Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photo of the Day

Getting locked in a floral theme I guess...

This bit of colorful floral embroidery comes from a circa 1745 court dress in the earlier mantua style. Feast your eyes on these door blocking proportions.
Botanically correct embroideries and similarly printed floral textiles were all the rage in Rococo England thus the width of this dress maximizes the opulent display of the owner's wealth and status.
Detail of back via

It amazes me that pieces like this survive, again we must thank the country house tradition where this was likely pased down and stowed in an attic. The Victoria and Albert Museum acquired it from a Christie's textiles sale in 1969 with no provenance, but photographs later surfaced showing the piece in the late 19th/early 20th century and associating it with the wedding of an Isabella Courtenay on May 14, 1744. Read the rest of the details here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Photo of the Day

A pop of detail to start your day...

This lush marquetry (inlaid wood) panel is mounted on a French circa 1700 armoire made by court designer Andre Charles Boulle. His surname has become synonymous with rich inlays. A piece of furniture inlaid with tortoiseshell and engraved metals is known as "boullework" wether it was made in the 17th century or last Tuesday...
It is over the top but is a complete tour de force, the lower two panels in particular are what we classically know as boullework. The floral marquetry thew me for a loop as I usually associate it with Flemish tables...but I digress.
It really is amazing, especially the butterflies and detail achieved to the parakeets. When new the inlays would have been dyed in naturalistic tones.
This detail of the corner shows horn that has been flattened and painted blue to the verso and inlaid with metals. I had to make sure it wasn't lapis. Very wild, but surprisingly the pop of color works. Until next time. -AR

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Photo of the Day

Not trying to stay on a sculptural theme...I just love this detail.

This lush detail is from the Fontaine du Marché-aux-Carmes in the Square Gabriel-Pierné in Paris...
The fountain was sculpted by Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard (brother of Jean-Honoré Fragonard) in 1830 for the Marché-aux-Carmes. It stayed in the Marché until 1930 when it was moved to its present location.
EUGÈNE ATGET, Fontaine, marche des Carmes, rue des Carmes: V Quartier de la Sorbonne, 1898 via Phillips de Pury & Company

The single herm is composed of bust with two faces dedicated to commerce and abundance. It is very stark and commanding in its present location which is more about tranquility and open space...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Photo of the Day

Today's installment takes a more classical approach...
May I present the figure of the River God from the Parthenon in Athens....presently located at the British Museum in London. To keep things light I won't go into Lord Elgin and the controversy of how the Parthenon marbles made there way to England, you can read that story here.
Detail of the River God facing toward the remnant of Hermes. The detail I shot reflects the surface imperfections that have resulted in another intriguing visual layer to these have to love the romantic nature of a ruin.
The back of the River God... I remember in art school how the professor went on a tear bout the level of finish the statues have considering they were to be viewed from from a great distance and the backs were never to be seen once installed on the pediment. I must say it is amazing to see in person. There was no need to finish the back of this figure so perfectly.
Backs of the other west pediment figures.
The "wet drapery" clad figures of Hestia, Dione and Aphrodite. The fabric defies logic but to once so rippled and massed and yet sheer and clingy.
Last but not least the haunting head of the the horse Selene.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photo of the Day

I encountered this beauty at an exhibition in Paris. Any guesses?

This lacquer detail is derived from a chic little side cabinet designed by Paul Follot ca. 1920.

The cabinet came from a rare early 1920s home that was decorated by Follot from stem to stern. When I heard that it was stamped the connoisseur in me could not resist....I had to flip it over. With the number of deco fakes around it is always great to inspect a period stamp on a fully documented piece.
The cabinet in-situ ca. 1922 via Camard
The interior was published in Mobilier et Decoration in 1922. Note the cabinet is at the extreme right and that the piano at left has the same rose decoration. Follot is not an iconic name but he is rather important maker from the period when the early modernist movement transitioned into fully realized art deco.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo of the Day

Now this one is a bit obscure, but I love it. Any takers?

Any fans of the Tudors might have had an idea about this one. It is a circa 1500 English court collar chain.
Chains of this sort became popular in the English court starting in the 14th century and often carried a pendant that indicated a particular allegiance or membership. I first became interested in the S-linked chains when I first encountered Hans Holbein (the younger's) hauntingly realistic portrait of Sir Thomas Moore at the Frick Collection. View it in person if you can. It is amazing.
Hans Holbein, the younger, Portrait of Sir Thomas Moore via Google Art Project
Detail of Moore's Chain via Google Art Project

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Photo of the Day

Not such a severe crop on this one. Do you know where it is? I love stolen moments like this... the play of really transports you.

Well Lord Cowell nailed it (thanks for the comment). If you have not seen his lush blog you can find it here. It is indeed a detail from the corner of the Grand Salon in the Napoleon III Apartments in the Louvre.
My work trips usually leave me with downtime on odd weekdays. These are the best times to slip into venerable institutions to have a little quiet time in a great space. Below is a view a small reception off the main hall.
This was a great morning....good early spring light. The firm Virtual Sweden has done an excellent virtual tour of the Grand Salon, and while filled with people, it is truly amazing. Be sure to pan up to take in the ceiling...astounding. Until tomorrow. -AR

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photo of the day

The blue is quite refreshing, no?

This little blue lacquered lovely is one of a pair of two tole tulip jardinieres on display at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris.
Now these are unusual because of their jaunty blue ground. Typically tole items that is tarted up with Asian lacquer motifs opt for more somber earth tones overall. These examples date to the reign of Louis XV.
I would say that they are rather late Louis XV as they are starting to stiffen-up and embrace Neoclassicism (note the fluted pilaster corners).
Paris became quite the center for painted tole wares. The versatility of the medium allows it to quickly follow the shifts in fashion and these luxury goods stayed in demand from the 1740s well into the first half of the 19th century. However their utilitarian nature and the inherent conservation issues with metals make them a rather rare survival today.
You can see these lovelies, among other delicious objects within the Blue Salon from the hotel Brulart de Genlis reinstalled among the enfilade of period rooms at the Musée Carnavalet

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Photo of the Day

This one is a bit tough. It was new to me when I encountered it last winter. (Hint: I was in London)

Ok, I admit this one is hard as it is a one of a kind departure for the artist. May I present the Melchett Fire Basket designed by British sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger in 1930.
Jagger is better known for his war memorials but this work from the tail end of his life reflects his embracing of art deco. This unusual basket was part of a larger commission for Henry and Gwen Mond (later Lord and Lady Melchett) for the drawing room of "Mulberry House" their Edwin Lutyens designed home in Westminster.
Jagger's bas relief panel above the mantel is entitled "Scandal" and references the then shocking menage a trois arrangement the Monds and writer Gilbert Cannan had prior to their marriage. Read the entire story in Eric Turner's 2009 article in Apollo is fascinating.
The daring relief shows a pair of lovers naked and subject to the finger pointing and whispers of society gossip. The iconography of the fire basket had to be pointed out to me. I thought it was all about exoticism, sleek deco cats and cool stylized maidens. But it is meant to be a visual reminder of the two-faced nature and cattiness of society which often parrots idle gossip not thinking about its veracity or negative effects. Meow...I get it, and how clever indeed. The drawing room was designed by architect Darcy Braddell and had lavish silver leaf classical themed murals by Glen Philpot and green bronze doors.
The drawing room at Mulberry House ca. 1930. Photo: Country Life via the V&A
I must admit, while the English expressions of art deco are not as iconic as what emerged in France, this room got it right. Its cool classical sleekness predates what we now more popularly identify as "Hollywood Regency".
The drawing room at Mulberry House ca. 1930. Photo: Country Life via Apollo Magazine
Turner's article conveys that the interior was believed lost in the blitz in 1940. However, the fire basket emerged at Sotheby's in 2004 and "Scandal" surfaced in the Robin Roberts sale at Christie's in 2007. They were both secured by the Victoria & Albert Museum where they are finally reunited and on display.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Photo of the Day

So here is the next installment. This one really caught my eye and made me fish out my camera like a tourist... so glad I did! AR

UPDATE: Well there were no takers on this one, but here you go. This is an un usual tile detail from the facade of a Parisian townhouse at 27 bis Quai Anatole France.
The structure was designed by Richard Bouwens van der Boije in 1905. It is a rather restrained version of art nouveau but the yellow tiles really pop. The round ceramic tiles of the facade were concieved as stylized flowers and are the handiwork of the formidable ceramicists Gentil et Bourdet. Bouwens went on to design the public rooms of the Normadie! You learn something new each and every day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Photo of the Day

In an effort to creep into your internet lives on a more regular basis I have opted to post design tid-bits from my back catalogue. I will still be bringing you more thoughtful posts but I hope these morsels will fill the void when I am otherwise engaged. Not sure how this will work, but comment if you wish, make a guess as to what it is and perhaps I will follow-up with insights. Best regards to all at the start of this new week...AR

Update: This repousse silver detail comes from a surprisingly factory made coffeepot.
It was designed by Fritz Schmoll von Eisenwerth in 1913 for the firm of P. Bruckmann & Sons of Heilbronn. Jugendstil designs such as these always remind me the German expression of art nouveau really had the jump on art deco by more than a decade. If you squint just right you would almost think it was by Sue et Mare.
Sue et Mare for Christofle circa 1930 via Christie's

While the flowers pack a visual punch, the handle is quite exquisite as well.