28 March, 2012
The bergère chair is one of the most classic styles, and one can never go wrong when placing in a room. Literally, a bergère chair is an enclosed French armchair with upholstered back and armrests on an upholstered frame. This pair of bergère chairs, complete with a canned back, are such beautiful examples of chairs in this style and shape. Probably the newest items I have written about on this blog to date, this pair was made during the first quarter of the 20th century. Something about these chairs makes them so much better as a pair, it's almost as if one feeds of another. I love how thick and supple the cushions look, what a comfortable seat they would make!
26 March, 2012
Chateau de Chantilly is a French chateau that stands today in Chantilly, France north of Paris. With buildings from the estate dating back to the 16th century, Chantilly has a rich history that can not be summed up into one single post. One room in the chateau, the Grand Singerie, is covered with paintings done during the 18th century depicting the most enchanting and life-like monkeys doing anything and everything one can imagine. Singerie, a french word meaning "monkey trick," refers to monkeys dressed up and depicting human behavior. This style of painting was quite popular during the turn of the 18th century when there was a great interest in the oriental style decor, or chinoiserie. Chantilly's monkeys are each very different and complex, so much so that to this day, the rooms artwork has not been completely interpreted. The paintings incorporate aspects from the four worlds of the time, Asia, America, Africa, and Europe, as well as the five senses. Neglected for decades, the room was subject to water and humidity damage during the 20th century. In early 2007, a restorative movement was finally made to preserve the stucco ceiling and wood panels. Something about these monkeys dressed as little humans is so charming; each monkey seems to have such a unique expression. I also find this time periods exotic and mysterious interpretation of Asia and the Middle East so interesting.
I love sofas, and there really isn't much more to say. Sitting on them, looking at them, creating a room around them, the possibilities really are endless. This late 19th century sofa or settee was made in the Louis LX style and showcases a magnificently hand carved frame. Made from walnut, the frame is boasts a beautiful floral crest surrounded by a coin and dot design. I love the mint colored damask upholstery chosen for this piece, I feel as though it keeps true to what it would have been in its day.
22 March, 2012
Perusing through one of the online antique networks I frequent, my eye was instantly caught by the fluorescent color of these next pieces. This 19th century Minton enamel moon flask pair stood out amongst all the items appearing on my computer screen so much that I had no choice but to click and inquire further. In a stunning crackle glaze finish, these flasks are painted with the most beautiful and detailed bird and floral images. The flasks have been attributed to the artist Christopher Dresser, who was one of the most prolific ceramic painters in his day and worked for notable companies such as Wedgwood and Royal Worchester. Created in 1872, it is amazing that these pieces have not been separated during their long lives. I love the intentional crackling to the glaze, it adds depth to the design. The bright and beautiful colors really make the images stand out.
19 March, 2012
Centuries ago in France, there stood an elegant piece of architecture known as Chateau de Choisy. Built sometime at the end of the 17th century, Chateau de Choisy was a magnificent property nestled between an elaborate series of french gardens just outside Paris. In 1739, Louis XV purchased the chateau as a royal residence which it remained until the revolution. One room in the chateau, the blue room, was designed after a piece of silk woven by the kings mistress, Madame de Mally. The room was filled with grand furniture corresponding to the colors and style of the silk. This commode, currently on display at the Musée de Louvre in Paris, is one of the only remaining pieces from the entire property. After the revolution, contents of the home, along with the land, were auctioned off and subsequently demolished throughout the 19th century. Today, all we have to remind us of this beautiful French chateau are the few pieces of remaining furniture, engravings of its exterior, and descriptions of its interior left in memoirs of its owners. The commode is an fine example of oriental inspired design mixed with rococo elements.
Although it may seem strange today, during the 18th century, firescreens were often outfitted with silk or embroidered fabric panels. This beautiful work was created in 1788 by the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette herself. I don't know much about embroidery, however, this piece seems to have been done quite well as it has sustained the past two hundred and fifty some years. The panel consists of a piece of cotton embroidered in silk with a simple floral boarder and the queens monogram in the center. This piece is an exceptional example of how beautifully textiles age when kept in ideal conditions. Obviously, the Queen would have been supplied with materials all in the highest of quality, and this obviously is responsible for its rich patina. Perhaps she sat at the mechanical table from a previous post while she worked on this very piece.
Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
17 March, 2012
Some of the most talented silversmiths lived in England during the beginning of the 18th century and unfortunately today, not many of their pieces have survived. Luckily for us, this beautiful piece of tea equipment has remained alive and made its way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. From one of the most celebrated craftsmen Simon Pantin, this tea kettle on a tripod-table stand rises 40 inches from the ground and has a detachable salver for easy service. Components of the kettles design are derived from chinese forms that were popular in England during the time this piece was made. Its base design, with three thick feet, stems from contemporary wooden furniture.
Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
14 March, 2012
It seems as though these days, almost everyone is familiar with the luxury leather goods designer Louis Vuitton. They have been creating some of the finest leather goods for over 150 years and have become a symbol of luxury in todays world. This late 19th century Louis Vuitton trunk is a fine example of items crafted during the companies first few decades of production. In the Damier canvas print, this trunk is in exceptional quality for its age. Trunks show up often, but rarely in such quality. Because they were used for traveling, antique trunks are often found with great wear and covered in travel stickers. Complete with brass hardware and nail heads all engraved "LV," this trunk would make a great addition to the home of a Vuitton collector. The fact that this trunk is in the Damier print as opposed to the traditional and well known "LV" print, makes it quite rare.
Images from Ruby Lane
13 March, 2012
I love a great pair of lamps that make a true statement, and this pair of Napoleon III marble cassolettes do just that. Fitted with beautiful bronze mounts depicting ram heads connected by a wreath of garland, this pair of lamps is made from the most richly colored sienna marble one can find. The term "cassolettes" refers to the shape of the base, often times found as decorative objects without the fittings of a lamp, and is similar to a pair of urns like the ones a few posts ago. These items, together, would add a warm feeling to a living room or parlor. Such beautiful things always come from France!
12 March, 2012
Here we have two miniature watercolor portraits in elaborately carved rococo style frames. Each one is signed by the artist and probably done sometime around the turn of the 19th century. Depicted in each portrait are beautiful young ladies, each with piercing blue eyes. These pieces are exceptional examples of miniature watercolors and would add personality to any room.
11 March, 2012
Antique mirrored glass can be so beautiful, especially if you find a piece as crazed and crackled as this. From the 19th century, this repoussé sterling silver mirror is a wonderful find as these types of original items are showing up less and less as time progresses. Mounted on a velvet wrapped wooden base, this mirror would make an elegant addition to the dressing table or desk in one's boudior. The boarder of this piece consists of sterling vines, birds, lilies and cherubs with an engraved monogram at the top. In my opinion, the aging on the back of this piece is almost as beautiful as the front.
10 March, 2012
Here we have a charming 19th century candelabra in a typical u-shape. Originally, this piece would have held wax candles but has since been electrified to cater to today's conveniences. Among the beautiful bronze vines and florets are three eye-popping blue opaline glass flowers that really make this piece stand out. I love its asymmetry, allowing your eye to move around and constantly find something new.
07 March, 2012
Art Nouveau - A favorite of many, and most definitely a favorite of mine. When I think of Art Nouveau, I think of the dripping lines, beautiful women with long twisting hair, and green glass. This punch bowl, on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, incorporates all of those aspects of the Art Nouveau movement and so much more. Crafted in 1900, this German made piece was produced by the famous Art Nouveau tableware manufacturer WMF (Wurttembergische Metalwarenfabrik). The punch bowl consists of a green glass bowl encapsulated by twisting tendrils of silver plate. A matching ladle with an ethereal looking woman on the handle tip completes the set. There is almost something eerie about it, would you think twice before drinking what's inside?
Image from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
I love adding symmetry to a mantle, and a great way to do that is with urns. One can find them in almost any medium, from porcelain to carved wood, and in many different styles. These French classical urns, created during the 19th century, are made of the most beautiful marble with swirling black and yellowish honey colors. Cast in bronze ormolu, this pair stands at just over a foot tall making in a good standard size to add into any decor. The thick stripes of contrasting marble are what really makes these urns stand out, in my opinion.
French carved wood furniture isn't something that is difficult to find, but coming across a piece as beautiful as this isn't something that happens every day. Some of the most beautiful carved wood furniture comes from France during the 18th century, and this piece absolutely meets those expectations. In the French Provincial Régency style, this commode is a fine example of furniture considered rustic in its time. The front features three very large drawers with an elegant serpentine shape. The sides, with simple moulding, ground this piece leaving the attention to be paid to the intricate carving on its front. Its weight is so evident, upon first glance one can tell it was made with quality craftsmanship. This piece would add a grand feeling to any dining room as a buffet or in an entry hall with a large, beautiful painting above.
03 March, 2012
Charles Cressent was one of the most prolific cabinet makers during the 18th century. In this time, if you were wealthy, you most likely adorned your home with one or more of his pieces. He is known best for his rococo gilt bronze and ormolu mounts, so much so that cabinet makers are still in awe of his work today. He also rose to popularity by his use of marquetry skills, using tortoiseshell and brilliantly colored woods in his pieces. All of his work was done in his own factory making it almost impossible for imitators to copy. He began working as a sculptor which explains why his work is so elegant and sharply crafted. The piece pictured below is a large commode that can be found in the Minneapolis Institute of arts.
Image found here
01 March, 2012
Rococo - the continuing curve. Its beautiful leaves, shells, and scrolls seem to continue on forever leaving nothing ordinary or basic. This mid 18th century rococo writing desk comes from Venice during a time where the wealthy spared no expense on their luxurious and severely opulent interiors. I first saw this desk on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and it instantly became one of my favorite pieces to see whenever I visit. At first glance, it is difficult to see the six doors that open up to reveal different writing stations as well as a chest of drawers in the front. In person, I have only seen it closed, however, photos from the Internet allow us to see just how magnificent it is on the inside as well. Even the hinges on this piece are gilded bronze, attention was paid to the smallest of details. I love the forest green paint chosen for the inside of the doors, it has been preserved so beautifully over the past two hundred and fifty some years. I could stare for hours and never lose interest.
Images from The Minneapolis Institute of Arts