For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts
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    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

    In a Nutshell: Blaze of Glory

    All Fabergé objects are emblems of a vanished world, but the cigarette cases made by the great Russian luxury firm also represent a vanishing custom. “It was positively eccentric not to smoke in 1900,” says Geoffrey Munn, managing director of Wartski, a London dealer that specializes in Fabergé. Continue reading

    Coats of Many Colors

    The difference between a mediocre piece of American painted furniture and a great one is measured in a span smaller than an inch. Vulnerable to the ravages of time and the whims of fashion, few of these furnishings have survived the centuries with their painted surfaces intact. Continue reading

    Exhibitions: Sèvres’ Success

    Since the mid-18th century, Sèvres has produced porcelain for monarchs, diplomats and private collectors alike. Even as the factory’s wealthy clients were put to the guillotine in the midst of the French Revolution, the National Convention decided that Sèvres must continue to run. “We all know that French history is riddled with changes of regime and political and social turmoil over the centuries,” says Liana Paredes, curator of a new Sèvres exhibition at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C. “What were the factors that safeguarded this factory and its production through such a long history?” Continue reading

    Books: The Other Hot Pot

    Everybody now knows the story of the Euphronios krater, the sixth-century B.C. Greek masterpiece of vase painting that the Metropolitan Museum gave back to Italy last year. But what about the Euphronios kylix? A companion piece to the krater, this delicate drinking vessel shows an earlier version by the artist of the scene depicted on the krater—the body of the Homeric hero Sarpedon being carried off the battlefield of Troy by Sleep and Death. Continue reading

    Collecting: Premium Blend

    For 40 years London dealer Indar Pasricha has been collecting Indo-European furniture, a hybrid genre that was a byproduct of the spice trade that brought the Portuguese, and later the Dutch, French and English, to the Indian subcontinent and its island neighbor, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). “The ebony furniture, with its low-relief carving, looks extraordinary in a modern setting,” says Pasricha. Continue reading