Antiques Blog

Ebola and France.

My intentions were to continue to explore the world of French antiques as they transformed through the ages. But in view of the recent ‘Ebola’ developments I thought I’d devote this weeks’ blog to this serious event and how it relates to France.(And to us for that matter) I’ll resume my regular blogs next week.

I just returned from our Fall buying trip in France and just about everyone was talking about ‘Ebola’. Parisians as a whole are a nonchalent people on most matters. Nothing phases them. But Ebola was scaring the daylights out of many of them, particularly as Paris has a vast population of Africans mostly concentrated in the 18th Arrondisement.

The 'Little Africa' as it's called is located in the 18th Arrondisement in Paris. It's full of everything African from markets to clothing.

The ‘Little Africa’ as it’s called is located in the 18th Arrondisement in Paris. It’s full of everything African from markets to clothing.

In fact, Paris has the largest African population in Europe, so it was only natural that Parisians were frightened. In fact, one of my dealer friends told me her brother ( a surgeon ) living in the south of France told her Paris was destined for an infection in less than three weeks by his calculations. She couldn’t sleep the entire night, telling me the second it arrives she moving to her home in Nancy, where she still maintains a residence.

My closest Parisian friends, Jeff and Helene have two young sons and told me if an outbreak occurred they’d flee to their parents home in Cavalaire sur Mer, (a plus chic community just west of the now too trendy and vastly changed for the worse, St. Tropez).From the sounds of their parents home I’d flee there anytime regardless of Ebola.

Cavalaire sur Mer...one of the most beautiful and less touristy spots on the French Riviera.

Cavalaire sur Mer…one of the most beautiful and less touristy spots on the French Riviera.

In fact, upon returning to Vancouver the customs agents asked me point blank if I was sick, if my dog was sick, had I been to any Ebola infected countries and had I any contact with any Ebola persons. Good for Customs to be proactive, but seriously folks,
I’d heard through sources that this ‘Ebola hysteria’ was completely unwarranted. I decided to research it myself.

True, Ebola is one dangerous virus. But it’s not as easily transmitted as you may think.

Accolades to Doctors risking their lives to treat Ebola patients.

Accolades to Doctors risking their lives to treat Ebola patients.

I recently came across an article written by a native Parisian who put this whole epidemic in perspective. Also the Wall Street Journal, ( a link presented at the end of this article ) goes into it in depth. ( I’ve subsequently emailed the link to both my friends to ease their panic )

Last week, a humor columnist from the New Yorker magazine penned this headline: “Man Infected With Ebola Misinformation Through Casual Contact With Cable News”.

The 'New Yorker' Magazine

The ‘New Yorker’ Magazine

While the current Ebola viral epidemic is nothing to laugh about, it’s causing a humanitarian disaster in several West African countries and has led to some 3,500 deaths as this went to press. The New Yorker headline makes a salient point about the panic that’s taking hold of many otherwise rational people. Constant news coverage of the crisis and histrionic headlines about risks of the virus getting “out of control” in Europe are helping to feed this panic, even though these sensationalist headlines are designed more to generate clicks and newspaper sales than to accurately reflect what’s happening. Not only is it creating public panic, it’s wreaking havoc to the stock market and even to chocolate producers in Africa. Shame on the media but this is nothing new. I rarely put complete faith in anything I see or read anymore.

In the midst of all this ambient paranoia about Ebola, and particularly in light of a Madrid-based nurse in Spain contracting the disease (a first in Europe), many travellers are feeling uneasy about heading abroad, even in Europe. If you’re travelling to Paris or the rest of France, you may be asking yourself how safe it is to do so. Is Ebola currently more than a very marginal risk in France?

The answer? A very solid no. Here’s why:

There have been zero documented cases of Ebola transmission in France. One French healthcare worker in Liberia did contract the disease, and was successfully treated in France, but there have been no further cases since then. That fact alone should calm any nerves about travelling there.

“But what if some cases have gone undetected?”, you may be asking. The answer? That’s a highly unlikely scenario. Ebola isn’t a viral infection that hides easily. People afflicted with the disease experience symptoms that are exponentially worse than the flu, and are rarely able to care for themselves, so they are unlikely to be roaming the streets or riding the metro. Thankfully, moreover, Ebola isn’t transmissible or contagious until patients begin experiencing symptoms, so it’s impossible to get it from someone who isn’t exhibiting any symptoms.

It’s not an airborne disease. Even if someone had gone undetected and were theoretically riding next to you on a bus or in the metro, Ebola isn’t transmitted through the air. Transmission requires direct contact between the bodily fluids of the sick person, and mucous membranes or blood of the other. This is why the vast majority of those who have contracted Ebola have been health care workers, family members caring for their loved ones, or people participating in traditional West African funeral rites in which the deceased person is touched. As viruses go, Ebola is highly infectious, but not easily transmissible.
The French government is on high alert for any imported cases of the disease, and has a strong emergency plan in place to cope with any potential cases. The French Ministry of Health notes on a dedicated information page on their website that the country’s national health and sanitation institute (InVS) is closely monitoring the situation, and an emergency plan involving hospitals and health authorities, as well as airports and customs officials, has been firmly in place since March 2014. All visitors travelling to France from countries affected by the Ebola virus are being tested at the borders of their country of origin, and French authorities have been distributing information leaflets relating to transmission risks and symptoms in airports and on flights.

The French healthcare and hospital system is one of the world’s most advanced, and have been preparing for months for any possible cases. France is home to some of the globe’s leading infectious disease and epidemiology specialists, so even if a few cases were imported (something that may indeed happen in the coming months due to the ubiquity of air travel), the risk of these isolated cases developing into a major health crisis in Paris or the rest of France is very low. The Health Ministry page specifies that in the case of the intake of a patient with Ebola, they would be placed in isolation units and treated with the utmost precautions. To crunch some numbers: France spends $3,997 per capita on healthcare; whereas in Liberia, a West African country where the Ebola epidemic has turned into a full-blown humanitarian disaster, healthcare expenditure per capita is a mere $88.

But why aren’t all-out travel bans in place?

As in the US and the UK, some are calling for travel bans between France and the countries in West Africa most afflicted by Ebola. But in this age of global air travel and myriad connecting flights, citizens of those countries might enter the country on a connecting flight, rendering such bans effectively useless. Moreover, the World Health Organization as well as humanitarian aid groups like Doctors Without Borders insist that banning travel or closing borders would only make it more difficult to send aid, therefore encouraging the epidemic to grow even more serious in West Africa. Since we’re all so interconnected now in a globalized world, closing off borders would likely pose a greater danger to the world in the long run.

I’ve read that Paris is a major air hub for the countries hardest-hit by the disease. Shouldn’t I worry?

It’s true that because of its status as a flight hub to west African countries, there is a risk that someone from an Ebola-stricken country might eventually board a plane and lead to a few cases in Paris. Unfortunately, there is no zero-risk scenario. Again, however, at this time, there are zero reported cases in France at this time– and read my conclusion below reiterating my earlier point about the difficulty of transmitting the disease.

Still worried? Here’s my conclusion. In short: There’s currently very little reason to worry about the Ebola epidemic affecting tourists in Paris and the rest of France. Of course, it’s always a good idea to observe good hygiene practices while traveling, washing your hands frequently with hot soap and water, and perhaps using hand sanitizer if you can’t immediately wash your hands after using public restrooms or public transport. So if you find it difficult to quell your worrying, taking these kinds of measures can help soothe your mind. Remember, Ebola can only be spread through the direct transmission of bodily fluids from one person to another, and when you’re traveling, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll make this kind of contact with anyone.

Stay safe, stay calm, and above all, enjoy your trip. I’ll be publishing any updates of note and information of relevance to travellers at this page, so you can feel free to bookmark it and check back.

For more information read this article published by the Wall Street Journal on why to stay calm about this epidemic.

As far as this epidemic spreading worldwide, its next to impossible. It’s not like the Spanish flu that was airborne and killed millions in 1917. The unfortunate Africans that are dying are largely the result of poor medical facilities and lack of Doctors. Families are caring for victims themselves, hence contracting the disease with no means of treatment. Sad state of affairs to be sure.

Stay Healthy and Happy.

Mark LaFleur

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

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Furniture and Design of the Louis XIII Period (1601 -1643)

Louis XIII (27 September 1601 – 14 May 1643) was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1610 to 1643.

King Louis XIII of France was the first French King to begin wearing wigs. This style caught on and lasted in French and English society for over 200 years.

King Louis XIII of France was the first French King to wear luxuriant wigs. This style persisted in French and English society for over 200 years.

The reign of King Louis XIII, or ‘Louis Treize,’ is associated with a flourishing of distinct styles in French art and architecture. Perhaps the most important influence on the emerging visual styles of his reign was that of his Italian mother, Marie de Medici, regent during the first six years of his rule.

Marie de Medici with little King Louis XIII.

Marie de Medici with little King Louis XIII.

Louis succeeded his father, Henry IV, as King of France, a few months before his ninth birthday. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis’ youth. Mismanagement of the kingdom and ceaseless political intrigues by Marie and her Italian counsels led the young king, at age 16, to take power (in 1617), when he exiled his mother and began executing many of her followers.

In relation to Canada it was during the reign of Louis XIII that France expanded its influence to include ‘Acadia’, a region which includes large parts of the maritime provinces, eastern Quebec, and South as far as the Kennebec River in southern Maine. The Acadians (French: Acadiens) are the descendants of the original French settlers.

The Doucet House. C.1750. An Acadian House in Prince Edward Island is a Canadian Heritage protected site.

The Doucet House. C.1750. This Acadian House in Prince Edward Island is a Canadian Heritage protected site.

The reign of Louis XIII was replete with sexual intrigue and political conflict. King Louis XIII married but was a suspected homosexual due to his liasons and obsessions with many men and his apparent disregard for his wife. In fact, the birth of his only child was considered an act of divine intervention. In any event for our intents and purposes we will examine the architecture and design of the time.

The greatest French architect of the era of Louis XIII was Salomon de Brosse who designed the Palais du Luxembourg for Marie de Medici.

Chapel of the Sorbonne. C.1630.

Chapel of the Sorbonne. C.1630.

De Brosse began a tradition of classicism in architecture that was continued by Jacques Lemercier, who completed the Palais and whose own most famous work of the Louis XIII period is the chapel of the Sorbonne (1635).

Furniture of the period was typically large and austere. Louis XIII style is best understood as the product of a more conservative (and less wealthy) time. Religious wars had consumed resources of France until the beginning of the Louis XIII era. Furniture was still characterized by heavy carvings, and was monumental in scale. Pieces like the bureau and sideboard featured molded paneling in geometric patterns. The cabinet placed on a stand was a new design for the period. Storage pieces wer typical and reflected the need for a utilitarian function, even in the pieces made for the king and his court. Other typical design themes were the diamond point, pyramid patterns, and large-bunned feet on cabinetry.

Typical Louis XIII Style Armoire with the Diamond Point carving and the bun feet. C.1640

Typical Louis XIII Style armoire with the ‘diamond point’ carving and the oversized bun feet. C.1640

Chairs became more comfortable during the Louis XIII, as the concept of a comfortable place to sit and relax was just emerging. Louis XIII introduced turnery, a style feature new to the time. Turnery might be used for legs or stretchers, and these simple shapes created on a lathe can help identify pieces as Louis XIII style. Ebony and walnut were popular construction materials of the time.

Typical Louis XIII Style Chair. Simple, comfortable and relaxed. These are popular and reproduced even today.

Typical Louis XIII Style Chair. Simple, comfortable and relaxed. These are popular and reproduced even today.

Restoration Hardwares' 2014 Catalogue features their version of the Louis XIII style by incorrectly naming it 'Baroque'.

A modern 2014 reproduction features their version of the Louis XIII style by incorrectly naming it ‘Baroque’.

There is an organic quality to the Louis XIII style that the later styles lack. It’s simplicity makes it an attractive and sought after design even today. The design of the sofa below is reproduced and marketed in linens and simple fabrics for the modern 21st C. home.

Our Period Louis XIII Sofa is currently available at our store. C.1630. Click on the photo for more information on this rare piece.

A period Louis XIII Sofa C.1640 is currently available at The Antique Warehouse. Imagine how chic this would look recovered in a neutral fabric! Click on the photo for more information on this rare piece.

Compared to the other three Louis periods, this style is more blunt and primal, and less bold. It probably has less in common with the other three later Louis styles that were styles unique unto themselves versus an amalgamation of styles that occurred from the beginning of the Renaissance.

Please stay tuned to next week’s blog on Louis XIV – a most interesting king of amazing prowess who was responsible for the creation of the gardens of Versailles. These gardens of King Louis XIV are still in existence today and produce tons of fruit and vegetables for the people of France.

Thanks for reading.

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

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Medieval Antiques for the 21st C. Home.

Ever think of incorporating a ‘Medieval’ style piece of furniture in your home? You probably already have without even knowing it. It’s a look that’s way more popular than you may think, and is copied throughout the world and marketed today.

A Brief History of Medieval Furniture

Furniture handcrafted between the 10th-15th Centuries are also known as the ‘Renaissance’, ‘Romanesque’ and ‘Gothic’ periods. This era was marked by political instability when feudal lords reigned over the populous but did little to affect crime or quality of living. Life was pretty grim for most people. Homes were cold and damp and animals shared the living quarters with the family.

A typical 15th Century French Medieval House C.1460.

A typical 15th Century French Medieval House C.1460.

The furniture of the time reflected the needs of the people. To combat the cold, families hung heavy tapestries on their walls. Much of the furniture was large and simple, like benches, chests and stools. They were made of heavy oak to discouraged thieves but because of their simple design Medieval antiques are very much sought after. Deep hand carving was also common, a reflection of the architecture seen in the cathedrals and churches.

Medieval Chest from England C.1400!

Medieval Chest from England C.1400

The Gothic period (15th Century) where many churches around the world owe their design was copied right up until the early 20th Century. Of course period Gothic furniture command very high prices mostly due to the age and of course rarity. Any piece to survive this long was obviously made well to escape the ravages of time.

The hunt of the Unicorn is a famous tapestry from the Medieval era. The originals hang in the 'Cloisters' in NYC.

The hunt of the Unicorn is a famous tapestry from the Medieval era. The original hangs in the ‘Cloisters’ in NYC.

Many scholars will dispute the Renaissance era which began around 1350 and last until around the 1600’s. Some claim it actually lasted through to the French Revolution, but furniture styes before and after the Revolution were named after the ruling Kings of France or Emperors ( in the case of French antiques ).

MEDIEVAL INTERIOR DESIGN

A Medieval interior design style or accent can create a dramatic statement in your home. In fact, find a real medieval living space ( available in Europe of course ) and create a fabulous home dripping with age and charm.

The underground caves of a 15th Century Medieval House an Italian designer turned into a lounge area.

The underground caves of a 15th Century Medieval House an Italian designer turned into a lounge area.

The hand hewn solid ‘oak’ looks is very popular and typical of this period. The typical ‘Trestle Table’ which is copied by the likes of Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn, is very much a classic ‘medieval look’. Buy an old one, and the patina and wear just cannot be beat by a new production.

See our early 19th Century Trestle Table from a French convent by clicking on this photo.

See our early 19th Century Trestle Table from a French convent by clicking on this photo.

The Renaissance Look tended to be heavily carved and was revived in the late 19th Century an aptly called ‘Renaissance Revival’. It’s heavily carved look and use of dark oaks and walnuts appeals to many people today. It’s made a ‘revival’ of it’s own within the last few years, with people collecting it due to its fabulous intricate carving all done by hand with quality unparalleled by modern day manufacturing.

An Italian Renaissance Dining Room Suite.

An heavily detailed Italian Renaissance Dining Room Suite from Europe C.1850.

Albeit ‘Renaissance Revival’ is not a look for everyone, particularly the minimalists, it is a look that’s striking, makes a statement, and is literally a work of handcrafted art.

A pair of 19th Century French 'Renaissance Revival' bookcases just recently sold in our store!  Exceptionally rare to find a pair in such superior original condition. Imagine flanking these beside a large limestone fireplace!

A pair of 19th Century French ‘Renaissance Revival’ bookcases just recently sold in our store. Exceptionally rare to find a pair in such superior original condition. Imagine flanking these on either side of a large limestone fireplace.

If you’re in love with this look, we have pieces arriving all the time to the Antique Warehouse. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for our weekly mail-outs announcing the arrivals of container and consignments and wait until something ‘Medieval’ in style arrives.

You can sign up here or check frequently with our website under new arrivals.

Thanks for reading.

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

The Legendary Jean Michel Frank

There was a story buzzing among the Paris dealers the last time I was in France. ( Last July )

Apparently a few weeks before I had arrived, a small dealer at ‘The Marche aux Puces’ was driving home from a hard days work when he spotted a pair of chairs piled on refuse heap.

He liked the minimalistic design and brought them home to his small flat in a lesser part of Paris. His wife hated the chairs and insisted on ridding their apartment of his ‘trash heap’ find.

He took them to a dealer friend,who,without hesitation bought them for 500 Euros. The seller was thrilled at his 500E profit and quickly returned home to his wife to boast about his good fortune. Little did he know that he’d actually sold a pair of very rare ‘Jean Michel Frank’ chairs worth in excess of 600,000E.

His dealer friend knowing instantly what they were quietly sold them at auction for the 600,000 Euros give or take a few thousand. Needless to say his friend found out and was so upset at his costly mistake he decided to sue his friend. I’ve not heard anything since but I can assure you suing will be fruitless.

I’m not surprised that the dealer didn’t recognize the work of this famous designer. If you’d seen Franks’ work you’d probably not even give it a second look. Particularly if piled atop a refuse pile.

 

This simple unassuming little table recently sold at Christies auction house for $27,000.

This simple unassuming little table recently sold at Christies auction house for $27,000.

 

The piece sold recently at auction for an unprecedented  3,681,500 EUR (5,106,102 USD) last March of 2014.

The piece sold recently at auction for an unprecedented 3,681,500 EUR (5,106,102 USD) last March of 2014.

So who was this enigmatic ‘Jean Michel Frank’?

Jean Michel Frank

Jean Michel Frank

Jean-Michel Frank (February 28, 1895 – 1941) was a French interior designer, known for minimalist interiors decorated with plain-lined but sumptuous furniture made of luxury materials, such as shagreen, mica, and intricate straw marquetry.

 

Dressing table by Frank C.1920.

Dressing table by Frank C.1920.

Jean-Michel Frank was born in Paris, a son of Léon Frank, a banker, and his wife and cousin, the former Nanette Frank. From 1904, Frank attended the Lycée Janson de Sailly in Paris and began law school in 1911. However, in 1915, Frank was hit by the double blow of the death of his two elder brothers, Oscar and Georges, on the front lines of World War I and that of his father who committed suicide.

 

Lampe of quartz, with bronze plate 8 in. (20.5 cm.) high stamped JMF, Made in France, 10328 with Chanaux & Co. monogram cf. P.-E. Martin-Viver, Jean-Michel Frank, New York, 2006. This lot was sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank. This lamp recently sold at auction for $237,000 USD.

quartz, with bronze plate 8 in. (20.5 cm.) high stamped JMF, Made in France, 10328 with Chanaux & Co. monogram cf. P.-E. Martin-Viver, Jean-Michel Frank, New York, 2006, pp.189-191 for this lamp in situ.
This lot is sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank
This lamp recently sold at auction for $237,000 USD.

Frank travelled the world from 1920 to 1925 where in Venice, Italy he met the cosmopolitan society that gathered around Stravinsky and Diaghilev. Around 1927, he met the famous socialite Eugenia Errázuriz who exposed to him the beauty of 18th century styles and her own modern, minimalist esthetic. Frank was so impressed and influenced by Eugenia, he became her devoted disciple. The story of Eugenia is a fascinating one in itself and worthy of a blog someday.

 

Eugenia Errazuriz was a style leader in Paris at the turn of the 20th C.

Eugenia Errazuriz was a style icon in Paris at the turn of the 20th C.

Eugenia Huici Arguedas de Errázuriz (15 September 1860 – 1951) was a Chilean patron of modernism and a style leader of Paris from 1880 into the 20th century. Eugenia paved the way for the modernist minimalist aesthetic that would be taken up in fashion by Coco Chanel. Her circle of friends and protégés included Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Jean Cocteau, and the poet Blaise Cendrars. She was of Basque descent and evidently a heiress and great beauty of her time. She and Jean Michel Frank were great friends and collaborators on projects of design.

During the 1930s he worked with students at the Paris Atelier, now known as the famous ‘Parsons Paris School of Art and Design’, where he developed the famous ‘Parsons Table’ which is still heavily copied by furniture manufacturers today.

 

The "parsons" table designed at the Parsons School of Design. My old alma mater.

The “Parsons” table designed at the Parsons School of Design. (My old alma mater).

In 1932, with Chanaux, Frank opened a shop at #140 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. This was to be the consecration of ten years of collaboration, when he decorated for the Rockefellers and Guerlains. He designed Nelson Rockefeller’s lavish Fifth Avenue apartment in New York in 1937. During the winter of 1939-40, Frank left France for Beunos Aires, Argentina.

Leather chair by Frank
In Argentina, Jean-Michel Frank worked with his old friend and business associate Ignacio Pirovano on several important private and commercial projects.

Jean-Michel Frank kept his private apartment in Buenos Aires on the top floor of the company ‘Comte’ of which he was the Artistic Director. This building was located on the corner of Florida Street and Marcelo T. De Alvear Avenue.

 

The 'Elephant' chair by Jean Michel Frank.

The ‘Elephant’ chair by Jean Michel Frank.

Frank also visited many of his clients in Buenos Aires including the Born family whose mansion in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires remains his single most important project. The entire collection is still intact and in-place in precisely the manner that Jean-Michel Frank conceived it. Recently published books shed more light on Frank’s work with Comte in Argentina but unfortunately there are no photos on the internet to publish. His life was very short and one of the reasons his furniture is so rare and highly collectable.

 

This Frank cabinet is veneered with straw inlays.

This Frank cabinet is veneered with straw marquetry work.

In 1941, Frank made a final trip to New York. Sadly overcome by depression he committed suicide by throwing himself from the window of a Manhattan apartment building, leaving all his personal possessions in his apartment in Buenos Aires.

He was a first cousin of Otto Frank and, therefore, a first cousin, once removed, of the diarist Anne Frank.

Jean-Michel Frank today is recognized by leading designers the world over as one of the greatest sources of inspiration to many present-day designs. His pieces are highly sought after by leading collectors worldwide. Many of the premier auction houses offer his pieces and prices are often in excess of 200,000 EUR. An important exhibition was mounted towards the end of 2010 at the BAC, a leading gallery in New York’s SoHo. This exhibition highlighted Frank’s work with Comte in Argentina.

Personally I quite like his work. I appreciate it for what it is, simple, forward thinking and rare. During his brief life span, he wasn’t as prolific as other designers, therefore making his work scarce and very valuable.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any feedback!

Mark

Marie Antoinette’s Desk Returned to Versailles

In March 2011, nearly 225 years after the French Revolution, a desk made by royal cabinetmaker ‘Jean-Henri Riesener’ was returned to the Versailles Palace after being acquired by the French state for 6.75 million euros ($9.4 million) from the ‘Rothschilds’ family.

Another source claims the desk was bought from a major art dealer in Paris (who may have been representing the Rothschilds) with the help of Bernard Arnault, the head of LMVH Paris who controls almost all luxury brands (Louis Vuitton for one) in the world. Whatever the case, the desk was turned over to the French culture minister ‘Frederic Mitterand’. (The nephew of Francois Mitterand, the ex-President of France)

Frederic Mitterand. Nephew of former French President Francois Mitterand.

Frederic Mitterand. Nephew of former French President Francois Mitterand.

The very happy ‘Mitterrand’ turned the desk over to the Versailles palace and the elegant piece was classified as “a work of major cultural value”.

A writing desk made for Queen Marie Antoinette by Jean-Henri Riesener was sold in the Revolutionary auctions of 1793-94

A writing desk made for Queen Marie Antoinette by Jean-Henri Riesener was sold in the Revolutionary auctions of 1793-94 for almost nothing.

The desk was composed of an apron with four drawers decorated with the four gilt-bronze low reliefs – a trademark of the celebrated German cabinetmaker Reisener.

The purplewood, sycamore, and rosewood veneer is decorated with gilt bronze ornaments including the four low reliefs depicting allegories (Music twice, Painting, and Sculpture) and two escutcheons representing baskets of flowers.

According to Jean-Henri Riesener’s account ledger for May 28, 1784, this table was ordered for Queen Marie Antoinette’s private apartments in the Tuileries Palace, Paris. Detailed descriptions and measurements, as well as a court inventory number inked underneath the tabletop, confirm its identity. After the French Revolution erupted in 1789, the royal family was held for three years in the Tuileries. Marie Antoinette must have used this piece during that imprisonment before she was guillotined in 1793.

Marie Antoinette confronted by French protestors at the Tuileries Palace in 1789.

Marie Antoinette confronted by French protestors at the Tuileries Palace in 1789.

(The desk is currently displayed in the private apartment where Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793), wife of King Louis XVI, used to entertain her children and friends.)

The private apartment of Marie Antoinette in the Chateau Versailles.

The private apartment of Marie Antoinette in the Chateau Versailles.

At the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the Versailles Palace’s furniture was auctioned and more than 17,000 pieces were scattered around the world.

Many are now found in royal residences, particularly in Britain, or in major foreign museums, notably in the United States. Some are owned by private collectors or antiquarians who depending on when they bought these piece may have acquired them for a song.

The favourite cabinet-maker of Marie-Antoinette, Riesener was the uncontested master of Louis XV and XVI furniture. Before Marie Antoinette was ever on the Versailles scene, Reisener made one of the most fabulous pieces of furniture in the world: the desk for King Louis XV inner study in Versailles.(shown below)

Roll Top Cylinder Desk by Reisener for King Louis XV

Roll Top Cylinder Desk by Reisener for King Louis XV

Riesener however, produced his most graceful and innovative pieces for Marie-Antoinette: for the Salon des Nobles in Versailles, he supplied two corner pieces and a chest-of-drawers for which he replaced marquetry by a simple veneer of mahogany. The bronze details were reduced and lightened. For her boudoir at Fontainebleau, he produced fragile furniture decorated with mother-of-pearl that was unique in its genre. For the Petit Trianon, he provided a series of original pieces: a writing table with rounded corners, an identical dessert console table in mahogany and bronze, etc.

In fact, Reisener became the exclusive cabinetmaker for the Queen of France as his prices skyrocketed out of reach for even the most wealthy clientele of France.

Jean-Henri Riesener

Jean-Henri Riesener

With the French Revolution, Riesener was retained by the ‘Directory’, and sent in 1794 to Versailles to remove the “insignia of feudality” from furniture he had recently made: royal cyphers and fleurs-de-lys were replaced with innocuous panels. During the French revolutionary sales he ruined himself by buying back furniture that was being sold at derisory prices. When he attempted to resell his accumulated stock, tastes had changed and the old clientel was either dispersed or dead. He retired in 1801 and died in comparative poverty in Paris.

As a result of the French Revolutionary Sales in the early-19th century, UK collectors had bought, for the decoration of their stately homes and palaces, significant numbers of French royal furniture (mobilier royale), which today forms the basis of the great collections that still remain in the UK.

Towards the end of the industrial age until the agricultural depression of the 1920s, large numbers of works, predominately in UK collections were auctioned off and made their passage to American collectors. Still to this date UK collections are especially rich in the works of French furniture and decorative arts, particularly of Royal provenance, and the UK continues to enjoy perhaps the greatest repository of Riesener’s works outside Paris.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Visit our Website

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

Biennale des Antiquaires, Paris. 2014.

Bandeau-Biennale-2014 def

It’s one of the most glamorous and prestigious events of the year. Now in it’s 26th year, the ‘Biennale des Antiquaires et de la Haute Joaillerie’ features some of the most expensive and coveted antiques, artwork and jewellry in the world.

“For us the Biennale is a consecration. You have to be selected, you can’t just participate,” said Jean-Bernard Forot, jewelry marketing director at Piaget. “It’s a place to exhibit our best, it’s not a boutique. It’s an opportunity to showcase our work next to art pieces that have a history, it’s an opportunity to spend time explaining each piece to the client and we think our pieces have a lot to say.”

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Hong Kong-based jeweler 'Wallace Chan' showcased an enormous jade and diamond necklace, priced at a startling 56 million euros.

Hong Kong-based jeweler ‘Wallace Chan’ showcased an enormous jade and diamond necklace, priced at a startling 56 million euros.

When it opened to VIPs and press on Sept.10th, the Biennale was a model of refined elegance, all natural light, champagne, and airy aisles. Interior designer Jacques Grange tapped the core of the French heritage: he reimagined the Grand Palais as a pleasure garden, loosely inspired by Versailles. The interior designers transformed the glass-and-steel Art Nouveau masterpiece into an all-white, late 19th-century-style shopping street, complete with wrought-iron lanterns, arches, and lattice windows. A huge, striped hot air balloon hung in the center of the space— the “town square”— while two enormous Lagerfeld watercolors, depicting the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, held court at each end of the street. “The French know how to do display better than anyone,” marveled designer David Kleinberg.

“We’ve been told that we were too classic,” SNA president Peyre told artnet News, “I say, no, we are people who love our past.”

Grand Palais 2014

Grand Palais 2014

The Biennale des Antiquaires, now in its 26th year, is a celebration of the best in luxury from around the world and a major highlight of the Parisian fall season. In addition to the classic 17th- and 18th-century antiques one expects, it spotlights a variety of works, including African art, Impressionist paintings, and show-stopping jewelry.

Organized like the flowerbeds in a jardin à la française, the booths of the 89 exhibitors are covered with a trellis-like motif. These, combined with the skylight and delicate perfume coming from a fragrant fountain courtesy of Francis Kurkdjian, make for an almost-bucolic experience.

Grand Palais Interior

Grand Palais Interior

The Biennale des Antiquaires is a veteran of the fair world. Organized by the SNA since 1962, it fiercely defends its unique character and appeal, fueled by the perceived romanticism of the French capital and the exceptional location of the Grand Palais. Peyre brushed off any comparison with competitors like Maastricht’s TEFAF or London’s Masterpiece: “People come here looking for quality, like at the others fairs, but also for this little extra that the French have.”

In Paris, the Biennale is an unmissable event in the social calendar. Over 1,500 guests came to the gala dinner, including actress Juliette Binoche; the Prince of Venice and Piedmont, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia; model Natalia Vodianova; and luxury magnate Antoine Arnault (“French Stars Shine at Biennale des Antiquaires Gala“). Although business is rumored to be brisk, money talk is frowned upon here. Dealers are tight-lipped but smiling. Several confided that they were “very happy.”

Juliette Binoche at the Gala Dinner.

Juliette Binoche at the Gala Dinner.

“Bijou” is the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe the atmosphere of the Grand Palais; “scholarly” and “focused” shortly follow. Dominique Lévy has collaborated with Peter Marino Architect and tribal art dealer Bernard de Grunne for a spectacular booth teasing out formal links between modern and African art. The star of her display, which also features works by Hans Arp, Yves Klein, and Nicolas de Staël, is a large oil on canvas by Joan Miró, Femme et oiseaux dans la nuit (Woman and Birds in the Night) (1968).

Women and Birds of the Night by Joan Miro

Women and Birds of the Night by Joan Miro

“The Biennale remains an extraordinary place to show extraordinary things,” said decorative art dealer Michel Giraud, who sees the event as a “real statement about the place of French dealers in the global market.”

Art Dealer Jean-Michel Giraud.

Art Dealer Jean-Michel Giraud.

He’s come with an exquisite, tiny clay sculpture of a faun by Pablo Picasso, one of only eight known worldwide. The piece has an impeccable—and romantic—provenance: Picasso gave it to the French mountaineer Maurice Herzog, who stopped at Vallauris on his way back from the Himalayas. It had remained in the same collection ever since.

Mountaineer Maurice Herzog.

Mountaineer Maurice Herzog.

At Richard Green, a large painting by Marie-François Firmin-Girard, Le Quai aux Fleurs (1875), shows Paris’s flower market in such vivid hues that it seems like a snapshot of the late 19th century. It is particularly moving presented here at the Grand Palais, located less than a couple of miles away from the scene it depicts. The piece was a great success when it was first shown at the Salon in 1876, and it immediately entered an American collection. It is now back in Paris for the first time in more than a century.

Marie-François Firmin-Girard, 'Le Quai aux Fleurs' (1875)

Marie-François Firmin-Girard, ‘Le Quai aux Fleurs’ (1875)

Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, best known for their sculptures at the crossroad of fine and decorative art, are well represented here—and it’s no surprise. Their prices shot up in the wake of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berger sale at Christie’s Paris in 2009 and their popularity took a global turn with the inclusion of Claude Lalanne’s furniture in Peter Marino’s design for the Chanel boutiques.

Brother and Sister design team Claude and Francois-Xavier C. began designing in the early 60's. Their work is some of the most creative and bizarre, and commands prices in excess of $1M.

Brother and Sister design team Claude and Francois-Xavier C. began designing in the early 60’s. Their work is some of the most creative and bizarre, and commands prices in excess of $1M.

The artists’ historical dealer, Galerie Mitterrand, has created a garden-within-a-garden, showcasing François-Xavier Lalanne’s utilitarian bestiaries: a bird-chair, a crocodile-bench, and grasshopper-bar, with prices topping at $1.5 million. The artist is also featured prominently at the booths of the Galerie Jean-David Botella and Galerie Xavier Eeckhout.

A display of Claude and  François-Xavier Lalanne's mid Century furniture. Pieces sell in excess of 1M Euros.

A display of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne’s mid Century furniture. Pieces sell in excess of 1M Euros.

Claude and Francoise-Xavier Lalanne now.

Claude and Francoise-Xavier Lalanne now.

Larry and I never miss this show, as well as the ‘Fete des Puces’ (which I see my invitation in my inbox this morning) which happens at the end of this week. This year the theme will be ‘Voyage comme Jules Verne’ which means actors and dealers will be all geared up in bizarre and creative costume as well as the usual smattering of parties and the flowing of Champagne.

Until next time!

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

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Guerlain – The Oldest Parfumerie In The World.

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I fell in love with Guerlain when I started using one their men’s Colognes about 25 years ago. But I didn’t realize until recently, that this famous French parfumerie was touted at one of the ‘oldest perfume makers in the world.’

Four centuries ago, in India, Emperor Shah Jahan fell hopelessly in love with Princess Mumtaz Mahal and had the enchanting Gardens of Shalimar built for her. Inspired by this passionate love story, Jacques Guerlain created the legendary Shalimar in 1925.

Four centuries ago, in India, Emperor Shah Jahan fell hopelessly in love with Princess Mumtaz Mahal and had the enchanting Gardens of Shalimar built for her. Inspired by this passionate love story, Jacques Guerlain created the legendary Shalimar in 1925.

As much as I like Guerlain Colognes for men, it’s lofty claim as ‘the oldest in the world’ is not exactly accurate. Actually, the oldest perfumery in the world (on an industrial scale) was discovered on the island of Cyprus in 2004. An Italian archaeological team unearthed an enormous 4000 year old factory with a surface area that covered over 40,000 sq ft! The perfumes were scented with extracts of lavender, bay, rosemary, pine or coriander and kept in tiny translucent alabaster bottles.

Perfume bottles found on the Island of Cyprus dating back 4000 years.

Perfume bottles found on the Island of Cyprus dating back 4000 years.

The news of this discovery was reported extensively throughout the world and many artifacts are currently on display in Rome. For more information on this discovery you can click here.

A short history of Guerlain

Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain opened his first shop on Rue de Rivoli in Paris in 1828 where he created different perfumes for each individual client. In 1840, Mon.Guerlain moved into premises on the fashionable rue de la Paix, and continued to develop custom fragrances for many famous personalities of the time. Assisted by his two sons, Aimé and Gabriel, he became the official supplier of the Queen of Belgium and the Empress Eugenie of France thus securing his name as a ‘luxury’ brand.

Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain

Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain

In 1853, The ‘L’eau de Cologne Imperiale’, dedicated to the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, earned him the patent of “Royal Supplier”. The bottle is decorated with the imperial bees ornamented with gold, and is still made today.

L'eau de Cologne Imperiale made made for Empress Eugenie in 1854 is still manufactured today.

L’eau de Cologne Imperiale made made for Empress Eugenie in 1854 is still manufactured today.


Pierre-François Pascal passed his skills on to his son Aimé, who in turn taught his nephew Jacques (the latter being responsible for Guerlain’s signature Shalimar scent). Years later, Jacques handed down the family secrets to his grandson Jean-Paul, who in 1994, sold the company to the multinational LMVH for around $500M.

In the 184 years since its inception, Guerlain has created more than 325 different fragrances and still holds its own in the luxury perfume market although many Guerlain patrons remark the line has now become too commercial and has cheapened their image.

According to Guerlain folklore, 'Jicky' was named after an English student who Aimé Guerlain fell in love with. It was in fact named for his nephew. Apparently a fave scente of Sean Connery's

According to Guerlain folklore, ‘Jicky’ was named after an English student who Aimé Guerlain fell in love with. It was in fact named for Guerlains’ nephew.

Sean Connery C.1964.

Sean Connery C.1964 loved ‘Jicky’ by Guerlain.

Just recently, this past February to be exact, Guerlain did a multi million dollar renovation to their ‘Maison Guerlain’ on 68 Ave. Des Champs Elysees. The historic town house, updated by the architect Peter Marino, has a bright and lively first floor devoted to cosmetics and skincare; a fragrance-focused second floor displaying archival scents dating back to the Napoleonic era, as well as a bottle-monogramming bar; and a third-floor spa that offers a wide range of facials and massages. If you really want to do it up, go for the aptly named Voluptuous Experience ($1,060), a five-hour indulgence that includes a body massage, hand and foot treatments, and a deep-cleansing facial—with a three-course lunch.

The Hall of Mirrors at the Maison Guerlain.

The Hall of Mirrors at the Maison Guerlain.

I’ve actually never stepped inside the townhouse at 68 Ave. Des Champs Elysees. I seldom have the time or inclination to do facials or massages and I know I’m not the type to spend $1,000 for a five hour ultra luxurious pampering treatment ( although suprisingly I know men that will ).

The 'Maison Guerlain' at 68 Ave. Des Champs Elysees.

The ‘Maison Guerlain’ at 68 Ave. Des Champs Elysees.

Now when I pass by this address (which is frequently) and glance at the monumental townhouse (that’s every bit as impressive from the exterior as it must be in the interior) I will have the pleasure of knowing that it’s one of the oldest and most distinguished perfume makers in the world. I may even stop in for a look, although as most things on the Champs Elysees they tend to be touristy.

If any of my readers ever do splurge for the 5 hour luxury treatment please fill me in on the details and if it’s at all worth paying the extravagent price-tag.

Have a look at their beautiful website by clicking here. And be sure to watch the video. So typically French.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada.

Visit our Website

French Furniture Making in the 18th Century.

Some of the most beautiful and refined furniture ever made, displaying the highest level of artistic and technical ability, was created in Paris during the eighteenth century. Much admired by an international clientele, it was used to furnish residences all over Europe and also influenced fashions of cabinetmaking outside France.

Furniture-Making Guild (Corporation des Menuisiers)

French furniture of this period was the collaborative effort of various artists and craftsmen who worked according to strictly enforced guild regulations. Established during the Middle Ages, the guild system continued with little change until being dissolved in 1791 during the French Revolution. The Parisian guild to which the furniture makers belonged was called the Corporation des Menuisiers. It had great influence on the education of furniture makers by requiring at least six years of training that led to a high degree of technical specialization and ensured a high standard of work. First an apprentice spent three years or more in the workshop of a master furniture maker, followed by at least as many years as a journeyman.

Commode, ca. 1745–49 Charles Cressent (French, 1685–1768)

Commode, ca. 1745–49
Charles Cressent (French, 1685–1768)

In order to become a master, a journeyman had to prove his competence by making a chef-d’oeuvre, or masterpiece. Once that was successfully completed, he could open his own workshop only if a vacancy existed (the number of masters allowed to practice at one time was strictly controlled by the guild, as was the size of their workshops) and he had paid the necessary fees. The dues were lower for the sons of master cabinetmakers than for people from outside Paris who had no relatives in the guild. From 1743 onward, it became the rule to stamp every piece of furniture that was offered for sale with the maker’s name. An additional stamp, JME (for jurande des menuisiers-ébénistes), would be added once a committee, made up of elected guild members who inspected the workshops four times a year, had approved the quality. Any furniture that failed to meet the required standards of craftsmanship was confiscated.

Commode by the talented Adam Weisweiller 1785.

Commode by the talented Adam Weisweiller 1785. Weisweiler, who like a number of other ébénistes was born in the Rheinland, was one of the most talented and successful ébénistes in eighteenth-century Paris. Working in a refined Neoclassical manner, his pieces of furniture were sold through marchands-merciers both to the crown and to members of the French nobility as well as to foreign royalty. This commode, together with a matching pair of secretaries also in the Museum’s collection, belonged to King Ferdinand IV of Naples and was used in his writing cabinet at Caserta.

Menuisiers and ébénistes

The Corporation des Menuisiers was divided into two distinct trades, that of the woodworkers who made paneling (boiserie) for buildings and coaches, and that of the actual furniture makers. The latter can be subdivided into menuisiers (joiners), responsible for the making of solid wood furniture such as console tables, beds, and chairs, and the ébénistes, from the word ébéne (ebony), makers of veneered case pieces. Most of the menuisiers were French born, often members of well-known dynasties of chairmakers, and were located in or near the rue de Cléry in Paris. By contrast, a large number of Parisian ébénistes were foreign born, many of whom worked in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Although not forbidden, it was rare to combine the professions of a menuisier and an ébéniste.

Some of the most famous French ebenistes of this period were:
Joseph Baumhauer
Pierre-Antoine Bellange
Guillaume Beneman
André-Charles Boulle
Martin Carlin
Adrien Delorme
François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter
Pierre Garnier
Antoine Gaudreau
Pierre Golle
Jean-Pierre Latz
Jean-François Leleu
Pierre Macret
André Jacob Roubo
Roger Vandercruse Lacroix
Jean-François Oeben
Jean Oppenord
Jean-Henri Riesener
Bernard II van Risamburgh
Adam Weisweiler

Commode, ca. 1710–20 André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732) 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.

Commode, ca. 1710–20
André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732) 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.

In addition, there were two other groups of furniture makers active in Paris, working outside the framework of the guild. The so-called royal cabinetmakers, who were given special privileges and workshops either at the Louvre palace, at the Manufacture Royale des Meubles de la Couronne at the Gobelins, or in other buildings owned by the crown. Royal cabinetmakers were free from guild regulations. The second group consisted of the so-called artisans libres, or independent craftsmen, many of them foreigners who sought refuge in certain “free” districts of Paris outside the guild’s jurisdiction.

Secretary (secrétaire à abattant), 1783 Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734–1806) Oak veneered with ebony and black and gold Japanese lacquer, tulipwood, holly and black stained holly, amaranth, gilt-bronze mounts, white marble.  Ordered from Riesener together with a matching commode and encoignure (corner cabinet) for use in Queen Marie Antoinette's cabinet intérieur at Versailles in 1783, the secretary and the commode were sent several years later to the Château of Saint Cloud. With their Japanese black and gold lacquer panels and exquisite gilt-bronze mounts, the secretary and the commode, now also in the Museum's collection, are among the best known pieces of royal furniture outside France.

Secretary (secrétaire à abattant), 1783
Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734–1806)
Oak veneered with ebony and black and gold Japanese lacquer, tulipwood, holly and black stained holly, amaranth, gilt-bronze mounts, white marble.
Ordered from Riesener together with a matching commode and encoignure (corner cabinet) for use in Queen Marie Antoinette’s cabinet intérieur at Versailles in 1783, the secretary and the commode were sent several years later to the Château of Saint Cloud. With their Japanese black and gold lacquer panels and exquisite gilt-bronze mounts, the secretary and the commode, now also in the Museum’s collection, are among the best known pieces of royal furniture outside France.

So what are the prices of these magnificent stamped pieces from some of these wonderful cabinet makers? (IF you can find them). A pair of Louis XVI ebony-veneered cabinets with brass and pewter marquetry stamped by Étienne Levasseur (1721-1798), one of the first Parisian furniture makers to use mahogany with inlays of brass sold at auction for $1.6M. Obviously, making 18th Century stamped and rare pieces by French ebenistes among the most expensive furniture in the world. Even good 19th Century copies can sell for several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We will examine this prestigious group of fine royal cabinetmakers in upcoming blogs. But for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief glimpse into the magnificent work of these fine cabinetmakers of the 18th Century France. Their work is unparalleled and second to none and has been the inspiration to furniture makers throughout the ages to the present day.

Thanks for reading!

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

Please visit our website

Who Was Louis Vuitton?

Louis-Vuitton-Logo-psd36243

We’ve all seen the iconic LV initials stamped on everything from handbags to teddy bears. But did you know the fascinating history about this luxury brand company and it’s humble beginnings. Please allow me to introduce you to the incredible man whose initials grace the multi billion dollar industry of today.

Louis Vuitton (1821 - 1892 ) was born in Anchay, France.

Louis Vuitton (1821 – 1892 ) was born in Anchay, France.

Designer and entrepreneur Louis Vuitton was born on August 4, 1821, in Anchay, a small hamlet in eastern France’s mountainous, heavily wooded Jura region. Descended from a long-established working-class family, Vuitton’s ancestors were joiners, carpenters, farmers and milliners. His father, Xavier Vuitton, was a farmer, and his mother, Coronne Gaillard, was a milliner.

Vuitton’s mother passed away when he was only 10 years old, and his father soon remarried. As legend has it, Vuitton’s new stepmother was as severe and wicked as any fairy-tale Cinderella villain. A stubborn and headstrong child, antagonized by his stepmother and bored by the provincial life in Anchay, Vuitton resolved to run away for the bustling capital of Paris.

On the first day of tolerable weather in the spring of 1835, at the age of 13, Vuitton left home alone and on foot, bound for Paris. He traveled for more than two years, taking odd jobs to feed himself along the way and staying wherever he could find shelter, as he walked the 292-mile trek from his native Anchay to Paris. He arrived in 1837, at the age of 16, to a capital city in the thick of an industrial revolution that had produced a litany of contradictions: awe-inspiring grandeur and abject poverty, rapid growth and devastating epidemics.

paris_1837_LARGE

The teenage Vuitton was taken in as an apprentice in the workshop of a successful box-maker and packer named Monsieur Marechal. In 19th century Europe, box-making and packing was a highly respectable and urbane craft. A box-maker and packer custom-made all boxes to fit the goods they stored and personally loaded and unloaded the boxes. It took Vuitton only a few years to stake out a reputation amongst Paris’s fashionable class as one of the city’s premier practitioners of his new craft.

On December 2, 1851, 16 years after Vuitton arrived in Paris, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup d’etat. Exactly one year later, he assumed the title of Emperor of the French under the regal name Napoleon III. The re-establishment of the French Empire under Napoleon III proved incredibly fortunate for the young Vuitton. Napoleon III’s wife, the Empress of France, was Eugenie de Montijo, a Spanish countess. Upon marrying the Emperor, she hired Vuitton as her personal box-maker and packer and charged him with “packing the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way.” She provided a gateway for Vuitton to a class of elite and royal clientele who would seek his services for the duration of his life.

Napoleon III and Eugenie de Montijo

Napoleon III and Eugenie

For Vuitton, 1854 was a year full of change and transformation. It was in that year that Vuitton met a 17-year-old beauty named Clemence-Emilie Parriaux. His great-grandson, Henry-Louis Vuitton, later recounted, “In the blink of an eye he exchanged the cloth frock and hobnailed shoes of a worker for the courting outfit of the day. The transformation was spectacular, but it required all the know-how of the store’s department manager, since Louis’ shoulders were much larger than those of Parisian bureaucrats.”

Vuitton and Parriaux married that spring, on April 22, 1854. A few months after his marriage, Vuitton left Monsieur Marechal’s shop and opened his own box-making and packing workshop in Paris. The sign outside the shop read: “Securely packs the most fragile objects. Specializing in packing fashions.”

history-of-Louis-Vuitton

In 1858, four years after opening his own shop, Vuitton debuted an entirely new trunk. Instead of leather, it was made of a gray canvas that was lighter, more durable and more impervious to water and odors. However, the key selling point was that unlike all previous trunks, which were dome-shaped, Vuitton’s trunks were rectangular—making them stackable and far more convenient for shipping via new means of transport like the railroad and steamship. Most commentators consider Vuitton’s trunk the birth of modern luggage.

Louis Vuitton Trunk ebay_1a

The trunks proved an immediate commercial success, and advances in transportation and the expansion of travel placed an increasing demand for Vuitton’s trunks. In 1859, to fulfill the requests placed for his luggage, he expanded into a larger workshop in Asnieres, a village outside Paris. Business was booming, and Vuitton received personal orders not only from French royalty but also from Isma’il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt.

In 1870, however, Vuitton’s business was interrupted by the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent siege of Paris, which gave way to a bloody civil war that destroyed the French Empire. When the siege finally ended on January 28, 1871, Vuitton returned to Asnieres to find the village in ruins, his staff dispersed, his equipment stolen and his shop destroyed.

Asnieres sur Seine in 1871.

Asnieres sur Seine in 1871.

Showing the same stubborn, can-do spirit, he displayed by walking almost 300 miles alone at the age of 13, Vuitton immediately devoted himself to the restoration of his business. Within months he had built a new shop at a new address, 1 Rue Scribe. Along with the new address also came a new focus on luxury. Located in the heart of the new Paris, Rue Scribe was home to the prestigious Jockey Club and had a decidedly more aristocratic feel than Vuitton’s previous location in Asnieres. In 1872, Vuitton introduced a new trunk design featuring beige canvas and red stripes. The simple, yet luxurious, new design appealed to Paris’s new elite and marked the beginning of the Louis Vuitton label’s modern incarnation as a luxury brand.

louis-vuitton-inner-pic

For the next 20 years, Vuitton continued to operate out of 1 Rue Scribe, innovating high-quality, luxury luggage, until he died on February 27, 1892, at the age of 70. But the Louis Vuitton line would not die with its eponymous founder. Under his son Georges, who created the company’s famous LV monogram and future generations of Vuittons, the Louis Vuitton brand would grow into the world-renowned luxury leather and lifestyle brand it remains today.

The Louis Vuitton building, the largest travel-goods store in world, was opened on the Champs-Élysées in 1914 and counted Coco Chanel as a patron. Bag shapes that remain popular fashion staples today were introduced throughout the 1900s. The Steamer bag, a smaller piece designed to be kept inside the luggage trunks, was introduced in 1901.

Vintage Steamer Bags

Vintage Steamer Bags

The Keepall bag was debuted in 1930 followed by the Noé bag, which was originally designed to carry Champagne, in 1932, and, in 1966, the cylindrical Pappillon bag.

The 'Papillon' bag was originally designed to carry champagne. How typically French.

The ‘Papillon’ bag.

The 'Noe' bag was created in 1932 for a champagne company in order to carry five bottles of champagne. Four upright and one inverted....how typically French.

The ‘Noe’ bag was created in 1932 for a champagne company in order to carry five bottles of champagne. Four upright and one inverted….how typically French.


Thanks to advances in technology and a new coating process, a supple version of the monogram canvas was created in 1959. This allowed it to be used for purses, bags and wallets.

In 2012 the house of Louis Vuitton won a landmark ruling in the US protecting it from large-scale international counterfeiting. The ruling helped stop the import of goods into the US that illegally bear the brand’s trademarks, and penalises companies that facilitate the trade of those goods.

In the same year Louis Vuitton was named the world’s most valuable luxury brand for the seventh year in a row in a study conducted by Millward Brown Optimor. Valued at $25.9 billion (£16.5 billion) it beat Hermes, valued at $19.1 billion (£12.1 billion) in second place and Rolex, at $7.17 billion (£4.57 billion) in third place.

Even I’m guilty of owning a couple of pieces of LV. My black Louis Vuitton Black ‘Taiga Leather Viktor Messenger Bag’ travels with me to France on every trip. It assures me good service in any French restaurant.:)

I love the discretion of my bag with only the LV stamped on one corner. It's the leather people recognize immediately.

I love the discretion of this bag with only the LV stamped on one corner of the bag. I was surprised when a female friend told me she loved my bag. I asked her how she knew it was LV. to which she cooly responded…it’s the leather. I’d recognize it anywhere. Trust the French.

If you have $42,000 to burn, you may or may not want to consider buying the ‘LV Tribute Patchwork Bag’
Twenty are available in Louis Vuitton stores in Europe and Asia but the 4 in the USA have already been sold.

American born singer, Beyonce is one of the  proud owners of the 'patchwork bag'

American born singer, Beyonce is one of the proud owners of the ‘patchwork bag’

I don’t know what Mr. Vuitton would say about the amazing global expansion of his name created back in 1812. I don’t know what he’d think about the ‘patchwork bag’ either. But no matter what anyone, (including Mr. Vuitton) thinks that iconic LV logo created back in the 1800’s will no doubt remain a symbol of luxurious living for decades to come. Something I’m sure Mr Vuitton would be proud of.

Thanks for reading!

Please see our Louis Vuitton suitcase that just arrived to our store at 226 SW Marine Drive in Vancouver, BC. Canada

You can also visit our website at: http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

The Newly Opened ‘Peninsula Hotel’ in Paris.

I first remember hearing about ‘The Peninsula’ hotel from some of my well-healed friends who travelled to Hong Kong decades ago. Stories of unparalleled luxury made it sound as exotic and glamorous as Hong Kong itself.

Since then this 5 star chain has opened in several cities around the world including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Paris, Bangkok, and Manila.

Just this August, ‘The Peninsula’ chain opened it’s first hotel in Europe, and chose ‘Paris’ as the city for it’s debut. Little wonder that one of the most beautiful hotel chains would choose one of the most beautiful cities in Europe as it’s launch pad.

Since it’s opening on the 1st of August the hotel is already drawing reviews and criticisms.

Located at 19 Avenue Kleber, The Peninsula’s building and was built originally for a Russian nobleman in 1864. The Russian nobleman sold the palace in 1868 to Queen Isabella II of Spain, who established the palace as her home in exile during the First Spanish Republic. She continued to live there for the next 36 years and the palace was known as the Palais de Castille.

Queen Isabella of Spain.

Queen Isabella of Spain.

After the queen’s death, the property was acquired by hotel magnate Leonard Tauber.

Tauber constructed the luxurious ‘Hotel Majestic’ on the site. Designed by Armand Sibien, construction began in 1906 and the hotel opened in December 1908. The hotel was commandeered for use as a military hospital at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and served in this capacity for five months. It was damaged during its hospital service, and was not renovated and reopened until 1916. The 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad was held at the hotel in 1924. George Gershwin wrote An American in Paris while staying at the hotel in 1928.

Hotel Majestic C.1900.

Hotel Majestic C.1900.

The hotel was purchased by the French government in 1936 to serve as offices for the Ministry of Defence.It served as the headquarters of the German military high command in France (Militärbefehlshaber Frankreich) from October 1940 to July 1944 during the occupation of Paris in World War II.

It served as the first headquarters of UNESCO, from September 16, 1946 until 1958, when it was converted into a conference center for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as the International Conference Center.

The French government sold the building in 2008 as part of a cost-cutting measure to the Qatari Diar firm for $460 Million. It reopened on August 1, 2014, following extensive rebuilding by Vinci Construction costing E338 million, as ‘The Peninsula Paris’. The architectural designs are by Richard Martinet of Affine architecture & interior design, while the interiors are by Henry Leung of Hong Kong-based Chhada Siembieda & Associates Ltd.

The Peninsular Paris at night.

The Peninsula Paris at night.

You can stay at the Peninsula but it will cost you. $1400/night for a regular room (that’s not a large room either), but hey, small expensive rooms are nothing new in Paris.

The rather small, unimpressive room at  $1400 Cdn. rate at the Peninsula Paris.

A regular room at $1400 Cdn. at the Peninsula Paris.

The price of rooms goes all the way up to $33,500 per night which gives you the Peninsula Suite that includes 24-hour butler service, on-hand massage, access to an underground spa, and a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom at your beckon call. Sounds expensive right? Well yes, but it’s not the most expensive around.

The deluxe suite at the 'Peninsula Paris'

The deluxe suite at the ‘Peninsula Paris’

The ‘Royal Penthouse Suite’ at ‘Hotel President Wilson’, in Geneva tops that off at a cool $67,000/night. The 19,376-square-foot suite features four bedrooms, 12 marble bathrooms, a billiard room, a “royal boardroom,” and an outdoor patio that offers panoramic views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. A private security team, private elevators, bulletproof windows, and waiting limos are just some of the “extras” that provide protection and privacy for A-list guests.

The 'Royal Penthouse Suite' at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva

The ‘Royal Penthouse Suite’ at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva

Anyway with all these ‘stratospheric’ hotel rates, you’d think you’d have appreciative people giving rave reviews. Well not exactly. Since it’s opening people have already started complaining about the Peninsula Paris. Everything from shoddy service to not so great dining have already surfaced on travel website’s such as Trip Advisor and Hotel Chatter. Some people are just so spoiled.

Shoddy service is usually a result of obnoxious people, particularly of the English speaking kind, exhibiting bad behaviour in the form of self entitlement. This type of attitude will insure you bad service no matter where you are in Paris. (or the world for that matter)

Anyway, I have my apartment in Paris so staying at the Peninsula (or any hotel for that matter) is not required. Maybe I’ll stop by for a drink with my friends or even splurge for lunch/dinner. If I do, I’ll be sure you give you my first hand review of ‘The Peninsula Paris if I have the time or inclination to actually go.

Until then…

Over and out.

Have a great September.

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

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Jules Leleu Sconce

Jules Leleu Sconces

Being a lover of most things “Leleu” I just had to post this comment by Alessandra Branca, an international interior designer based in Chicago. We’ve had “Leleu” and “Leleu inspired” furniture pieces through the store in the past and intend on bringing them to Vancouver, along with our other gorgeous things, whenever we can. As you may or may not know, we are friends with the former Directrice Madame Siriex featured on one of my past blogs. Read about her by clicking here.

That’s all for now!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
Vancouver, B.C.

 

The Color ‘Blue’

I’ve always loved the color blue. It can be formal or very relaxed depending on the shade. But the color applies to one of my all time favorite foods. The ‘blueberry’. Chocked full of flavor and those ever so important ‘antioxidants’ it’s worth having blueberries almost every day of the year.

You may think it odd that I’m writing about blueberries. But I discovered something quite wonderful this week that I felt I just had to share with all of you.

This year, like most years, we travel up to the Shuswap and stay my great friend Brian who has a wonderful place on the lake near Blind Bay. He was buzzing about this super place he loves called ‘Onninks Farm’. When he mentioned all they farmed was blueberries my interest suddenly peaked.

Brian suggested we stop in on our way back from the Shuswap. And that’s exactly what we did!

When we arrived at the farm the first thing I loved was the blue fence surrounding the property! The drive up to the sorting house was like discovering something special that we’d only see in Europe. We were greeted by the proprietor below (who’s from Rotterdam) who proceeded to tell us how her blueberries were washed, sorted, ( by an amazing computerized sorting and cleaning maching you can see right there ) and then packaged in boxes that were freezer ready.

 

The charming owner of Onninks Farm

The charming owner ‘Arina’ of Onninks Farm. (Everything was spotlessly clean and new) She also told us she loved our store and had purchased many things in the past.

The boxes are only $26/box for all these organic pre-washed blueberries!

The 'Birgitte' Berry at Onnink's Blueberry Farm

The ‘Birgit’ Berry is one of her best and in season now. Large, plump and very sweet!

They also sell these fabulous blueberry bonbons. ( I bought a small box and they are delicious!)

 

Blueberry Chocolates

These delightful little creations are boxed in the cutest little boxes that are so pretty they could be given as gifts.

Sadly I discovered their ‘blueberry tea’ after I left. I will definitely be ordering bottles of this!
No added sugars, no preservative and chocked full of antioxidants!)

 

Blueberry Iced Tea

Blueberry Iced Tea!

So if you’re a blueberry lover as I am, it’s worth the trip to Abbotsford just to take advantage of these wonderful berries. Click on this link to see the Onnink’s Blueberry website for more information.

Enjoy the rest of our fabulous summer in beautiful British Columbia no matter where you are!

P.S. our antiques 25th Anniversary Sale is ending soon….if you haven’t stopped by do it soon before it’s too late!

Cheers,
Mark

Who was Maggy Rouff?

This last time I was in Paris, I discovered a small folder, worn and weathered, in an antique dealers shop. It had “hiver 1951″ (Winter 1951) hand scrawled on it’s yellowed cover, so I quickly opened it up and had a brief look. Being a trained fashion illustrator I could tell it was something special. I purchased it without hesitation.

What I found inside, after bringing the folder home, was an exciting discovery of original fashion designs and photographs from top Paris fashion houses of the mid 20th Century. Designers like Jacques Fath, Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, and Maggy Rouff.

I’d heard of all the others, but knew little of Maggy Rouff. What I loved however, were her fashion sketches which were marvelous, simple and very well executed. As any artist will tell you the mark of a well trained artist is simplicity. One stroke of a pen, if done well, can convey volumes.

Such was the case of the design illustrations or ‘croquis’ of Maggy Rouff. (Note the lack of details needed to convey legs, shoes, face etc.)

A fashion sketch in pen and ink by 'Christian' a designer working in the house of Maggy Rouff, C.1950.

A fashion sketch (just one of many I bought) done in pen and ink by ‘Christian’ a designer working in the house of Maggy Rouff, C.1950.

So who was she? Well after some research I discovered she was considered one of the most famous and celebrated designers of her time.

Maggy Rouff C.1940

Maggy Rouff C.1940

Maggy Rouff (1896–1971) was a French fashion designer of Belgian origin. Born Marguerite Besançon de Wagner in 1896, her parents were a Belgian couple (though Madame Besançon de Wagner was German-born)who lived and worked in Paris as managers and in Madame de Wagner’s case, as fashion designer for the Paris branch of Drecoll, a Viennesse fashion house launched in 1902 by Christoff von Drecoll, who opened the Paris branch in 1905. Maggy’s parents managed the fashion house and eventually Maggy Rouff (their daughter) took it over.

Rouff was known for her understated sportswear designs at the beginning of her career, and later, for the feminine detailing in her garments such as ruffles, shirring, and the bias cut.

In the 1930s, Rouff headed PAIS (Association pour la Protection des Arts Plastiques et Appliques, also known as the Association pour la Protection des Industries Artistiques Saisonnieres), one of the most important anti-piracy and counterfeiting trade networks in Paris couture that had been founded by Madeleine Vionnet in 1922.

Harmony and simplicity were cornerstones of Maggy Rouff’s belief in elegance as a way of life, and the way of fashion.

A truly elegant woman was in harmony with her environment and herself, and to Rouff this meant being properly dressed for every occasion. Never fussy or formal, but appropriate for the occasion

Even in her early work at Drécoll in Paris, Rouff addressed a basic longing in the relationship between many women and their clothes. Patrons of her salon were secure in the knowledge that they would emerge with the right clothes, clothes that were fashionable, flattering, and appropriate. This did not mean she was conservative; rather, she believed novelty, and even surprise, were good for fashion. Novelty when allied with taste yielded chic, but novelty without taste was only eccentric.

Maggy Rouff fashion design
As a result, a Rouff design considered “too much” was rare. She took care to establish a focal point in every costume. An evening gown in which the skirt was trimmed with a crossover hip wrap and little side puffs had simply-cut sleeves and bodice. Afternoon dresses with plain skirts might have an asymmetrical cowl neckline with a jeweled clip at one side, or a platter collar and shaped belt in a contrasting color. She enriched some surfaces with shirring, quilting, or trapunto, as in her 1936 “plus four” playsuit and 1938 button-quilted evening dress, but very lush fabrics and furs were handled in accordance with her less-is-more philosophy.

MANTEAU DU SOIR.ROBE DU SOIR
Common themes ran through Rouff’s designs, always enhancing the underlying sense of femininity. She had a fondness for draped details, whether the sarong-like side drape of a skirt panel or soft cowl folds at the neckline. Rouff often highlighted the upper body, drawing attention toward the face with a few favorite devices such as wrapped and tied surplice fronts, unusual necklines, and dramatic sleeves. Accents were important: belts and sashes were wide, buttons were bold, silk flowers were substantial, yet somehow they were always in proportion. Contrasts of color, texture, or luster were also used as accents, and with the same sense of balance. When her gowns were worn by early cinema as Theda Barra, Pola Negri, and Greta Garbo, her reputation was established.

Greta Garbo wearing Maggy Rouff

Greta Garbo C.1930

In 1942 while Paris was occupied by German troops, Rouff wrote La Philosophie de L’Elégance. Her justification for what might have been considered in such circumstances a frivolous topic, was her belief that even in darkest times there must be faith in the future. An intelligent woman who had already lived through one world war, she could not help but understand that a different world than the one she had known would emerge from the second. Her book was, in a sense, an affirmation of the value and substance which the arts of elegance had given to her life and her success. Within the framework of her expertise—fashion—Rouff gave her readers a thread to tie the future to the past.

Maggy Rouff fashion design dress
Rouff’s daughter, Anne-Marie Besançon de Wagner, took over the designing upon her mother’s retirement in 1948. The house maintained the attitudes toward dress it had always expressed, and the clothes were still elegant and feminine. For the first few years she was inclined to overdo, and some designs seem to have been fussy or hard-edged. As the 1950s progressed, however, she found her own sense of focus and greater sureness of line. Particularly beautiful were her full-skirted organdy evening and cocktail dresses from 1952 and a group of short, bouffant gowns with floor-length trains from 1959. Engaging day ensembles included, from 1953, a sleek tweed sheath with standaway cornucopia-shaped pockets at the bust and from 1952, a fur-trimmed swing coat worn over a pleated wool dress belted at the waist.

Grace Kelly as Princess of Monaco wearing Maggy Rouff

Grace Kelly as Princess of Monaco wearing Maggy Rouff.

The house of Maggy Rouff did not survive the make-or-break period of the 1960s. Three designers worked for the house in the 1960s, during which time the business was transformed into a ready-to-wear house. The collections seem to have been aimed at a younger customer, but the original precepts of the house may have made it difficult to become established with a clientéle more interested in the pursuit of youth than the pursuit of elegance. The company was closed before Rouff’s death in 1971.

Copies of Maggy Rouff’s illustrations from the 1950’s will be framed and made available at The Antique Warehouse. Please contact our store for more information should you be interested. We’re located in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia and we ship worldwide.

Until next time!

Mark

Should I Reupholster or Buy a New Sofa?

That all depends if you purchased a quality sofa to begin with!

According to Suzanne Dimma, editor in chief of House and Home Magazine, investing in the best sofa you can is her advice. If you invest early in the best, a sofa can be recovered for years and years to come.

 

Suzanne Dimma of House and Home Magazine

Suzanne Dimma of House and Home Magazine

“Invest in the best and start early. I still have the same sofa I bought for my first house. I chose one that was well built and the design I knew would be timeless. I’ve even had it re-upholstered time and time again, and still love it” says the doyenne of style.

If your sofa wasn’t all that great to begin with, consider buying a vintage or antique piece. The quality (particularly the European made) is usually superior to anything made today. From the construction, to the detailing, vintage pieces excel in almost every area. And lets face it, when you recover, you get exactly what you want. So start with good bones, and consider a vintage or antique piece.

How much fabric will you need? Here’s a guide below that can help you predetermine that.

A sofa from 76″ – 84″ Wide will need approximately 16 – 20 yards of fabric.

Classic Louis XVI French made sofa

This Classic Louis XVI French made sofa is timeless in design and when recovered will last for years and years to come. C.1930, the detailing is gorgeous (something you won’t find on a new piece) and will cost less than a new sofa. This piece will probably need around 12 – 15 yards of fabric.

 

Elegant and modern fabric on a classic Louis XVI Settee

Imagine this lovely fabric on this classic Louis XVI Settee. Elegant and modern.

For chairs, here’s some quick figures to help you out.

A wing back French Louis XVI style chair

A wing back like this French Louis XVI style chair will require about 6 – 7 yards.

 

French 20th Century Louis XVI Style Armchair

This chair, while almost 60 years old is a style that’s copied and manufactured today. You can buy this chair for less than $500! It will take probably 5 – 6 yards.

 

French Empire Chairs C.1800.

One of the French Empire Chairs C.1800 will require 4 yards. Times that by 2 for the pair. They’ve last over 150 years now. They’ll be good to go for another 150.

(Everything above is available at the Antique Warehouse). If you don’t see what you’re looking for, remember not everything in our 12,000 sq.ft. store is online. You can also sign up for our weekly acquisitions. You’ll never know what’s coming down the pike. This is Mark LaFleur signing off from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Have fun!

An Antique Bookcase in a Bathroom?

Did you ever consider putting a large antique bureau bookcase in your bathroom? Well designer Paolo Moschino did. He put a 19th-century English secretary in this bathroom and not only did it make a surprising focal point, the bureau bookcase offered up plenty of storage too. We think it’s a pretty great idea.

Antique Bureau Bookcase in a Bathroom
If you think this idea could work for you, we may have just the thing. Check out our selection of beautiful antique bookcases. These three are just a couple of examples that could be fabulous in any bathroom.

Antique mahogany 19th Century Louis Philippe Bookcase
You could go for this smaller mahogany 19th Century Louis Philippe piece. See more of this piece by clicking here

Antique mid 19th Century French bookcase
This is a lovely large mid 19th Century French bookcase with no desk and lots of cupboard space. Click for more information on this piece by clicking here.

French Antique Display Cabinet in Walnut
This display cabinet in rich walnut is just the perfect size to look marvelous in any bathroom decor. Imagine this full of fluffy white folded towels. Click here for more information on this piece.

Go forth and decorate!

Until next time, this is Mark LaFleur from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Baccarat Crystal Celebrates its 250th Anniversary!

Imagine 250 years ago in 1764 Baccarat crystal was born. That was even before Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were on the scene in Paris. And I thought our 25th Anniversary was an event!

Boutique Cristal Room & Musee Baccarat
To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat, Les 250 ans, which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.

Baccarat 250 Year Anniversary

The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River.

 

The village of Baccarat on the Meurthe river

The village of Baccarat on the Meurthe river

 

King Louis XV, aka the Sun King

King Louis XV was admired and loved by France. King Louis XV was also known as the Sun King.

The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.

The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.

 

King Louis XVIII

King Louis XVIII

The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.

The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.

Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.

The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them.

 

Ferrieres side chair, gueridon and stool in solid crystal by Baccarat

Ferrieres side chair, gueridon and stool in solid crystal by Baccarat

The section called Alchemie represents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal. Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.

So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.

Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.

 

The 'Harcourt' pattern by Baccarat

The ‘Harcourt’ pattern by Baccarat. Still very collectible today.

In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.

When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.

The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre – lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.

You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room.

 

Cristal Room at Maison Baccarat

Cristal Room at Maison Baccarat

Overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin, you will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.

Here at the Antique Warehouse we do get vintage and antique Baccarat from time to time. In fact we have three very beautiful French crystal vases in the store now with the quality of Baccarat but sadly no markings.

Do visit us in person or sign up for our weekly email comprising photos of all our newest and most interesting arrivals for the week.

Thanks for Reading!

This is Mark LaFleur signing off from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia!

Wall Color and Antiques

Just recently House and Home magazine published an issue ( Spring 2014 ) called ‘Ask a Designer’. There are some interesting and informative articles in this issue and if you’re in the midst or wanting to embark on some home renovation or design work you may want to pick up a copy. It’s still on the stands until July 31.

The article I particularly like is the one where a writer has written in asking how to ‘liven’ up her dining room that’s filled with antiques. She states ” My dining room is full of antiques, which I love, but it looks a bit bland. How can I make it more inviting? ”

The editor has responded with the article I scanned below.

Article from House and Home Spring 2013 "Ask a Designer Special Edition"

Article from House and Home Spring 2013 “Ask a Designer Special Edition”

I apologize if the article and photo is a bit fuzzy but scanning from a magazine is never a great option. I did try to go to their website and pull the photo off directly but it wasn’t listed. In any event, I think you get the idea.

The table is a French Mahogany table and it’s paired with a French crystal chandelier and chairs which are either English or French. (re-upholstered of course)

I must admit I do like the Aqua wall wallpaper. It gives a soft contemporary look. If you’ll notice, the client has an Italian Venetian mirror over a Louis XVI style settee. We received only one settee on this last shipment.

It’s interesting how the designer ( Los Angeles based Mark Sikes ) used a roman shade you can pick up for a couple of dollars anywhere. Two designer friends of mine 25 years ago would always use these in any ‘formal’ setting to give a light and airy ambience.

Pick up a copy of this issue as there’s much more interesting articles in here I will be blogging on next.

Don’t forget, it’s our 25th Anniversary Sale here at the Antique Warehouse. Lots of great and beautiful pieces marked down for this promotion. (psst..cousin Cynthia, I do ship to Winnipeg!)

Until next time from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia!

Mark

Who is Oswaldo Borsani?

Osvaldo Borsani
Born in Varedo, Switzerland in 1911, Osvaldo Borsani was an Italian architect and designer who was active in Milan. His father, Gaetano Borsani, was a noted furniture craftsman who won the silver medal at the Monza Triennale in 1927 and his twin brother, Fulgencio, would be his collaborator and business partner.

In 1937, Borsani entered the Politecnico di Milano to study architecture. After completing his degree, he joined the family business, Atelier Varedo (later Arredamento Borsani) as a furniture designer. Throughout the 1940s and early 50s, Borsani produced a large body of work including a variety of furniture, cabinets and seating. Especially noteworthy was a 1946 wall-mounted shelving system. Among his clients were Crippa, Fabbri, Fontana and Sussu.

In 1953, Borsani and Fulgencio founded a firm called Tecno which, as its name suggests, became known for its technology and research-based approach to furniture design. In 1955, Tenco issued one of its best known pieces, the P40 chaise lounge.

The famous P40 by Borsani designed in 1955 is still manufactured and copied today

The famous P40 by Borsani designed in 1955 is still manufactured and copied today.

Described as a “machine for sitting,” it featured rubber arms and could assume 486 distinct postures; the D70, a sofa version, was also manufactured.

Borsani himself acted as the company’s sole designer for over 30 years; it was not until the mid 1980s that Gae Aulenti, Norman Foster and others began to contribute designs. Today, Tecno is known for its innovative furniture for offices and public buildings.

Borsani had a long history of participation in the Triennale di Milano dating back to 1933, when he collaborated with architects Cairoli and
G. B. Varisco on a project called the “Casa Minima.” He would continue to exhibit his work there for decades to come. Osvaldo

Borsani’s designs were showcased by museums and galleries throughout Europe and, in 1962, he received the prestigious Premio Compasso d’Oro.

Oswaldo Borsani and The Antique Warehouse

Some years back I purchased a fabulous retro bar I fell in love with. We were near the Italian border at a fair when I spotted this incredible bar with an etagere that was angular and super cool. I paid a premium for the piece ( at least I thought it was expensive at the time ) not knowing anything about it other than I loved it. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gareth our manager found it on the internet and told us who the designer was. Oswaldo Borsani!

As it turns out the bar commands hefty prices in North America and that’s just the for the bottom unit.

Oswaldo Borsani Bar alone is up for sale in New York for $12,000

Oswaldo Borsani Bar alone is up for sale in New York for $12,000.

I had the bar and it’s matching ‘etagere’ or shelving unit in the store for the longest time. We even reduced it to $4000 on one of our sales, when somebody agreed to purchase it then backed out at the last minute due to the wiring issue with the shelves. ( The wiring needed to be replaced because the shelving unit lit up and the client didn’t want to pay for it. )

Good thing too, because it was at that moment that I’d decided to bring it home.

It now stands in my family room and I’m more thrilled then ever to know, not only it is beautiful, but the designer was someone famous and it’s value is probably 5 times what we originally thought.

Who says you only discover treasures in attics and flea markets!

Read more about Oswaldo Borsani by clicking here.

Cheers and until next time this is Mark LaFleur writing you from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Wine and Classical Music Festivals in Bordeaux and Tuscany

Hello All,

It was a long 7 weeks in Europe this time on another antique furniture buying trip, and I’ve had lots of time to gather some great blog posts that you will see over the next few months. Today’s blog post’s focus is on musical and wine tasting concerts in France and Italy for any of you planning to be there this summer.

The Melodia del Vino Festival in Tuscany begins June 26 of this year and goes until July 6.
The Grands Crus Musicaux in France, runs from August 15 – Augst 30. For anyone happening to be in France or Italy at this time, these are sure to be sublime events.

Now anyone can have the opportunity to visit some truly great wineries, while also listening to beautiful music at the 2014 edition of Melodia del Vino, now in its 4th edition as a music festival. This event is the brainchild of Marc Laforet and Michel Gotlib, who created the sucessful French festival ‘Grands Crus Musicaux’ in Bordeaux, France which was initiated in 2003.

In Italy, this year’s event includes concerts, wine tastings & aperitif at six different locations, stretching from the famous Cantina Antinori winery in Bargino to the historical exiled residence of Napoleon on the Elba Island, the famous and majestic Villa San Martino. The full program can be found here.

The Cantina Antinori

The Cantina Antinori

In France, the concerts begin at CHÂTEAU D’AGASSAC with music by
MOZART : Sonate KV 448
MOZART/GRIEG : Sonate KV 545
CHOSTAKOVITCH : Concertino opus 94
TCHAÏKOVSKI : «Valse des fleurs»,extrait de «Casse-noisette»
POULENC : Deuxième mouvement du concerto pour deux pianos
RAVEL : Rapsodie espagnole

The Chateau Agassac built in 1238 AD

The Chateau Agassac built in 1238 AD.

Many of the musical concerts will take place in special locations at the wineries: imagine getting lost to classical music in the vicinity of large wooden wine barrels and discovering more about music and wine that you would ever expect. If anything, this is a prime chance to escape the city and get (literally) lost in wine and music for a very special French or Italian summer nights.

La Vie est Belle.

The blog has been brought to you by Mark LaFleur from beautiful downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

An Extraordinary Encounter in France

Hello from France!

Just this past week, Larry and I had the great pleasure of meeting a very important lady in the world of early 20th Century furniture designers.

This extraordinary lady’s name is ‘Francoise Siriex’. Mdm. Siriex was the director of the ‘Maison Leleu’ from 1950 until it’s close in 1973.

What was Maison Leleu? It was the atelier of reknowned modernist designer ‘Jules Leleu’ (1883 – 1961).

In case you’ve never heard of Jules Leleu let me fill you in. He was one of the greatest art deco and modernist furniture designers of all time whose beautiful furniture commands several thousands of dollars to this day.

A very close Parisian friend of ours knew how much we loved Leleu and just happened to mention in fact she knew the former directrice. Brigitte, our friend, kindly telephoned Mdm. Siriex and asked if we could meet her. Much to our delight Mdm Siriex agreed.

Larry Adams and Mdm. Siriex at the exhibit of modernist designers at the Espace Landowski

Larry Adams and Mdm. Siriex at the exhibit of modernist designers at the Espace Landowski just outside of Paris.

It was a rainy blustery afternoon that day, in fact, I thought I might spare the lady our meeting by organizing a more ‘weather friendly’ day. When I telephoned her she remarked that a little rain was not a problem and she’d meet us at our arranged time and place.

Madame Siriex well into her later years, met us at the Espace Landowski, a gallery in Boulogne Billancourt and proceeded to tour us around the exhibit that featured Leleu’s work and other super star designers of the time.

We were later invited back to her apartment and chatted with this dynamic woman for over three hours about her past and her work at the Maison Leleu. We learned this incredible lady had recently published a book on the Maison Leleu in 2008.

The House of Leleu by Francoise Siriex Book Cover

The House of Leleu by Francoise Siriex available on Amazon.com.

She spent years assembling this magnificent book, which is available through amazon.com for anyone who’s interested. Be aware however, this book will set you back over $300. If you saw the book you’d know why. It’s one of those fabulous over sized ‘coffee table’ books that’s large, impressive and beautifully put together with loads of information on this incredible designer. In fact, this dynamic lady still flies back and forth to New York doing book signings and guest appearances.

At one point during our visit I remarked if she had any of the original designs from the famed designer. The gracious Mdm Siriex brought out a file of hundreds of original designs that she’d kept for decades. As I carefully leafed through the amazing collection she asked me if I’d like one. Thrilled, of course I said yes. She remarked she couldn’t leave Larry out for fear of rivalry between us so a grateful Larry picked out a wonderful sketch done for a bathroom designed in 1930.

An original pen and ink sketch by Leleu C.1940

The original pen and ink sketch that I chose by Leleu C.1940.

Brief history of Jules Leleu

French superstar designer 'Jules Leleu' C.1940

French superstar designer ‘Jules Leleu’ C.1940.

Jules Leleu was born in Boulogne sur Mer (North of Paris near Calais ) in 1883. Raised in an artisitc family, the young Leleu studied applied arts and in 1918 went into furniture design. He moved to Paris in 1924 where he lived with another famous designer Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann.

The House of Leleu prospered and later became a family business. By the late 1930s, Leleu’s sons, André and Jean, and his daughter, Paule, were active partners. The famous atelier had an elite clientele including the Prince of Monaco, The Emperor of Japan, and President Eisenhower.

Commode by Jules Leleu C.1930

Commode by Jules Leleu C.1930

The furniture of Leleu is often compared to that of Jacques Ruhlmann. Each liked simplified shapes, the use of exotic woods, marquetry and inlay of ivory.

Leleu outlived Ruhlmann, and his style evolved. He grew adventurous, adopting new materials like artificial lacquer, fiberglass, plastic and aluminum and continued his prolific career designing.

Along with the interiors of industrialists’ houses, Leleu designed sleek salons for ocean liners like the Ile-de-France and the Normandie, corporate offices and interiors for public institutions (the League of Nations in Geneva), and the Elysee Palace in Paris.

SS Ile de France cost over $10,000,000 to build

SS Ile de France cost over $10,000,000 to build.

1st class suite in the SS Ile de France

1st class suite in the SS Ile de France.

Lean Horne and Rita Hayworth

Lean Horne and Rita Hayworth were among frequent voyagers on this luxurious liner.

The Main Foyer of the SS Ile de France

The Main Foyer

Leleu died in 1961, leaving a legacy of elegant, refined and often surprisingly original work, and his pieces are highly sought after today. His family and loyal staff (Mdm Siriex included) continued his work until 1973 when the Maison Leleu finally closed it’s doors.

Beautiful sideboard 'attributed' to Jules Leleu

This beautiful sideboard is only ‘attributed’ to Jules Leleu and sells for $28000.

The Antique Warehouse and ‘Leleu’

A curious remark was made during our visit with Mdm. Siriex. She stated that “Pas tous de Jules Leleu meubles a été signé” which in English means “not all of Leleu’s pieces were signed.” We’ve had signed ‘Leleu’ pieces sold through the store before, but we’re sure we’ve had some that were unsigned. In any event we’ll pay careful attention to the detail and craftsmanship that is unmistakable ‘Leleu’ in the future. Have a look at this French art deco cabinet that’s unsigned and currently in the store.

We have several ‘modernist’ pieces arriving to the store over the next several months. If you’re a lover of this style, please keep tabs on our ‘new container‘ announcements. ( One expected in about two weeks )
You can sign up for our newsletter and product updates if you’ve not already done so. We’ve not picked up any signed pieces of Leleu, but you never know… That’s what makes our business so exciting!

A bientot, from Paris France.

Cheers,
Mark