Jun 222017
 

From a bygone age of elegance survives this exquisite bronze and green marble-glass letter-holder by world famous Tiffany & Co. Dating from about 1910, this object has everything one could desire in a classic piece of Art Nouveau: quality, color, pattern, patination, and luminance! Letter-holders like this were once popular items in the early 20th century. This example is in Tiffany’s timeless pine cone pattern; pine trees were a popular motif of the era, inspired from the arts and crafts of Japan and China.

A scintillating antique jewel from Tiffany & Co.!

status: available

(please enquire)

 Posted by at 12:41 AM
Feb 122016
 

 

Here is an absolutely magnificent Jugendstil hammered copper jardiniere with bronze handles attributed to Ludwig Vierthaler (1875 – 1967); manufactured by J. Winhart & Co., Munich, Germany, c. 1905.

A formally trained artist, Vierthaler first worked as a silversmith and bronze-caster with Tiffany & Co. in the late 1800s. He later became the design director of the Josef Winhart & Co. metal workshop in Munich. In 1906, he partnered with Eugen Ehrenböck, a competing Munich metalsmith, and they formed the company Ehrenböck & Vierthaler.

Vierthaler’s forms are known for their deeply organic nature enhanced by rich patina. His work can be found in many distinguished collections, both public and private, as well as numerous books on the applied arts of the Jugendstil and Art Nouveau movements.

status: sold

 Posted by at 6:48 PM
Jan 262016
 

 

This object is an ancient kantharos, a two-handled wine cup of Etruscan origin, originally used in Dionysian celebrations and funerary rites; it dates from 625 to 550 BCE. It matches the “Rasmussen Type 3e” as described in the definitive text, “Bucchero Pottery from Southern Etruria“ (Cambridge University Press, 1979) by Tom B. Rasmussen; it also compares favorably with other kantharoi held in the collection of the British Museum, London.

The kantharos measures approximately 8” in width, 6” in height, and 5” in diameter. Considering its great age, overall condition is excellent: beyond one significant chip at the inner rim, and one much smaller opposite, this object is essentially unbroken and without repairs or restorations. Amazingly, the handles are completely intact, and the foot undamaged. This exquisite object presents and displays beautifully, and would look absolutely magnificent in any mid-century modern decor, or collection of antiquities and classical artworks.

status: sold

 Posted by at 2:28 AM
Jan 252016
 

 

Here is an absolutely exquisite antique portrait miniature painting of a beautiful young woman. The technique and draughtsmanship in this piece is absolutely stunning, the subject well observed and gloriously rendered: from the diaphanous lace of the veil to the bright, bold curls of her blond hair. A multitude of almost microscopic brushstrokes create subtle tones and hues of incredible dynamism and vitality. Truly a museum-quality piece!

The subject is a blushing bride in a Regency style wedding dress of pale violet and ivory white, complete with elbow-length gloves and a lace veil with powder-blue rosettes. The classical background is a firmament of clouds opening after a rainstorm, the proverbial silver-lining promise of happily-ever-after.

This portrait miniature is signed “Helene Bogdan” and dated 1913 on the reverse. And yet, despite the date, everything about this piece harkens back to the early 19th century: the fashions (that dress is distinctly not Edwardian!); the quality of the painting is equal or better than most painted 200 years ago (or more); and even the frame belies its origin. This wooden frame is handmade of wood, and designed to be a traveling love-token, to be either hung from the ring or to stand upon a desk using the expertly built prop (that folds away flush within the frame when not deployed). And the fittings also are of a quality not typically seen in the early 20th century: a solid brass hinge and clips, and an exquisite ormolu banding around the portrait itself (this piece, I might add, is also designed like those seen in the 18th and early 19th century, with triangular tabs  to hold the artwork in place).

To be honest, my expertise on portrait miniatures is limited; however, I would not be surprised if both the date and the signature were added later, long after the original creation of this piece. (And, after all, nothing is known about this artist, and that seems odd, given that her talent is so admirable; wouldn’t such an accomplished mistress of the art-from be well known — if not famous — if she were painting just 100 years ago?) Such is the quality and other clues that mark this portrait miniature as a very important piece. And if, indeed painted in 1913, then this was certainly made to reflect and pay homage to the Regency era of portrait miniatures.

Whatever its history and origin, the quality of the artwork speaks for itself — a true masterpiece!

 

status: available

(please enquire)

 Posted by at 2:10 AM
Dec 132015
 

 

Here’s another fine old handmade object to wet your historical whistle! Long before our modern stainless-steel models, unbreakable water bottles were made of wood. This example dates from the mid-18th century, certainly American Revolutionary War-era. The cylinder of the flask is made of a single piece of carved hardwood, making this a ‘log style’ canteen (as opposed to the later, staved barrel type); the two ends have been finely joined, and held in place by hand-forged brass bands with dovetail fittings; the top of the canteen features a decorative brass pour-spout, as well. The leather strap and peg-stoppers have almost been replaced, but approximate the originals.

 

status: available

(please enquire)

 

 

 Posted by at 6:07 PM
Nov 152015
 

 

                          

Marvelous mid-century modern: a beautiful, elegant and sensual sculpture by John W. Anderson, made in 1974. Constructed from anodized aluminum on a plexiglass base, this mobile pivots on two points allowing a myriad of lyrical abstract patterns and shapes to be created.

status: sold

 Posted by at 5:17 PM
Aug 302015
 


Noted African American artist, educator, and art historian, Samella Lewis is well-known for her colorful paintings and prints, but this extraordinary artwork is something altogether different: a deft preparatory sketch for a self-protrait, quickly and expertly executed on a simple, humble piece of paper, and certainly never intended to be anything more than a captured ephemeral moment — perhaps to be given to a friend visiting her studio. Created and dated in 1971, over forty years later, this sketch still retains its powerful charm and indelible character, and represents a rare glimpse into the artistry and technique of a living legend, now 91 years old. In fact, this portrait is one of her most iconic images, and the artist can be seen rendering this very face yet again, all these years later, in this video honoring her achievements during Black History Month in 2012. (The following image is a still from that same video.)

status: sold

 

 Posted by at 1:29 AM
Jun 022013
 

There’s absolutely nothing like the bold design of the middle 20th century, as this hanging lamp attests. A frosted glass orb and a UFO-shaped lamp shade covered in soft velvet-green flocking make for a truly Space Age look: stark, elegant, and perfectly modern. Worthy of any Bond villain’s lair!

status: sold

 Posted by at 9:06 PM
Aug 152013
 

America. 1880-ish. Civil War brewing down South… Meanwhile, somewhere someone is having a soothing after-dinner cigar and fortifying his spirits with a little snifter of something special poured from one of an elegant pair of leaded cut-crystal decanters made by that most famous and fabled of American craftsmen: Tiffany & Co.

The whole experience satisfies the soul: the glint of the sterling silver tags in the glooming gas-light; the heavy weight and heft of the stopper in the hand; the golden elixir splashing into glass. Of course, the wealthy would only have scotch or bourbon, and perhaps brandy—but never gin! (Far too common a spirit, that gin.)

So, pick your poison… Soda? No. Neat? Certainly!

status: sold

 

 Posted by at 7:39 PM
Oct 282013
 

 

After a long day of photographing the stoic splendors of the Yosemite Valley, Ansel Adams would have, without doubt, repaired to the comparative comfort of his rustic cabin and the inner-sanctum of his den and desk to make notes about his day’s work—and an inkwell precisely like this would have looked right at home there amongst the tidy jumble of pinecones, books and proofs!

Now beautifully patinated, this lovely little box is elegantly fashioned from rolled and riveted copper, overlaid with genuine sterling silver in true Arts & Crafts style. Inside sits the original glass inkwell, blue-black with a century of history and ink residue… Although the piece has no maker’s mark, it’s almost certainly designed by the famous Art Craft Shop of Buffalo, NY.; it perfectly matches, in both shape and form, those produced in the early 1900s.

So lyrical and lovely, it makes one long for the pre-digital days of fountain pens and the long-lost art of writing proper, pen-to-paper letters!

 

status: sold

 Posted by at 9:39 PM
May 272014
 

Magnificent and elegant. this hammered copper tray by Empire is a true statement piece that will command attention amidst any decor. Measuring nearly 14″ in diameter, this bold object embodies the very best qualities of the Arts & Crafts movement: earthy materials; rich patination; raw, hands-on craftsmanship; and striking design elements. Empty, it’s reminiscent of an ancient warrior’s shield; full, it’s a powerful vessel of protection. The hammered textures and raised, riveted motifs give this piece a timeless beauty that only a one-of-a-kind, handmade antique can offer!

status: sold

 

 

 Posted by at 7:30 PM
Jun 152014
 

 

1967: The Summer of Love and rock and roll. But just months before everyone got wild at Woodstock, legendary illustrator Stanley Mouse, the man behind countless classic concert posters and record album-sleeves, produced this iconic image for the Sierra Club’s 10th Biennial Wilderness Conference.

Significantly influenced by the graphic sensibilities of the Art Nouveau movement, Stanley’s work featured heavily ornamented, hand-drawn fonts and intricately decorative scrollwork in psycadellic, eye-bending compositions (his work for The Grateful Dead being the best known examples). The design for this one is a bit more tame; however, the image of the noble savage surrounded by a marijuana-leaf boarder effectively declares, without a doubt, the Sierra Club’s true target audience.

Ephemera like this paper poster were never intended to last longer than the events they advertised, so mint examples like this one that survived the 60s unscathed (like the hippies themselves), are incredibly rare, indeed!

status: sold

 Posted by at 11:05 PM
Aug 162014
 

Here’s yet another fantastic vintage pepper mill designed by the incomparable Jens Harald Quistgaard. Fitted with the famous, flawless Peugeot mechanism, this model is one of his earliest designs (made for Dansk before they brand-named their goods; this one is simply stamped “Danmark”). Wonderfully collectible, this is a quintessential example of artistic form combined with effortless functionality: perfectly Danish Modern.

status: sold

 Posted by at 12:11 AM
Sep 042014
 

 

From the Late Middle Ages to Louis XIV to Martha Stewart, the sunburst mirror has been a favored decorative accent for over 500 years. One if its earliest sightings is in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 painting Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife which features a strikingly similar mirror. Two centuries later, Louis XIV, the fabled Sun King whose chosen emblem was the radiant Sun, gave the Venetian Republic a run for its money by establishing the first Northern European glass and mirror factory at St. Gobain, France. However, Louis didn’t think to combine his love of bright mirrors and golden suns ― that innovation came from industrious craftsman working with the detritus from the looting of the French Revolution. Flash forward to 1940s Paris, and artists like Gilbert Poillerat and Line Vautrin began producing modern examples like the one you see here. And now they’re still popular with modern designers;  regal accents much admired for their timeless style and sunny disposition.

 

status: sold

 Posted by at 5:06 PM
Oct 082014
 

 

                           

 

This is a rare, early abstract sculpture by San Diego artist, Jack Boyd (b. 1934 – d. 1982). The piece is an assemblage of various slabs of steel cut and shaped, then cast in bronze and welded together to form a masterwork of beauty and craftsmanship. This figural work appears to defy gravityand the laws of physicsas ridged metal seems to flow and undulate: a suspended moment perfectly captured, movement and motion immortalized!

 

status: sold

 Posted by at 4:03 PM
Nov 032014
 

 

Straight from the world’s most exclusive catwalks comes this fabulous vintage example of true Parisian bijoux d’art by ACCÈS-OCEAN! This is where modern art and jewelry meet: a stunning pair of sterling silver discs that dangle-drop to geometric resin blocks embedded with flashing opalescent foil.

In the late 1960s, French designer Caroline Anderson studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; afterwards she went to New York, soon becoming involved with The Factory, Andy Warhol’s legendary creative cauldron. She launched ACCÈS-OCEAN in 1975. Working with wood, metal, resin, polyurethane, and plexiglass, her jewelry creations are more modern sculpture than jewelry. Christian Dior, Helmut Lang, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, Lancôme and Guerlain all featured her work in their fashion publicity; ACCÈS-OCEAN was also represented in various galleries in Paris, San Francisco, and New York.

Remarkably fresh and fun after all these years, these future-retro earrings are still way ahead of their time!

 

status: sold

 Posted by at 8:47 PM
Jan 212015
 

To think that this tiny teapot is over 300 years old is remarkable; crafted near the end of the reign of the Chinese emperor Kangxi (1662-1722), this very pretty piece of porcelain has crossed continents, sailed the seas aboard Dutch merchant ships, and certainly steeped countless cups of tea. Yet, it has retained its buxom beauty throughout — even displayed in someone’s front-yard amidst the detritus of more modern, disposable knickknacks, this diminutive teapot declared itself as something special.

Just four inches tall, the pot features a ribbed octagonal compressed balustrade form, a straight spout, “C” shaped handle. and beautifully delicate, hand-painted Imari decorations of cobalt blue underglaze with iron-red and gilt gold overglaze.

Now rescued from obscurity, it will soon be appreciated by a new collector, almost assuredly someone in China. It’s time for this little beauty to return home . . .

status: sold 

 Posted by at 7:24 PM
Feb 222015
 

 

                           

The charm of Mexican folk art is in its combination of elegant stylization, humble materials, and remarkable craftsmanship. This brass and copper mobile is a perfect example. Reminiscent of the work of Sergio Bustamante, and of the same era, this piece is both stylish and whimsical, perfectly mid-century modern: a balancing peacock, decorated with enameled rosettes, gently swings on his perch under two revolving doves circling sunny medallions, each element handmade from copper and brass, hung from a wrought-iron frame. Una espléndida móvil!

status: sold 

 Posted by at 11:08 PM
May 032015
 

 

 

Countless faces: portraits of men, women, and children; endless landscapes; Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion of the nation; the American Civil War; the advent of the automobile . . .  What marvelous, strange and wonderful, or even tragic moments has this lens witnessed and documented?

Manufactured in Paris by famed opticians, Jean Theodor Jamine and Alphonse Darlot, and produced in great numbers in the second half of the 19th century, lenses like this were the Nikon of their day.

Whenever you think of the archetypal, antique wood-box camera, a photographer standing under a black shroud behind it, this was the lens on the front, Jamin-Darlot’s most popular model: the Cône Centraliser featuring rack-and-pinion focus, and a reversible lens-element for taking either portrait or landscape photographs.

This exacting instrument is a triumph of machined brass and ground glass, handmade with precision yet idiosyncratic characteristics that make it desirable to this day — both for aficionados of traditional large-format, wet-plate photography, and also modern devotees that mount these lenses to the latest digital cameras!

 

status: sold

 Posted by at 12:41 AM
Jul 272016
 


This wonderful item is an Indian spice box, the traditional container for the essential spices required for cooking authentic curry; and, like the dish itself, there are many imitators, but few are truly genuine. Many such boxes claiming to be antique are actually cheap, modern reproductions. Thankfully, careful observation will reveal clues of authenticity: the hand-carved decoration should be well worn — the edges and corners will be soft and rounded, worn smooth by centuries of human hands; the patination should be dark, even black at the edges; and also the hardware that holds the lid to body should be appropriately primitive and hand-forged (not just a repurposed nail).

I’ve seen a lot of these boxes — both genuine antiques and reproductions — and this is one of the finest and oldest I’ve had the pleasure of handling. The construction is stout and strong, and the elegant decoration extremely worn. In fact, there is even an old repair at one corner of the lid where an artisan has expertly matched the old border trim. When you hold this box, you can feel the many, many years it has in it. This spice box is at least c. 1800, very likely much older.

The wood is a jungle hardwood, likely rosewood. The lid turns smoothly and evenly, and the base is heavy enough to support the lid when opened (because they are often made of much lighter wood, most reproductions will flop-over and spill when fully opened — you should be very suspicious of any box that isn’t shown with it’s lid open and the box still upright!); it was crucial that the box stayed upright when opened, so none of the valuable spices would be spilled!

This authentic Indian spice box makes an intriguing item of decor and an excellent jewelry box or container for sacred treasures!

status: sold

 Posted by at 2:06 AM
Jan 252016
 

In the Victorian era, romantic courtship happened almost entirely by correspondence; thus a rich and romantic culture developed around letter-writing and related ornaments; and this item is a perfect example: a lovely hanging letter clip in the shape of an lady’s elegant hand. A young suitor’s post or calling-card would be safely guarded under these delicate fingers, awaiting timely delivery to her mistress . . .

This edition is the original design as produced in Birmingham, England by J. & B. Ratcliff Patentee, c, 1845.  — not a later re-cast or copy! The item’s backplate bares the original hallmark: “J&B Ratcliff Patentees Birmingham”. The detail here is absolutely stunning, crisp and elegant, like a piece of classical sculpture with a dark, rich patination that’s completely original — never polished! And the backplate is far longer than later editions (or copies), extending well past the fingertips, allowing plenty of purchase for letters, as well as ensuring artistic balance to the original composition (by 1850, Ratcliff had severely shortened this feature).

An exquisite antique from the age of romantic elegance!

 

status: sold

 Posted by at 5:47 PM
Sep 182015
 

 

In the early 20th century, photography fought to be acknowledged as an authentic art-form in its own right. Consequently, some photographers of the era took inspiration from classical painting and sculpture. This work is a perfect example, taking as its muse Greek architectural decoration, specifically the elegant and noble frieze of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece . . .

The photographer’s name is Nikolas Boris, about which there is some historical information. Research has found that he was a Greek artist and graduate of the Art Academy of Athens who, as a teenager, immigrated to the United States in 1917, and quickly began a successful career as a photography with a studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although almost unknown today, in his time, Boris was a well known and respected artist, publishing his work in the leading photography magazines of the day. He was known for both landscape and portrait photography that embraced the aesthetic of classical oil painting. The Smithsonian Museum owns nine of his photographs made in Greece during the 1920s. This piece is likely from the same era of his career. (For those seeking more information on Nikolas Boris, the 1930/Janurary—December/vol. XXXVII issue of the photographic monthly, Camera Craft offers a brief biography, as well as high praise reviews of his work.)

The bottom margin of the mounting board is signed with the artist’s name and the total of the piece: “Bas Relief”. The name is a reference to the sculptural friezes of the Parthenon in the Acropolis in Athens which depict similar scenes; by placing the models against a mottled backdrop with diffused lighting,and shooting the pose with a shallow depth-of-field, the artist conveys the sculptural technique of low-life stone carving so famously used by Phidias in the Parthenon’s frieze. One last note on the title of this photograph: I believe this is a very early edition of this piece; apparently, later editions (only one of which I was able to locate) were re-named “Greek Athletes”.

Although very old and in less than perfect condition, this photograph still retains is primal power, the artist’s vision and classical composition captured for immortality. This is a rare artwork, and very likely the only one like it you will find available anywhere else! And it will make a stunning addition any decor or collection of early photography, representations of athleticism in art, or, indeed, any admiration of the male figure in motion.

status: sold

 

 Posted by at 2:02 AM

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