For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts
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    Silver, Unstandard

    At Christie’s sale of Important Silver on October 19, the top lot was not a table service or a tea set but a pack of cards. The cards are exquisitely fashioned, thin enough to stack and play with, if not exactly to shuffle. Estimated at $150,000–200,000, they shot up to $554,500, selling to an English dealer who was bidding on behalf of a private collector who specializes in Renaissance art. Continue reading

    The Fanciful Forties

    L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, a short opera by Maurice Ravel with a libretto by Colette, which premiered in Monaco in March of 1925, is about a naughty little boy who comes to regret his bad behavior. This coming to life was more than just a fiction; it was prophetic, because at that time furniture was about to acquire an extraordinary vitality in French society. Continue reading

    Threads of History

    In 1932, a New York engineer, Arthur Arwine, artfully recreated the plush atmosphere of a Turkmen yurt in his Sheridan Square apartment by draping colorful carpets on his walls, his furniture and, of course, his floors. Continue reading

    Organic Ceramic

    By Sallie Brady Bernard Palissy made porcelain come alive in the 16th century, and nature’s forms continue to inspire artists in clay today. When groups of school children are brought to the Wallace Collection, the jewel of a London museum … Continue reading

    Design for Living

    “We’ve been working on this exhibition for more than a decade,” says Kevin W. Tucker, the curator of decorative arts and design at the Dallas Museum of Art, the show’s organizing institution. “There are aspects of Stickley’s vision that, as audiences will see, are very relevant to some of the growing concerns people have today about design and the way they can or do or should live.” Tucker points out, for example, that Stickley designed houses with the landscape in mind and encouraged the use of indigenous building materials. Continue reading

    Gold Standard

    Gold is a seemingly magical substance. Virtually impervious to corrosion, this most malleable of metals can be made to flow, to fold, to be pounded into sheets as thin as foil. It can be shaped and pierced, made solid or hollow, cast to replicate any form the goldsmith desires. Perhaps the most magical technique of all is granulation—affixing patterns of tiny gold balls onto a gold surface. Continue reading

    In a Nutshell: Tales of the Tusk

    In the ancient world, ivory was an elite material for everyday items. Peoples across the world created small and large works of art by carving bone from the tusks of a walrus or an elephant. “Ivory has always been a very highly valued substance; there’s a universality of its usage from antiquity on,” says Steven Alpert, an expert, dealer and collector of traditional Indonesian art and the arts of the Pacific. Continue reading

    Books: Furnishing an Explanation

    It’s unusual for a book about antiques to be published by a major literary house. But Maryalice Huggins’ Aesop’s Mirror is quite an unusual book, by an antiques insider who can tell a good story. It’s a “love story,” as the subtitle says, and the beloved here is an 8-foot-tall gilt mirror decorated with whimsical figures illustrating the ancient fable of the fox and the grapes. Continue reading

    Collecting: All in the Family

    “La Maladie de Porcelaine” was what Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and king of Poland, called the obsession that led him to amass one of the world’s greatest collections of this decorative substance. Among his holdings were superb examples from China’s Qing Dynasty, including the beautiful and popular varieties known as famille rose and famille verte. Continue reading

    Collecting: Neo-Colonialism

    In 1851, feeling very good about itself and its place among the nations, England threw its wealth and commercial muscle behind an idea conceived by Prince Albert, the German-born husband of its beloved Queen Victoria. Under the prince’s leadership, The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations opened on May 1 of that year beneath the vaulting glass and iron of Sir Joseph Paxton’s immense Crystal Palace. Continue reading