Antiques Blog

A ‘Louis Khan’ House Up For Sale..For less than $300,000 U.S.!

Who is Louis Kahn you ask? He’s only one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century. A titanic figure in 20th-century architecture, Kahn is known mainly for institutions like the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art ; the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in La Jolla, California (see Getty Foundation Will Rescue Modern Architecture Gems); and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The most recently constructed Kahn project is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, on New York City’s Roosevelt Island.

Franklin C. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island ( I lived on Roosevelt Island back in the 1980's)

Franklin C. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island ( I lived on Roosevelt Island back in the 1980’s)

When I read that a Louis Khan designed house was up for sale I went a bit mad. I found it almost impossible to believe that a building built by an architect legend could go for such a paltry sum. But considering the prices people pay for ugly boxes in the city of Vancouver, it’s little wonder I feel this way.

The three-bedroom, two-bath house, at 417 Sherry Way, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, was completed in 1962 and sits on a lot of less than an acre. It measures about 1,700 square feet. Cherry Hill is about 10 miles from Philadelphia.

The Louis Khan 'Clever House' was built in 1957 for Fred and Elaine Clever.

The Louis Khan ‘Clever House’ was built in 1957 for Fred and Elaine Clever.

“For those who admire architecture,” says realtor Fox Roach on its website, “this home is a delight.”

Though the house is being sold in “as is condition,” realtor Rosemary Mercanti-Anthony says the only problem is that the radiant heat is not working properly. “Everything else seems to be cosmetic,” she told artnet News. “It hit the market on Thursday and I have a lot of interest in the property,” she added, with a number of scheduled showings through next week.

“It’s just amazing,” she said of being inside the house. “I love watching people come in. When they walk into the central room, they look up and light up. You really have to be there to feel it.”

The 'Clever House' interior.

The ‘Clever House’ interior.

Fred E. and Elaine Cox Clever commissioned the house after seeing Kahn’s Trenton Bath House (opened 1955), stark modernist buildings that frame the entrance to the Trenton Jewish Community Center. The monumental concrete forms represent Kahn’s first adaptation of ancient structures, and the project saw Kahn hit his artistic stride.

Opening Day of the Trenton Bath House in New Jersey opened in 1955.

Opening Day of the Trenton Bath House in New Jersey opened in 1955.

Kahn built only nine houses. In the Clever house, five small rooms with pyramidal roofs surround a central living room topped by four gable-like structures.

Visionary architect, expert manipulator of form and light, highly complex individual, Louis Kahn (born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky 1901-1974) is one of the most influential architects of the mid-twentieth century. He realised relatively few buildings, yet the formal restraint and emotional expressiveness of his Jonas Salk Institute, Kimbell Art Museum and the Capital Complex in Dhaka are regarded as an inspired interpretation of Modernism. Louis Kahn died on the evening of 17 March 1974, but when his body was discovered in the public lavatory at Penn Station in New York, it took several days for the police to identify him as one of the world’s most admired architects. He had died swiftly of a heart attack and the only form of identification among his possessions was his passport in which he had crossed out his address. On the evening of his death, Kahn had flown back to the US from India where he was building the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. He had gone to Penn Station to board a train home to Philadelphia.

Louis Khan (1901 - 1974)

Louis Khan (1901 – 1974)

The Institute of Management and another ongoing work, the Capital Complex of government buildings at Dhaka in Bangladesh, were not only Kahn’s most ambitious projects, but architectural masterpieces now revered by architects across the globe. Yet he had built so little during his life that he died bankrupt owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The few buildings that Louis Kahn did realise were so remarkable that they established him as one of the most important figures in twentieth century architecture.

The government buildings in Bangladesh designed by Louis Kahn.

The government buildings in Bangladesh designed by Louis Kahn.

If you want to catch up on Kahn’s work, I recommend ‘My Architect’, a 2003 documentary by his son Nathaniel Kahn, who barely knew his father. Kahn had several families, who set out to understand him by touring the world to see his buildings and interviewing his other wives, lovers and children. Showing up to sing Kahn’s praises in interviews are architects I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, Moshe Safdie, and Robert Stern.

There is lots of information on the strange life of Louis Kahn and his iconic work. Do an internet search and you’ll be amazed how revered and gifted this man was.

About the ‘Clever House’ Larry and I are looking for a second recreational house. This just might be it. (Even though my tastes run more to a 18th Century farmhouse in the South of France!)

Have a great week!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
Vancouver, B.C.

The Antique Warehouse Website

Buy Vintage or Antique!

In the February issue 2015 of House and Home magazine a classic vintage Louis XVI Bergere is featured as a candidate for re-upholstery. We couldn’t agree more.

We’re obviously biased in our love of vintage and antiques, but there are some great reasons to buy vintage or antique that people rarely consider.

Think of it in these terms.

Houses are springing up everywhere at a breakneck pace with people spending fortunes to insure their investment is built to last. The foundation and structure is everything if you intend to keep the roof from falling on your head. So why think any different of your furniture?

Sure new reproductions are potentially cheaper and may ‘look’ like a vintage French or Italian piece. But look closer before you buy and consider the following. A new piece is probably produced off shore where quality is replaced for quantity. Newly produced pieces produce ‘off gas’ that is detrimental to most peoples health. Even the glues are toxic! Do you really need another pollutant to invade your life?

Then there’s the question of longevity. A good vintage piece (particularly from Europe or North America) will outlast anything produced offshore.

And of course aesthetically, a vintage piece always looks more beautiful. The carving and details are finer and will always look pleasing to the eye. Again, people pay exorbitant amounts on new construction with focus on the detail and finishings. You’re furniture deserves the same consideration.

 

House and Home Magazine recently featured a vintage Louis XVI Bergere to purchase and re-upholster. We think this is a great idea for many reasons.

House and Home Magazine recently featured a vintage Louis XVI Bergere to purchase and re-upholster. The recovering looks modern and chic.

So before you buy that new piece of furniture check our your local antique or vintage store. You can find anything from Mid century modern, Art deco, French Empire to Louis XV or Louis XVI pieces that will outlast, be more beautiful, and be safer for your environment too!

Happy Hunting.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Open 7 days a week.

PS..We’ve just received a new container from Europe with gorgeous things from France, Italy and England. Be sure to pay us a visit online or in person. Remember these are all one of a kind pieces and once they’re gone they’re history!

Picasso’s Granddaughter Selling her Grandfather’s Art

A new cache of Pablo Picasso works from the personal collection of his granddaughter, Marina Picasso, said to be worth $290 million, are about to hit the market in 2015.

marina-picasso Grand Daughter Marina Picasso

Marina Picasso in her French antique filled home.

Marina Picasso in her French antique filled home.

Among the seven pieces allegedly for sale is a 1923 portrait of Marina’s grandmother, Picasso’s first wife, Olga Khokhlova. Titled Portrait de femme (Olga), it is thought to be worth $60 million. Dating from 1905 through 1965, the works being offered are also thought to include Maternité (1921), valued at about $54 million, and Femme a la Mandoline (Mademoiselle Leonie assie) 1911, worth roughly $60 million.

 

Pablo Picasso and Olga, a Russian Ballerina C.1915

Pablo Picasso and Olga, a Russian Ballerina C.1915

The artist’s granddaughter was perhaps testing the waters for a potential sale when she presented a suite of his drawings and ceramics at a non-selling exhibition at Sotheby’s Paris last spring. The auction house will not be involved this time around, however, as Marina has opted to sell the works directly, personally meeting in Geneva with interested parties.

Also for sale is “La Californie,” the Cannes villa Marina inherited from her grandfather, who lived there with his second wife, Jacqueline Roque. In recent years, the villa has become a museum and gallery dedicated to Picasso. In 2013, Marina presented “Picasso: Nudity Set Free,” mostly made up of pieces from her personal collection, at the home.

 

The Californie, Picasso's villa in Cannes, France will also be sold.

The Californie, Picasso’s villa in Cannes, France will also be sold.

 

Picasso's second wife Jacqueline Roque.

Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque.

Though Marina has certainly benefited from her grandfather’s career as an adult, she has readily condemned the artist, who she alleges neglected her family when she was a child living on the brink of poverty. In 2001, she published Picasso: My Grandfather, which claimed that the painter “drove everyone who got near him to despair and engulfed them,” and that her inheritance was “given without love.” Marina’s brother committed suicide, allegedly after Roque barred him from attending Picasso’s funeral.

According to a friend of Marina’s the upcoming sale “is about letting go of the past.”

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

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Who is Christian Liaigre?

It wasn’t until researching a piece that we’d bought on our last trip to France that I discovered who Christian Liaigre was. Neither did I realize how important he’s considered in the design world today.

Not only is Christian Liaigre is credited with redefining modernism and pioneering the use of dark wood, leather sofas and the luxurious cream, brown and grey palette integral to today’s stylish interiors but the Financial Times described him as the most important – and the most copied – designer of our time.

 

French superstar designer Christian Liaigre

French superstar designer Christian Liaigre

Christian Liaigre is a modern-day Midas; everything he touches becomes fabulous. Among others, he’s responsible for the interior of the uber-trendy Mercer Hotel in New York, the refit of Selfridges department store in London, offices for Valentino Couture in Paris; and Hakkasan, London’s Chinese restaurant of the moment. He has also designed private residences for such notables as Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, Rupert Murdoch and Bryan Adams.

 

A London private residence designed by Christian Liaigre

A London private residence designed by Christian Liaigre

How good is his furniture you may ask? So good he has been described as Europe’s most renowned industrial architect of this century. Like his interiors, Liaigre’s furniture is simple, sophisticated and luxuriously inviting. Credited with being the first designer to introduce African wenge wood into interiors, Liaigre is fond of blending African wood with traditional timber such as English oak to create his minimal furniture.

 

The Christian Liaigre Sofa/Daybed C.1988 created out of African Wenge wood arrived to our store in our last container without us knowing who it was made by. I discovered it purely by accident.

The Christian Liaigre Sofa/Daybed C.1988 created out of African Wenge wood arrived to our store in our last container. I discovered it purely by accident at a warehouse in the west of France. I had no idea who designed it, but bought it purely on instinct.

Christian Liaigre incorporates the culture of a place into his designs. For example, in a modernist retreat on the Galician coast belonging to Spanish fashion designer Adolfo Dominguez, Liaigre designed sliding screens in the woven willow used by local fishermen to make nets. A strong believer in feng shui, he strives to create an atmosphere of meditative serenity and consequently his services are in demand in Asia.

 

Buddakan Restaurant in New York City designed by Christian Liaigre

Buddakan Restaurant in New York City designed by Christian Liaigre

Christian Liaigre was born in La Rochelle, France, in 1943, studied at the Paris Academy of Fine and Decorative Arts and taught drawing at the Academy Charpentier. After spending 10 years as a horse breeder he opened a studio in 1987, focusing on interior architecture and furniture design. His first project to win acclaim was the refurbishment of the Hotel Montalembert in Paris in 1988.

 

The Hotel Montalembert in Paris.

The Hotel Montalembert in Paris.

In Christian Liaigres’ spaces, you won’t see clashing colors and patterns, or 60s and 70s influences that have recently become so popular. You surely won’t spot the lamps, tables and accessories that seem to be ubiquitous from one magazine feature spread to another.

 

The interior of this 220' Yacht was designed by Christian Liaigre and won the shipbuilders award in 2012.

The interior of this 220′ Yacht was designed by Christian Liaigre and won the shipbuilders award in 2012.

 

The award winning yachts' interior by Christian Liaigre

The award winning yachts’ interior by Christian Liaigre

You will see furnishings made of the highest quality materials and fabrics, many custom-created for each project. Embossed leathers. Velours, silks and linens. Exquisite woods and surfaces. Doorknobs so beautiful they rival works of art. His rooms at first overwhelm with the strength of a singular, consistent vision – then the details slowly reveal themselves, like good, aged wine.Just enough decorative flourishes are thrown in to provide a thrilling surprise around every corner. That surprise could be a jewel-tone accent that glows against the mostly neutral palette. Or a singular swath of exquisite velvet. Perhaps a sparkling, curvy chandelier that plays off the dominant masculine shapes.

 

The iconic style setter Lee Radziwill (Sister of Jacqueline Kennedy) is pictured here in her apartment seated on an early Christian Liaigre sofa. Note the use of antiques and modern in this elegant living space.

The iconic style setter Princess Lee Radziwill (younger sister of the late Jacqueline Kennedy) is pictured here in her apartment seated on an early Christian Liaigre sofa. Note the use of antiques and modern in this elegant living space.

Color is used sparingly, but to great effect. Everything comes together in perfect harmony in Liaigre’s world. And it’s a world that anyone would love to inhabit. Liaigre came to the attention of the design world in the late 80s. His 2004 book, Maison – Christian Liaigre, covered eight design projects, but didn’t include a bio or photo of the designer himself. “CL has been called one of the most influential designers alive today.”Ornamentation, sparkle, and curves are used deftly. They play off of the restraint of clean lines, color, and pattern. The result is a rich, singular statement.

 

A Liaigre fireplace with gilded mirror and Louis XV bergeres

A Liaigre fireplace with gilded mirror and Louis XV bergeres

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver
V4M2R8

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For the Love of French Antiques

In the last edition of Country House magazine, a young family in the Southern USA travelled to France and absolutely loved what they saw. So much so that they re-did their entire home embracing the sophistication and romantic feel of France. From the kitchen to the bathrooms the designer helped them create their vision using touches of French glamor that may surprise you.

Did you ever think French Louis XV Bronze and Crystal sconces with a Louis XV Chandeleir could work in a kitchen? They do, and beautifully too. Just scroll down to photograph number 5 and see for yourself.

 

In the Master bedroom, this family chose two Louis XV canapes or sofas to create a warm and elegant feeling.

In the Master bedroom, this family chose two Louis XV canapes or sofas to create a warm and elegant feeling.

 

A Louis XVI Wingback chair always gives charm to any room.

A Louis XVI Wingback chair always gives charm to any room.

 

French antiques abound in this photograph from the Louis XV desk to the Bergeres in the Living Room.

French antiques abound in this photograph from the Louis XV desk to the slip covered loveseats in the Living Room.

 

Gorgeous caned Louis XV Sofa looks fabulous in a hallway.

Gorgeous caned Louis XV Sofa looks fabulous in a hallway.

 

A Louis XVI Firesurround can be easily made and installed by local artisans at the fraction of the price than we can buy the actual ones in France. We've had them in from time to time.

A Louis XVI Firesurround can be easily made and installed by local artisans at the fraction of the price than we can buy the actual ones in France. We’ve had antique firesurrounds in on occasion when we can find them.

 

Note the French crystal chandelier and sconces. The owners declined to use anything reproduction in the house. They wanted everything made in France and either vintage or antique. 'An antique has so much more appeal in the construction and quality, and I know it will last forever and a day" says the owner of this wonderful house.

Note the French crystal chandelier and sconces. The owners declined to use anything reproduction in the house. They wanted everything made in France and either vintage or antique. “I looked at reproductions” says the owner of this wonderful house “but they just didn’t have the same detail or patina as the real thing” We couldn’t agree more. Note the Louis XVI Cane backed chairs.

 

The owners had this wonderful French Louis XVI hallstand repainted and distressed.

The owners had this wonderful French Louis XVI hallstand repainted and distressed.

If you’d like some information on how to refinish or repaint your antiques please don’t hesitate to ask. We know everyone in the business whose excellent at what they do and would be happy to refer.

See you soon,

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC

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Choose Vancouver’s Best Antique Store for your next visit.

Furniture of the King Louis XV Period

Undoubtedly the greatest of all periods for French furniture, the King Louis XV period was one of extraordinary creativity, influenced by the royal mistresses: Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and other ladies and courtesans of the time. Grand suites were replaced by smaller more intimate rooms. Furnished with unfailing attentiveness to elegance, refinement, comfort and well being, curved lines and asymmetry became the rule. Furniture became practical and readily transportable without losing any of its elegance. Foreign masters came to Paris to work at the Court: Bernard van Risen Burgh or B.V.R.B., Vandercruse known as Lacroix whose stamp was P.V.L.C.

 

A stamped epoque Louis XV Cabinet created by master ebeniste Bernard Van Risenburgh.

A stamped epoque Louis XV Cabinet created by master ebeniste Bernard Van Risenburgh.

The French furniture style we call Louis XV flourished during the period of 1730-1775. If the Louis XIV furniture style was designed with the glorification of the Sun King in mind and all in massive, masculine, square form, the Louis XV furniture style is the complete opposite. Designed for the comfort and glorification of beautiful women, it has a romantic, sensuous and feminine look. A flowing abstraction of unbroken curves is the guiding principle of the Louis XV furniture style; the legs are curved, the back is curved and the seat is curved. Even the Louis XV architecture also adheres to this principle. It abhorred straight lines. In typical Louis XV architecture everything is curved – the ceiling, the panel-designs on the walls, the panel designs in the doors and even the corners of a room are curved.

As Louis XV was not old enough to become king when his great-grandfather died, a régent ruled France in the interim. This transitional phase between Louis XIV and Louis XV style is named accordingly. Through Régence style is outside the scope of this blog, it’s important to note how this style holds elements of both Louis XIV and Louis XV style.

 

Rococo painter Francois Boucher typified the look of the Rococo period and it's love of beautiful women.

Rococo painter Francois Boucher typified the look of the Rococo period and it’s love of beautiful women.

 

Madame Marguerite Bergeret was the wife and sister of two of the eighteenth century's most ardent art patrons. Her brother, the Abbé Jean Claude de Saint-Non traveled to Italy with Hubert Robert and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Her husband, Jacques Onésime Bergeret, a wealthy financier, became a celebrated connoisseur and collector. Painted by Francois Boucher C.1761

Madame Marguerite Bergeret was the wife and sister of two of the eighteenth century’s most ardent art patrons. Her brother, the Abbé Jean Claude de Saint-Non traveled to Italy with Hubert Robert and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Her husband, Jacques Onésime Bergeret, a wealthy financier, became a celebrated connoisseur and collector. Painted by Francois Boucher C.1761

There were no straight lines anywhere in these designs. Everything was curved from the legs, and backs of chairs to the seats themselves. The look became so popular that the designs were reproduced for hundreds of years and the look is still popular even today. Wherever elegance and refinement is required you can count on the classic look of the Louis XV style to fullfill the need.

There were three very distinctive styles of furniture during the time of King Louis XV. The Regence style dated from 1715 – 1723
The Rococo style which started around 1720 – 1760. The the pure Louis XV style which was a less exaggerated look than the Rococo started around 1750.

 

Louis XV as a child

Louis XV as a child

Following the death of Louis XIV, his 5 year old great grandson (and heir to the throne) became Louis XV. Since he was too young to take the throne, his uncle Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, was appointed as Regent. The transition between the monarchs became known as the French Regency. Offended by the spectacle of Versailles during the Sun King’s reign, the Duke moved the royal court to Paris, where courtiers lived in less extravagant hotel particuliers or private residences.

 

The Duc D' Orleans. Phillipe II

The Duc D’ Orleans. Phillipe II

 

In French contexts, an hôtel particulier is a townhouse of a grand sort. (In mediaeval English, hôtel was rendered as "inn", the townhouse of a nobleman, now surviving only as used in Inns of Court. Particulier meant "personal" or "private"). Whereas an ordinary maison (house) was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it would always be located entre cour et jardin, between the entrance court, the cour d'honneur, and the garden behind. There are hôtels particuliers in many large cities, such as Paris, Bordeaux, Albi, Aix en Provence, Avignon, Caen, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy, Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse and Troyes.

In French contexts, an hôtel particulier is a townhouse of a grand sort. (In mediaeval English, hôtel was rendered as “inn”, the townhouse of a nobleman, now surviving only as used in Inns of Court. Particulier meant “personal” or “private”). Whereas an ordinary maison (house) was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it would always be located entre cour et jardin, between the entrance court, the cour d’honneur, and the garden behind. There are hôtels particuliers in many large cities, such as Paris, Bordeaux, Albi, Aix en Provence, Avignon, Caen, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy, Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse and Troyes.

It was in this period that the apartment came into being. An apartment of this time, although lavish by today’s standards, would have been a much more intimate setting than the fortress and cathedral like homes of the prior periods. The smaller scale of these homes introduced an era of lighter, more graceful furniture. Asymmetrical curved lines replaced symmetrical straight lines and simple wood veneer replaced extravagant marquetry.

By 1730, France was the most powerful kingdom in Europe. As France grew accustomed to its wealth, a fantasy style was produced in keeping with its achievements, aspirations, and prestige. Furniture design emphasized and aggrandized the interior decoration of paneled walls that were integrated into the large architectural setting.

 

The typical Louis XV/ Rococo style of a French residence.

The typical Louis XV/Rococo style of a French apartment.

Flowers were the favorite motif usde in decoration of marquetry, in carvings and on wall panels. Overall, bright colors were used, a change from the more somber colors of the Louis XIV.

Cabriole legs are shared from Louis XIV style, but other constrained elements of Louis XIV were discarded, like stretchers and symmetry of lines. Curves were more accentuated, and design elements were no longer held in by the design borders of the piece.

Flowing curves are found throughout Régence furniture. The “bombé” style commode was developed with plump sides and a convex curved front. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the period was the introduction of the cabriole leg. This carved ‘S’ shaped leg was used in armoires, bookcases, desks, sofas, and chairs.

 

The Regence period 'bombe commode' was introduced during the Louis XV period. This design has laster well into our modern day world and copied even today.

The Regence period ‘bombe commode’ was introduced during the Louis XV period. This design has laster well into our modern day world and copied even today.

An important furniture maker of the time, Charles Cressent, trained as a cabinetmaker and sculptor, was ideally qualified to create the soaring grandeur of the Louis XV period. He used the commode as a sensual style to draw design away from the conservative elements of the Louis XIV style.

 

A Charles Cressent (1685 - 1768) Commode from the Rococo period - Louis XV

A Charles Cressent (1685 – 1768) Commode from the Rococo period

Out of the Régence there was to develop the most imaginative style of all, known as Rocaille, or Rococo, which differs essentially from baroque in its lightness and avoidance of symmetry. Rocaille, with its indulgence in caprice and fancy, was extensively employed by French craftsmen from around 1720 to 1755-60.

 

The Rococo design was elaborate and exagerated with swags, floral motifs and more - Louis XV

The Rococo design was elaborate and exagerated with swags, floral motifs and more – Louis XV

Imagination is the basis of this decorative style, in which rocks and shells, with flowers and foliage, provide the dominant theme. Contrast and asymmetry are its essential features. From around 1730 the movement was expanded and accelerated by the work of such ornamentists as Gilles Marie Oppenord and Jules Aurèle Meissonnier, who were among the principal designers of these more extravagant forms. Fervent in his devotion to the rocaille is such a craftsman as Gaudreaux, who was one of the leading ébénistes in the employ of the Crown at this period.

 

Commode designed by Antoine Gaudreau in the Rococo period - Louis XV

Commode designed by Antoine Gaudreau in the Rococo period – Louis XV

In the perfected or pure Louis XV style, dating from about 1750, the rocaille was subdued and simplifed, as the early harshness and agitation of its sinuous curves yielded to a more ample and tranquil rhythm. Freed from the exaggerations of the rocaille, the perfected Louis XV style featured a more moderate use of curved lines and less fanciful ornament. Craftsen working in this pure Louis XV style have given us perfect examples of French furniture at its finest. The most well-known ébéniste of the time is Oeben, whose apprentice was Riesener, perhaps the greatest craftsman working in the later Louis XVI style. Other famous names are Baumhauer, Lacroix, Dubois, Saunier, Leleu and B.V.R.B.

 

Secrétaire à cylindre à rideau, estampille de Jean-François Oeben, maître en 1761, vers 1760: Inv. CAM 191 © Les Arts Décoratifs

Secrétaire à cylindre à rideau, stamped by Jean-François Oeben, master ebeniste in 1761

 

A French Louis XV Bureau Plat is evidence to the less exaggerated look of the Rococo period.

A French Louis XV Bureau Plat is evidence to the less exaggerated look of the Rococo period.

The art of lodging people comfortably and privately, heretofore unknown, became of primary importance in the eighteenth century. The rooms were reduced to a more reasonable size, while the furniture became smaller, perfectly adapted to the human needs and, above all, more comfortable. Thanks to the improvement in mechanical devices, combination pieces came more and more into use. Multiple-function furniture, such as tables that could be transformed by complicated locking devices into toilet, writing, reading and sewing tables, is a notable feature.

In chair design, each member seems to flow or melt into one another without any feeling of separation. The molded chair frames are often enhanced with rich floral, foliage and shell carvings. The most typical Louis XV chair is the bergère, a wide, low, and deep armchair.

 

The typical French Bergere chair is popular and a timeless classic in today's modern interiors. Comfortable and elegant the original design was produced during the Louis XV period around 1750.

The typical French Bergere chair is popular and a timeless classic in today’s modern interiors. Comfortable and elegant the original design was produced during the Louis XV period around 1750.

Canapés developed into a variety of types. One form, often called a marquise, is merely an enlarged armchair. The majority of canapés were made to accommodate three persons. In high fashion was the basket-shaped canapé, called canapé corbeille. The daybed was also given a variety of novel forms. Of these, the duchesse, distinguished by its gondola-shaped back, is most typical. In terms of beds, the lit à colonnes disappered. The shapes in high fashion were the lit à la duchess and the lit à la polonaise.

 

The 'Lit Polonaise' was introduced during the pure Louis XV style. Shown here is a Lit Polonaise dated around 1750.

The ‘Lit Polonaise’ was introduced during the pure Louis XV style. Shown here is a Lit Polonaise dated around 1750.

Tables, which became simpler and lighter, have one characteristic in common, that is, cabriole legs. Medium-sized and small tables reveal all those brilliant and versatile qualities which marked the achievements of Parisian craftsmen of the golden age. Of infinite variety and with a legion to names, these elegant tables began to multiply from around 1750 onward. For the bedroom there were tables such as the vide-poche (pocket-emptier), the serre-bijoux (jewel-box tables) and chevets (bedside tables). For the boudoirs and the salons, there were small tables à ouvrages or work tables, called tricoteuses or chiffonnières.

 

The Louis XV 'chevet' or nightstand was introduced during the period starting 1750. The french produced vintage tables are very popular in modern day homes.

The Louis XV ‘chevet’ or nightstand was introduced during the period starting 1750. The french produced vintage tables are very popular in modern day homes.

In writing furniture the ébénistes embodied with extraordinary felicity the temper and taste of France. The simplest kind of Louis XV writing table is the large bureau plat. But the crowning glory was the bureau à cylindre introduced around the middle of the century and probably created by Oeben. Side by side with these large masculine bureaux, the craftsmen produced a variety of bureaux of the utmost refinement, with delicate marquetry and bronzes, for feminine use, such as the bonheur du jour. The tall and upright secrétaire with a drop front (abattant) and interior fitted with drawers was introduced around 1750.

 

The French Secretaire Abattant (from our own Antique Warehouse) style Louis XV was introduced in 1750.

The French Secretaire Abattant (sold recently at our own Antique Warehouse) style Louis XV was introduced in 1750.

At the same time, a greatly increased variety of native and exotic woods were available to craftsmen. Thanks to this wide range of woods, pictorial marquetry began to flourish. It was most often in the form of floral decoration, but sometimes trophies, landscapes and realistic representations of domestic utensils. The enthusiasm for oriental lacquer inspired the ébénistes to adapt it to the decoration of furniture, by incorporating either imported panels or European copies into a bronze framework. The eighteenth century is the golden age for furniture mounted in chased and gilded bronze.

From the middle of the eighteenth century, the craftsmen stamped their furniture – or at least were supposed to do so – under the marble top of commodes, on the underframing of chairs and tables or some similar place which would not mar the appearance.

Already from the beginning of rocaille there was an undercurrent of protest in certain circles against asymmetry and the lavish use of sinuous curves, for it was felt they did not express the finer artistic instincts of the French, which were always inclined to moderation and restraint. Finally owing to the discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii, which resulted in an overwhelming enthusiasm for the antique, an evolution began around 1755-60, leading from the Louis XV style to the neo-classical Louis XVI style, which was established before the accession of that king in 1774.

Louis XV pieces grew smaller and less formal. Makers of Louis XV pieces discovered marketing to women, and pieces created for their size, work, and lifestyle became very popular.

Singerie (motif of a gathering of monkeys), Chinoiserie (scenes that imitated Chinese art), Rocaille (motif of a shell or irregular pattern of a rock garden) were all natural elements that were incorporated. These motifs signaled a natural and relaxed impression of the world, but were also depicting these ideas in more elaborate and expensive materials.

 

A period Louis XV Chinoiserie commode.

A period Louis XV Chinoiserie commode.

Pictorial decoration characterized by extravagantly swirling scrolls and whorls, casually strewn shell, flower motifs, and asymmetrical composition were significant elements of design. The rejection of the classical world and the asymmetry of growing flowers reflected an upper-class culture that felt completely in control, and perhaps represented concentrated wealth in the hands of few as the world had never seen. The ruling class in France at this time was confident of its rule over the church, the French people, a growing world empire, and even nature itself.

It was this unfettered exuberance that made this furniture the most elaborate of the Louis styles. However, this style helped create social unrest among French people, laying the way for more conservative design style developed during Louis XVI.

In one of my upcoming blogs we will study the elegant look of the Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI period.

Until then!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Today is Epiphany

Today is Epiphany!  What is Epiphany you ask?  It’s a holy Christian holiday that’s mainly celebrated in Europe. I write about this because last year we were in Europe during this holiday.

Epiphany, also known as “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Day,” is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.

Epiphany - Vancouver Antiques
The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s own Son. Likewise, on Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine, signifying the manifestation of Christ’s divinity as well.

In France, it is on 6 January that the Wise Men figurines in the nativity scene are placed around baby Jesus; in the lead up to this date, they were either hidden or being gradually moved closer and closer to the stable. French people also celebrate the Epiphany by eating the “galette des rois” (Kings’ cake) ceremoniously!

 

The Galette des Rois is usually accompanied by a crown.

The Galette des Rois is usually accompanied by a crown that’s worn by a child in the family who finds the surprise in the cake.

Since the 14th century, people in France eat the galette des Rois once a year. According to the tradition, the cake must be divided so that each guests gets a slice, plus an extra one called the part du Bon Dieu/Vierge/Pauvre (Good Lord/Virgin/Poor) which is reserved for any unexpected stranger.

The cake is typically bought in a boulangerie, and is made of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry), frangipane (filling made from or flavored like almonds) or brioche (sweet bun). A fève (charm) in a shape of a figurine is hidden in the cake.

When kids are present, one of them (generally the youngest), must go under the table and directs whoever is serving to whom each slice should be given. The lucky one who gets the figurine becomes the king or the queen of the day, and he/she is given a golden or silver couronne (crown).

 

Three German children dressed up like the three wise men.

Three German children dressed up like the three wise men.

PS. You can order a Galette des Roi right here in Vancouver at French Made Baking on Kingsway! I’ve got one ordered in pistachio, almond and raspberry. Whomever finds the ‘feve’ gets to wear the crown tonite.

I can’t wait!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X2R4

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

The Phantom Chateau in Paris

While driving through the Bois de Bologne, Paris’ largest man-made park, I spotted what appeared to be a crumbling chateau. I happened to be with friends at the time and asked what it was. I was told in French that it was the remains of one of the most fabulous Chateaux in Paris, The Chateau Rothschild.

I asked why on earth it was left like that. Being as the French are, they brushed it off as common knowledge and changed the subject to something lighter and more fun.

I decided to do a bit of research on this structure for myself.

The once fabulous Chateau sits neglected and vandalized.

The once fabulous Chateau sits neglected and vandalized.

The Chateau de Rothschild was purchased in early 1800’s by the powerful Rothschild banking family. The Rothschilds were known as one of the greatest European banking dynasties ever established, amassing the largest private fortune in modern history. The family is less well-known for anything to do with squalor, ruin or decay. But just 5 a few kilometers from the Eiffel tower, beyond the lush green lawn of the Edmond de Rothschild park, standing defiantly behind a thick wall of shrubbery and bramble is the ghostly figure of the once fabulous Chateau Rothschild.

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The palatial structure was purchased by James Mayer de Rothschild in 1817, one of the richest men in the world at the time and the most powerful banker in the country, accredited with playing a major role in making France an industrial power following the Napoleonic Wars. It is said his personal fortune (not including his family’s) must have been at least five times the fortune accumulated by Bill Gates.

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The neo-Louis XIV castle was abandoned since the Second World War when the Jewish Rothschild family fled to England before the arrival of the Germans, who would later inhabit and plunder the house during the four-year Nazi occupation of Paris. Inside were priceless Louis XV and Louis XVI antique furniture, artwork, and other fabulous pieces lost to history. After the city’s liberation, the U.S. army were the next self-service tenants at the Chateau Rothschild– their stay didn’t do the residence any favours either. The Rothschilds never returned to their home and over the decades it has been left to deteriorate while serving as a playground for graffiti artists and vandals.
Urban explorer Edouard Bergé took the liberty of visiting inside the discarded edifice and took these photographs of a once grande residence.

The grande staircase now destroyed by graffiti and decay.

The grande staircase of a home that once hosted the likes of Debussy, Rossini, Chopin, Balzac, Delacroix is now destroyed by graffiti and decay.

In 1951, the Chateau Rothschild was declared a historical monument. In 1979, James Mayer de Rothschild’s youngest son, Baron Edmond sold the chateau for a symbolic 1 France to the city, which in turn, immediately sold it off to a wealthy Saudi Arabian buyer for 50 million Francs (something close to 7 million euros today). More than thirty years later, under the same ownership, the house is still in ruins, with an estimated 60 million euro price tag for the renovation.

The Chateau has hosted parties in it's current condition to young people holding raves and other illegal parties.

The Chateau now hosts parties in it’s current condition to young people holding raves and other illegal gatherings.

While the park, named after Baron Edmond de Rothschild, remains open to the public who can picnic on the lawn with a front row seat to this spectacular abandoned ruin, there are no guided tours for this historical monument of Paris. The Chateau de Rothschild is closed to visitors indefinitely (well, not for your average visitor anyway). The evidence of graffiti suggests the nature of the visitors that now inhabit the ruin for parties and raves.

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You can find the entrance to the Edmond de Rothschild park at 3 Rue des victoires, Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts de Seine, just a hop over the road from the South East entrance of Bois de Boulogne).

Mark LaFleur
www.antiquewarehouse.ca
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver,

An Art Deco Christmas Eve

It was around 3 o’clock on Christmas Eve when we pulled into Brussels. We’d been on the road for over 7 days touring the Christmas markets in France and Germany, and visiting Larry’s family. Our final leg of our trip was to spend Christmas Eve with our friends who’d recently moved to Brussels. When I say recently, I mean that same day!

Jeff and his family have been the subject of many of my blogs. I have to say he’s unequivocally my best friend in Europe and I was sad when I learned Jeff and his family were moving to Brussels. For economic reasons, they left Paris like so many other Parisians after Francois Hollande took control and imposed so many unreasonable taxes.

 

Jeff, Helene, Louis and Constantine on the staircase of their new home

Jeff, Helene, Louis and Constantine on the staircase of their new home

But I could see that his move to Brussels was going to be a happy one. His new house, was nothing short of breathtaking with it’s 5000 sq. ft. of Art Deco detail. From 14ft. ceilings to 4 ft wide crown moulding details, every turn delighted the eye. There’s a large backyard garden for the boys to play in. Their Parisian apartment, while large (100m or 1000 sq. ft) what a fraction of the size of this house and certainly didn’t have a full backyard.

 

Art Deco details were breathtaking. Look at the grillwork spaning the main salon from petite salon

Art Deco details were breathtaking. Look at the grillwork spaning the main salon from petite salon

The house has four floors, an immense garage for four cars, and a large backyard. In European standards this is privileged living.

 

Photo of me on the sofa in the main living room or salon.

Photo of me on the sofa in the main living room or salon.

The next photo gives you some idea of the scale of the height of the ceilings in this place.

 

Larry is over 6'2 to give you some idea of the height of the celings.

Larry is over 6’2 to give you some idea of the height of the celings.

Art Deco details were everywhere in this house. The house was originally built in the late 19th Century, with the Art Deco additions done in the early 20th Century. (there were influences of Art Nouveau in the Art Deco details). In the ‘Biz’ we’d call this transitional.

From the grill work to the light fixtures, everything was intact from it’s last restoration. Above the fireplace was a stained glass Art Nouveau/Deco scene of a mermaid in the ocean.

 

The fireplace was 19th Century and made from solid marble. The above stained glass was added later.

The fireplace was 19th Century and made from solid marble. The above stained glass was added later.

 

Note the intricated moulding on the ceiling.

Note the intricated moulding on the ceiling.

 

I wish I had brought a good camera to capture more of the beauty of this house. As it was an Iphone 5 had to suffice.

I wish I had brought a good camera to capture more of the beauty of this house. As it was an Iphone 5 had to suffice.

It was after 1 in the morning when we wrapped up our visit. Our friends were so excited about their new home, they didn’t want us to go.

 

Fabulous Wall Sconce measuring over 16" Tall.

Fabulous Wall Sconce measuring over 16″ Tall.

I spotted a fabulous ceiling fixture that was at least 4 ft. long in the main entrance of the house. I would have given anything to find something like this to bring back to Canada.

celing fixture

More Art Deco detail in the entrance of the house.

More Art Deco detail in the entrance of the house.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of this magnificent house. We have an open invitation to stay with them anytime we’re in Brussels. This is one invite I intend to take them up on!

Happy Holidays.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Hyatt Regency in Cologne Loves Antiques

In the ultra chic 5* Hyatt Regency in Cologne Germany we spotted this beautiful 19th Century farm table in the entrance foyer of the business class lounge. We’ve always said it…antiques in an ultra modern interior work beautifully. Evidently the designers of this hotel thought so too!

A beautiful 19th Century Farm table graced the foyer of the business class lounge at the 5* Hyatt Regency in Cologne Germany

A beautiful 19th Century Farm table graced the foyer of the business class lounge at the 5* Hyatt Regency in Cologne Germany

Happy Holidays!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
Vancouver, Canada.

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Is this the Best Christmas Market in France?

Apparently so. You may think that this ‘best Christmas market’ in France might be in Paris. But you’d be wrong. Larry and I walked only a fraction of the kilometer long market that lined both sides of the Champs Elysees (only the south end). We left after 10 minutes. Blaring music through fuzzy speakers of kitschy Christmas caroles along with vendors with nothing to sell but substandard products and hoards of loud tourists. None of it interesting in the slightest. A surprising display for a city that usually prides itself on nothing but the finest.

The Paris Christmas Market, surprisingly disappointing.

The Paris Christmas Market, surprisingly disappointing.

However, only four and a half hours by car to the far east of France exists one of the best Christmas markets in the world in the charming village of Strasbourg.

Voted as Europe’s best christmas market by an online census of almost 60,000 voters, Strasbourg outranked 10 major centres, including Vienna, Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin.

Strasbourg city itself oozes of charm even without the addition of the 'Christmas Market'.

Strasbourg city itself oozes of charm even without the addition of the ‘Christmas Market’.

Founded in 1577, the Strasbourg Christmas market is the oldest in France. Since its birth, the Christkindelsmärik has been held annually and draws around two million tourists every year. Complete with the ‘Great Christmas Tree’ standing at almost 100 feet, themed events, several hundred miles of Christmas lights and a giant ice rink, it’s easy to see why.

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For centuries, the French-German border has swayed to either side of the Alsace region, so it makes sense Alsace’s capital, Strasbourg, would have the oldest and most famous Christmas market in France, the ‘Christkindelsmärik’ on Place Broglie. The city’s Great Christmas Tree on Place Kleber is also a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed. In addition to the spiced wine usually offered at Christmas markets, markets in Strasbourg have a tradition of spicy hot orange juice. The markets are also a great chance to try some of the region’s food products, including Alsace wines, bredle Christmas biscuits and foie gras. If you’re a fan of ‘Choucroute’ Strasbourg is the place for you.

 

The Strasbourg Christmas Market is voted as the #1 Christmas market in the world.

The Strasbourg Christmas Market is voted as the #1 Christmas market in the world.

The Strasbourg Christmas market is without a doubt the most famous of all thanks to its size and location in the capital of Europe. People love to stroll from chalet to chalet, enjoying the spice bread, bretzels, confectionery, pastries and mulled wine on offer. Accomodations in Strasbourg usually fill up weeks in advance. However, I tried online and was offered many different selections but during the week only. Weekends were completely sold out.

 

The Strasbour Christkindelsmarik starts November 30 each year.

The Strasbour Christkindelsmarik starts November 30 each year and goes until Jan.7

For the occasion, the city dons its most beautiful finery and is illuminated by several hundred kilometres of Christmas lights and decorative objects. The Great Christmas Tree, on place Kléber. was a tradition recorded back to 1605 where fir trees were described adorned with decorations in the guild halls of Strasbourg during Advent.

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If you happen to be in Europe for the Holidays visit one of these Christmas markets in the city your visiting. Nothing will put you in the Christmas spirit more!

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Thanks for reading.
Happy Holidays

Mark LaFleur
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Exceptional Sale at Christies Auction House in New York Tomorrow!

Looking for something unusual for Christmas and have serious money to burn? Then consider flying to New York and attending the ‘Exceptional Sale’ at Christies Auction House scheduled for December 11.

Some wonderful examples of the finest things in the world will be auctioned off just in time for the Holiday season.

Everything from Mirrors, Period French pieces, to a Roman statue of Hercules.

Have a look below:

A GEORGE II GILTWOOD OVERMANTEL MIRROR ATTRIBUTED TO WILLIAM AND JOHN LINNELL, CIRCA 1755 With pagoda cresting above a shaped plate with seated pagod, over a central domed and trellised balcony with fretwork balustrade and steps set within outer shaped plates framed by leafy branches and icicles over a rockwork base, mirror plates apparently reused from an earlier mirror and largely original, some with beveled edges, re-gilt, minor restorations 71 ½ in. (181.5 cm.) high, 67 ¾ in. (172 cm.) wide Estimate $200,000 - $400,000

A GEORGE II GILTWOOD OVERMANTEL MIRROR
ATTRIBUTED TO WILLIAM AND JOHN LINNELL, CIRCA 1755
With pagoda cresting above a shaped plate with seated pagod, over a central domed and trellised balcony with fretwork balustrade and steps set within outer shaped plates framed by leafy branches and icicles over a rockwork base, mirror plates apparently reused from an earlier mirror and largely original, some with beveled edges, re-gilt, minor restorations
71 ½ in. (181.5 cm.) high, 67 ¾ in. (172 cm.) wide
Estimate $200,000 – $400,000

A ROMAN MARBLE TORSO OF HERCULES CIRCA 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D. Depicted over-lifesized, the muscular hero superbly modelled, standing in contrapposto, originally supporting his weight primarily on his right leg, the left leg projecting slightly forward and out to his left with the knee bent, his hips thrust slightly to his left, creating a gently curving medial line and slightly compressing his right side, with strong pectorals, the nipples delineated, a well-defined epigastric arch and abdominal muscles, and pronounced iliac crests, wearing the Nemean lionskin over his left shoulder, the lion's head at his hip, with a single paw descending further down his leg, with deep undercutting where the lionskin meets his body, the left arm originally separately made and joined to a deep mortise at the shoulder, preserving two supports along the right side 52 in. (132.1 cm.) high Esimate: $1M - 1.5M

A ROMAN MARBLE TORSO OF HERCULES
CIRCA 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D.
Depicted over-lifesized, the muscular hero superbly modelled, standing in contrapposto, originally supporting his weight primarily on his right leg, the left leg projecting slightly forward and out to his left with the knee bent, his hips thrust slightly to his left, creating a gently curving medial line and slightly compressing his right side, with strong pectorals, the nipples delineated, a well-defined epigastric arch and abdominal muscles, and pronounced iliac crests, wearing the Nemean lionskin over his left shoulder, the lion’s head at his hip, with a single paw descending further down his leg, with deep undercutting where the lionskin meets his body, the left arm originally separately made and joined to a deep mortise at the shoulder, preserving two supports along the right side
52 in. (132.1 cm.) high
Esimate: $1M – 1.5M

A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD AND PARQUETRY BUREAU A CYLINDRE BY FERDINAND BURY, CIRCA 1780 The white and gray marble top with the pierced three-quarter gallery above three drawers with a draped swag frieze, above the paneled roll-top with a central oval medallion enclosing a gilt-tooled leather-lined writing-slide with guilloche and paterae molding, the interior fitted with three open compartments and four drawers above four blind drawers, above a kneehole drawer and flanked by a coffre fort drawer to the right and a two smaller drawers on the left, on fluted turned tapering legs terminating in ormolu caps, stamped F. BURY and JME to top of lower section 49 ½ in. (126 cm.) high, 57 ½ in. (146 cm.) wide, 32 in. (81 cm.) deep Estimation: $250,000 - $350,000

A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD AND PARQUETRY BUREAU A CYLINDRE
BY FERDINAND BURY, CIRCA 1780
The white and gray marble top with the pierced three-quarter gallery above three drawers with a draped swag frieze, above the paneled roll-top with a central oval medallion enclosing a gilt-tooled leather-lined writing-slide with guilloche and paterae molding, the interior fitted with three open compartments and four drawers above four blind drawers, above a kneehole drawer and flanked by a coffre fort drawer to the right and a two smaller drawers on the left, on fluted turned tapering legs terminating in ormolu caps, stamped F. BURY and JME to top of lower section
49 ½ in. (126 cm.) high, 57 ½ in. (146 cm.) wide, 32 in. (81 cm.) deep
Estimation: $250,000 – $350,000

If you don’t buy anything ( the auction’s online too ) there’s always the Antique Warehouse :)
We have lots of great Christmas things you probably didn’t know we had. Remember not everything is posted online!

Happy Shopping.

Mark LaFleur
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC

Was the Mona Lisa a Chinese Slave, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mother?

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The elusive identity of the Mona Lisa, one of art history’s most enduring and well-loved mysteries, might have just been solved. Well, sort of. According to art historian Angelo Paratico, the woman portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece might be, simultaneously, a Chinese slave and the painter’s mother, the South China Morning Post reports.

However, Paratico is not yet exactly positive about the details of his potentially groundbreaking theory. “I’m sure to a point that Leonardo’s mother was from the Orient, but to make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use deductive method,” he told SCMP.

The Hong-Kong-based historian is giving the final touches to a book entitled Leonardo da Vinci: A Chinese Scholar Lost in Renaissance Italy. “One wealthy client of Leonardo’s father had a slave called Caterina,” Paratico told SCMP. “After 1452, Leonardo’s date of birth, she disappeared from the documents. She was no longer working there.”

Apparently, Caterina (da Vinci’s mother is widely thought to have been named Caterina) was taken to the town of Vinci, outside Florence, to give birth. Paratico’s angle is that she had to be removed from the household due to her improper relationship with her master, Leonardos’ father.

Does the theory sound like a bit of a long shot? Perhaps. But Paratico argues that, already a hundred years ago, the venerable Sigmund Freud claimed that the iconic painting was inspired by da Vinci’s mother, in his 1910 essay, “A Childhood Reminiscence of Leonardo da Vinci.”

Paratico substantiates his thesis further by insisting some aspects of da Vinci’s life suggest an oriental connection. For example, he was left-handed as well as a vegetarian, both of which were uncommon at the time. The art historian also says that Italy was full of oriental slaves during the Renaissance.

He believes that the painting’s background depicts a Chinese landscape, and that the Mona Lisa’s face looks Chinese.

Does it all still sound a little tenuous? Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro, an architect and assistant professor at the University of St Joseph, thinks so, telling SCMP that Paratico is “jumping quickly to conclusions since there’s no concrete evidence.”

Meanwhile, according to the Telegraph, users of the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo have launched a Chinese-Mona Lisa meme parade, replacing her features with hilarious alternatives, for example the face of the Chinese comedian Zhao Benshan.

“I now understand why her smile looks so mysterious and concealed,” joked a Sina Weibo user. “It’s typically Chinese.”

The Mona Lisa with the superimposed face of Chinese comedian Zhao Benshan.

The Mona Lisa with the superimposed face of Chinese comedian Zhao Benshan.

The ‘Feasts’ of Christmas Past

While waiting to board between flights for Europe, I decided that instead of being glued to my computer and iphone like everyone else in the lounge I would revert to an earlier period in my life where reading a newspaper or magazine was all there was to pass the time. What a refreshing change that was.

I selected an English publication I had not heard of before ( by English I mean published in England ) that had written a fascinating article about a man named ‘Ivan Day’, an art historian by trade whose passion it was to examine cooking throughout the centuries. As I love to cook I read this article from beginning to end.

The article conjured images of roasting suckling pigs, fabulous meat pies, quince and pheasant pies, dinners by candlelight and roaring fireplaces. What could be more festive. Fascinating insights into how people celebrated the Holidays over the centuries.

Ivan Day photographed in front of his amazing creations.

Ivan Day photographed in front of his amazing creations.

The article written by Polly Russell ( Russell herself is a curator at the British Library), states that Ivan Day is a noted authoritarian on food making throughout the ages and runs food courses, advises museums and archives their collections and exhibitions. Day also has a website and has appeared on the BBC.

Day’s home is a charming authentic low beamed Medieval farmhouse in Cumbria that dates back to the 1600’s, replete with his collection of all the equipment needed to produce recipes as far back as the 1500’s. Day has a Medieval fireplace with a spit from the 1700.s that can roast a mutton, he also has antique copper moulds, both pie and jelly, fascinating implements for pie and pastry making that date back to the 1600’s.

Day’s passion began at the age of 13 when, after ducking into an antique store to escape the rain, he discovered a tattered old book published in 1723 by John Nott titled ‘The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary’. He took one look, purchased the book as was hooked!

Ivan Day preparing a dish in his home surrounded by antique copper molds.

Ivan Day preparing a dish in his home surrounded by antique copper molds.

Since we’re well into the Holiday period, Ivan discusses the Christmas Feast and how it was enjoyed throughout the ages. In fact, I learned that Medieval people dined more lavishly than we do now. Feasts of 2 courses of 20 dishes each were prepared days in advance to insure a memorable experience at Christmas. It’s little wonder gout was such a problem back then.

Typical Tudor dress of the era.

Typical Tudor dress of the era.

Ivan Day explains that roast mutton was a staple at Christmas along with turkey, pheasant, swan, and other wild fowl (all served during the same seating). By the time Christmas came about these birds and animals were at their fattest and ready for butchering. As early at the 1500’s farmers were encouraged to grow Turkeys because they produced the most meat of any bird.

The Christmas pie was the centerpiece of the table. A chef named ‘Francatelli’ produced a pie in 1848 that consisted of truffles, turkey, pheasant and a small york ham that took two days to produce and 6 hours to cook. To produce a pie like this today, Ivan claims, would cost over $600!

A partridge pie created by Ivan himself.

A partridge pie created by Ivan himself. In the medieval period the chef would take the head and feathers of the actual bird so that people knew what they were eating.

Ivan also discusses the preparation that went into making desserts and sweets over the ages.

A 'motto' shortbread from the Victorian Era.

A ‘motto’ shortbread from the Victorian Era.

In a Christmas Day bill of fare by Robert May dated 1660 you can see below all the dishes that were prepared and served!

A BILL OF FARE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY AND HOW TO SET THE MEAT IN ORDER
by Robert May, 1660

Oysters
1. A collar of brawn [pork that is rolled, tied, and boiled in wine and seasonings].
2. Stewed Broth of Mutton marrow bones.
3. A grand Sallet [salad].
4. A pottage [thick stew] of caponets [young castrated roosters].
5. A breast of veal in stoffado [stuffed veal].
6. A boil’d partridge.
7. A chine (a cut of meat containing backbone) of beef, or surloin roast. Here’s May’s recipe:

To roast a Chine, Rib, Loin, Brisket, or Fillet of Beef
Draw them with parsley, rosemary, tyme, sweet marjoram, sage, winter savory, or lemon, or plain without any of them, fresh or salt, as you please; broach it, or spit it, roast it and baste it with butter; a good chine of beef will ask six hours roasting.

For the sauce take strait tops of rosemary, sage-leaves, picked parsley, tyme, and sweet marjoram; and strew them in wine vinegar, and the beef gravy; or otherways with gravy and juice of oranges and lemons. Sometimes for change in saucers of vinegar and pepper.

8. Minced pies.
9. A Jegote [sausage] of mutton with anchove sauce.
10. A made dish of sweet-bread (Here’s a recipe from A New Booke of Cookerie by John Murrell, published in 1615: Boyle, or roast your Sweet-bread, and put into it a fewe Parboyld Currens, a minst Date, the yolkes of two new laid Egs, a piece of a Manchet grated fine. Season it with a little Pepper, Salt, Nutmeg, and Sugar, wring in the iuyce of an Orenge, or Lemon, and put it betweene two sheetes of puft-paste, or any other good Paste: and eyther bake it, or frye it, whether you please.)
11. A swan roast.
12. A pasty of venison.
13. A kid with a pudding in his belly.
14. A steak pie.
15. A hanch of venison roasted.
16. A turkey roast and stuck with cloves.
17. A made dish of chickens in puff paste.
18. Two bran geese roasted, one larded [larding is inserting or weaving strips of fat in the meat, sometimes with a needle].
19. Two large capons, one larded.
20. A Custard.

THE SECOND COURSE FOR THE SAME MESS.

Oranges and Lemons
1. A young lamb or kid.
2. Two couple of rabbits, two larded.
3. A pig souc’t [sauced] with tongues.
4. Three ducks, one larded.
5. Three pheasants, 1 larded.
6. A Swan Pye [the showpiece: a pie with the dead swan’s head, neck, and wings sticking up from it].
7. Three brace of partridge, three larded.
8. Made dish in puff paste.
9. Bolonia sausages, and anchoves, mushrooms, and Cavieate, and pickled oysters in a dish.
10. Six teels, three larded.
11. A Gammon of Westphalia Bacon.
12. Ten plovers, five larded.
13. A quince pye, or warden pie [pears or quinces peeled and poached in syrup, then baked whole in a pie].
14. Six woodcocks, 3 larded.
15. A standing Tart in puff-paste, preserved fruits, Pippins, &c.
16. A dish of Larks.
17. Six dried neats [calf] tongues
18. Sturgeon.
19. Powdered [salted] Geese.
Jellies.

And you know, nothing says Christmas like powdered geese and jellies.

No where does it mention how many people were served at this feast. But we can assume it was more than 4!

Quince Tart or Pye

Quince Tart or ‘Pastello de poma cotogne’ – or quince tart made from a recipe in Maestro Martino, Libro de arte coquinaria, perhaps the most important cookery text of the early renaissance. The hollowed out quinces are stuffed with bone marrow, sugar and cinnamon and baked on a puff paste base.

If your ambitious and think you’d like to try a Quince Tart or Pie, there are several modern day versions on the internet. You could try the original recipe dated in the 1660’s posted below: (if you can understand it…also the creation of the pastry is just assumed )

Quince Pye Recipe C.1660

Boil your Quinces in Water, sweetened with Sugar, till they be soft, then skin them and take out the Cores; after that boil the Water with a little more Sugar, Cloves, Cinnamon and Lemon peel till it becomes of the thickness of a Syrup; when cold lay your Quinces in Halves or Quarters, scattering Sugar between each Layer; put a pint of the Syrup, or more according to the Biggness of your Pye or Tart, make the Coffin round with close or cut Covers, and bake it pretty well. And thus you may do with Pippins and Pearmains, or with Winter-Fruit, and also with green Codlings.

If this article has you hungry for more, you can always fly to Cumbria and take one of Ivan’s 2 day courses at a cost of $600. Here’s an example of his course on Pie and Pastry Making

Pies created in the Pastry making course.

Pies created in the Pastry making course.

Pie Making and Pastry Course:

SATURDAY

10 am – Welcome and Introduction to the Course. This course is for those who want to improve the quality of their pastry and to learn to raise pies to a very high standard of workmanship. We will learn how to re-create English historical recipes from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Our sources will included recipes from Murrell, May, Kidder, Nott, Francatelli, Mrs Marshall and Gouffé.

10.45 – 13.00 – Hot water crust, freehand pie raising and wooden pie forms – we will make and decorate a number of raised pies from historical sources, including a Cheshire Pork Pie, a Stump Pie and some Marrow Chewitts.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch

14.00 – 17.00 – Lining Paste, Cold Water Paste and Metal Pie Forms – Using 19th century pie forms and boards for printing sprig decorations, we will make a very ambitious raised pie based on one of Agnes Marshall’s recipes.

17.00 – 20.00 – Free

20.00 – Historic dinner (lots of pies of course) at Wreay Farm

SUNDAY

10.00 – 13.00 A Lamb Pasty – we will make a highly decorative lamb pasty based on a design in Edward Kidder’s beautiful Book Receipts of Pastry and Cookery from the early eighteenth century.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch

14.00 – 17.00- Fine Pastry, Torts and Tarts – We will learn to make puff paste and paste royal and make some taffety tarts and a banniet tort.

As much as I love the sounds of all of this I am here in France. I’ve heard from friends that the very same thing exists here. I’ll see what I can find.

Until next time.
Thanks for reading.
Happy Holidays!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our website at http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Christmas at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte

As the Holiday season approaches I know some of you may be visiting the city of lights for Christmas. One excursion you may want to consider is a visit to a Chateau just north of Paris known as the infamous ‘Chateau Vaux le Vicomte’. Over Christmas the Chateau is completely decorated for the holiday season in splendid and opulent decorations. First a little history behind this fabulous Chateau and its creation.

The 17th-century château Vaux-le-Vicomte, whose designers would go on to create the palace of Versailles

The 17th-century château Vaux-le-Vicomte, whose designers would go on to create the palace of Versailles

 

An arial view of the magnificent Chateau and it's gardens.

An arial view of the magnificent Chateau and it’s gardens.

In August, 1661, French finance minister Nicolas Fouquet threw one of the most lavish parties of all time at his new château, Vaux-le-Vicomte, southeast of Paris. Dinner was prepared by François Vatel; the entertainment included a play—courtesy of Molière—plus an elaborate fireworks display, all for the King of France, Louis XIV, and his court. Unfortunately for Nicolas, this proved to be a life changing event for him in ways he could have never imagined.

 

The Bedroom of King Louis XIV during his stay at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte.

The Bedroom of King Louis XIV during his stay at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte.

The king was duly impressed, especially with the estate, which was the creation of three young talents: architect Louis Le Vau, painter and decorator Charles Le Brun, and landscape architect André Le Nôtre. While the château is beautifully proportioned and the decor is tastefully rich, the gardens and grounds make Vaux a masterpiece.

The double-height grand salon overlooks the gardens

The double-height grand salon overlooks the gardens

King Louis XIV was so impressed with Vaux-le-Vicomte, he took the triumvirate of Le Vau, Le Brun, and Le Nôtre to the southwest of Paris and launched the construction of Versailles. While working on the royal palace, Le Nôtre also oversaw the design of the gardens for the châteaus of Chantilly, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Saint-Cloud, as well as the renovation of the Tuileries in Paris.

The king, however, was less amused with Fouquet. Convinced that Vaux had been built with money pilfered from the national treasury, the king had his finance minister arrested a few weeks after the infamous fête, and Fouquet spent the rest of his life in jail.
All his glorious Louis XIV furniture, artwork and possessions were seized.

 

The doomed Nicolas Fouquet was imprisoned after entertaining King Louis XIV for suspicion of fund pilfering of the national coffers in the creation of his elaborate Chateau.

The doomed Nicolas Fouquet was imprisoned after entertaining King Louis XIV for suspicion of fund pilfering of the national coffers for the creation of his elaborate Chateau. In actuality there was no proof other than the fact the King Louis XIV was a man with a great ego and couldn’t stand being upstaged by his Finance minister. Another example of royals behaving badly!

Now, privately owned by the de Vogüé family, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte has been painstakingly restored to its original splendor (talk about a labor of love). Here, the 17th century comes to life; you can immerse yourself in the ambiance and regal traditions of another age. The beauty of Vaux-le-Vicomte is that it’s a human-sized castle without the crowds you’ll find at Versailles, making for a lovely (and peaceful) visitor experience. What’s more, a yearly calendar of fun events means that there’s always something new to discover—from Easter Egg Hunts and the Salon du Chocolat to the summertime Candlelight Visits and 17th century costume party. Christmas time however, proves to be one of the most beautiful events at the Chateau of the year.

 

 

On June 21, 2015 marks the 400th Birthday of Nicolas Fouquet, original builder of Vaux le Vicomte. This years costume party promises to be the most extravagent yet.

On June 21, 2015 marks the 400th Birthday of Nicolas Fouquet, original builder of Vaux le Vicomte. This years costume party promises to be the most extravagent yet.

Christmas is particularly magical at the chateau. The path to the entrance is lined with snow-dusted pine trees, and classical choir music echoes from the front door. Each of the stately salons, some adorned with magnificent frescoes by Le Brun, are illuminated with Christmas trees and decorations. In the Grand Salon, a towering tree—a whopping eight meters high and covered in more than 5,000 ornaments—almost reaches the ceiling. At the base of the tree, children are given a small gift.

 

Entering the magical Chateau Vaux le Vicomte

Entering the magical Chateau Vaux le Vicomte

The smell of nutmeg and spices floats through the air, and fires crackle in the majestic fireplaces. You can even imagine the merry feasting of yesteryear as you gape at the dining table, dressed to the nines with Christmas porcelain and tree-shaped towers of macarons. At dusk, the chateau’s façade is illuminated with lights, and the garden boxwoods twinkle in red and green. This year, to the delight of young and old alike, a theatre troupe performs Pinocchio. For a glimpse of Noël at the chateau, don’t miss the video on the official website.

 

 

Main Entry Foyer at the Chateau

Main Entry Foyer at the Chateau

 

Beautifully decorated table setting at the Chateau

Beautifully decorated table setting at the Chateau

 

Interior shots of the Chateau beautifully decorated for Christmas

Interior shots of the Chateau beautifully decorated for Christmas

 

Vaux le Vicomte at Night.

Vaux le Vicomte at Night.

I may be over there for the month of November into December. I may wander out to the Chateau Vaux le Vicomte for my own personal assessment. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. If any of you readers have experienced this event in person, please let me know your thoughts. Happy Holidays.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse Vancouver
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver. BC. Canada

Visit our Website

Everything Napoleon is Back in Vogue…….. (Including his hat)!

Anticipating next year’s bicentennial of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, collectors, curators and auction house experts are gathering artifacts that belonged to him, his family and his enemies.

Just four days ago on Nov. 11, Christie’s in Geneva Switzerland auctioned a leafy diamond brooch (estimated at $2 million to $3 million) that is the only known surviving section of a massive 1850s necklace worn by Napoleon’s niece-in-law, Empress Eugénie. The French government sold it in 1887, and the current auction consignor is the Metropolitan Opera. It brought $2,365,700.

The brooch owned by Napoleon's wife Empress de Eugenie was just sold this week at Christies in Geneva.

The brooch owned by Napoleon’s niece ‘Empress de Eugenie’ was just sold this week at Christies Auction House in Geneva for $2,365,700.

Rarely have a man and his hat been so linked in the collective imagination as Napoleon and his black, two-cornered hat.

This weekend a “bicorne” felt hat thought to have belonged to the French emperor will be up for auction in what the auctioneer calls the “sale of a century” for fans of the legendary leader.

 

Napoleon's 'Bicorn' hat thought to be worn by the exiled Emperor will be sold this month.

Napoleon’s ‘Bicorn’ hat thought to be worn by the exiled Emperor will be sold this month.

Nearly 1,000 objects will be put on sale by auction this weekend, Nov. 15 and 16, with the highlight being one of the iconic black hats said to have been worn by Napoleon during the Battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800.

His trademark look was not accidental.

In the early 19th century, such bicorne hats were worn with the corners pointing front and back, but Napoleon, “to make himself noticed”, changed the angle wearing his with the points facing the sides.

During the 15 years of the empire, Napoleon went through about 120 hats, usually supplied by the Poupart & Cie company, located in what is now known as the Palais-Royal in Paris, and costing about 60 francs.

Napoleon always had 12 hats in use, each would last three years and were replaced at the rate of four per year. As he didn’t like new hats, he had them broken in by his personal valet named ‘Constant’. (Pronounced Constahnt)

 

Constant, the valet of Napoleon.

Constant, the valet of Napoleon.

 

Detailed photo of the porcelain sold last month of Napoleon Bonaparte at The Antique Warehouse.

Detailed photo of the porcelain sold last month of Napoleon Bonaparte at The Antique Warehouse.

About 20 to 30 of the hats are still in existence, most in the collection of museums.

 

A black felt two-cornered hat belonging to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

A black felt two-cornered hat belonging to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Estimated at 300,000-400,000 euros ($379,900-$506,500), the hat to be auctioned is in excellent condition, still retaining its lining of gray-green silk.

The hat fell into possession of the head veterinary surgeon at the Imperial stables at the beginning of the 19th century. It was then sold and acquired by the royal family of Monaco.

The great grandfather of Prince Albert of Monaco, head of the centuries-old House of Grimaldi, was a devoted Napoleonic antiques collector. In the 1960s, the family created a museum, whose objects are now being sold to make room for one focusing on the family’s history.

 

Prince Albert 1 of Monaco.

Prince Albert 1 of Monaco.

The auction also includes portraits of Napoleon, tricolour military sashes and medals, marble and bronze busts and statues of the emperor and other objects including Napoleon’s gloves, razor and pocket watch.

The collection even includes a white shirt worn by Napoleon at Sainte-Helene, estimated at 30,000-40,000 euros, and a pair of his white silk stockings, estimated at 4-5,000 euros.

 

White silk stocking worn by the iconic Napoleon Bonaparte.

White silk stocking worn by the iconic Napoleon Bonaparte.

If you’re a huge fan of Napoleon you’d be interested in this weeks events or you can buy your own bit of Napoleon memorabilia right here at the Antique Warehouse. They range in price from only $45 – $150.

If you’re not a huge fan of Napoleon himself you may like the Napoleon furniture from the period. Be it period or style. It’s beautiful, showy, and different than any style of French antique furniture ever made.

 

Typical Napoleon or Empire Setee with the Napoleonic crest (classic) and bronze mounts. For a stately and formal look, nothing makes a statement like Napoleonic or Empire furniture.

Typical Napoleon or Empire Setee with the Napoleonic crest (classic) and bronze mounts. For a stately and formal look, nothing makes a statement like Napoleonic or Empire furniture.

 

This classic French Empire Chandelier is typical of the Napoleon design. This particular piece is early 20th Century, from Paris and available at the Antique Warehouse.

This classic French Empire Chandelier is typical of the Napoleon design. This particular piece is early 20th Century, from Paris and available at the Antique Warehouse.

Enjoy your weekend and remember we’ve just received a new shipment from Paris!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver V5X2R4

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Lock Up Your Antiques!

As the demand for antiques grows worldwide (we should know…the competition in Europe over the past three years has become more fierce than ever) so does their theft.

According to the November 2013 publication in the the UK’s ‘The Telegraph’, historic heritage homes and their beautiful antiques are the focus of a recent wave in criminal activity in England. What’s worse the trend is on an increase and difficult to patrol.

David Lowsley-Williams and his wife Rona outside Chavenage House, which features as the manor in 'Lark Rise to Candleford', from which paintings and clocks and David’s uncle’s war medals were stolen

David Lowsley-Williams and his wife Rona outside Chavenage House, which features as the manor in ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’, from which paintings and clocks and David’s uncle’s war medals were stolen

As 80-year-old David Lowsley-Williams (above), whose family has owned the house for more than a century, watched ‘Question Time’ a popular TV program in the former servants’ quarters in April 2013, while criminals broke a window lock in another wing. None of the seven family members in the house heard anything as the gang lugged £45,000 ($90,000 Cdn) of antiques out of the window and through the woods, including a 19th century ormolu and porcelain mantel clock and some of David’s uncle’s war medals. They only discovered the items were missing the next morning.

More than over a year now, the heirlooms are still missing and the culprits at large. The family believes they will never recover their possessions, and are resigned to further break-ins. “We have taken photographs of every room at every angle and put Smartwater (a forensic tag that can be seen under UV light) everywhere but there is no 100 percent way to stop it,” says David’s daughter, Caroline, who lives in a cottage on the estate. “It is almost impossible to defend ourselves.”

Estate owners across the country are reaching the same conclusion. “Every stately home has a lot of windows and a lot of doors,” says Sir Thomas Ingilby. “And are basically sitting ducks”

Sir Thomas Ingilby

Sir Thomas Ingilby


Sir Thomas Ingilby now runs a hotline monitoring burglaries at 2,000 historic houses and museums from Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire, where his family has lived for 700 years.

The magnificent 'Ripley Castel' in North Yorkshire.

The magnificent ‘Ripley Castle’ in North Yorkshire.

Antiques crime so much on the rise that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in England, has launched a task force to clamp down on it, and hopes to recruit a heritage crime officer for every police force. The announcement follows two dozen stately home burglaries in the last four years and a series of audacious robberies at museums, including the thefts last year of £1.8 million of artefacts from Durham University’s Oriental Museum and a rare medieval jug from a high-security display cabinet at a museum in Luton.

'Wenlok' Jug stolen from Stockwood Discovery Centre in England valued at over $1.5M

‘Wenlok’ Jug stolen from Stockwood Discovery Centre in England valued at over $1.5M

My best friend Jeff in Paris, told me his parents country house ( a small chateau in North American standards ) was filled with priceless antiques from the Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and Louis XV period (including a clock once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte). He and his parents arrived one weekend to discover an empty house with just beds and a few scattered and broken bits thrown about. The family reported the break-in but to this day, not one item, including the priceless clock has ever been found. The disenchanted family sold the Chateau shortly thereafter and never looked back.

Even here in Canada, a notorious Antiques thief was just recently apprehended.

In Halifax in 2013, RCMP discovered over 1300 stolen antiques valued at over $500,000 from the home of a Nova Scotia man named John Tillmann. Police stopped 51 year old John Mark Tillman for a routine traffic investigation in the summer of 2011 and noticed what looked like an old letter in the vehicle.

51 year old, John Mark Tillmann an ex-convict antique hoarder had been stealing antiques for years.

51 year old, John Mark Tillmann an ex-convict antique hoarder had been stealing antiques for years.

It turned out British army officer Gen. James Wolfe wrote the letter in 1758. It’s valued at more than $15,000, and was allegedly stolen from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

In January, police searched Tillmann’s home in Fall River, a Halifax suburb, and recovered about 1,300 items, worth at least $500,000, mostly from Atlantic Canada.

Antiques recovered from Tillmanns home were on display.

Antiques recovered from Tillmanns home were on display.

Tillmann made a career dealing in purloined antiques both big and small. He stole a letter once slated for delivery on the S.S. Titanic, but which missed the ill-fated trip. He had a letter written by George Washington—before he became president—commissioning a man, Moses Child, to spy in Canada. There was a letter from Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables, asking a Nova Scotia family to look after his daughter. Artwork hung on Tillmann’s walls, including an 1819 painting of Nova Scotia’s Province House, which had previously hung in the provincial legislative library until it vanished around 1999. Tillmann’s bookshelf also once housed a first edition copy of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, stolen from a locked glass cabinet at the Mount Saint Vincent University library, which he sold for $31,000.

Just recently this year in Vancouver a rare Indian mask was stolen from a museum but shortly returned thereafter.

If you haven’t recently reassessed your collection maybe this is the time to do so. It’s easy as photo-documenting everything (according to my own personal insurer) and keep the records separate to your home in case of fire. Most home owner policies will cover antique theft without hesitation if some record of the piece is produced. Any written documentation makes the replacement all that much easier. If your pieces are of extreme value, an appraisal is most certainly recommended. We can refer you to the appropriate appraisers if required.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

In The Tradition of The Old Masters

So you think the great European craftsmen of centuries gone by have all but disappeared? Not So! In fact, here in our very own New Westminster exists one ‘Alexandre Sukhomilov’ who is replicating the quality and beauty of the French and European masters right in his studio.

We first met Alex in our store, when he’d be buying some of our most beautiful French 19th Century pieces. That is when he told us he was replicating the designs for his upmarket clientele who wanted the beauty of Europe for their homes in Vancouver we were impressed.

Alex can make anything from elaborate crown mouldings to full walled panels, trumeaus and more. All made to order to fit any sized room!

This difference with Alex’s product that instead of Gesso ( a form of plaster used by the old masters ) which breaks down over time, he uses a high quality resin that will literally last forever. The results were astounding.

Have a look at the photos below that he sent us.

20141030_091912

20141030_091919

The quality and detail are spot on, but we have to say, if you like the look of the ‘distressed’ 19th Century mirrors with all their  imperfections and flaws, you’ll still have to come to us.

But if you’re looking for made to measure elaborate old world charm room panels, moulding,  and more, see Alex. His work is breathtaking.

He’s located at 1019 Quebec St. in New Westminster, B.C.

Contact us for more information.

Mark LaFleur @ The Antique Warehouse.

Beauty is Power: The Story of Helena Rubinstein

Helena Rubenstein C.1940. with African Mask.

Helena Rubenstein C.1930. with African Mask.

Born in Poland, Helena Rubinstein (born Chaja Rubinstein, December 25) emigrated from Poland to Australia in 1902.

Helena Rubenstein was born in this house in Krakow, Poland.

Helena Rubenstein was born in this house in Krakow, Poland.

‘Chaja’ Rubinstein arrived with no money and little English but her stylish clothes and milky complexion were her greatest selling feature. She brought with her from Europe jars of beauty cream for which she soon found enthusiastic buyers. Spotting a market, Rubenstein began to make her own. Fortunately, the key ingredient ‘Lanolin’ was readily at hand.

To disguise the pungent odour of her product’s essential component, Rubinstein experimented with lavender, pine bark and water lilies. She lived with her uncle in Victoria where an abundance of sheep and their product ‘lanolin’ could be had. However, that didn’t last long. The strong willed Rubenstein had a falling out with her uncle and was forced to take odd jobs as a bush governess, and a job as a waitress at the Winter Garden tearooms in Melbourne. There, she found an admirer willing to back her with the funds to launch her newly created product ‘Crème Valaze’, supposedly including herbs imported “from the Carpathian Mountains”.

Rubenstein's Creme Valaze which flew off the shelves.

Rubenstein’s Creme Valaze flew off the shelves.

Costing ten pence (20cents)and selling for six shillings ($1.50), it walked off the shelves as fast as she could pack it in pots. Now calling herself Helena, Rubinstein could soon afford to open a salon in fashionable Collins Street, selling glamour as a science to clients whose skin was “diagnosed” and a suitable treatment “prescribed”.

Helena Rubinstein diagnosed her clients' skin and prescribed products.

Helena Rubinstein diagnosed her clients’ skin and prescribed products.

Sydney was next, and within five years Australian operations were profitable enough to finance a ‘Salon de Beauté Valaze’ in London. As such, Rubinstein formed one of the world’s first cosmetic companies. Diminutive at 4 ft. 10 in. (147 cm), she rapidly expanded her operation. In 1908, her sister Ceska assumed the Melbourne shop’s operation, when, with $100,000, Rubinstein moved to London and began what was to become an international enterprise. (Women at this time could not obtain bank loans, so the money was her own.)

Helena Rubenstein in her salon in London. C.1920.

Helena Rubenstein in her salon in London. C.1900.

In 1908, she married the Polish-born American journalist Edward William Titus in London. They had two sons, Roy Valentine Titus (London, December 12, 1909–New York, June 18, 1989) and Horace Titus (London, April 23, 1912–New York, May 18, 1958). They eventually moved to Paris where she opened a salon in 1912. Her husband helped with writing the publicity and set up a small publishing house, published Lady Chatterley’s Lover and hired Samuel Putnam to translate famous model Kiki’s memoirs.

Kiki Montparnasse....famous model of her time.

Kiki Montparnasse….famous model of her time.

Rubinstein threw lavish dinner parties and became known for apocryphal quips, such as when an intoxicated French ambassador expressed vitriol toward Edith Sitwell and her brother Sacheverell: “Vos ancêtres ont brûlé Jeanne d’Arc!” Rubinstein, who knew little French, asked a guest what the ambassador had said. “He said, ‘Your ancestors burned Joan of Arc.'” Rubinstein replied, “Well, someone had to do it.”

At another fête, Marcel Proust asked her what makeup a duchess might wear. She summarily dismissed him because “he smelt of mothballs.” Rubinstein recollected later, “How was I to know he was going to be famous?”

At the outbreak of World War I, she and Titus moved to New York City, where she opened a cosmetics salon in 1915, the forerunner of a chain throughout the country.

Helena Rubenstein and her husband Titus.

Helena Rubenstein and her husband Titus.

This was the beginning of her vicious rivalry with the other great lady of the cosmetics industry, Elizabeth Arden were both social climbers and were both keenly aware of effective marketing and luxurious packaging, the attraction of beauticians in neat uniforms, the value of celebrity endorsements, the perceived value of overpricing and the promotion of the pseudoscience of skincare.

From 1917, Rubinstein took on the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of her products. The “Day of Beauty” in the various salons became a great success. The purported portrait of Rubinstein in her advertising was actually that of a middle-age model with an elegant appearance.

In 1928, she sold the American business to Lehman Brothers for $7.3 million, ($88 million in 2007). After the arrival of the Great Depression, she bought back the nearly worthless stock for less than $1 million and eventually turned the shares into values of multimillion dollars, establishing salons and outlets in almost a dozen U.S. cities. Her subsequent spa at 715 Fifth Avenue included a restaurant, a gymnasium and rugs by painter Joan Miró. She commissioned artist Salvador Dalí to design a powder compact as well a portrait of herself.

Helena Rubenstein's portrait by Salvador Dali placed on a pendant as a gift for her importance clients.

Helena Rubenstein’s portrait by Salvador Dali placed on a pendant as a gift for her importance clients.

Rubenstein divorced Titus in 1938, and the social climbing Helena readily married Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia (23 years younger than her). Prince Artchil, whose somewhat clouded materlineal claim to Georgian nobility, stemmed from his having been born a member of the untitled noble Tchkonia family of Guria. Rubenstein urged the ambitious young man to appropriate the genuine title of his grandmother, born Princess Gourielli to which he became the self styled Prince Artchil. Artchil’s marriage to Rubenstein was claimed was a marketing ploy, including Rubinstein’s being able to pass herself off now as ‘Helena Princess Gourielli’.

The 'supposed' Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia married Helena who became a 'Princess'

The ‘supposed’ Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia married Helena who became a ‘Princess’

A multimillionaire of contrasts, Rubinstein took a bag lunch to work and was very frugal in many matters, but bought top-fashion clothing and valuable fine art and furniture. Concerning art, she founded the respectable Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv and in 1957 she established the Helena Rubinstein travelling art scholarship in Australia.

In 1953, she established the philanthropic Helena Rubinstein Foundation to provide funds to organizations specializing in health, medical research and rehabilitation as well as to the America Israel Cultural Foundation and scholarships to Israelis.
In 1959, Rubinstein represented the U.S. cosmetics industry at the American National Exhibition in Moscow.

Called “Madame” by her employees, she eschewed idle chatter, continued to be active in the corporation throughout her life, even from her sick bed, and staffed the company with her relatives.

Brandishing the slogan “Beauty is Power,” she succeeded as few others had in the male-dominated business world of the early 20th century, especially as a Jewish woman from Central Europe establishing herself in the world’s fashion capitals. She also happened to have very good taste in art, and her adventurous spirit gravitated to the avant-garde.

Helena Rubenstein in her portrait gallery of herself.

Helena Rubenstein in her portrait gallery of herself.

Works from her collection include works by Picasso, Matisse, Léger, Miró, Max Ernst, Frida Kahlo, Leonor Fini, and Andy Warhol, a testament to her understanding of the advanced art of her day. Rubinstein was a longtime friend of Dalí, who she commissioned to decorate her various apartments in Paris, London, and New York. With Picasso, she shared a love of African art, and became something of an expert in the field. One memorable display in the show features her extensive collection of marble sculptures by Elie Nadelman juxtaposed with some of her prized African wood carvings.

Helena Rubinstein by Pablo Picasso.  C.1955

Helena Rubinstein by Pablo Picasso. C.1955

Far ahead of her time, Rubinstein, whose employees and friends alike referred to as “Madame,” explored the concept of branding her own image to help promote her cosmetics business. She was not a beautiful woman in conventional terms, but her sense of fashion and glamour come across in the many portraits of herself she commissioned. Outstanding here are paintings by Marie Laurencin, Christian Bérard, and especially a large, resplendent 1957 canvas by Graham Sutherland, one of the best examples of the British artist’s portraiture.

Helena Rubenstein by acclaimed artist Graham Sutherland who also painted such historical figures as Winston Churchill

Helena Rubenstein by acclaimed artist Graham Sutherland who also painted such historical figures as Winston Churchill

Mme. Rubinstein died April 1, 1965, and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Queens. Some of her estate, including African and fine art, Lucite furniture, and overwrought Victorian furniture upholstered in purple, was auctioned in 1966 at the Park-Bernet Galleries in New York.

Helena Rubenstein in her famous  lighted 'Lucite Bed'

Helena Rubenstein in her famous lighted ‘Lucite Bed’

One of Rubinstein’s numerous mantras was: “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” A feature-length documentary film, The Powder and the Glory (2009) by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman, details the rivalry between Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.

She was the first self-made female millionaire, an accomplishment she owed primarily to publicity savvy. She knew how to advertise—using ‘fear copy with a bit of blah-blah’ and introduced the concept of ‘problem’ skin types. She also pioneered the use of pseudoscience in marketing, donning a lab coat in many advertisements, despite the fact that her only training had been a two-month tour of European skin-care facilities. She knew how to manipulate consumers’ status anxiety, as well: If a product faltered initially, she would hike the price to raise the perceived value. The shrewd, successful, Chaja Rubenstein was a woman who started from nothing and became one of the greatest businesswomen of all time.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our website.

Furniture During the Reign of King Louis XIV (1654–1715)

Louis XIV (5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi-Soleil), was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest of any monarch of a major country in European history.

King Louis XIV of France or 'The Roi de Soleil'

King Louis XIV of France or ‘The Roi de Soleil’

Louis XIV rose to power when he was only five years old. His mother,Queen Anne of Austria, served as regent until he was educated enough to become ruling king. Louis XIV was politically educated by Cardinal Mazarin, who chose the sun for Louis’ emblem. It was King Louis XIV who is referred to as “The Sun King” to this day.

His influential years were marked by revolutionary actions against his mother and political adviser. These actions were referred to as “La Fronde.” Louis XIV disliked Paris immensely and had a great fear and distaste for revolutionaries and those working against the monarchy. This contributed to his decision to later move to Versailles permanently. He married Marie Therese, an Infanta from Spain, solidifying the relationship between France and Spain.

Maria Theresa of Spain

Maria Theresa of Spain

In 1663, two years after assuming absolute power, Louis XIV appointed a supervisor for the royal furniture. In the letter of appointment, the king wrote, “There is nothing that indicates more clearly the magnificence of great princes than their superb palaces and their precious furniture.” With the intention of glorifying the monarchy, Louis XIV embarked on grand building programs that entailed the design and manufacture of splendid sets of furniture. Emulating the lavish tastes of his mentor, Cardinal Mazarin, he acquired or commissioned a dazzling series of seventy-six wood cabinets; some were decorated with lacquer, but many displayed combinations of precious materials such as lapis lazuli, agate, marble, silver, and ivory. (Three of these cabinets are known to have survived: one, somewhat altered, in a Paris museum and a pair in an English private collection.) The king also favored carved and gilded wood furniture and commissioned a broad range of objects in solid silver that included tall candlestands, massive tables, benches and stools, chandeliers, and mirror frames.

Among the foremost cabinetmakers of this period were Pierre Gole, named cabinetmaker to Louis XIV in 1651

Cabinet-on-stand, Pierre Gole, Paris, 1661-65, veneered in ivory and tortoiseshell, with marquetry of various woods and green-stained bone, ebony mouldings and brass mounts, on a pine carcase, with walnut drawers.  At the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Cabinet-on-stand, Pierre Gole, Paris, 1661-65, veneered in ivory and tortoiseshell, with marquetry of various woods and green-stained bone, ebony mouldings and brass mounts, on a pine carcase, with walnut drawers. At the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

and Domenico Cucci (ca. 1635–1704/5), who was employed at the Gobelins manufactory under the direction of Charles Le Brun.

The Cucci Cabinet - one of just three cabinets crafted by Italian artist Domenico Cucci during the reign of French King Louis XIV - auctioned for more than £4.5m

The Cucci Cabinet – one of just three cabinets crafted by Italian artist Domenico Cucci during the reign of French King Louis XIV – auctioned for more than £4.5m

Domenico Cucci (ca. 1635–1704/5), who was employed at the Gobelins manufactory under the direction of Charles Le Brun. André-Charles Boulle (1642–1732), appointed royal cabinetmaker in 1672, specialized at this time in furniture set with wood-marquetry panels of high quality; he was later to work in the metal-marquetry technique (brass or pewter inlaid on tortoiseshell) for which he is best known. Contrast in the treatment of colors and surfaces as well as bold and sometimes exaggerated movement, features of the Baroque style, are characteristic of the furniture produced in these craftmen’s workshops.

Commode designed and built by Andre Charles Boulle

Commode designed and built by Andre Charles Boulle

The practice of veneering with tortoiseshell, believed to date to the first century B.C. in Rome, underwent a tremendous revival in Europe during the seventeenth century, when the shell of the tropical seagoing turtle was applied to wood surfaces of furniture, where it often served as a ground for inlaid decorative patterns of other showy and sometimes exotic materials. The popularity of tortoiseshell veneer during this period is well illustrated by several pieces in the Museum’s collection.

On this table, attributed to the Dutch-born cabinetmaker Pierre Gole, mottled brown tortoiseshell provides the ground for wood marquetry and veneers of ebony and ivory (stained green for the leaves). The stylized bouquet within the central four-lobed band of the top contains tulips, roses, jasmine, and lilies of the valley, while naturalistic sprays of roses, tulips, carnations, and myrtle are rendered with similar marquetry in the wide border along the edge.

On this table, attributed to the Dutch-born cabinetmaker Pierre Gole, mottled brown tortoiseshell provides the ground for wood marquetry and veneers of ebony and ivory (stained green for the leaves). The stylized bouquet within the central four-lobed band of the top contains tulips, roses, jasmine, and lilies of the valley, while naturalistic sprays of roses, tulips, carnations, and myrtle are rendered with similar marquetry in the wide border along the edge.

The tabletop above, designed by Pierre Gole features a combination of tortoiseshell, wood, ebony, and ivory. Reddish-tinted tortoiseshell forms the ground for the brass decoration on a compact desk made for Louis XIV by the relatively unknown Dutch-born cabinetmaker Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt (1639–1715)

This desk, with a folding top that opens to reveal a small writing surface, is one of the few surviving pieces commissioned for Louis XIV's personal use. It was one of a pair intended for the king's petit cabinet, a small private room in the north wing of Versailles. The decoration on the top incorporates such royal symbols as the crown, the crossed L monogram, and the mask of Apollo, the sun god to whom Louis XIV likened himself. The four corners display openwork fleurs-de-lis, symbolizing the French monarchy, with lyres, the musical instrument of Apollo, between them. The desk belongs to a type of furniture called bureau brisé (literally, "broken desk"). The top is hinged to open, or "break," along its width to reveal a fitted interior, veneered with Brazilian rosewood, that consists of a cramped writing surface with four drawers at the back. The bureau brisé originated in 1669 and continued to be made until the early eighteenth century, when a large flat-topped writing table, the bureau plat, replaced it.

This desk, with a folding top that opens to reveal a small writing surface, is one of the few surviving pieces commissioned for Louis XIV’s personal use. It was one of a pair intended for the king’s petit cabinet, a small private room in the north wing of Versailles. The decoration on the top incorporates such royal symbols as the crown, the crossed L monogram, and the mask of Apollo, the sun god to whom Louis XIV likened himself. The four corners display openwork fleurs-de-lis, symbolizing the French monarchy, with lyres, the musical instrument of Apollo, between them.
The desk belongs to a type of furniture called bureau brisé (literally, “broken desk”). The top is hinged to open, or “break,” along its width to reveal a fitted interior, veneered with Brazilian rosewood, that consists of a cramped writing surface with four drawers at the back. The bureau brisé originated in 1669 and continued to be made until the early eighteenth century, when a large flat-topped writing table, the bureau plat, replaced it.

Oppenordt became a French citizen in 1679 and was named cabinetmaker to Louis XIV in 1684. The engraver and designer Jean Bérain is thought to have collaborated with Oppenordt on the design for the brass ornament on this desk; some of the ornament prints published by Bérain contain motifs that match the shapes of these inlays.

Bérain supplied the designs for a clock case and pedestal featuring exquisite inlay and elaborate gilt-bronze mounts believed to be products of André-Charles Boulle’s workshop. Boulle benefitted from the king’s lifelong patronage and support, and he remains by far the best-known furniture maker of the Louis XIV period. The combination of tortoiseshell and metal inlay exemplified in the Museum’s clock and pedestal was not invented by Boulle, although furniture in this technique is often referred to as Boulle work. The technique seems to have been imported from Italy and was established in France by the mid-1650s.

Working in a large community of painters, sculptors, and artisans housed in workshops under the Grande Galerie of the Louvre, Boulle’s lodgings and workshop were near those of Jean Bérain and the clockmaker Jacques Thuret (died ca. 1738). The three craftsmen were linked by friendship and by blood: Boulle is reputed to have been a relative of Thuret, who was, in turn, Bérain’s son-in-law. It seems quite natural therefore that the three should have collaborated on the creation of the Museum’s clock: Thuret (or possibly his father) produced the movement, Boulle the case and pedestal, following Bérain’s designs for the shapes of the pedestal and many of the gilt-bronze mounts.

Clock with pedestal (Pendule sur gaine), ca. 1690 Movement by Jacques III Thuret (French, 1669–1738) or more likely his father, Isaac II Thuret (French, 1630–1706); case by André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732) after designs supplied by Jean Berain (French, 1640–1711) Case: oak, with brass and engraved pewter inlay on a tortoiseshell ground, and gilt-bronze mounts; Dial: gilt brass with enamel numerals; Movement: brass and steel

Clock with pedestal (Pendule sur gaine), ca. 1690 Movement by Jacques III Thuret (French, 1669–1738) or more likely his father, Isaac II Thuret (French, 1630–1706); case by André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732) after designs supplied by Jean Berain (French, 1640–1711) Case: oak, with brass and engraved pewter inlay on a tortoiseshell ground, and gilt-bronze mounts; Dial: gilt brass with enamel numerals; Movement: brass and steel

Boulle was distinguished from his fellow artisans by a passion for collecting prints and drawings. Boulle was by far the best known cabinetmaker of the Louis XIV period; like the Thurets, he was granted the use of a royal workshop in the Louvre. Boulle lost a number of his possessions ( the losses he suffered in a disastrous studio fire of 1720) of large numbers of such works by the best-known artists of his own and earlier eras. Boulle must have referred to his collection for the design of the ornament on furniture he manufactured, especially for the forms of its gilt-bronze mounts. He is known to have borrowed elements of seventeenth-century sculpture by Michelangelo and the Fleming François Duquesnoy for this purpose, and also to have acquired models for clock figures from contemporary French sculptors.

The rising cost of Louis XIV’s unsuccessful military campaigns, which forced the king to order the destruction of his silver furniture in 1689, caused a drastic retrenchment in his expenditures for the arts. Every aspect of furniture production was affected: restrictions were imposed on the gilding of wall paneling and furniture, and the Gobelins manufactory was closed between 1694 and 1699.

Solid Silver Table made for King Louis XIV.

Solid Silver Table made for King Louis XIV.

Although Boulle provided quite a few pieces of furniture for the royal household, only two items intended specifically for Louis XIV have been identified: a pair of commodes made between 1708 and 1709 for the king’s bedroom at the Grand Trianon and now exhibited at the Château de Versailles. Boulle’s workshop retained templates for their marquetry decoration and bronze models for their gilt-bronze mounts. (These models are recorded as still among Boulle’s possessions in his inventory of 1732.) His craftsmen were therefore able to repeat the original commission whenever needed. It seems likely that the first workshop replicas were turned out before 1715, since another of Boulle’s inventories drawn up in that year, on the occasion of a transfer of property to his four sons (also cabinetmakers), contains the entry: “three commodes in an unfinished state similar to the king’s commode at the Trianon.”

The pair of Andre Charles Boulle commodes can be seen at Chateau de Versailles today.

The pair of Andre Charles Boulle commodes can be seen at Chateau Versailles today.

The workmanship of a Boulle commode is of fabulous quality, exemplified in the casting and chasing of the gilt-bronze winged-sphinx corner mounts. It would appear to belong among the early workshop replicas dating from 1710 to 1715. At that time, the commode was still a relatively new type of furniture that was first produced about 1700 as a combination of a chest and a desk with drawers. Boulle’s original commodes and their copies have been criticized on aesthetic grounds for their awkward treatment of forms, which is particularly obvious in their supporting structures of squat spiral-shaped feet that abut on the inner sides of grandly curving legs. The four low feet might have been added by a practical cabinetmaker. Without them, the ornamental but insubstantial legs could not have supported the weight of the commode, its marble top, and the bronze mounts. In spite of this awkwardness, Boulle’s model was duplicated many times over a period of almost 200 years.

Commode, ca. 1710–20 André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732) Walnut veneered with ebony and marquetry of engraved brass and tortoiseshell, gilt-bronze mounts, verd antique marble top

Commode, ca. 1710–20 André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732) Walnut veneered with ebony and marquetry of engraved brass and tortoiseshell, gilt-bronze mounts, verd antique marble top

This commode is of the same design and construction as the pair that was made by Boulle for the bedchamber of Louis XIV at the Grand Trianon in 1708. Although this model was copied a number of times during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this example appears to be an early version made in Boulle’s own workshop. Appointed to the ébéniste du roi (royal cabinetmaker) in 1672, Boulle did not invent but perfected the marquetry technique of brass and tortoiseshell that has been named for him. So-called Boulle work is created by glueing together sheets of tortoiseshell and brass which are then cut according to the desired design. Once cut, the layers can be combined to form either a tortoiseshell ground inlaid with engraved brass or a brass ground inlaid with tortoiseshell, known as first part and counterpart respectively.

André-Charles Boulle was one of the first cabinetmakers to make effective use of gilt-bronze mounts. The mounts not only protect vulnerable parts of the carcass but also add a great deal of sculptural beauty to the piece. The three-dimensional acanthus-leaf scroll mount on the upper drawer beautifully echoes the two-dimensional design in the brass and tortoiseshell marquetry. Particularly noteworthy are the female figures at the corners, with their feathery matted wings contrasting with their highly burnished faces.

The craftsmanship of these pieces is unequalled anywhere today.

The craftsmanship of these pieces is unequalled anywhere today.

Boulles work was copied for over 200 years and superior quality pieces of the 19th and early 20th Century still command high prices today.

This late 19th Century piece sells for around $10,000 in today's market.

This late 19th Century piece sells for around $10,000 in today’s market.

(A word of caution here…poorly made 21st Century reproductions are being sold here in Vancouver as the ‘genuine article’. I assure you they are not. Consult with us, if you plan on purchasing a ‘boulle’ piece in any other store other than ours. Also the old adage applies, “if it’s too good to be true, then it isn’t” Good ‘Boulle’ pieces sell for several thousands of dollars.)

After 72 years on the throne, Louis died of gangrene at Versailles on 1 September 1715, four days before his 77th birthday. Enduring much pain in his last days, he finally “yielded up his soul without any effort, like a candle going out” while reciting the psalm Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina (O Lord, make haste to help me).[67] His body was laid to rest in Saint-Denis Basilica outside Paris. It remained there undisturbed for about 80 years until revolutionaries exhumed and destroyed all the remains to be found in the Basilica.
By the time of his death, Louis was predeceased by most of his immediate legitimate family. His last surviving son, the Dauphin, died in 1711. Barely a year later, the Duke of Burgundy, the eldest of the Dauphin’s three sons and then heir to Louis, followed his father. Burgundy’s elder son, Louis, Duke of Brittany, joined them a few weeks later. Thus, on his deathbed, Louis’s heir was his five-year-old great-grandson, Louis, Duke of Anjou, Burgundy’s youngest son.

Louis XIV (seated) with his son le Grand Dauphin (to the left), his grandson Louis, Duke of Burgundy (to the right), his great-grandson Louis Duke of Anjou, and Madame de Ventadour, Anjou's governess, who commissioned this painting; busts of Henry IV and Louis XIII are in the background.

Louis XIV (seated) with his son le Grand Dauphin (to the left), his grandson Louis, Duke of Burgundy (to the right), his great-grandson Louis Duke of Anjou, and Madame de Ventadour, Anjou’s governess, who commissioned this painting; busts of Henry IV and Louis XIII are in the background.

Louis foresaw a minority and sought to restrict the power of his nephew, Philip II, Duke of Orléans, who, as closest surviving legitimate relative in France, would become the prospective Louis XV’s regent. Accordingly, he created a regency council as Louis XIII did in anticipation of his own minority with some power vested in his illegitimate son, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, Duke of Maine.
Orléans, however, had Louis’s will annulled by the Parlement of Paris after his death and made himself sole regent. He stripped Maine and his brother, Louis-Alexandre, Count of Toulouse, of the rank of Prince of the Blood, which Louis had granted them, and significantly reduced Maine’s power and privileges.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
Canada.

Please visit our website!