The Genius of Vincent Van Gogh

March 30th, 2016 | posted by George Peralta

This compelling view of a lone cottage was captured by the deft hand of Vincent van Gogh


Entitled La Chaumière sous les Arbres, the work’s heavy, swirling impasto portend his later work

It is nearly impossible to look back through art history and not encounter the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. Today, van Gogh is widely regarded as one of the most important participants in one of the most pivotal artistic styles to date: Post-Impressionism. Expanding upon the Impressionist ideals of capturing a moment, the Post-Impressionists sought to capture emotions, focusing on themes with deep symbolism. Thick brushwork, vivid coloring, and poignant undertones formed the deeply personal canvasses of these revolutionary young artists. For van Gogh, his real-life subjects became conduits for his own personal expression, which can be seen throughout the development of his distinctive style.

Gaining momentum as an artist in his early twenties, van Gogh was motivated by copying prints from formal 19th-century drawing manuals. Focusing on mastering correct perspective in landscape paintings, van Gogh’s early training exposes a self-taught trial and error that was soon complemented by formal training from Anton Mauve, a leading Hague School painter, in 1882. A pivotal year it truly was, as van Gogh transitioned from drawing to oil painting, which would become the principal medium of his career.


The piece is distinguished among his other early Nuenen paintings in its heightened use of light

Unquestionably influenced by Barbizon artists such as Jean-Francois Millet, van Gogh was attracted to depicting rural life and landscape infused with explosive energy, earthy tones, and symbolic importance. His work, La Chaumière sous Les Arbres, reflects exactly that mentality. Showing van Gogh’s intense fascination with the simple life of peasantry, this important landscape work was painted during a two-year period in which Van Gogh solely looked to rural cottages and the landscape scenes around him.

Paralleling his own deep essence with the strongly symbolic and meaningful nature of his work, van Gogh’s landscapes are undoubtedly the most telling of this important period in his career. Thick, broad brushwork in earthy tones pervades the work, which depicts a Nuenen cottage in an intimate, quiet setting. Earthy browns and deep greens are heightened by an infusion of lighter color in the sky and wildflowers. This shift towards a lighter color palette, prompted by a suggestion from his brother, is indicative of one of the most significant shifts in van Gogh’s career. A color play of dark and light parallels the quiet, tranquil scene infused with expressive, energetic brushwork. And by depicting just a single peasant, van Gogh fashions a deep connection between the figure and the earth.

On par with the big names of art history such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, van Gogh’s influence reaches far and wide. In the art and antiques world, his iconic style re-introduces itself time and time again as later artists continued to take cues from his thick, energetic brushwork and symbolic subject matter.

Jewelry for the Spring Season

March 21st, 2016 | posted by Peter Hernandez

A time for festivals, outdoor dining, and sun-soaked adventures… Springtime in New Orleans is in full bloom. Bustling with celebrations and blooming azaleas, the oak-lined historic streets of the Crescent City come to life as the seasons change. The calm Gulf breeze slowly meanders from Audubon Park uptown, through the mansion-lined majesty of St. Charles Avenue, and into the legendary French Quarter. It brings a welcome freshness through the doors of M.S. Rau Antiques, where our extraordinary jewelry pieces reflect the luminous colors of Spring.

 Nine intertwining strands of perfectly matched angel skin coral beads comprise this exquisite David Webb creation

Nine intertwining strands of perfectly matched angel skin coral beads comprise this exquisite David Webb creation

Canary yellows, delicate pinks, pale blues – the colors of Spring are on full – and dazzling – display at M.S. Rau. Majestic cocktail rings of polished coral and multi-strand beaded necklaces possess the stunning orange-pink color for which this gemstone of the sea is renowned. While coral forms in a range of colors, it is the light oranges and pale pink specimens that are the most highly coveted. These delicate hues are the perfect complement to the light and bright palette of spring.

Weighing 7.11 carats, this amazing gems exhibits one of the rarest tourmaline colors

Weighing 7.11 carats, this amazing gems exhibits one of the rarest tourmaline colors

The tourmaline, often called the “gemstone of the rainbow,” comes in an innumerable range of colors, occupying a special position as one of the most varied gemstone. From the electrifying blue of the Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline to the enchanting pink of the Cuprian tourmaline, this stone boasts a color for nearly any taste or occasion. Among the most eye-catching of these stones is the yellow variety tourmaline. Known as a “canary” tourmaline, the bright yellow not only speaks to the freshness of springtime, but also the inherent beauty of the stone. Evident in this elegant 14.76-carat pendant necklace and sophisticated 7.11-carat ladies ring, the fresh, pure yellow of the canary tourmaline possesses an unmatched radiance. Only recently discovered, the canary is among the rarest variations of the tourmaline.

A 40.00-carat aquamarine of exceptional quality lles at the center of this elegant bracelet

A 40.00-carat aquamarine of exceptional quality lles at the center of this elegant bracelet

Like the tourmaline, the sapphire is found in a variety of colors. Though most well-known for its enchanting rich blue color, variations of the stone exist in tones such as pink, green and yellow. The purple sapphire embodies the rarest variety of the colored sapphires. Seen through the masterful design of this ladies’ ring, the lilac-hue of the three rose-cut purple sapphires denotes a feeling of freshness and enthusiasm. Likewise, the aquamarine gemstone mimics the calming sentiments of spring weather. Seen through the clarity of this 40.00-carat aquamarine bracelet, the clarity and purity of the ocean-blue color is escapable.

This Spring, update your jewelry collection with a jewel that speaks to all of the freshness of the season. From sapphires, to diamonds, to aquamarines, these treasures will bring a breath of fresh air to any ensemble.

Curious to learn more about how gemstones such as these are formed? Read more to learn what constitutes the natural creation of a gemstone.

Timeless Designs from the Emerald Isle

March 14th, 2016 | posted by Robert Boese

Carefully formed with a four-strand woven base, this Belleek basket features delicate twig handles and radiating latticework

It has been said that everyone is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated for over a thousand years, this holiday marks the beginnings of the Spring season with outdoor festivities of parades, parties, and feasting. What began as a day to honor Ireland’s patron saint and national apostle, St. Patrick, the annual celebration has truly become global. From North America to Japan and Singapore to Russia, emerald-glad revelers all celebrate this centuries-old holiday.


This delightful and rare Belleek dejeuner tea set exhibits the intriguing Thorn pattern

While everyone is Irish on March 17, St. Patrick himself was not actually born in Ireland. Born in the 5th century in Roman Britain (what is today Wales), St. Patrick was captured as a slave and brought to Ireland. Bearing the legend of driving the highly symbolic snake out of Ireland, St. Patrick encompasses numerous stories and legends and tales that prevail today. During six years in captivity, St. Patrick grew spiritually, and wrote his seminal text The Confessions. Though he escaped his captors at the age of 20, the tides of Ireland drew him back and he returned to serve as a Christian missionary, eventually becoming Catholic Bishop. He converted many in Ireland, leaving an indelible mark on the land; by the 7th century he was considered the patron saint of Ireland, and was revered by all.


This exceptional Irish games table is as functional as it is beautiful, as the top folds out to reveal a green baize playing surface

What began as Christian feast day grew and spread throughout the ages and across nations. In the early 1990s, the Republic of Ireland sought to highlight, revitalize, and showcase its nation’s rich culture and history. By transforming St. Patrick ’s Day into a lively weekend celebration, they created a festival that ranks among one of the greatest celebrations in the world.

St. Patrick’s Day gives us an opportunity to revisit Ireland’s rich culture and heritage, year after year. In the art and antiques world, we turn our eyes to Ireland’s particularly savvy and unique craftsmen. Decorative pieces by Belleek Pottery is a perfect example of the uniquely Irish creativity. Founded in 1884, the Belleek Pottery company began designing delicate and elegant pieces that mirror the sloping, elegant landscape of Northern Ireland’s land. Known for their trademark lace-like baskets, these rare pieces speak to the complexity and talent in Irish design. Other decorative pieces crafted by this revered company, from elegant tea sets to their ribbon-style vases, also mimic the same sophisticated and smart style for which the firm is known.


A work of extraordinary beauty and rarity, this magnificent Irish mechanical dining table transforms into a stunning games table with just a few turns


A turn of the crank counterclockwise opens six drawers in the table’s frieze, each holding an assortment of games

The ingenuity of Ireland’s great craftsmen also extends to the realm of furniture. Games tables, particularly, offer a glimpse into the fascinating realm of metamorphic furniture to which only the most elite had access. Whether opening to reveal a playing surface for dice or card games, or hiding various drawers for storage, games tables represent a trend in early nineteenth century Ireland that resulted in beautifully crafted, timeless pieces.

This St. Patrick’s Day, join us in celebrating Irish culture through the rich history of Irish antiques. With timeless styles and decorative pieces that epitomize Irish design and tradition, it is impossible to view Ireland and its century long celebrations as anything but remarkable.



International Women’s Day, Martha Walter

March 7th, 2016 | posted by Ludovic Rousset

Joan of Arc. Anne Frank. Rosa Parks. Helen Keller. These extraordinary women are only a few from an endless list of influential, inspiring women who have changed the world for the better. Today, women contribute in ways both big and small to the social, cultural, economic and political spheres around the world. International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on these achievements and to celebrate the accomplishments of women both past and present.30-2375_1

Officially established by the United Nations in 1975, International Women’s Day was born out of the labor movements of the early 20th century. Since its inception, International Women’s Day has assumed a new role in promoting women’s political aspirations, their well-being, and overall human rights. From Amelia Earhart’s brave flight across the Pacific to Georgia O’Keefe’s pivotal and pioneering artistic vision and Harriet Tubman’s heroic efforts to lead fugitive slaves to safer land – this day celebrates them all.

30-2375_4Now, more than ever, this day serves as a day for remembrance of the progress and courageous acts that women in the world have made. Like many of the tenacious women above, American artist Martha Walter is surely an equally courageous and dauntless female leader. Studying at the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts, Walter’s artistic talent was apparent from an early age. Under the direction of her mentor, William Merritt Chase, Walter soon developed a distinct style, with brushwork reminiscent of the groundbreaking impressionist style.

After traveling to and studying in the artistic nuclei of the world, including Paris, Italy, and Holland, Walter’s knowledge of the canvas and brush expanded. Even more so, these travels introduced Walter to the modern styles of artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Cezanne. In a groundbreaking act, Walter established her own studio in Paris with other female American artists. Rejecting the Neoclassical, academic style, Walter painted en plein air and established herself as an artist.

30-2375_2The 20th century brought an era of monumental change and transformations to the entire world. World War I changed the course of modern life, and America’s efforts turned to the war. Returning to America, Walter’s sense of national pride prompted her artistic endeavors to veer towards social realism. Painting poignant, emotional scenes, such as the immigration experience, Walter’s style took on a new strength of character. Her work, Employment Station, is the perfect encapsulation of Walter’s empowering and progressive style. Depicting a young women waiting to be seen at an employment station, the rich color palette of the work adds to the sense of strength and hope in her female subject. In this dramatic work, Walter not only depicts the emotional reality of early 20th century America, but also mirrors Watler’s personal endeavors and courageous acts as a female artist.

Wonders of the Scientific System Cane

March 2nd, 2016 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

Viewed today as stylish accessories and tools for the infirm, the walking stick has had a fascinating history. What began as a necessary tool for animal herders and intrepid travelers, the walking stick evolved into a symbol of power and prestige. Rulers throughout the ages, including the luxurious collections of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs, have wielded staffs and canes. Into the Middle Ages, the church began to use walking sticks to symbolize rank among its clergy. For centuries, wielding a walking stick was associated with power.


A small compass is set into the knob handle, while several more instruments are tucked inside the shaft, including a telescope, a bayonet, a drafting compass, pens and parchment papers, field maps, and plotting tools

It was in the 17th century that the walking stick became “the fashion,” when men and women alike accessorized with canes as a part of their daily attire. In the elegant Victorian era, any groomed, distinguished gentlemen would not traverse the public arena without this stylish accessory. Consequently, the walking stick became a prevailing symbol of taste and class.

As they became more fashionable, designs became more and more elaborate as the stature-hungry nobility clamored for the most distinguishable, ornate walking stick to adorn their finery. These canes featured elaborate enameling and jewel encrusted knobs by specialized jewelers and artisans.

This intriguing French cane contains the rudimentary tools of a military doctor. including several glass vials, gauze, and a lancet

This intriguing French cane contains the rudimentary tools of a military doctor. including several glass vials, gauze, and a lancet


This elegant and unassuming walking stick doubles as a land surveyor’s rod, helping to determine both depth and distance

In the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought an extraordinary development in the realm of walking sticks: the system cane. This type of cane emerged as a reflection of widespread industrialization and technical progress. Also known as “gadget” canes, the system cane held a specific function beyond the mere decorative. Carrying hidden tools and accessories, these treasures served a specific purpose; this often related to the owner’s occupation, with the tools of their trade held inside their cane.


This remarkably rare walking stick doubles as a practical tool for the professional geometer

In the art and antiques world, the scientific system cane is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and regard. No longer just the noblest of classes, the system cane caters to nearly anyone. The indigenous designs of these unique pieces range from a complete set of tools for any keen explorer to every medical doctor’s fundamental tools. By concealing the tools for any occupation, such as that of a sharp surveyor or skilled geometer, this type of walking stick brings together both fine craftsmanship and abundant scientific inquiry.

Like the scientific system cane, the antique globe acts as a remarkable gesture towards the field of science and interest in the natural world. Once only available to the strictly aristocratic classes, the globe, much like the cane, speaks to high taste and esteem. Allowing the world to truly be at the palm of one’s hand, the globe not only grants knowledge of the world, but also imaginative travels from the comfort of one’s own home.

View our entire collection of scientific systems canes online

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