top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>One of my favorite museums in NYC is the The Frick Museum. Originally a private residence, it was built by Carrere and Hastings – the same two architects who designed the New York Public Library. It was built with the intention of outshining the Carnegie mansion and that intent shines in each and every room. After the death of Mr. Frick at the beginning of the 1900’s the mansion was converted to an art museum which today takes up a city block and features prominent statues, painted frescos, rich wooden walls, marble fireplaces and bien sur, amazing antique furniture.
to 10px; WIDTH: 302px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 227px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/TOUO6DJ-9kI/AAAAAAAAFPc/0jR-kl-dv7s/s400/Frick%2B2.jpg” border=”0″ />Wherever I travel I like to visit old mansions, castles and cottages so I can imagine life as it was once lived among the caviar chomping and champagne-swilling set. Art to me should be seen in a richly decorated environment, among furniture and frescos so I can get a feel for the time in which the painter might have lived. When I visit the Frick Collection, it’s a visual feast, as I educate my eye, studying the antiques, styles, periods and pieces. Later when I’m out on the street I take that knowledge to the antique boutiques, fairs, markets and auctions and apply that knowledge in a search for pieces that evoke a similar feel.
But Antiques Diva Roving Reporter “Candid Kellogg” recently posed a question to me, “What if – rather than searching for similar styles as found in the museums – you could actually buy a piece in the museum itself?” I nearly swooned at the thought. She went on with a cheeky grin, “Did you know that Rau Antiques has aquired the mate to the Frick Museum’s Carved French Walnut Renaissance Cabinet? And it’s for sell! It’s practically like shopping at the Frick Collection!” Kellogg sighed, “If only this “dressoir” could talk…”
This cabinet, or “dressoir” as the French say, is one of two – The Frick Collection hosts one while Rau Antiques boasts the other. A third similar cabinet is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
One of the twin cabinets was originally purchased by Henry Clay Frick, the industrialist whose business partner was steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. How one of these pieces ended up in the illustrious hands of Rau Antiques, adds a layer of mystery and interest as The Antiques Diva® Team sleuths the trail from the back roads of 16th C France to haute society today.
to 10px; WIDTH: 304px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 228px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/TOUO5rI-1nI/AAAAAAAAFPU/y0xlncyM76U/s400/Frick.jpg” border=”0″ />Both the Frick’s cabinet and Rau’s were crafted in French walnut by the same furniture maker and in the same atelier belonging to the celebrated 16th century French architect Jacques Androuet Ducreceau. The twin cabinets are a visual dictionary of 16th century style: harpies, female anatomy, architectural motifs, depth perspectives, satyrs, masks and strap work.
Flash forward, the next time these dressoir’s are seen is 1845, when the twin cabinets showed up in a furniture restorer’s workshop in Marseilles to repair some wood damage on the backside. Later they both appeared in a major collection in Europe that was purchased by famed antiques dealer Sir Joseph Duveen. This collection of furnishings ended up costing Duveen $1,500,000 dollars and his purchase was reported by major newspapers everywhere. . One of the cabinets went directly to Number One 70th Street, in New York, for Mr. Frick’s approval. Even back then, during WW1, this purchase put the Frick cabinet as the world’s most expensive piece of furniture to ever sell anywhere. In today’s market, this piece of furniture is worth more any furniture from Versailles.
to 10px; WIDTH: 227px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 302px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/TOUO6SIC-jI/AAAAAAAAFPk/Hy5CDnI2dt8/s400/Frick%2B3.jpg” border=”0″ />But what happened to the stray twin? It went its separate way for over a 100 years until Bill Rau of Rau Antiques received a phone call in 1996 from a collector who owned the matching Frick cabinet. The owner asked Rau if he had access to the antiques book, “World Furniture”, considered the textbook for serious antique furniture dealers.
On page 42 Bill Rau found a rendering of the very same cabinet. Rau eventually convinced the collector to part with the piece and now Rau Antiques counts among it’s collection one of the most esteemed pieces of furniture in existence. Now that, dear readers, is what I call a Diva-Scovery!
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to 10px; WIDTH: 160px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 120px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/TN1OIyKlryI/AAAAAAAAFOk/6pdzg4vjrHg/s400/auction%2Bhunters%2Blogo.jpg” border=”0″ />The LA Times says it “should satisfy fans of the Antiques Roadshow”
As I transform my Venice apartment into a home, I take pleasure in the process of unpacking the pieces I’ve collected and arranging (and re-arranging!) them into tableaus that please my eye. The French art of mise en scène – putting things in place – to give my home the ambiance and personality that I want to project. For guests of course, but I honestly arrange my collections for myself.
What is your definition of home? I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a house a home… for me it’s a space filled with people and laughter in the air. Fabulous smells coming from the kitchen, open bottles of wine and champagne always on tap. It’s antiques and family heirlooms, next to flea market finds and objet d’art, and the odd pieces of Ikea. It’s window boxes and shutters and flowers in every room and candles alongside cozy places to read. A real home is a mix of high and low… beautifully choreographed moments for a life well lived. I’m a natural collector. But how does one start a collection? Today my favorite dandy (j’adore being called The Dandy and The Diva!), Gary Inman is sharing with us his expert advice on the art of collecting. Don’t miss Gary’s favorite books on the art of collecting!
Featured image: William Morris textiles and wallpaper set the tone for this Virginia mudroom. The table is an antique Chippendale inspired fretwork design. English tole, majolica, and French garden finials provide character to the space. The bespoke herringbone floor is by Waterworks.
All images provided by Gary Inman
The Art of Collecting
Everyone is a collector, some just don’t know it yet. After twenty-five years of designing and decorating luxury homes, I have had many clients insist that they’re not collectors, only to become impassioned collectors once they discover their genre. Helping them find their passion has been one of the most rewarding parts of my practice. If you think back to your childhood, you’ll surely recall something you collected with unbridled enthusiasm. It can be as simple as sea shells or baseball cards, but regardless of value, nothing surpasses the thrill of the chase! The objects amassed can be costly or free, academic or whimsical, and the collection can be as small as three objects or as massive as a museum.
As an art historian, I have always admired the erudite collections amassed by legendary collectors such as Henry Francis Dupont, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Sir Richard Wallace, Albert Barnes, Richard Jenrette or Henry Clay Frick. Their mammoth collections are now available to the world at museums and historic buildings devoted to the conservation of their achievements. Some collectors become as famous at their curations which are significantly autobiographical. Gertrude Stein, Carolyne Roehm, Coco Chanel and my personal favorite, Sir John Soane are examples of this phenomenon. I encourage you to visit all the museums associated with these collectors.
So how do you become a collector? I suggest you begin by doing your homework. Read the books I’ve listed below, visit antique shops and shows, research various categories such as ceramics, silver, textiles, art, antiques, illustrations, the list is endless. Also, survey auction houses and online dealers and wait for the magic to happen. You will discover a passion that will bring you joy for a lifetime! Once you buy that first piece you’ll be hooked.
This entrance vignette gave me a chanceto indulge my passion for blue and white porcelain. I love mixing antique and modern, and high and low in these groupings. Add fresh roses for a punch of color and this becomes the perfect first impression.
There are many books on collecting, but here are three that I found to be great references:
- Barbara Milo Ohrbach, A Passion for Antiques. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, 2004.
Commissioned paintings can be centralto an art collection. Lea Barksdale’s bold blue stripe leads the eye up the 3 level staircase. Erika Vaden (left) captured the spirit of Cy Twombly in this vibrant blue calligraphy inspired painting.
Gary M. Inman
Vice President, Hospitality at Baskerville