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!


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.

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