in its delicate 18k yellow gold setting

Exhibiting a deep turquoise blue hue, the stunning tourmaline is joined by approximately 0.51 carat of shimmering diamonds in its delicate 18k yellow gold setting

A time for brilliant sunsets and sun-soaked adventures… summer has finally begun! The mood of leisure, pleasure, and all-around relaxation has fully set in around New Orleans, with locals winding down for the long summer stretch. The calm Gulf Breeze, now swirling with the thick humid air, brings welcome relief as it meanders through the French Quarter and down St. Charles Avenue. With the heat comes the sizzling hot colors of summer – all of which can be found in the ever-brilliant jewelry collection at M.S. Rau Antiques.

From our radiant Mandarin garnets and bold Brazilian tourmalines to a hot bubblegum pink sapphire and brilliant yellow diamonds, M.S. Rau’s most vivid stones provide the perfect pop of color to any summer ensemble. While sparkling white diamonds might be the classic choice, brightly colored gemstones exude a boldness and personality all their own.


Weighing an astounding 14.76 carats, this trilliant-cut canary yellow tourmaline is set with 0.50 carats of white diamonds in its platinum setting

The story of how colored gemstones became so popular today began with the daring pioneering efforts of a true legend: Tiffany & Co. In 1967, a Masai tribesman in Tanzania discovered a rich blue, transparent stone unlike any seen before. Recognizing a unique opportunity, Tiffany & Co. dubbed the stone “tanzanite” and embarked on a hugely successful marketing campaign surrounding the stone. The gemstone market would never be the same; colored gemstones had become en vogue.


Displaying the perfect purplish-pink bubblegum hue for which the finest pink sapphires are so beloved, this enchanting, cushion-shape gem boasts both crystal-clear clarity and grand size

Thanks to the success of the tanzanite, other colored gemstones also entered the limelight. For example, tourmalines, often called the “gemstone of the rainbow” for its wide range of colors, also came into fashion in the beginnings of the colored gemstone craze. Dripping with colored tourmalines, socialites could present themselves at paragons of fashion trends. From the captivating blue of the Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline, to pink and yellow hues, this gemstones can be found in a color for nearly any occasion.

The colored gemstone’s popularity continued when Princess Diana donned her stunning blue sapphire engagement ring in 1981. Consumers everywhere clamored for a rich blue sapphire ring exactly like the elegant Princess of Wales. Yet, like the tourmaline, the sapphire can be found in an array of hues. While the rich blue sapphire evokes the deep waters of the scene, brilliantly hued bubblegum pink sapphires boasts a truly “hot” pink hue that is nearly incomparable.

Unlike your typical diamond jewelry, colored gemstones possess a boldness and beauty all their own. These spectacular stones, ever increasing in popularity, pose an exciting opportunity to new buyers and an equally exciting chance for an experienced collector to add variety to their collection.

International Exhibitions: Timekeepers of Progress

June 15th, 2016 | posted by Deborah Choate

Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world’s advancement…These buildings will disappear; this creation of art and beauty and industry will perish from sight, but their influence will remain…

President William McKinley

International Exhibitions celebrate the world’s greatest technological advancements, bringing together the finest artistic and technological innovations from around the globe. Sometimes referred to as World’s Fairs, World Expositions, or Universal Expositions, these large public exhibitions promote innovation in art and design, international relations, and tourism.

Carved of solid walnut, this cabinet celebrates the art and industry of the Louisiana Territory. It was created for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

This exquisite vase was made and exhibited by Sevres at the 1900 Paris World Fair.

Since the event’s inception, items displayed at International Exhibitions have consistently and unquestionably been the absolute finest examples of art and science. For an artist or craftsman, to be featured at an International Exhibitions represents both a remarkable honor and the unique opportunity “to see and be seen.” Notable artisans that have displayed their wares at International Exhibitions include the unrivaled ébéniste Francois Linke, the world-renowned, American silver firm Tiffany & Co., and architect Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower especially for the 1889 World’s Fair! Likewise, the decorative arts on display have varied greatly in medium, shape, size, and function throughout the event’s 165 year history. The tour de force works have ranged from monumental furniture, like this intricately carved cabinet created for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, to revolutionary porcelain, such as this Art Nouveau vase by Sevres revealed at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris.



This incredible Italian micromosaic by Domenico Moglia was exhibited at the 1851 International Exhibition.

The very first International Exhibition was held in London’s Hyde Park in 1851. “The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” or “The Great Exhibition,” as it is often called, welcomed over 6 million guests, including Queen Victoria herself. A designated structure, nicknamed the Crystal Palace, was constructed to house 13,000 exhibits. Popular items on display included pink diamonds, a Jacquard loom, kitchen appliances, and an exceptional micromosaic depicting the Roman Forum by Domenico Moglia.  The inaugural International Exhibition was deemed wildly successful.




This incredible Farcot conical clock was made for and purchased at the Great London Exhibition of 1862.

This important silverplate charger was created by Elkington & Co. and displayed at the International Exhibition of 1862.

A mere decade after its launch, the exposition returned to England for the Great London Exposition of 1862. The exhibition showcased the advances of the industrial revolution with the electric telegraph, cotton mills, and the first plastic all on display. In addition, artistic achievements were well-represented and drew millions of visitors to the capital city. Among the exhibited decorative arts were an important silverplate charger created by Elkington & Co. and a monumental conical mystery clock crafted by Eugéne Farcot and Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.

For 165 years, International Exhibitions have continued to evolve, delighting visitors with the newest innovations of the day in locations ranging from Jamaica to Belgium and everywhere in between (even New Orleans)! While themes of environmental stability and cultural relations now prevail, their goal remains the same—to celebrate progress, to exhibit the best of the best.

Finding the Perfect Piece: Father’s Day Gift Guide

June 10th, 2016 | posted by Robert Boese

In honor of Father’s Day on June 19, we celebrate the remarkable men who have served in one of life’s most pivotal occupations: fatherhood. With a history that spans over a century, this day for dads is more than just another Hallmark holiday – it is also a time to acknowledge the significant contributions of fathers in our everyday lives.


This rare Vacheron Constantin watch is housed in a desirable 18K yellow gold Spur-model case

The campaign to celebrate Father’s Day began in 1908 – Mother’s Day, having been celebrated since the 1860s, had become an official commercial holiday that same year. In 1909, a young woman who had been raised by her widowed father in the small city of Spokane, Washington planted the seed for what would become the official Father’s Day holiday. As expected, word soon spread of this celebration, though it was not without its critics. During the 1920s and 1930s, movements rallied in favor of an all-encompassing “Parents Day.” Yet, with the onset of WWII, the nation once again united around a day celebrating fathers; with many gone to war, it became a way to honor American troops and the war effort. Though not yet a federal holiday, the country would collectively begin celebrating Father’s Day as a national institution for that moment onwards. It was in 1972 that President Richard Nixon finally signed Father’s Day as a national federal holiday.

With an estimated 70 million fathers in North America today, the celebration of Father’s Day is more widespread than ever. Finding the perfect gift for dad can be daunting and, at times, simply overwhelming. Rather than opting for another tie, surprise your dad with something truly unique this year, a piece with as much history as the day itself. This simple gift guide will help you turn this Father’s Day into something truly memorable – the perfect way to celebrate your father.

For the clock enthusiast…


Boasting an elegant, balanced design and its original glass pots, this inkwell is a fine example of silver by the second generation of Bateman silversmiths.

Stylish trend and collector’s passion, clocks and watches make a timeless gift for dad. Classy, yet reliable, a wristwatch is a remarkable and fool-proof gift for men of all ages. The wristwatch as a men’s accessory took shape during WWII, when soldiers found the object a necessity in order to readily have the time available. The time old tradition of rifling through one’s pockets for a pocket watch was gone as wristwatches, such as this Vacheron Constantin men’s watch, became a fashion icon all on their own.

For the writer and philospher…


The art and sophistication of Fabergé is on display in this extraordinary cane by Henrik Wigström, who served as the head of the famed Russian workshop from 1903-1917

Whether your dad is a novelist, lawyer, or avid penpal, his workspace should exude the same importance as the work it accommodates. Apart from handsome furniture to store his favorite books and writing utensils, a sturdy inkwell adds aesthetic beauty and functionality to any workspace. Crafted by Peter and Anne Bateman, this inkwell encompasses both cultural significance and expert craftsmanship. Early 19th century English silver pieces such as this are matchless in terms of design and craftsmanship. Complete with the emblematic characteristics of the celebrated Bateman style, this piece boasts elegance and balance.

For the stylish gent…

The walking stick is a symbol of refinement for any groomed, distinguished gentleman. Coming into fashion during the Victorian era in the 17th century, the walking stick became part of men’s daily attire. This wardrobe essential burgeoned to such importance that no man would dare navigate the public arena without the stylish accessory. Because the walking stick became a prevailing symbol of taste and class, jewelry firms such as Fabergé latched onto this trend and crafted opulent walking sticks topped with colorful rare gemstones and detailed enameling.


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