The Richness of the Garnet: January Birthstone

January 25th, 2016 | posted by Susan Lapene
These stunning drop earrings boast 17.58 total carats of radiant Mandarin garnets

These stunning drop earrings boast 17.58 total carats of radiant Mandarin garnets

The deep crimson hue of the garnet isn’t the only thing dramatic around this ancient stone – it also possesses a rich history that spans centuries. In ancient times, the garnet was adored by Egyptian pharaohs and queens, who blanketed themselves in the lavish red jewels. These highly prized stones were even buried with theme to accompany their souls into the afterlife, serving as an eternal status symbol. In ancient Rome, Clergy and nobility used impressive garnet signet rings as personal stamps for official documents. Today, the crimson jewel is popularly known as the January birthstone, renowned for both its luxurious color and brilliant refractive index.

While the garnet is best known for its crimson hue, it can also be found naturally in a wide array of colors. Vibrant oranges, heavily saturated greens, intense yellows – the garnet can be found in nearly every hue. Furthermore, garnets are also rich in rarities, including star garnets and color changing stones.

Displaying a fiery orange hue, this trilliant-cut gem absolutely dazzles

Displaying a fiery orange hue, this trilliant-cut gem absolutely dazzles

Of all the colors of garnets, Mandarin orange is one of the rarest and most exotic. First discovered in Namibia in 1991, the stone quickly rose in popularity, becoming one of the most coveted hues in this extraordinary stone and grabbing the attention of the international gemstone market. Buyers, connoisseurs, and all else clamored for a sighting of the fiery-orange.  With a personality all its own, the rich, vivacious hues of a deep orange garnet make a bold statement.

This pair of 17.85-carat Mandarin garnet earrings are comprised of two perfectly matched gemstones that are highlighted by dazzling white diamonds. Embodying the radiance for which these gemstones are coveted, these Mandarin garnets contain no heat treatment, making the gemstones completely natural in appearance: a rarity. Exemplifying the strong refractive rating typical to the Mandarin garnet, this gemstone sparkles to its fullest potential even in the dimmest light conditions.

A radiant and rare 15.01-carat Mandarin garnet is the star of this eye-catching pendant

A radiant and rare 15.01-carat Mandarin garnet is the star of this eye-catching pendant

This stunning Mandarin garnet pendant is the perfect match to the earrings. The monumental 15.01-carat trilliant-cut stone is encircled by a halo of white diamonds, all set in platinum. The pendant’s remarkable color is completely natural as the stone has not undergone any heat treatment, making this stone’s beauty as rare as it is brilliant.

A jewel of marvelous variety, the garnet is an exceptional gemstone that commands great consideration and boasts high admiration. Other garnets, particularly of the warm, rich red color variety also hold a tradition and history that is as important to that of the mandarin garnet. Often worn as a talisman and protective stone in ancient times and heralded by Noah’s use of a warm red garnet lantern to steer his ark through the night, garnets of this red hue spark immense enthusiasm and attention. Those garnets displaying sumptuous color, vibrancy, and size found in M.S. Rau Antiques’ selection of rare jewels are some of the finest colored gemstones to be found.

View more exquisite garnets here


Bouguereau and the Art of the Academy

January 20th, 2016 | posted by George Peralta

“For me a work of art must be an elevated interpretation of nature. The search for the ideal has been the purpose of my life. In landscape or seascape, I love above all the poetic motif.” William Adolphe Bouguereau


This exquisite portrait is the work of French academic great William Bouguereau

In the age that saw the birth of Impressionism, an emerging group of artists that began to see the world around them in new ways, William-Adolphe Bouguereau stood as one of the most influential and popular upholders of traditional Academic art values in his day. A student of the great classical painters, such as Jacques-Louis David and Jean-Dominique Ingres, Bouguereau possessed  a remarkable talent for his craft. Along with his contemporary Alexandre Cabanel, Bouguereau dismissed the new Impressionist ideals in favor of the traditionalist methods of the old masters and valuing, above all else, the beautiful.


Deeply influenced by the classical tradition, Bouguereau is renowned for his portraits

The French Academy stood as a symbol of classical art, accepted motifs, and as an overwhelmingly unofficial mark of proper painting instruction.  Seeped in motifs of the ancient classical past, the European tradition, and historical subjects, works accepted into the Academy embodied the utmost conservatism with their precise rendering of nature. Renowned artists such as Jacques-Louis David and Sir Joshua Reynolds peppered every corner of the exhibition walls of the Salon, conveying dynamic sincerity and clarity to their subjects and scenes.

The devotion to these earlier classical motifs in the works of William-Adolphe Bouguereau is undeniable. His extensive oeuvre paid tribute to the values of the French Academics: attention to beautiful detail, strict adherence to anatomy and perspective, and a high level of finish and clear meaning. By translating distinctly classical motifs in his own taste of peaceful, pastoral landscapes, Bouguereau not only succeeded in maintaining the French Academic tradition, but also in creating enduring compositions that directly spoke the personality and mood of his subjects. Highly admired by both the eye and the Academy, he consequently dominated the Salons of the Third Republic so consistently that the official Salon became known as ‘Le Salon Bouguereau.’


Signed “W-Bouguereau-1895” (lower right)

Like many artists, Bouguereau observed many of the same subjects, yet each of his work possesses subtle nuances that give them a personality distinctly their own. Throughout his long career, he consistently looked to his choice subject, adolescent peasant girls, who came to reflect an idealized window into a serene, pastoral world.

As a quintessential model for Bouguereau’s choice subject, this full-size portrait perfectly epitomizes the skill of Bouguereau’s hand. Set within an idealized outdoor landscape, Bouguereau infuses his work with tranquil simplicity. Dominating the work is a young peasant girl, leaning against rock and enveloped by the detailed foliage behind her. Smiling coyly outwards at the viewer, the girl’s delicate head bends slightly right in a movement of both admiration and observation. With this technique, Bouguereau almost allows a conversation between the viewer and the young girl, who engages the viewer with a coquettish charm.

The beautifully finished composition portrays a young shepherdess with a coy smile

The beautifully finished composition portrays a young shepherdess with a coy smile

In a talented display of photographic-realism, Bouguereau renders the young girl’s entire visage with the utmost amount of detailed accuracy. Fully anatomically precise, the soft bends of the girl’s arms and the luminescence of her skin expose Bouguereau’s genius for communicating human anatomy. The modest girl’s full skirt sits at her waist, topped by a purple sash that sweeps to her side, falling in ripples. The result of these exquisite details is an idyllic landscape that expresses beauty, purity, and hope.

Bouguereau’s work epitomizes the highest degree of taste and refinement, expressing every important hallmark of French Academic painting. Within this portrait, every ethos of Bouguereau’s career is present: his preferred idyllic subject, an unsurpassed degree of finish, luminous color, and remarkable attention to detail. Read more about the unsurpassed career of Bougeureau:

Expand your knowledge and admiration for the work of Bouguereau by exploring the careers and work of his contemporaries and students. Emilie Munier, for example, is regarded as one of the most important students of Bouguereau. While his portraits also show a homage to the same Academic techniques as his great master, Munier succeeded in creating language all his own that combined detailed, clear compositions with the vivaciousness of his own taste.


A Scholarly Space: Objects for the Desk

January 4th, 2016 | posted by Peter Hernandez

Whether you are an architect or a writer, in business or law, your desk should exude the same importance as the work that it accommodates. Objects for the desk that are both decorative and practical can lend aesthetic appeal and functionality to the study, whether it be in the office or the home. This new year, bring both organization and timeless style to your work with desk items that evoke the classic urbanity of the gentleman’s study.

The art of writing reaches epic heights with this exquisite, limited edition Montblanc fountain pen

The art of writing reaches epic heights with this exquisite, limited edition Montblanc fountain pen

An attractive fountain pen is a necessity for any desk, and there is no better maker than Montblanc. Considered the premiere name in exquisite writing utensils for centuries, Montblanc’s fountain pens are known to be the finest in the world. Both aesthetically beautiful with streamlined designs and magnificent in terms of performance, Montblanc pens appeal to both the writer and the connoisseur. The Four Seasons Collection, to which this rare pen belongs, was a limited edition design by the firm to commemorate the opening of three one-of-a kind boutiques in New York, Hong Kong, and Paris. Crafted of 18K Gold, the entire surface is adorned with a delicate vine motif that is accented by brown and cognac diamonds. The piece is highlighted by a spectacular diamond drop, allowing the pen to sparkle from every angle. A mother of pearl plaque bearing Montblanc’s exquisite name completes the piece, which is one of only a handful from this coveted collection in existence.

Each figure is mounted in its white onyx base

Each figure is mounted in its white onyx base

An eye-catching pair of bookends is a necessary addition to the study in order to keep one’s favorite texts and references organized. This charming pair of English bookends are crafted from exquisite cream colored onyx in the Art Deco style. A young girl sits at the base of one bookend, entrenched in a book, while a young boy stands and peers over in charming curiosity on the other. With the perfect contrast of materials and colors, these bookends are a timeless addition to one’s favorite bookcase, mantle, or desk.30-2590_1

Necessary to complete the center of any desk, this 19th century Gothic-style Regency inkwell evokes nostalgia of earlier times and speaks highly to the skills of its creator. Like other workspace items, this piece is as functional as it is visually appealing. Fine bronze ormolu covers the elegant stand of the inkwell and is highlighted by rich, cranberry colored glass that form the well. Fascinating and unique, the two inkwells are removable to use with further ease. The center of the piece is highlighted by a gilt lion finial and the pen tray and handles all characteristics of the Gothic style: ornate, regal foliate designs and sumptuous scrollwork.

Fine bronze ormolu is beautifully contrasted by cranberry cut glass in this Regency-period inkwell

Fine bronze ormolu is beautifully contrasted by cranberry cut glass in this Regency-period inkwell

The combination of aesthetic beauty and functionality in these exquisite pieces imbues them with both personality and importance. Complete the learned atmosphere with an extraordinary desk, the perfect writing and reading area. A desk by Sormani would certainly be both an elegant and eye-catching centerpiece to any gentleman’s study. 19th century ébéniste Paul Sormani crafted furnishings that received high acclaim at numerous international exhibitions. His pieces, highly celebrated, evoke the elegance and restrained sophistication for which French artistry was renowned. This important Sormani partner desk represents the luxury for which his work was known and praised. Adorned with stunning ormolu bronze and intricate marquetry of amaranth, this unique and spacious furnishing offers a large leather writing space with multiple frieze drawers. A timeless addition to any study, this partner desk offers aesthetic beauty and functional appeal. Similarly, desks crafted in the Chippendale style of carved paneling and molding suggest a studious and luxurious environment. This expansive, refined Chippendale partner desk of exquisite Cuban mahogany is unrivaled in size and quality, and stands as an impressive accommodation to any library or office. Likewise, master designer Andre Gilbert crafted this remarkable late 18th century secretaire that opens to reveal a delicate leather green writing table and multiple storage areas. This piece, both a work space and room accent, is completed by delicate exterior panels with exquisite marquetry of inlaid green wood and mother of pearl.

View more exquisite and unique desks

America, Illustrated: An Exhibition of Saturday Evening Post Cover Illustrations

December 17th, 2015 | posted by Bill Rau

The Babysitter by Norman Rockwell, November 8, 1947 Saturday Evening Post cover

Future President by George Hughes, September 25, 1948 Saturday Evening Post cover

Future President by George Hughes, September 25, 1948 Saturday Evening Post cover

The great illustrators of the 20th century captured American history unlike any artist before, and the famed Saturday Evening Post carried their images to millions of Americans, into their hearts and homes. At M.S. Rau Antiques, we are exploring the nation’s rich story as told by six decades of original Post illustrations in our current exhibition, America, Illustrated. Featuring original Post covers by Norman Rockwell and his contemporaries, including J.C. Leyendecker, Stevan Dohanos, Maxfield Parrish, John Philip Falter, and more, the exhibition offers a nostalgic look into a bygone age.

Beginning in the 1900s, the comprehensive exhibition spans nearly the entire lifespan of the Saturday Evening Post, which published weekly from 1897 until 1963. This iconic American magazine was the first to reach a mass audience – over six million subscribers at its peak, not to mention rack sales – and stands as one of the most widespread and influential middle-class magazines in American history.

The iconic Post cover illustrations present compelling scenes of everyday life the come together to forge a portrait of a country and its people, shaped by period of peace and war, moments of immense happiness and despair, and of great societal change.

The exhibition opens at the dawn of a new century. The 1900s would truly be remembered as the decade that invented the future. An exciting time in technology, culture, and the arts, American culture found itself at a crossroads – awakening to change with echoes of the past still visible. J.C. Leyendecker’s Easter from 1906, presenting a high-hatted gentleman and his impeccably dressed female companion, is emblematic of the Victorian ideals still held by the most affluent in society at the turn of the century – ideals which would soon become obsolete.

Begging for the Turkey by J.C. Leyendecker, 1933 Thanksgiving cover of The Saturday Evening Post

Begging for the Turkey by J.C. Leyendecker, 1933 Thanksgiving cover of The Saturday Evening Post

Much of the exhibition is colored by the two World Wars, which came to dominate cultural narrative of their respective eras. During the country’s darkest times, the Saturday Evening Post’s poignant wartime covers gave cause to keep faith in humankind and support the American troops. Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis is one of the most iconic characters from the Post’s wartime illustrations.  Rockwell uses his well-honed talent for storytelling to give the war a human face through his character, Willie, who, even in wartime, lends humor to the most difficult of subjects. Through his wartime works, Rockwell successfully communicated a strong moral compass for the nation.

Along the way, these original illustrations give face to some of the most significant advancements of American history, from women’s rights to the automobile and the radio. They also give a glimpse into our most heartwarming times, including moments of childhood wonder and holiday fun. Coming to a close in the 1950s with idealized images of suburbia and the American Dream, this exhibition offers a truly nostalgic and heartwarming vision of one generation’s lived experience.

The exhibition runs through January 5 at M.S. Rau Antiques’ French Quarter Gallery. Click here for more information about the works in this family-friendly, nostalgic exhibition that is perfect for the holiday season.

The Splendor of Art Deco: Table Clocks for Him

December 16th, 2015 | posted by Ludovic Rousset
Retailed by J.E. Caldwell & Co., this rare timepiece boasts fine guilloche enamelling

Retailed by J.E. Caldwell & Co., this rare timepiece boasts fine guilloche enamelling

A table clock can be a fascinating conversation piece, or the perfect accent to any handsomely furnished room. It can attract admiration and appreciation from both the connoisseur and the layman as a work of both mechanical complexity and decorative appeal. Thus, a well-designed table clock can serve as the perfect holiday gift for anyone on your list. This holiday season, surprise your loved one with an object of timeless style – a table clock.

Some of the finest crafted table clocks hail from the J.E. Caldwell & Co. clockmakers and jewelers in Philadelphia, PA. Since its beginning in 1839 by James Emmott Caldwell, J.E. Caldwell has succeeded in designing pieces that exude quality and elegance. Jewelry, silver, and objets d’art were crafted by the expert designers for their wealthy and aristocratic clientele, and soon the Caldwell name became well-known and respected throughout the country. This venerable jeweler’s talent also found its way into clock making, and they soon excelled in designing sophisticated and luxurious clocks in the sleek Art Deco.



Signed "J.E.Caldwell/France" on the dial, and signed in the case

Signed “J.E.Caldwell/France” on the dial, and signed in the case

This remarkable table clock represents the grandeur and sophistication of not only J.E. Caldwell’s talents, but also of the Art Deco movement itself. Small in scale, yet powerful in impact, this table clock is a sumptuous reminder of a bygone era. Guilloche enameling is responsible for the rich azure color that envelops the surface of the clock, radiating from a single point on each side of the clock face. Lavish diamond studded silver filigree hands keep time on the face of the clock that displays elegant Roman numerals. Sleek, white enamel frames enclose each panel of the clock, completing the piece. The clock rests in its original, gold-embossed leather fitted case and is signed “J.E.Caldwell/France” on the face.

Crafted of luxurious tortoiseshell, this sleek desk clock by J.E. Caldwell & Co. exudes Art Deco elegance.

Crafted of luxurious tortoiseshell, this sleek desk clock by J.E. Caldwell & Co. exudes Art Deco elegance.


Similarly, this tortoiseshell J.E. Caldwell table clock evokes both wealth and sophistication. The clock rests back on a stand, much like a framed photo. High-quality tortoiseshell swathes the clock in a warmth of golden browns and rich oranges, perfectly complemented by the bronze ormolu that frames the clock. The Art Deco style displays itself through the bold numbers and stylized ornamentation on the face, as well as the sleek, yet commanding design of the clock frame design. Signed “J.E.Caldwell & Co/Philadelphia/France” on the dial.

The dial is framed by a luxurious plaque of amber-hued onyx

The dial is framed by a luxurious plaque of amber-hued onyx




This impressive table clock speaks to the most important aesthetics of the Art Deco movement. A plaque of amber-hued onyx makes up the body of the clock, encapsulating the entire piece. The center dial is gilded and is delicately enameled in deep blue and rich greens, creating the perfect color contrasts to the amber hues of the onyx surrounding. This type of eye-catching, sleek and simple aesthetic created by the color contrasts perfectly exemplifies the main qualities of the Art Deco style. The clock is signed “J.E. Caldwell/Philadelphia” on the dial.




Any of these remarkable table clocks are sure to provide the perfect present for any friend or family member. As impressive works on their won, each of these clocks at M.S. Rau Antiques would be an elegant addition to any room.


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