This is a fine example of English Georgian craftsmanship. Beautifully constructed, gorgeous patina and lovely detail. (Scroll down for a close up of the beautiful key escutcheon). Excellent original condition on this hard to find piece.
As the Holiday season approaches I know some of you may be visiting the city of lights for Christmas. One excursion you may want to consider is a visit to a Chateau just north of Paris known as the infamous ‘Chateau Vaux le Vicomte’. Over Christmas the Chateau is completely decorated for the holiday season in splendid and opulent decorations. First a little history behind this fabulous Chateau and its creation.
In August, 1661, French finance minister Nicolas Fouquet threw one of the most lavish parties of all time at his new château, Vaux-le-Vicomte, southeast of Paris. Dinner was prepared by François Vatel; the entertainment included a play—courtesy of Molière—plus an elaborate fireworks display, all for the King of France, Louis XIV, and his court. Unfortunately for Nicolas, this proved to be a life changing event for him in ways he could have never imagined.
The king was duly impressed, especially with the estate, which was the creation of three young talents: architect Louis Le Vau, painter and decorator Charles Le Brun, and landscape architect André Le Nôtre. While the château is beautifully proportioned and the decor is tastefully rich, the gardens and grounds make Vaux a masterpiece.
King Louis XIV was so impressed with Vaux-le-Vicomte, he took the triumvirate of Le Vau, Le Brun, and Le Nôtre to the southwest of Paris and launched the construction of Versailles. While working on the royal palace, Le Nôtre also oversaw the design of the gardens for the châteaus of Chantilly, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Saint-Cloud, as well as the renovation of the Tuileries in Paris.
The king, however, was less amused with Fouquet. Convinced that Vaux had been built with money pilfered from the national treasury, the king had his finance minister arrested a few weeks after the infamous fête, and Fouquet spent the rest of his life in jail.
Now, privately owned by the de Vogüé family, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte has been painstakingly restored to its original splendor (talk about a labor of love). Here, the 17th century comes to life; you can immerse yourself in the ambiance and regal traditions of another age. The beauty of Vaux-le-Vicomte is that it’s a human-sized castle without the crowds you’ll find at Versailles, making for a lovely (and peaceful) visitor experience. What’s more, a yearly calendar of fun events means that there’s always something new to discover—from Easter Egg Hunts and the Salon du Chocolat to the summertime Candlelight Visits and 17th century costume party. Christmas time however, proves to be one of the most beautiful events at the Chateau of the year.
Christmas is particularly magical at the chateau. The path to the entrance is lined with snow-dusted pine trees, and classical choir music echoes from the front door. Each of the stately salons, some adorned with magnificent frescoes by Le Brun, are illuminated with Christmas trees and decorations. In the Grand Salon, a towering tree—a whopping eight meters high and covered in more than 5,000 ornaments—almost reaches the ceiling. At the base of the tree, children are given a small gift.
The smell of nutmeg and spices floats through the air, and fires crackle in the majestic fireplaces. You can even imagine the merry feasting of yesteryear as you gape at the dining table, dressed to the nines with Christmas porcelain and tree-shaped towers of macarons. At dusk, the chateau’s façade is illuminated with lights, and the garden boxwoods twinkle in red and green. This year, to the delight of young and old alike, a theatre troupe performs Pinocchio. For a glimpse of Noël at the chateau, don’t miss the video on the official website.
I may be over there for the month of November into December. I may wander out to the Chateau Vaux le Vicomte for my own personal assessment. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. If any of you readers have experienced this event in person, please let me know your thoughts. Happy Holidays.
Thanks for reading.
The Antique Warehouse Vancouver
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver. BC. Canada
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Anticipating next year’s bicentennial of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, collectors, curators and auction house experts are gathering artifacts that belonged to him, his family and his enemies.
Just four days ago on Nov. 11, Christie’s in Geneva Switzerland auctioned a leafy diamond brooch (estimated at $2 million to $3 million) that is the only known surviving section of a massive 1850s necklace worn by Napoleon’s niece-in-law, Empress Eugénie. The French government sold it in 1887, and the current auction consignor is the Metropolitan Opera. It brought $2,365,700.
Rarely have a man and his hat been so linked in the collective imagination as Napoleon and his black, two-cornered hat.
This weekend a “bicorne” felt hat thought to have belonged to the French emperor will be up for auction in what the auctioneer calls the “sale of a century” for fans of the legendary leader.
Nearly 1,000 objects will be put on sale by auction this weekend, Nov. 15 and 16, with the highlight being one of the iconic black hats said to have been worn by Napoleon during the Battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800.
His trademark look was not accidental.
In the early 19th century, such bicorne hats were worn with the corners pointing front and back, but Napoleon, “to make himself noticed”, changed the angle wearing his with the points facing the sides.
During the 15 years of the empire, Napoleon went through about 120 hats, usually supplied by the Poupart & Cie company, located in what is now known as the Palais-Royal in Paris, and costing about 60 francs.
Napoleon always had 12 hats in use, each would last three years and were replaced at the rate of four per year. As he didn’t like new hats, he had them broken in by his personal valet named ‘Constant’. (Pronounced Constahnt)
About 20 to 30 of the hats are still in existence, most in the collection of museums.
Estimated at 300,000-400,000 euros ($379,900-$506,500), the hat to be auctioned is in excellent condition, still retaining its lining of gray-green silk.
The hat fell into possession of the head veterinary surgeon at the Imperial stables at the beginning of the 19th century. It was then sold and acquired by the royal family of Monaco.
The great grandfather of Prince Albert of Monaco, head of the centuries-old House of Grimaldi, was a devoted Napoleonic collector. In the 1960s, the family created a museum, whose objects are now being sold to make room for one focusing on the family’s history.
The auction also includes portraits of Napoleon, tricolour military sashes and medals, marble and bronze busts and statues of the emperor and other objects including Napoleon’s gloves, razor and pocket watch.
The collection even includes a white shirt worn by Napoleon at Sainte-Helene, estimated at 30,000-40,000 euros, and a pair of his white silk stockings, estimated at 4-5,000 euros.
If you’re a huge fan of Napoleon you’d be interested in this weeks events or you can buy your own bit of Napoleon memorabilia right here at the Antique Warehouse. They range in price from only $45 – $150.
If you’re not a huge fan of Napoleon himself you may like the furniture from the period. Be it period or style. It’s beautiful, showy, and different than any style of French furniture ever made.
Enjoy your weekend and remember we’ve just received a new shipment from Paris!
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
As the demand for antiques grows worldwide (we should know…the competition in Europe over the past three years has become more fierce than ever) so does their theft.
According to the November 2013 publication in the the UK’s ‘The Telegraph’, historic heritage homes and their beautiful antiques are the focus of a recent wave in criminal activity in England. What’s worse the trend is on an increase and difficult to patrol.
More than over a year now, the heirlooms are still missing and the culprits at large. The family believes they will never recover their possessions, and are resigned to further break-ins. “We have taken photographs of every room at every angle and put Smartwater (a forensic tag that can be seen under UV light) everywhere but there is no 100 percent way to stop it,” says David’s daughter, Caroline, who lives in a cottage on the estate. “It is almost impossible to defend ourselves.”
Estate owners across the country are reaching the same conclusion. “Every stately home has a lot of windows and a lot of doors,” says Sir Thomas Ingilby. “And are basically sitting ducks”
Sir Thomas Ingilby now runs a hotline monitoring burglaries at 2,000 historic houses and museums from Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire, where his family has lived for 700 years.
Even here in Canada, a notorious Antiques thief was just recently apprehended.
In Halifax in 2013, RCMP discovered over 1300 stolen antiques valued at over $500,000 from the home of a Nova Scotia man named John Tillmann. Police stopped 51 year old John Mark Tillman for a routine traffic investigation in the summer of 2011 and noticed what looked like an old letter in the vehicle.
In January, police searched Tillmann’s home in Fall River, a Halifax suburb, and recovered about 1,300 items, worth at least $500,000, mostly from Atlantic Canada.
Just recently this year in Vancouver a rare Indian mask was stolen from a museum but shortly returned thereafter.
If you haven’t recently reassessed your collection maybe this is the time to do so. It’s easy as photo-documenting everything (according to my own personal insurer) and keep the records separate to your home in case of fire. Most home owner policies will cover antique theft without hesitation if some record of the piece is produced. Any written documentation makes the replacement all that much easier. If your pieces are of extreme value, an appraisal is most certainly recommended. We can refer you to the appropriate appraisers if required.
Thanks for reading!
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
So you think the great European craftsmen of centuries gone by have all but disappeared? Not So! In fact, here in our very own New Westminster exists one ‘Alexandre Sukhomilov’ who is replicating the quality and beauty of the French and European masters right in his studio.
We first met Alex in our store, when he’d be buying some of our most beautiful French 19th Century pieces. That is when he told us he was replicating the designs for his upmarket clientele who wanted the beauty of Europe for their homes in Vancouver we were impressed.
Alex can make anything from elaborate crown mouldings to full walled panels, trumeaus and more. All made to order to fit any sized room!
This difference with Alex’s product that instead of Gesso ( a form of plaster used by the old masters ) which breaks down over time, he uses a high quality resin that will literally last forever. The results were astounding.
Have a look at the photos below that he sent us.
The quality and detail are spot on, but we have to say, if you like the look of the ‘distressed’ 19th Century mirrors with all their imperfections and flaws, you’ll still have to come to us.
But if you’re looking for made to measure elaborate old world charm room panels, moulding, and more, see Alex. His work is breathtaking.
He’s located at 1019 Quebec St. in New Westminster, B.C.
Contact us for more information.
Mark LaFleur @ The Antique Warehouse.
To disguise the pungent odour of her product’s essential component, Rubinstein experimented with lavender, pine bark and water lilies. She lived with her uncle in Victoria where an abundance of sheep and their product ‘lanolin’ could be had. However, that didn’t last long. The strong willed Rubenstein had a falling out with her uncle and was forced to take odd jobs as a bush governess, and a job as a waitress at the Winter Garden tearooms in Melbourne. There, she found an admirer willing to back her with the funds to launch her newly created product ‘Crème Valaze’, supposedly including herbs imported “from the Carpathian Mountains”.
At another fête, Marcel Proust asked her what makeup a duchess might wear. She summarily dismissed him because “he smelt of mothballs.” Rubinstein recollected later, “How was I to know he was going to be famous?”
At the outbreak of World War I, she and Titus moved to New York City, where she opened a cosmetics salon in 1915, the forerunner of a chain throughout the country.
From 1917, Rubinstein took on the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of her products. The “Day of Beauty” in the various salons became a great success. The purported portrait of Rubinstein in her advertising was actually that of a middle-age model with an elegant appearance.
In 1928, she sold the American business to Lehman Brothers for $7.3 million, ($88 million in 2007). After the arrival of the Great Depression, she bought back the nearly worthless stock for less than $1 million and eventually turned the shares into values of multimillion dollars, establishing salons and outlets in almost a dozen U.S. cities. Her subsequent spa at 715 Fifth Avenue included a restaurant, a gymnasium and rugs by painter Joan Miró. She commissioned artist Salvador Dalí to design a powder compact as well a portrait of herself.
In 1953, she established the philanthropic Helena Rubinstein Foundation to provide funds to organizations specializing in health, medical research and rehabilitation as well as to the America Israel Cultural Foundation and scholarships to Israelis.
In 1959, Rubinstein represented the U.S. cosmetics industry at the American National Exhibition in Moscow.
Called “Madame” by her employees, she eschewed idle chatter, continued to be active in the corporation throughout her life, even from her sick bed, and staffed the company with her relatives.
Brandishing the slogan “Beauty is Power,” she succeeded as few others had in the male-dominated business world of the early 20th century, especially as a Jewish woman from Central Europe establishing herself in the world’s fashion capitals. She also happened to have very good taste in art, and her adventurous spirit gravitated to the avant-garde.
She was the first self-made female millionaire, an accomplishment she owed primarily to publicity savvy. She knew how to advertise—using ‘fear copy with a bit of blah-blah’ and introduced the concept of ‘problem’ skin types. She also pioneered the use of pseudoscience in marketing, donning a lab coat in many advertisements, despite the fact that her only training had been a two-month tour of European skin-care facilities. She knew how to manipulate consumers’ status anxiety, as well: If a product faltered initially, she would hike the price to raise the perceived value. The shrewd, successful, Chaja Rubenstein was a woman who started from nothing and became one of the greatest businesswomen of all time.
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Please visit our website.
Louis XIV (5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), known as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi-Soleil), was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest of any monarch of a major country in European history.
Louis XIV rose to power when he was only five years old. His mother,Queen Anne of Austria, served as regent until he was educated enough to become ruling king. Louis XIV was politically educated by Cardinal Mazarin, who chose the sun for Louis’ emblem. It was King Louis XIV who is referred to as “The Sun King” to this day.
His influential years were marked by revolutionary actions against his mother and political adviser. These actions were referred to as “La Fronde.” Louis XIV disliked Paris immensely and had a great fear and distaste for revolutionaries and those working against the monarchy. This contributed to his decision to later move to Versailles permanently. He married Marie Therese, an Infanta from Spain, solidifying the relationship between France and Spain.
In 1663, two years after assuming absolute power, Louis XIV appointed a supervisor for the royal furniture. In the letter of appointment, the king wrote, “There is nothing that indicates more clearly the magnificence of great princes than their superb palaces and their precious furniture.” With the intention of glorifying the monarchy, Louis XIV embarked on grand building programs that entailed the design and manufacture of splendid sets of furniture. Emulating the lavish tastes of his mentor, Cardinal Mazarin, he acquired or commissioned a dazzling series of seventy-six wood cabinets; some were decorated with lacquer, but many displayed combinations of precious materials such as lapis lazuli, agate, marble, silver, and ivory. (Three of these cabinets are known to have survived: one, somewhat altered, in a Paris museum and a pair in an English private collection.) The king also favored carved and gilded wood furniture and commissioned a broad range of objects in solid silver that included tall candlestands, massive tables, benches and stools, chandeliers, and mirror frames.
Among the foremost cabinetmakers of this period were Pierre Gole, named cabinetmaker to Louis XIV in 1651
and Domenico Cucci (ca. 1635–1704/5), who was employed at the Gobelins manufactory under the direction of Charles Le Brun.
Domenico Cucci (ca. 1635–1704/5), who was employed at the Gobelins manufactory under the direction of Charles Le Brun. André-Charles Boulle (1642–1732), appointed royal cabinetmaker in 1672, specialized at this time in furniture set with wood-marquetry panels of high quality; he was later to work in the metal-marquetry technique (brass or pewter inlaid on tortoiseshell) for which he is best known. Contrast in the treatment of colors and surfaces as well as bold and sometimes exaggerated movement, features of the Baroque style, are characteristic of the furniture produced in these craftmen’s workshops.
The practice of veneering with tortoiseshell, believed to date to the first century B.C. in Rome, underwent a tremendous revival in Europe during the seventeenth century, when the shell of the tropical seagoing turtle was applied to wood surfaces of furniture, where it often served as a ground for inlaid decorative patterns of other showy and sometimes exotic materials. The popularity of tortoiseshell veneer during this period is well illustrated by several pieces in the Museum’s collection.
The tabletop above, designed by Pierre Gole features a combination of tortoiseshell, wood, ebony, and ivory. Reddish-tinted tortoiseshell forms the ground for the brass decoration on a compact desk made for Louis XIV by the relatively unknown Dutch-born cabinetmaker Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt (1639–1715)
Oppenordt became a French citizen in 1679 and was named cabinetmaker to Louis XIV in 1684. The engraver and designer Jean Bérain is thought to have collaborated with Oppenordt on the design for the brass ornament on this desk; some of the ornament prints published by Bérain contain motifs that match the shapes of these inlays.
Bérain supplied the designs for a clock case and pedestal featuring exquisite inlay and elaborate gilt-bronze mounts believed to be products of André-Charles Boulle’s workshop. Boulle benefitted from the king’s lifelong patronage and support, and he remains by far the best-known furniture maker of the Louis XIV period. The combination of tortoiseshell and metal inlay exemplified in the Museum’s clock and pedestal was not invented by Boulle, although furniture in this technique is often referred to as Boulle work. The technique seems to have been imported from Italy and was established in France by the mid-1650s.
Working in a large community of painters, sculptors, and artisans housed in workshops under the Grande Galerie of the Louvre, Boulle’s lodgings and workshop were near those of Jean Bérain and the clockmaker Jacques Thuret (died ca. 1738). The three craftsmen were linked by friendship and by blood: Boulle is reputed to have been a relative of Thuret, who was, in turn, Bérain’s son-in-law. It seems quite natural therefore that the three should have collaborated on the creation of the Museum’s clock: Thuret (or possibly his father) produced the movement, Boulle the case and pedestal, following Bérain’s designs for the shapes of the pedestal and many of the gilt-bronze mounts.
Boulle was distinguished from his fellow artisans by a passion for collecting prints and drawings. Boulle was by far the best known cabinetmaker of the Louis XIV period; like the Thurets, he was granted the use of a royal workshop in the Louvre. Boulle lost a number of his possessions ( the losses he suffered in a disastrous studio fire of 1720) of large numbers of such works by the best-known artists of his own and earlier eras. Boulle must have referred to his collection for the design of the ornament on furniture he manufactured, especially for the forms of its gilt-bronze mounts. He is known to have borrowed elements of seventeenth-century sculpture by Michelangelo and the Fleming François Duquesnoy for this purpose, and also to have acquired models for clock figures from contemporary French sculptors.
The rising cost of Louis XIV’s unsuccessful military campaigns, which forced the king to order the destruction of his silver furniture in 1689, caused a drastic retrenchment in his expenditures for the arts. Every aspect of furniture production was affected: restrictions were imposed on the gilding of wall paneling and furniture, and the Gobelins manufactory was closed between 1694 and 1699.
Although Boulle provided quite a few pieces of furniture for the royal household, only two items intended specifically for Louis XIV have been identified: a pair of commodes made between 1708 and 1709 for the king’s bedroom at the Grand Trianon and now exhibited at the Château de Versailles. Boulle’s workshop retained templates for their marquetry decoration and bronze models for their gilt-bronze mounts. (These models are recorded as still among Boulle’s possessions in his inventory of 1732.) His craftsmen were therefore able to repeat the original commission whenever needed. It seems likely that the first workshop replicas were turned out before 1715, since another of Boulle’s inventories drawn up in that year, on the occasion of a transfer of property to his four sons (also cabinetmakers), contains the entry: “three commodes in an unfinished state similar to the king’s commode at the Trianon.”
The workmanship of a Boulle commode is of fabulous quality, exemplified in the casting and chasing of the gilt-bronze winged-sphinx corner mounts. It would appear to belong among the early workshop replicas dating from 1710 to 1715. At that time, the commode was still a relatively new type of furniture that was first produced about 1700 as a combination of a chest and a desk with drawers. Boulle’s original commodes and their copies have been criticized on aesthetic grounds for their awkward treatment of forms, which is particularly obvious in their supporting structures of squat spiral-shaped feet that abut on the inner sides of grandly curving legs. The four low feet might have been added by a practical cabinetmaker. Without them, the ornamental but insubstantial legs could not have supported the weight of the commode, its marble top, and the bronze mounts. In spite of this awkwardness, Boulle’s model was duplicated many times over a period of almost 200 years.
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.
Boulles work was copied for over 200 years and superior quality pieces of the 19th and early 20th Century still command high prices today.
(A word of caution here…poorly made 21st Century reproductions are being sold here in Vancouver as the ‘genuine article’. I assure you they are not. Consult with us, if you plan on purchasing a ‘boulle’ piece in any other store other than ours. Also the old adage applies, “if it’s too good to be true, then it isn’t” Good ‘Boulle’ pieces sell for several thousands of dollars.)
After 72 years on the throne, Louis died of gangrene at Versailles on 1 September 1715, four days before his 77th birthday. Enduring much pain in his last days, he finally “yielded up his soul without any effort, like a candle going out” while reciting the psalm Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina (O Lord, make haste to help me). His body was laid to rest in Saint-Denis Basilica outside Paris. It remained there undisturbed for about 80 years until revolutionaries exhumed and destroyed all the remains to be found in the Basilica.
By the time of his death, Louis was predeceased by most of his immediate legitimate family. His last surviving son, the Dauphin, died in 1711. Barely a year later, the Duke of Burgundy, the eldest of the Dauphin’s three sons and then heir to Louis, followed his father. Burgundy’s elder son, Louis, Duke of Brittany, joined them a few weeks later. Thus, on his deathbed, Louis’s heir was his five-year-old great-grandson, Louis, Duke of Anjou, Burgundy’s youngest son.
Louis foresaw a minority and sought to restrict the power of his nephew, Philip II, Duke of Orléans, who, as closest surviving legitimate relative in France, would become the prospective Louis XV’s regent. Accordingly, he created a regency council as Louis XIII did in anticipation of his own minority with some power vested in his illegitimate son, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, Duke of Maine.
Orléans, however, had Louis’s will annulled by the Parlement of Paris after his death and made himself sole regent. He stripped Maine and his brother, Louis-Alexandre, Count of Toulouse, of the rank of Prince of the Blood, which Louis had granted them, and significantly reduced Maine’s power and privileges.
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
“Have you seen the giant butt plug yet?” asked my friend Jean Francois casually after we left ‘La Pascade’ two Fridays ago. La Pascade, a hip new restaurant had just opened up around the corner from Place Vendome.
"What" I said shocked by his remark. "Did you just say?"
"The giant Butt Plug" said Jean Francois "that new sculpture in Place Vendome that everyone's talking about"
I had to admit I hadn't.
"Follow me" he said and off we went, Larry, me, and Jeff's partner Helene, to Place Vendome just three blocks away. Place Vendome is probably the chicest and most expensive square in Paris, home to such fine establishments as the Ritz Hotel (the Hotel that Princess Diana stayed the night she was killed), Charvet, Cartier, Van Cleef, Dior and more.
And there it stood. A giant green thing that resembled something, but I honestly admit that I didn't think anyone could be that crude to put up an anal sex toy. It had to be a tree.
“It’s a tree” I said “a form that someone’s going to wrap Christmas lights around for the holidays, that’s all”
“No, it’s a butt plug” he insisted as he snapped a photo on his iphone in dark of the night. “Everyone’s peessed off” he said. (He pronounces his ‘i’s as ‘e’s which I find adorable.)
I frankly didn’t beleive him because Jean Francois is always playing tricks and trying to be funny. But this time he was dead serious. Many people in Paris were infuriated and this sculpture called ‘Tree’ by Paul Mc Carthy had people fuming mad.
Here’s the story and the furor it created.
Called “Tree”, the piece by Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy was erected in Paris’s upmarket Place Vendôme on Thursday, Oct.16th as part of the ‘FIAC’ international art festival which begins next week. We saw it the following night.
The inflatable artwork was intended to represent a Christmas tree, according to McCarthy, but caused outrage among some due to its resemblance to an anal plug sex toy, prompting calls for city authorities to remove it.
Feeling was so strong that McCarthy, 69, has said he was slapped three times in the face by a passer-by as the artwork was unveiled.
Some angry Paris residents took matters into their own hands, with photos posted on Twitter overnight the following Friday showing the installation lying on its side and looking limp and deflated after apparently being vandalised.
French journalist Renaud Pila tweeted that the FIAC took the decision to deflate the artwork after a number of saboteurs cut the cords holding it up.
The art festival later announced that McCarthy had decided against reinflating the piece as “the artist was worried about potential trouble if the work was put back up”.
McCarthy himself said: “Instead of a profound reflection about objects as a mode of expression with multiple meanings, we have witnessed violent reactions.”
It follows a social media outcry over the artwork, with French conservative group Printemps Français (French Spring) among those criticising the piece.
“A giant 24-metre butt plug has been erected at Place Vendome,” the group tweeted. “Place Vendome disfigured, Paris humiliated!”
But the attack on the artwork has prompted an equally strong reaction among others, including Paris’s deputy mayor Bruno Julliard.
McCarthy has asserted the piece is indeed a Christmas tree, but admitted to ‘Le Monde’ that he was partly inspired by the shape of a butt plug.
“Originally, I thought that a butt plug had a shape similar to the sculptures of Romanian artist Constantin Brâncusi. Afterwards, I realised that it looked like a Christmas tree,” the artist told the newspaper.
“People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.”
That wasn’t exactly true.
It wasn’t the first time Paul McCarthy had done this. In 2001, he created “Santa Claus” for the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Originally, it was intended to be placed next to the concert hall at the locally famous “Schouwburgplein” square, but it never was. This was due to controversies around the statue: The work is seen by many citizens as having sexual connotations, and, therefore it also is colloquially called “Butt Plug Gnome”. Its original location was rejected by citizens and retailers, as well as several other proposed locations. On November 28, 2008, it did, however, receive a permanent destination on the Eendrachtsplein square, within a walkway-of-statues project.
My dearest friend the liberal minded and non judgemental Jean Francois told me he couldn’t care less. But apparently he was a minority.
In view of the rising unrest in France of the poor against the super rich, maybe the artist was intentionally thumbing his nose at the ‘richesse’ of the Place Vendome square. In any event, this hasn’t helped the already ailing French/American relations.
The public and art world hated Monet and Van Gogh’s work decades before. Maybe McCarthy is just ahead of his time. Or maybe, depending on how you feel about it, he’s a filthy minded degenerate as most Parisians have now labelled him.
I just find it in supremely bad taste and have never much cared for art or artists that exploit sex to sell their work. There are much more creative and interesting ways to create a buzz. I think he’s just boring as is his tree.
In any event, McCarthy has generated worldwide publicity that would have cost him millions otherwise. This story has appeared in every major publication including Time Magazine.
I do know one thing, I and millions of other people now know who Paul McCarthy is. For better or worse. And if that was his intention, he scored big time. Way to go Paul.
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
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.
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.
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.
Last week, a humor columnist from the New Yorker magazine penned this headline: “Man Infected With Ebola Misinformation Through Casual Contact With Cable News”.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
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.
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 greatest French architect of the era of Louis XIII was Salomon de Brosse who designed the Palais du Luxembourg for Marie de Medici.
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.
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.
The Antique Warehouse,
226 SW Marine Drive,
Ever think of incorporating a ‘Medieval’ antique 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.
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 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.
Thanks for reading.
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)
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”.
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.
(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.)
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)
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.
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.
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226 SW Marine Drive,
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
“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).
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ).
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.
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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.
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.
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.
André Jacob Roubo
Roger Vandercruse Lacroix
Bernard II van Risamburgh
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.
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!
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226 SW Marine Drive,
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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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.:)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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 ‘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.
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.
Over and out.
Have a great September.
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
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!
The Antique Warehouse
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 boxes are only $26/box for all these organic pre-washed blueberries!
They also sell these fabulous blueberry bonbons. ( I bought a small box and they are delicious!)
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!)
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!