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What Antique Beer Tankards Tell Us About Ancient Monarchs

March 5th, 2014 | posted by Ryan Clark

The worldwide fascination with antiques lies not just in their impressive age, but in the way that centuries ago, people used these prized objects much in the same way that we might today – say, for example, with an exquisite antique beer tankard. From the extravagant palaces of colonial-era Europe to the majestic estates of imperial China, wealthy individuals commissioned the creation of truly luxurious tankards so that they could – to put it succinctly – drink in style. While the function of these antiques is something that most people could relate to, the expert artistry and skill used in their design and construction is probably not. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful antique beer tankards we’ve ever stocked and, along the way, gain an increased appreciation for the artistic, aesthetic, and historical lessons they can teach us:

Large Chinese Export Silver Tankard

This mid-19th century silver tankard made by Lee Ching of Canton, Shanghai and Hong Kong was made specifically for export, with a wealthy Western buyer in mind. The high-quality repoussé work reveals an exciting battle scene, while the handle’s vibrant dragon sculpture evokes Chinese symbolism of good luck and strength. Price: $9,850

German Ivory Miniature Tankard

While the first German ivory sculptures date back to well over a thousand years ago, the ivory trade to Germany was cut off during Ottoman rule in Northern Africa and the art form subsequently went into decline there. In the late 15th century, when the Portguese re-established reliable trade routes to sub-Saharan Africa, ivory began flowing back into central Europe and the famous wood carving artisans of Odenwald subsequently adapted their meticulous skills to ivory. This specialized artistic tradition grew throughout Germany for centuries, yielding such marvellous works as this 4.75-inch-high miniature tankard with a silver plate vessel. Price: $8,850 (SOLD)

Chinese Garden Export Silver Tankard

This double-skinned silver presentation tankard was built for export by Cutching of Canton in the mid-19th century. Its exterior repoussé shows a peaceful garden scene complete with animals, old men, trees, and a sky filled with wispy clouds. Just like the aforementioned Lee Ching tankard, this piece features a powerful looking dragon handle. Price: $14,850

Hester Bateman George III Silver Tankard

Made by Hester Bateman, who is widely regarded as the 18th century’s top female silversmith, this sterling silver tankard harkens back to the golden age – or should we say silver age – of European royal families. The engraved crest on the exterior of this tankard is both immaculate in its detail as well as regal in its design. The hallmark is dated 1787, placing it just before the French Revolution. Price: $14,850

Ivory Artemis and Actaeon Tankard

Carved entirely out of ivory, this 6 3/4″ x 12 1/8″ tankard from the mid-19th century boasts a degree of detail and craftsmanship that is truly wondrous to behold. It tells the ancient Greek myth of Artemis and Actaeon, with the goddess Artemis represented in the nude on the lid, and Actaeon shown in fine detail on the frieze itself. The myth involves the hunter Actaeon stumbling across the goddess Artemis bathing in the forest, whereupon Artemis – outraged that a mortal man had see her nude body – turns him into a stag, at which point he is eaten by his own dogs. Price:$34,500 (SOLD)

German Ivory Tankard, Kings of Poland

Crafted circa 1850, this German ivory tankard pays homage to the 16th and 17th century Polish monarchs Sigismund I, Sigismund II Augustus, Stefan Báthory, and Sigismund III. A national symbol, in the form of the Polish white eagle, stands guard atop the  silver plate vessel and is itself immaculately carved out of ivory. At 12.5″ in height, this antique beer tankard is a large, well-preserved testament to the refined tastes and sensibilities of the 19th century European nobility. Price: $38,500 (SOLD)

Eugene Boudin

February 28th, 2014 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

G. jean Aubry commented that “Boudin is one of the most interesting examples of instinctive creativity, a painter who demonstrates the uselessness of schools and rules, and the supreme virtue of personal effort, long patience, and a steadfast gift.”

Le Rivage de Villerville, Maree Basse, by Eugene Boudin

Le Rivage de Villerville, Maree Basse, by Eugene Boudin

With serene landscapes and dreamlike scenes, this steadfast gift is one that leaves the viewer craving more.  What fueled this personal effort that led Boudin to the heights of artistic success?

Like some of the most impressive figures of our time, Eugene Boudin had humble beginnings.  His father, Leonard-Sebastien Boudin, was born into a family of sailors and would continue to uphold this seafaring legacy.  The younger Boudin, however, would break from this tradition, but his family’s ties to the seas would always touch his canvases in some way.

Landscape with Cows by Eugene Boudin

Landscape with Cows by Eugene Boudin

Boudin received no artistic encouragement from his family, it would be the people he surrounded himself with that would nurture his creative passions.  In fact, it was an early employer who gave Boudin his first set of paints.   At eighteen, he would start his own stationary shop with a colleague.  Situated on a bustling street in Le Havre, he began to meet a cadre of artists vying to have their items displayed in his store’s window.  These artists that undoubtedly helped inspire his artistic vision and they included Eugene Isabey, Constant Troyon, Thomas Couture, and Jean-Francois Millet.

Innate talent, drive, and an aesthetic inspired by and focused on the open ocean make Boudin’s nuanced scenes coveted by art lovers the world over.  We are fortunate to not only enjoy these images in the gallery every day, but also share them with you.

Luxurious Lighting

January 25th, 2014 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter
Regency Cut Glass & Ormolu Candelabra

Regency Cut Glass & Ormolu Candelabra

Before electricity flooded interiors with on-demand lighting, the rhythm of life was dictated by natural light.  While, of course, illumination by flame (whether fueled by oil, tallow, or any manner of other substances) has existed for millennia, its use could often be curtailed by means and access.  Today the singular dance of a flame, and the play of its glow against nearby objects, is a special presence that is too often absent from modern life.  No matter what your taste may be, we have a number of precious items to help you bring back the romance of candlelight.

In the pre-electricity days of lighting design, craftsmen were conscious to maximize light in any way they could.  This was achieved through the use of reflective materials such as glass, crystal, or polished metals.  Dripping with cut glass, these candelabra would be an ideal way to scatter slivers of light around a room.  Maximum light and maximum drama, this 1815 pair attributed to John Blades are the height of Regency elegance.

18th Century Rock Crystal Chandelier

18th Century Rock Crystal Chandelier

While many fixtures have been converted for electricity, some still maintain their bygone allure.  Infinitely more practical than raising and lowering the chandelier every time you need to make a lighting adjustment, this electrified chandelier boasts rock crystal adornments.  The natural mineral characteristics inherent to rock crystal help divert light in novel ways, not unlike candlelight.

Lighting is everything.  To highlight a favorite painting or to set the tone of an evening, your home should have the very best.  I encourage you to look around our gallery and our website for your next candelabra, chandelier, sconce, or lamp.

Time for Tea! Exquisite Tea Caddies

January 17th, 2014 | posted by Bill Rau

This extraordinary pair of George III period tea caddies are enveloped in ivory, with tortoiseshell and sterling silver trim and mounts. Circa 1790.

No other practice evokes British sophistication and elegance quite like the drinking of tea. It is hard to believe that this now-common beverage was once an incredibly expensive commodity that could only be enjoyed by nobility and the social elite. These connoisseurs would soon demand elaborate and luxurious accoutrements to store and prepare this prized drink.

Tea was introduced to England from China sometime in the middle of the 17th century. It is believed that it was Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II, who was responsible for bringing the tea habit to the country around 1660. The practice gained momentum and became an en vogue activity by the 18th century. The country’s respect for this drink is reflected in the ceremonial way in which it was stored, prepared, and drunk, and craftsmen of the period soon discovered a new avenue in which to exercise their skills–the creation of beautiful tea caddies.

29-949729-1941The rarest tea caddies were crafted of the most costly materials of the era, boasting stunning veneers of tortoiseshell and ivory, often with sterling silver mounts. This George III tea caddy is enveloped entirely in tortoiseshell, with ivory and silver detailing of exceptional quality. With its unique decagon shape, this caddy contains two interior compartments for holding different types of tea leaves. Tea connoisseurship developed into something of an art form, and accordingly, more than one type of tea was necessary for refined palettes. Double chests such as this could hold two types of leaves, usually one green and one black variety that could be custom-blended to achieve the desired flavor. Incredibly rare indeed, this original pair of George III ivory tea caddies are encased in creamy white ivory, highlighted by tortoiseshell veneers and silver accents.

Beloved for its flavorful, exotic, and even medicinal qualities, few would have guessed that the importation of a simple plant would have give rise to over two centuries of culture and decorative art.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s Work Has a Quintessential New Orleans Flavor

January 8th, 2014 | posted by Sarah Clunis

Brueghel

Most art lovers must visit a major museum in order to behold the wonder of an actual real-life Brueghel.  And here is your rare opportunity to own one.  And while you are deciding where to hang this 8th wonder of the world the rest of us can simply feel good about the fact that we are actually standing in front of an original composition by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Yes indeed folks, most Brueghel’s are in Belgium or Vienna, in museums, or hidden away in opulent castles.

But not this one.

A village festival is the scene for some serious debauchery in this outstanding painting done in 1672 by the accomplished son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Religious fair meets pagan ritual in Brueghel’s St George’s Kermis with a Dance Around the Maypole.  With a sarcasm and irony typical of only a Brueghel, vignettes of drunken excess, belligerent quarreling and public urination abound as the daily bump and grind of village life continues.

It’s difficult to not find humor in this fantastic painting which offers a virtual Where’s Waldo in the form of a Northern Renaissance masterpiece. Completely interactive, Brueghel’s work invites close and prolonged inspection and offers the gift that will keep on giving. There is something new to find in this painting every time that you look at it and this is precisely why the nobles that commissioned Brueghel’s paintings in the 17th century found mad entertainment in the scenes that they portrayed.

With a solid reputation as a thoughtful interpreter of his father’s works, Brueghel the Younger had as much success for his own compositions later in his life and this piece is considered one of the major works of that select group.

So, leave your foray to Bourbon Street for a short minute to feast your eyes on our treasured version of revelry and excess. Although Flemish, Brueghel’s combination of elements- Christian with pagan, work with play and body with nature-have a quintessential New Orleans flavor, and truly communicate the universality of the absurd and the wonderful.

In the world of Old Master Painters absolutely no one renders the urban landscape with more pathos and metaphor than a Brueghel. The village is depicted as a site of both ethereal beauty and precariousness. And the people that inhabit these worlds are portrayed as chaotic and fragile, a commentary on the world they occupy.

Brueghel’s masterful palette and magnificent compositions evoke even today the idea of a retreat from the regulated and the predictable. In a sense this is our riotous moment, our great escape.

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