From the Tower of London to the Gates of Paradise
Written for Art, Antiques and Design (By Gail Green)
The 24th Annual Preview Party for the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers show last night presented a cavalcade of sterling objects. Silver, jewels, books, paintings, statues, and objet’s d’art from ancient to modern times are on glorious display, glimmering in their finery.
You Can’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover…..Or, Can You?
The startlingly beautiful binding by Germaine de Coster does just that. Sunburst’s of radiating gilt fillets dart out from a center motif of green and orange dogs, so beautiful and whimsical, one is almost weary about the measure of beauty residing within the tome itself. Yet, this 1924 Vollard edition of Pierre Bonnards’ illustrations to Octave Mirbeau’s Dingo prove a just balance. The illustrations are exquisitely executed with as fine a hand as the binding, each complimenting and contributing to the piece as a whole.
A Desk is a Desk is a Desk….Or, is it?
Born of a similar time is Maison Gerard’s 1945 writing table by Andre Arbus. Made of the finest Mahogany with inlay leather top and gilt-bronze ornaments and sabots, the desk is an exemplary period piece. Lifted slightly above the floor by pyramidal shaped gold sabots, this chic and serious desk is made light by its panoply of geometric forms that cleverly interplay at the base.
Going Back in Time …to the 18th / 19th Century
Hyde Park Antiques’ superlative rare 1805 George III Satinwood and Mahogany secretaire bookcase has lots of stories to tell. This Thomas Weeks cabinet is no mean piece. Replete with clock, bookcase, desk and urns, it is a serious bibliophile’s dream. As Rachel Karr of Hyde Park notes, “This unusual cabinet was made right around the turn of the 19th century at the end of the Georgian period and exhibits Thomas Weeks impeccable craftsmanship.” Attributed to George Simpson and made for Weeks, it exhibits a blend of the waning of the Georgian Neoclassical period with its urn motifs and the burgeoning of the regency style. Karr says that the “cabinet retains all the original fittings, including the clock and original works which is very rare, as most of them had been subsequently removed by the Victorians.” The enclosed desk with leather-lined writing surface is a delightful surprise – one can only imagine what delights occupied its secretive small drawers!
The Sword in the Stone – Indeed!
Need one worry about making one’s way through the show, fret not. Peter Finer’s exquisitely crafted procession sword, made for the City of Brunswick in 1560, will help make your way. Looking more like King Arthur’s Excalibur than a soldier’s weapon of destruction, the knightly double-handed blade exhibits a magisterial beauty fit for a king. Made with iron pommel of crutch shape with hooked ends, it’s blackened face is richly etched with flowers and grotesque birds. All kinds of motifs abound. Here, the quillions are engraved to resemble fish tails, arabesque foliage dress each side of the riband-like ring guards, and trophies-of-arms upon a granular ground adorn each side. Exhibited at the Tower of London and from the Collections of the Dukes of Brunswick, the sword makes an impressive entry into the show!
Into the Looking Glass…by Paul and Max Ingrand
Not just any glass, but Bernd Goeckler’s three-panel verre eglomise screen by Paule and Max Ingrand. The detailed and magnificently painted glass reflects a pastoral scene of flute player, birds, boats and crenelated tower. More calming than Alice’s Wonderland, the panels depict a landscape, at once colorful and serene. The golden tree, from which a pied piper sings his songs in unison with the swooping swishes of boats and birds, offer a vision of paradise.
From the Towers of London to the Gates of Paradise, these wondrous items display the vast selection of unusual and memorable antiques found at the Fine Art and Antiques Armory show. Here, the perfect blending of all the arts come together to celebrate beauty at its best.
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