History of the Bureau Plat (Flat Desk)Posted on Feb 8th, 2017 | Perma Link
Louis XIV’s Bureau Mazarin
When it came time to design a formal writing desk, the French did it to a grand scale. Conceived around the 1660s, the bureau Mazarin featured a huge, flat top, a kneehole-style body with 3 drawers on either side, a bow front, and 8 legs—four per pedestal, often with curving, Baroque stretchers. Named after Louis XIV’s principal minister, this was the first incarnation of the French-style “writing table,” a majestic piece with regal, vertical proportions and splendid brass inlay made famous by André Boulle.
Simpler versions of the bureau Mazarin existed, imitated from Holland to Britain, with tops inland with gorgeous marquetry. The French, however, always upped the ante.
Louis XV-style Bureau Plat
But the bureau Mazarin would be “out,” along with the rest of Baroque’s heavy style. The Rococo-style bureau plat (“flat desk”) was more like a table, with a slender row of drawers, cabriole legs, and serpentine curves. They were definitely status symbols for the aristocracy—beautifully outfitted pieces dedicated solely to the art of being educated. Eventually, Louis XVI style brought about the straight, tapered lines of Neoclassicism, and the bureau plat was modified to have the famous cylinder top—with smaller versions of both for ladies of the house. The bureau plat remains a popular form of desk today, adjusting well to modern minimalism and chic offices.
Pleyel et Cie of Paris Piano - Handpainted with Foral DesignPosted on Feb 8th, 2017 | Perma Link
PLEYEL PIANO COMPANY HISTORY: Pleyel is one of the most celebrated and renowned piano names in history. Ignaz Pleyel was not only a piano manufacturer, but also a successful musician, inventor, and publisher. Pleyel was a renowned musician and composer, beginning in the late 18thCentury. Pleyel moved to Paris in about 1795 and opened his first music store and publishing house. Seeing the fast rising popularity of the piano-forte, Pleyel founded the Pleyel Manufacturing Plant in Paris in 1807.
At his death in 1831, Pleyel had become an established supplier to the Empress Josephine and all the European courts. His pianos were exported all over the world and his name was celebrated among the highest of society. His son Camille, also a great pianist, gained control of the firm after his father's death, and continued to make the Pleyel firm an international sensation.
Pleyel played a significant role in strengthening and broadening the activities of the Pleyel brand. Firstly, Augustus Wolff who introduced numerous innovations improving the reliability of the company's pianos, creating new models such as the upright piano and Gustave Lyon, who took over in 1887. Pleyel continued with great success throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries, providing top quality concert instruments for stages all over the world.
Pair of Stone Statues was Property of The Hon Belinda Belleville of the Pensbury House, ShaftesburyPosted on Feb 6th, 2017 | Perma Link
Pair of Stone Statues was Property of The Hon Belinda Belleville of the Pensbury House, Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury is a town and civil parish in Dorset, England. It is situated on the A30 Road, 20 miles (32 kilometres) west of Salisbury, near to the border with Wiltshire. It is the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset, being built about 215 metres (705 ft) above sea level on a greensand hill on the edge of Cranborne Chase.
The town looks over the Blackmore Vale, part of the River Stour basin. From different viewpoints, it is possible to see at least as far as Glastonbury Tor to the northwest.
Shaftesbury is the site of the former Shaftesbury Abbey, which was founded in 888 by King Alfred and became one of the richest religious establishments in the country, before being destroyed in the Dissolution in 1539.
Luxurious Leather Chesterfield SofasPosted on Feb 2nd, 2017 | Perma Link
It is believed that Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), commissioned the first leather chesterfield settee with its distinctive deep buttoned, quilted leather upholstery and low seat base. ... The Chesterfield sofa is certainly a refined and mannerly example of a beloved luxurious style of seating.
Chinoiserie is derived from the French word Chinois, meaning "Chinese"Posted on Feb 2nd, 2017 | Perma Link
Chinoiserie, derived from the French word Chinois, meaning "Chinese") is the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions, especially in the decorative arts, garden design, architecture, literature, theater, and musical performances. First appearing in the 17th century, this trend was popularized in the 18th century due to the rise in trade with China and East Asia. As a style, chinoiserie is related to the Rococo style. Both styles are characterized by exuberant decoration, asymmetry, a focus on materials, and stylized nature and subject matter that focuses on leisure and pleasure, while chinoiserie focuses on subjects that were thought to be "Chinese."
Gorgeous Sculpture by Germain JanssensPosted on Feb 1st, 2017 | Perma Link
Germain Janssens was born in 1920 into a modest family in Gentbrugge. In 1937 he joined The Post as a postman. From 1947 to 1955 he was a student at the Royal Academy in Ghent, drawing department, modeling and sculpting. In his works the human figure was his main source of inspiration, as well as the images of the English sculptor Henry Moore. The "waist direct" (working directly in hard material such as wood or marble) was taking one of his preferences.
Beautiful Wooden Sculpture by Ernest WijnantsPosted on Jan 31st, 2017 | Perma Link
Ernest Wijnants was a friend and fellow townsman of the Brabant Fauvist Rik Wouters, who has remained much better known by his more daring and innovative style. He was born into a working class family in Mechelen in 1878. When he was eleven years old, he had already started working in a furniture company. As soon proved his exceptional talent. The boy worked his way up ornament cutter, which meant that he could concentrate on sophisticated carvings. Leo Cups and lush festoons of flowers and fruit were his specialty.
But the decorative work did not satisfy him. Wijnants enrolled in the class character of the Malines Academy and continued in 1906, the decisive step towards the Brussels Academy, where he attended the classes of the then celebrated sculptor Charles Van der Stappen. His work initially betrays neo-classical and impressionist influences. On the eve of the First World War, he had found his own style, which was in line with the pure, silent figures of George Minne and the Gothic sculpture.
After several difficult years, where he could keep afloat thanks to the grocery store of his wife's career Wijnants continued in the right direction. He exhibited at the famous Brussels gallery Giroux, made an impressive series of bathers for a patron and became a teacher at the Academy and the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp. He received several major orders. Still every day thousands of drivers pass the images of Wijnants on the bridge over the canal at Sainctelette in Brussels.
Naked girl figures were the favorite theme of Ernest Wijnants. His nudes are delicate and sensual, and bear witness to the quiet understated beauty. Much care he devoted to the style of the figures, like he accented it with a graceful jewel. In a time of artistic experimentation and extreme deformations, Wijnants remained faithful to the traditional beauty. Classical Greek sculpture, but also the Indian and Egyptian sculpture (including the image of Nefertiti) left clear traces in his work. Images such as "The Good Shepherd" and "The javelin thrower" illustrate that he could handle other issues.
Beautiful Etched Glass Doors from the Iconic Biba Emporium, London EnglandPosted on Jan 30th, 2017 | Perma Link
One of my most enduring memories of growing up in the late 1960s is the meteoric rise and fall of Biba. In the time it took for the adolescent to turn into art student, Barbara Hulanicki's inspirational London fashion enterprise grew from niche boutique into seven-storey mega-store. Now, 40 years after Hulanicki opened the first Biba in Abbingdon Road, Kensington, relics of her distinctive high-street look are highly collectible.
In its ascendancy, Biba fed a generation's taste for moody retro romanticism in dimly lit Victorian shops furnished with antiques. Later, in what was Derry & Toms, an art deco department store in Kensington High Street, it became Big Biba, a glittering temple of youth, a complete lifestyle emporium (the first and, arguably, the last of its kind). And then, in a moment of spectacular failure, it sank like the Titanic into mis-management and mid-1970s recession.
Even then, in those last days, as I sat in the decaying glamour of Biba's Rainbow Room, I knew that this was the end of an era. I just wish I'd had the foresight to realise that the jumble-sale piles of clothes would be worth something some day.
Nowadays, prices are high, partly because Biba clothes are rare as well as iconographic. Indeed, it's a mystery how any survived at all, given the quality of some of them.
These days, anything that carries a genuine black and gold Biba label is worth at least a couple of hundred quid. Or more. At Sotheby's Passion for Fashion sale at Olympia last November, a Biba suit and hat ensemble, circa 1974, sold for £540.
A quick tour of London's vintage clothing shops reveals similar prices. Biba Lives, Sonya Smith-Hughe's outlet in Alfie's market in north London, currently has three items of original Biba: notably an early 1970s trouser suit in navy pin-stripe cotton, priced at £425. Kate Moss recently fell in love with it, says Sonya. "But she couldn't squeeze into the trousers." A tendency for Twiggy sizes is one of the downsides of finding fitting garments for born-again Biba girls (collectors' note: look out for impossibly tight sleeves, a hallmark of the classic Biba cut).
At Steinberg & Tolkien, on the King's Road in Chelsea, a late-1960s Biba dress in rust-coloured wool is offered at £260, and an early 1970s red jump-suit woven with a butterfly motif, at £470. Recent sales include two pairs of over-the-knee boots (one in soft caramel suede, the other in lilac) at £350 a pair.
Expensive, yes, but prices are likely to rise in the aftermath of Biba's 40th anniversary in September. Consider, then, the riches of the ultimate Biba girl, a 35-year-old Berliner called Pari (she doesn't own up to a surname), who claims to have the largest collection of original Biba merchandise in the world. She is too young to remember the store, but when she discovered the clothes (a fitted jacket bought in Portobello Road 16 years ago) she felt an immediate affinity. "It felt so familiar," she says. As familiar, indeed, as growing up in her aunt's Berlin strip club ("all gilt, mirrors, velvet, fringed lamps, rich dark colours - just like Biba").
As shown by an inventory on her website (www.bibacollection.com), Pari's obsessive collection is impressive: 17 coats, 20 jackets, 78 blouses, 81 dresses, 1 cat suit, 1 satin bedsheet, plus numerous miscellaneous items which reflect the eclectic Biba lifestyle philosophy. Biba did soap flakes, baked beans, false eye-lashes, feather boas, floppy hats, micro-cardigans, hosiery, pillows, magazines, mail order catalogues (photographed by Helmut Newton), playing cards, cocktails, black plates, posters. I could go on.
Pari, who describes herself as a "professional collector" plans to sell her extraordinary Biba archive, though not until after the September launch of Alwyn Turner's anniversary book, The Biba Experience (which features many of her pieces). But unlike her wardrobe of Ossie Clark, which she sold at auction in Los Angeles piece by piece (buyers included Courtney Love, Nicole Kidman and Winona Ryder), she is looking to sell it as a job lot. Indeed, her dream is to see it become a museum collection, preferably in Britain.
She won't say how much she thinks it's worth. But you can't value memories, can you? It's enough to say I was there - even if it does mean showing my age.
'The Biba Experience' (www.thebibaexperience.com) by Alwyn Turner is published on September 7, Antique Collectors Club, £35
Tea Cosy (American English: Tea Cozy) or Tea WarmerPosted on Jan 25th, 2017 | Perma Link
Although the history of the tea cosy may begin when tea was introduced to Britain in the 1660s, the first documented use of a tea cosy in Britain was in 1867. It is probably the Duchess of Bedford who, by establishing the activity of afternoon tea in 1840, would have brought the popularity of the tea cosy. Afternoon tea was the time for networking and keeping up to date with aristocracy gossip and topical news. With all the chatter at tea time the teapot would get cold, which would have at times cut short some tea parties. And so, the tea cosy came about. Tea cosies then flourished during the late 19th century, where they appeared in many households across Britain, motivated by the obsession of decorating and covering objects characteristic of the Vitcorian Era.