A Lasting Impression: Rembrandt’s Incredible Etchings

January 16th, 2015 | posted by Bill Rau

“St. Jerome in a Dark Chamber” displays the stunning artistry and emotional depth for which Rembrandt is renowned.



The quality and paper of this etching entitled “Joseph Telling His Dreams” indicates it is a lifetime print of a subject he explored in both his etching and painting.

Rembrandt is one of the greatest artists in history, with his name alone being synonymous with fine art itself.  His portraits and genre scenes are iconic, enriched with a level of realism that gives them an exquisite ethereal quality unmatched by any other artist before or since. Yet, few realize that Rembrandt was also a master etcher, and is responsible for not only creating some of the most amazing etchings in history, but he also evolved and gave new life to the entire process of printmaking.

Rembrandt’s painting and etching careers run parallel, and in many cases, it was his etchings that propelled his tremendous popularity during what scholars call the Golden Age of Dutch Painting.  Between 1626 and 1660, the artist created some 300 etchings, with only about 79 known in existence today. Since he owned and operated his own printing press, he was able to experiment with etching techniques and continuously push the envelope often treating them the same way he would his canvases. In fact, his findings are so important, that many of his techniques continue to impact printmakers to this day.

M.S. Rau Antiques acquired one such print, titled St. Jerome in a Dark Chamber, in which Rembrandt extends his mastery of chiaroscuro (the sharp contrast between light and shadow) to impart the emotional and spiritual element into this resplendent religious scene. It is believed that he experimented creating such dramatic effects by leaving deposits of ink on the etching, then wiping away excess in spots he wanted to illuminate. Every etched line is visible, yet the appearance that the forlorn saint is the focus of the sunlight is simply stunning. Rembrandt typically kept his printmaking and painting separate, seldom creating an etching of one of his completed paintings. However, this etching in the Rau fine art collection, Joseph Telling His Dreams, is one of the handful of rarities in which he created both the oil on canvas and the etching.

The art of etching allowed Rembrandt to explore techniques simply impossible to do with paint. And, because he had his own press, he had the freedom to rework and experiment with his subjects, giving his prints a level of quality that has inspired artists for over 300 years.

To see more from M.S. Rau Antiques’ selection of Rembrandt etchings, click here.

The Importance of Jade + Our Giveaway Winner Announced!

December 16th, 2014 | posted by Deanne Martin
A beautiful Qing Dynasty censer crafted of grayish-green nephrite jade

A beautiful Qing Dynasty censer crafted of grayish-green nephrite jade

Until very recently, the purchase and acquisition of Jade has been extremely difficult as it has been the exclusive domain of China. With extremely special significance and long-lasting symbolism, this mineral is one of the most important and sought after in its nearly 7000 year existence. As early as 3000 BC, the jade was known as the “royal gem” in China and was used for weaponry in prehistoric times, due to its sturdiness.

Regarded as signifying the beautiful and precious, it also symbolizes Confucian values of wisdom, justice, courage. Worldwide, however, it is safe to say that prehistoric peoples, such as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Olmecs, and Ancient Egyptians observed jade as more valuable and powerful than gold.

This gemstone reconciles its toughness materiality with elegant streaky veins that range from dark to light green. The patterns that these veins form are endless, deeming some more valuable than others.  In extremely valuable cases, the colors are particularly well blended into a rarity of look that dazzles any viewer.

The MS Rau Gallery has many examples of ornamental and fine jade. Our Nephrite Jade Censer features Chinese aesthetics that form into a pierced phoenix figure and dragons atop the lid. Crafted during the Qing Dynasty, this object was used to burn incense for spiritual and religious purposes. Dragon feet hold this historical and striking piece upright in a display of unique craftsmanship.

An incredibly large floor screen inset with remarkably carved spinach jade plaques

An incredibly large floor screen inset with remarkably carved spinach jade plaques

Most stunning, however, is our gorgeous Jade Floor Screen.  This piece has thirty-six fabulously carved panels of Chinese Jade. Of even more importance is that each panel represents scenes from the life of 7th century Emperor Taizong who was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty. The scenes begin in his childhood and lead up to his accomplished and glorified adulthood. Surrounding these frames is reticulated jade, medallion motifs, and jade carved figures of native fowl that border the entire screen. Lacquered wood with brass inlay complete this piece.

The importance and elegance of jade is long-lasting and infinite. Behind the gorgeous swirling greens is everlasting symbolism of the greatest aspects of human life.





The winner of the Nineteenth-Century European Painting Book by William Rau is James Chandler. We will notify you via email.  Congratulations!

True Blue – Tanzanite

December 9th, 2014 | posted by Peter Hernandez
An incredible 45.26-carat cushion-cut tanzanite absolutely shines in this stunning ring

An incredible 45.26-carat cushion-cut tanzanite absolutely shines in this stunning ring

Discovered in the hills of Mount Kilimanjaro 1967, tanzanite hails from the exquisite land of Tanzania in East Africa. The gemstone was first thought to be an alternative type of sapphire. With further investigation, however, the stone’s properties were seen to be more complex and unique. At the 1968 World’s Fair, the stone was christened with the name “Tanzanite,” the responsibility of Henry B Platt, president and chairman of Tiffany & Co. This wonderful gemstone boasts a strong blue-violet color that is even more accentuated under fluorescent light. Due to this uniqueness in style and origins, the Tanzanite is often called the “gemstone of the 20th century” and has rapidly become one of the most coveted gemstones in the world.

Tanzanite with the strongest and pure blue hues of color are considered the most premier and valuable. In most cases, in order to achieve this remarkable color, the gemstone must be artificially heat treated. To find a natural, true blue tanzanite is nearly impossible; it boasts exquisite beauty and rarity.

This incredible natural Tanzanite weighs a monumental 82.01 carats

This incredible natural Tanzanite weighs a monumental 82.01 carats

The MS Rau Antiques gallery is able to covet two such untreated Tanzanite pieces. A striking elegant cushion cut 45.26 carat tanzanite, flanked by 1.36 carats of glistening diamonds, are set in 18K gold and platinum to form a stunning ring.  This shows impressive quality and brilliance in cut. To match this perfect ring, our Tanzanite pendant necklace features an 82 carat natural stone. It is radiantly set in 18K gold.

Treat yourself to one of our spectacular pieces of tanzanite jewelry this Holiday Season and you will cherish the rarity and beauty of the opulent blue pieces for years to come.




We’ve extended the deadline for our giveaway!!!! You now have until December 15th for your chance to win this book: Nineteenth-Century European Painting, from Barbizon to Belle Époque by William Rau! It’s the perfect gift for the art lover! Enter to win below!

Murano: The Island of Murano Glass

December 4th, 2014 | posted by Bill Rau

This 12-light fixture showcases a veritable garden of foliate-formed Murano glass.


This one-of-a-kind Venetian fountain is a remarkable example of Murano glass.


Brilliant color and delicacy inform this rare Venetian Murano glass chandelier

Venetian glass captures the dance of light and color unlike any other. Its brilliant hues and dazzling, acrobatic designs mark Venetian glass pieces as some of the most delightful and extraordinary in the world. This ancient art blossomed on the tiny island of glassmakers, whose innovations and creativity would inspire the art of glassmaking throughout the world.

With its origins in Byzantium and Syria, the history of

glassmaking in Venice begins 900 years ago. Isolated in her lagoon, the tiny nation was insulated from the rest of Europe during the Dark Ages, and, rarely challenged, was uniquely able to hold on to her riches and flourish. At a time of prosperity, lavish glass pieces became a hallmark of the affluent, a uniquely Venetian testament to wealth. Certainly, no other creative industry could have been more befitting the rich, but small, island nation, as sand and other materials for glassmaking were available in abundance.

Following a devastating fire in Venice in the 13th-century, glass manufacturers were ordered to move outside the city to the nearby Venetian island of Murano. Just over one hundred years later, approximately three thousand glass blowers worked from the island, and the sequestered artisans produced an astonished variety of glass pieces that adorned palaces across Europe. Murano glassmakers continued throughout the Renaissance producing works of astonishing technical and creative mastery, dominating the glass trade until the 18th century.

Napoleon’s conquest of Venice in 1797 decidedly halted the output of Murano glassmakers for about six decades, until the 1850s when it was revived by one determined and enterprising glassmaker and businessman, Antonio Salviati. After Venice regained its independence from foreign rule and prosperity returned to the city, nationalistic artisans began to revitalize the arts that they had lost just a generation before, including the nation’s pride – glassmaking. Salviati, his craftsmen, and his competitors succeeded in restoring the glass industry to its former grandeur by the end of the 19th century.

Murano glassmakers enthusiastically and wholeheartedly rejoined the flourishing art trade throughout Europe, creating pieces that blended traditional Venetian styles with the Art Nouveau design that was sweeping the continent. Glass pieces took on a variety of forms, from delicate vases, cups, and bowls to large elaborate pieces such as blossoming chandeliers and bubbling fountains. Entirely handcrafted, these glass masterpieces are each a unique, one-of-a-kind testament to the centuries old tradition. Imbued with the romance of times past, these rare works are a delightful and whimsical sight to behold.

The best places to view rare Murano glass pieces are the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, though most pieces remain in private collections and rarely come on the market. M.S. Rau Antiques is pleased to have acquired a few exceptional pieces of important Murano glass for our collection, on view at our Royal Street gallery in New Orleans.



Nécessaire: The Greatest Travel Companion + GIVEAWAY!

December 2nd, 2014 | posted by James Gillis
Gold gilded silver and cut crystal accentuate the various toiletries inside

Gold gilded silver and cut crystal accentuate the various toiletries inside

Travel during the late 16th century all the way through the early 19th century was considered a privilege and a symbol of wealth shared only by those who were fortunate enough to afford the luxury. Upon completing their academic studies, young gentlemen and women of high social standing would spend time traveling throughout Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome visiting the great masterpieces of art and architecture that they had studied throughout their time in school.  These young socialites would travel for days, months, and even years absorbing all the cultural knowledge of their travels.  Of course, these lengthy journeys required a convenient means of transporting their personal belongings, or necessities, of daily use.

Often constructed of luxurious materials such as silver, gold, tortoiseshell, fine woods and leathers, nécessaires were chests that held a wide range of ‘necessary’ scent bottles and small cosmetic tools for daily use. Each traveler’s nécessaire was unique in its own way and was often designed to reflect the owner’s noble status. Not only were they practical travel kits, but they also were great symbols of wealth and personal taste.

The inside features 11 cut crystal boxes and jars with beautifully engraved silver gilt tops and toiletries accented with mother-of-pearl handles.

The inside features 11 cut crystal boxes and jars with beautifully engraved silver gilt tops and toiletries accented with mother-of-pearl handles.

In our gallery, we have several impressive nécessaires, each filled with everything from essential toiletries and jewelry to sewing and writing instruments.

The first chest, an English nécessaire de voyage, is a 24-piece nécessaire from 1849. Crafted of the finest coromandel wood, this stunning chest features a fitted, leather and green velvet-lined interior, and houses various cut crystal perfume bottles and utensils. The bottom compartment features a lockable drawer, perfect for concealing and protecting valuables. This case is both beautiful and practical.

The second chest is a similar, English nécessaire veneered with elegant coromandel wood. The interior of this impressive chest is comprised of 11 cut crystal boxes and jars with beautifully engraved silver gilt tops and toiletries accented with mother-of-pearl handles. This nécessaire also features two secret compartments, each opened by pressing discreet buttons located inside. This compact travel kit is perfect for light travel.

Nowadays, it is extremely rare to find such remarkable and personalized travel kits simply due to the fact that travel has become such a regular, everyday occurrence. These nécessaires offer an interesting glimpse into past methods of travel.




We’re excited to announce our first ever giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win this scholarly yet approachable book by William Rau!

This beautiful book sheds new light on the history of 19th-century European painting by examining the works of over 200 masters, covering dozens of movements from Romanticism to Impressionism, and everything in between. Masters of 19th-century art, including Corot, Bouguereau, Alma-Tadema, Godward, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Pissarro, Mönsted, Grimshaw, Dawson, Elsley, Vibert, Soulacroix, Herring, Sr., Delacroix, Courbet, Lewis, and Gerome are examined.

The winner will be announced 2 weeks from today, December 16, 2014. Good luck to all!

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