Once Upon A Time: S. van Leeuwen

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Photo of Noordeinde Palace Courtesy of www.the-hague.info

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Once upon a time, in a land made not-so-far away due to transatlantic flights criss-crossing the globe, making anywhere you want to go a mere hop, skip, and airline ticket away, there was the most interesting of antiques shop located in the “Kingdom of Orange”. Just a stone’s throw away from Holland’s Royal Palace, within waving distance of Queen Bea, S. van Leeuwen Antiques dwells in a charming 18th C mansion complete with a Jugendstil store-front and an original tiled entryway. This shop has been handed down within the “Lion Family” from generation to generation, landing in the capable hands of the stores current proprietor, Alexander van Leeuwen.

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Queen Bea waving in front of Paleis Het Loo

For nearly 100 years, S. van Leeuwen Antiques has reigned as a protector of Dutch heritage. Within the walls of the building (which is a national monument in its own right), you’ll find one of my favorite collections of 17th- 19th Century Dutch antiques for sale in the whole of Holland.

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S. Van Leeuwen Antiques – The Hague

It’s a funny fact that finding Dutch antiques to buy in The Netherlands is downright difficult. You can roam antique shop after antique shop with varied inventory from around the world without finding nary a Dutch antique one. Though the Dutch have a history for excellence in engraved chests, embossed cabinets, Friesian clocks, heavy brass fittings, Biedermeier and Empire styles with dark colors, heavy furnishings and wood paneling, these locally made items are quite difficult to find. Rarely does an antique shop in Holland stock an extensive collection of locally made furniture, which is why the inventory at S. van Leeuwen first stood out to me as an exceptional exception among its peers.

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Alexander showing Diva Clients the inside of a Dutch Armoire

Perhaps this lack of antique shops specializing in strictly Dutch antiques owes to Holland’s seafaring past. You see, even before online boarding passes were being printed on your home computer, Holland had a global perspective. Knowing their country was small and their own language limiting, the Dutch studied languages for centuries, becoming polyglots gobbling up the world’s languages and absorbing its cultures in its seafaring past chocked full of global trade.

Not only did the Dutch explore the world, but Holland also became a refuge to a multitude of a global residents seeking protection from persecution. It was a cultural melting pot long before America claimed that title for its own.

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The Empire Commode I coveted at S Van Leeuwen

Over the centuries with new residents from far away countries making their Home in Holland, came foreign furniture styles & designs (as well as an influx of immigrant furniture makers to help fuel the fire). As Holland kept its eye on the world, they were able to pick and choose among the best the world had on offer, designing their own furnishings, borrowing a taste of this and a touch of that to their own well-established traditions.

Wandering through S. van Leeuwen Antiques, I pause before an Empire Commode, “Are you sure it’s not French?” I inquire and Lex laughs as he shakes his head, “No, it was made right here in Holland…” and he goes into a wonderful story, detailing the past of this particular piece.

He tells stories of Dutch furniture makers and points out the various woods, names foreign-sounding villages in the northern most reaches of The Netherlands and as he talks he brings the past to life! “Once upon a time” is indeed a reality!

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He lifts a precious piece from a perch and begins to explain the difference between Asian porcelain and Delftware, showing how Chinese & Japanese antique porcelain became true immigrants to Holland, having spawned high-quality Delft reproductions over the years.

To listen to him speak is to obtain a verbal “Masters in the History of Dutch Antiques”. He drops names and dates and you can read his passion on his face as if it were a book with large-print. As he shares his knowledge, my desire to own a piece of the mighty Dutch past grows and as I look about his shop, I’m overwhelmed with choices – much as I’m certain the Dutch have been throughout the generations. They say “the world is your oyster”, but rarely have I seen a country – to mix metaphors here – “suck the marrow from life” as well as the Dutch have… and in S. van Leeuwen Antiques, this jewel of a shop, you find the proverbial pearl in the oyster.

A few of my favorite pieces include:

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A Louis XVI Mahogany Buffet with tin sink, made in Holland’s province Zeeland.

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Dutch Mahogany Empire Commode, circa 1810

And I’ve saved my favorite 2 pieces for last!

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Kruisvoetkabinet (apologies I don’t know the name in English) made in Holland between 1690-1720. Note the strong English influence of this period marked by the marriage of the Dutch Head of State Willem III and the English Queen Mary.

And, last but not least, the piece I want to bring home!

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Dutch Renaissance-Style Cupboard, end 19th C

Visit S. van Leeuwen Antiques in The Hague – Antiques Diva Tested, Antiques Diva Approved!

S. van Leeuwen Antiek
Noordeinde 164
The Hague

Happily Ever After,

The Antiques Diva™

The Diva’s Dish on Naarden’s Art and Antiques Weekend

top:5px;float:left;color:white;background:#781300;border:1px solid darkkhaki;font-size:100px;line-height:90px;padding-top:1px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>When I went to the Kunst & Antiek Weekend in Naarden-Vesting a few weeks ago, I had such a good time that I decided it would be downright criminal to neglect to divulge the details of my diva-licious day! Plus, you know me… I love to share shopping secrets and on that particular day, my pocketbook was stuffed to overflowing as I collected business cards, pamphlets, brochures and magazines.

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This fair is a great source for antique shops, art galleries and boutiques

While the Art and Antiques Weekend is great to visit, in my opinion it is even better to use as a resource for compiling your own personal database of shops, galleries and boutiques you would like to visit in the future. Going to this show is much like enjoying a wine tasting – it tempts your taste buds for more. All this to say, I didn’t spend one euro more than the 12.50 Euro entrance fee – however that fee might end up costing me thousands in the long run as I revisit all the stores and websites on my list!

While I can’t share a full list of all the shops servicing the show, I will share a few of my favorite finds – the best of the best of Naarden’s Art and Antiques Weekend. First off is the eponymously-named Anouk Beerents Antiek Spiegels, whose owner is as exceedingly charming as her inventory of 18th and 19th C gilt and silver-leafed antique mirrors. I was immediately bewitched upon entering her stall and her laughter was delightful as I danced around the many mirrors, unable to take my eyes off my reflecting reflections.

“You should see my atelier” she enticed as I pirouetted past one mirror and into another. Her studio in Amsterdam, located on the Prinsengracht, is so big that she has more than 300 mirrors in inventory. Although the warehouse is only open by appointment, she does offer an incredible perk, saying “just drive into Amsterdam, and pull your car directly into my studio!” Now that is what I call on-site parking!

Just next to Anouk’s stall was another shop bearing the name of its owner — Robert Schreuder’s Antiquair. Robert charmed me immediately by commenting on my new purse and regaled me with a tale of his recent visit to the Louis Vuitton museum outside of Paris, a place I hadn’t realized existed. His stall was beautifully decorated with an assortment of antiques and he spoke with a friendly and engaging smile that encouraged me to linger. Unfortunately, Robert doesn’t have a shop address you can pop into and visit at will, as he is, in fact, a hobby-antiquaire while keeping his day job as a high-powered attorney. He spends his weekends assembling a remarkable collection of furniture from the Neoclassical, Empire and Biedermeier periods and amassing an assortment of antique Grand Tour souvenirs. You can visit him at one of the many upcoming fairs where he’ll be displaying pieces from his collections. Better yet, make an appointment to visit him in his private atelier in Amsterdam nearby tos/ig/Top-5-Amsterdam-Parks/Photos–Amsterdam-s-Best-Parks.htm” target=”_blank”>Sarphati Park. I have half a mind to give him a call to make an appointment and take a second look at his French mahogany writing desk (dated around 1830) and priced at 5,700E.

Perhaps more in my price range was the English Davenport Desk (complete with secret drawer right out of a Sherlock Holmes novel), also from the 1830’s, selling for 3,600E at S. Van Leeuwen’s. S. Van Leeuwen’s is located in the north end of The Hague, nearby the Royal Palace, in a beautiful 18th C mansion. For almost 100 years they have been selling a delicious inventory of high-quality 17th and 18th C antiques as well as collectibles from the 19th C.

Another vendor from The Hague who caught my attention was the Galerie Het Cleyne Huys, a modern art gallery specializing in Dutch artists. A significant amount of their wall space was devoted to the works of Corry Kooy who simply stole the show with her portraits and travel impressions. The prices on her pastels and oil paintings were such a good deal that I considered purchasing one on the spot. Ultimately, I decided to wait and attend one of her upcoming shows at the gallery so that WG could have a say in the decision.

Amsterdam’s Dolf D. Van Omme’s 19th – 21st C European Fine Arts dazzled me with their collection of high-end art. Prices started around the 2,000E price point and moved judiciously towards the teens and twenties as the pedigrees improved. Of particular interest was the work by Leo Gestel and Piet van der Hem. While I know Antiek de Eikelhof more for their 17th C Dutch, English, Spanish and French commodes, armoires and bureaus, it was their paintings at the fair that caused me to pause for more than an instant. A well-versed clerk explained the difference in the paintings and informed me which artist was undervalued and what was a good investment piece. While I’ve never visited their store in Marienheem, I’m certainly adding them to my list of “Must See’s” in the future.

Last, but not least, I cannot neglect mentioning two of my favorite jewelers at the fair – Le Camee and Ans Hemke Kuilboer (Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 67, Amsterdam). Anyone who knows me well knows that I love Ans Hemke Kuilboer, and an afternoon in Amsterdam’s Spiegelkwartier is not complete without trying on a few baubles in her shop. I was delighted to find her at the fair! Sadly, Le Camee doesn’t have a shop in town. They only “do the fairs” but I’ve been assured that they’ve already signed up to have a stall at InterEvent’s next fair, Authentiek, held in the Paleis Het Loo on April 17 – 20.

At the end of the day I was exhausted from all that hard-core Antiques Diva research. You must know it’s hard work being a diva! In fact, I was so worn out from all that window-shopping I had half a mind to rush over to Het Arsenaal to check out the services in their day spa – Beauty Results.

After all, a Diva’s work is never done!

Until next time, Happy Shopping!

The Antiques Diva™