Articles

  • The World's Favourite Antiques: An Infographic

    25 May 2017

    The World's Favourite Antiques: An Infographic

    Antiques can take all shapes and sizes – from paintings to pottery, coins to cutlery.

    Each country has its own unique traditions and history so perhaps it’s no surprise the most popular antiques vary wildly from country to country.

    At Westland a large number of our clients come from overseas so we were curious to see what’s hot and what’s not across the globe. The results are now in so here’s what we found:

    The World's Favourite Antiques: An Infographic

     

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    We found that antique mirrors, sculpture, jewellery, paintings, furniture and clocks were popular across the board - but results varied massively from country to country.

    Jewellery, for example, is searched for 5.5 times more often than any other antique in India, but fails to make the top three in the USA, Russia or many European countries. In the UAE, on the other hand, mirrors dwarf any other antique searches by tenfold.

     

    Curious to know the top three antique searches in the UK? It’s furniture, jewellery and clocks. What about antique fireplaces we hear you ask? We’ve been asking ourselves the same question!

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  • Salamander - creature cloaked in mystery

    28 March 2017

    Salamander - creature cloaked in mystery

    This article features one of our finest new chimneypieces (Stock No. 14516) unites exquisite quality with powerful symbolism in form of a salamander. It is an enchanting combination, telling the tale of royal iconography and revolutionary ambition.

    The Salamander is a creature cloaked in mystery. In the 1st century AD Pliny claimed that the Salamander “is so intensely cold as to extinguish fire by its contact, in the same way as ice does.” Later accounts by Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci contained similarly fantastical observations, Da Vinci believing the salamander, "gets no food but from the fire, in which it constantly renews its scaly skin”. These accounts added to the mystique of the elusive amphibian, and it became valuable for its supposed medicinal and magical purposes.

    It was only much later that the salamander was to serve a heraldic purpose for the French Crown. King Francis I was a significant patron of the arts and champion of humanism, who encouraged Leonardo Da Vinci to come to France, and with him, the Mona Lisa, which he later acquired. His reign saw the French exploration of the New World, and with it, expansion of the French colonial empire. Francis had carefully selected the emblem of the salamander to represent him as King, with the accompanying motto, “Nutrisco et extinguo” (I nourish and I extinguish). This emblem was widely used in royal palaces, art and architecture.

    Far from being a keen herpetologist, Francis I was aware of the rich symbolism entwined with the mythical creature. Paired with the motto, the salamander becomes symbolic of virtue, nourishing the fires of belief and knowledge and extinguishing the flames of sin and disordered passions. The salamanderalso possessed talisman like properties due to its famed ability to withstand annihilation by flames. It was evenrumoured that Pope Alexander III had a prized garment made of salamander skin. It is now assumedthat this garment was in fact woven from asbestos mined in Tartary, something that was frequently mistaken for hair, or nest, of the salamander. Marco Polo was one of the first to voice his scepticism, identified asbestos as the source of the legend.

    Emblem of Francis I

    The Emblem of Francis I

    The emblem of the salamander expanded beyond the royal household and became a feature within many other grand homes in France. One chimneypiece in our collection bears particularly fine renderings of this insignia. Made in France in the late 19th century, the walnut trumeau chimneypiece features two representations of the salamander engulfed by flames. Strikingly similar to the salamanders embellishing the grand Fontainebleau Palace, these emblematic creatures bear little resemblance to a salamander, and instead resemble a dragon, covered in scales and breathing fire.

    In addition to the salamander, the original cast iro back plate is enriched with bees on the side panels. Again, this is known to serve a powerful symbolic function. Napoleon Bonaparte adopted bees as his emblem after his ascension to Emperor, bringing legitimacy to his imperial pretentions. In fact considered the oldest emblem of the sovereigns in France, the bee was chosen to link the new dynasty to the very foundations of the nation. The 4th century tomb of Childeric I had only been discovered in the 17th century, and with it, a vast array of fine jewels, including bees carved from precious stone and finely tooled gold. Childeric I was one of the first Merovingians, who had conquered the Visigoths, Saxons, and Alemanni to establish much of Francia: now France. The association with one of the founding fathers of the French nation was a powerful one for Napoleon, and bees, much like the salamander appeared not only in royal palaces but in the homes of  aristocrats.

     

    More photos

     

    Detail from Fountaineblue Palace

    Detail from Fountaineblue Palace

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  • The Great Energy Saving Map of Britain: An Infographic

    13 February 2017

    The Great Energy Saving Map of Britain: An Infographic

    We surveyed 2000 people and discovered that huge numbers of people aren't getting the best deal on their energy.

    Only 38% make the effort to shop around on comparison sites to find the best rate, while the remaining majority endured an average loss of £180 per household, per year, which went up to an average of over £200 in areas such as the North East and Yorkshire. That means that the majority of people in the UK are paying almost 20% more on gas and electricity than they need to.

    See below for more:

    The Great Energy Saving Map of Britain: An Infographic

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    For more about Westland's antiques you can browse their antique fireplaces, sculpture and more here.

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  • A Brief History of Marble through the Ages

    24 August 2016

    A Brief History of Marble through the Ages

    Marble through the ages.

    The story begins in the Mesoproterozoic age, long before any vertebrate creature walked the Earth. The soft white sediments of the long lost, warm Tethys sea, metamorphosed, folded, twisted and refolded into smooth knots of fine lustrous, sphered, symmetry. Bands of impurities take on beautiful colours, a profusion of shapes and forms. This is Marble in all its infinite variety. Scorched by the immense heat of nearby igneous intrusions, some becoming bleached and brightened into gleaming luminescent white marble. Thrust up to form the hills and mountains of Makrana, Paros and Carrara.

     

    We now move forward countless millennia. The scene is set for building of one of the first Hindu temples, the foundations of which are hewn from the solid rock. A myriad army of slaves toil, beneath the blazing sun, harnessed to huge blocks of gleaming white marble on rafts and rollers.

     

    Now for a change of scene, we move to ancient Egypt. There is the same blazing sun bearing down, the same burning earth another army of slaves toil. Once again it is marble gleaming and white in the midday sun, once again it’s the building of a temple. We go forward another three thousand years. Now is but a remote memory, but the sun baked land is littered with the ruins of past civilisations. Dig where you will and you will unearth marble Gods, marble columns, an obelisk. . . . . .

    Then blooms the imperishable beauty, the flowering of Greek Art in a profusion of marble.  The stone taking on a new life, to live once more under the genius of the artists touch. A profusion of great pedimented, marble columned temples, to the new Gods. The temple of Zeus, Olympia, the Parthenon, Athens , the Gods of old all but forgotten. Their temples lie in ruins amongst the baked dunes beneath the same blazing sun.

    Another people, another Empire is born. Toiling up the steep Capitoline hill of Rome, the oxen bear a statue of Claudius, carved from a single block of freshly hewn, purest white marble, stands dazzling and white beneath the deep blue of the Italian sky. Echoing the Roman metropolis, that is marble Rome in its prime. Its marble temples, its marble theatres, its marble monuments, its marble baths, its marble tombs.

    Once again we move forward two thousand years. In the history of marble what is a thousand years?

    We now live in the confusion of modern things. Machines are building vast steel and glass towers, towers to house the workers, the once deep blue skies bear the scars of our frenetic new metropolis, all that is natural seems forgotten. But still the backdrop for this last scene is the same. Still rising like wildly twisted snowdrifts are the mountains of Nagaur, Paros and Carrara. Still from these white hills can be seen distant harbours, with ships of gleaming white marble bound for distant shores. Much of the history of the Earth is to be read on these stones.

     

     

    “The quarries at Carrara are four or five great glens, running up into a range of lofty hills, until they can run no longer, and are stopped by being abruptly stranded by nature. The quarries, or ‘’ caves ‘’ as they call them there, are so many openings, high in the hills, on either side of the passes, where they blast and excavate for marble:  which  may turn out good or bad:  may make a man’s fortune very quickly, or ruin him by the great expense of working for nothing. Some of these caves were opened up by the ancient Romans, and remain as they left them to this hour. Many others are being worked at this moment; others are to be begun to-morrow, next week, next month; others are unbought, unthought of; and marble enough for more ages than have passed since the place was resorted to, lies hidden everywhere:  patiently awaiting its time of discovery.”                                                                                                                             Charles Dickens: Pictures of Italy                                                                              

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  • Research Websites

    26 April 2016

    Research Websites

    Museums and Galleries

    London
    The British Library
    http://www.bl.uk

    The British Museum
    http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/

    The Courtauld Institute of Art
    http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/

    Dulwich Picture Gallery
    http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/

    National Gallery
    http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

    National Portrait Gallery
    http://www.npg.org.uk/

    The Royal Academy
    http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/

    Somerset House
    http://www.somerset-house.org.uk/

    Tate Galleries
    http://www.tate.org.uk/

    Victoria and Albert Museum
    http://www.vam.ac.uk/

    The Wallace Collection
    http://www.wallacecollection.org/

    Other UK Locations

    Ashmolean Museum
    http://www.ashmolean.org/

    Birmingham City Art Gallery
    http://www.bmag.org.uk/

    Fitzwilliam Museum
    http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/

    National Galleries of Scotland
    https://www.nationalgalleries.org/

    National Museums of Wales
    http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/

    Walker Art Gallery
    http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/index.aspx/

    Europe

    Austria
    Albertina Museum, Vienna
    http://www.albertina.at/en

    Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna
    http://www.khm.at/

    France
    Centre Pompidou, Paris
    http://www.cnac-gp.fr/

    Musee du Louvre, Paris
    http://www.louvre.fr/

    Musee d'Orsay, Paris
    http://www.musee-orsay.fr/

    Germany
    Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin
    http://www.smb.spk-berlin.de/ang/s.html

    Bodemuseum, Berlin
    http://www.smb.spk-berlin.de/

    Gemaldegalerie Kulturforum, Berlin
    http://www.smb.spk-berlin.de/gg/

    Ireland
    National Gallery of Ireland
    http://www.nationalgallery.ie/

    National Library of Ireland
    http://www.nli.ie/

    Italy
    Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
    http://www.gnam.arti.beniculturali.it/

    Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
    http://www.brera.beniculturali.it/

    The Uffizi Gallery, Florence
    http://www.uffizi.org/

    Netherlands
    Mauritshuis, The Hague
    http://www.mauritshuis.nl/

    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
    http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/

    Spain
    Museo del Prado, Madrid
    https://www.museodelprado.es/en

    Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid
    http://www.museothyssen.org/

    Switzerland
    Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva
    http://mah.ville-ge.ch/


    North and South America
    Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York
    http://www.albrightknox.org/

    American Folk Art Museum, New York
    http://www.folkartmuseum.org/

    Armand Hammer Mueum of Art, Los Angeles
    http://www.hammer.ucla.edu/

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    http://www.artic.edu/

    Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
    http://www.asianart.org/

    Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania
    http://www.barnesfoundation.org/

    Bass Museum of Art, Miami
    http://www.bassmuseum.org/

    Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama
    http://www.artsbma.org/

    Brooklyn Museum of Art
    http://www.brooklynart.org/

    Bruce Museum, Greenwich
    http://www.brucemuseum.org/

    Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
    http://www.clarkart.edu/

    Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art
    http://www.mcachicago.org/

    Cleveland Museum of Art
    http://www.clemusart.com/

    Cooper-Hewitt, New York
    http://www.cooperhewitt.org/

    Dahesh Museum, New York
    http://www.daheshmuseum.org/index.php

    Dallas Museum of Art
    http://dallasmuseumofart.org/Dallas_Museum_of_Art/index.htm

    Delaware Art Museum
    http://www.delart.org/

    Denver Museum of Art
    http://www.denverartmuseum.org/

    Detroit Institute of Arts
    http://www.dia.org/

    Dia:Beacon, New York
    http://www.diacenter.org/bindex.html

    Forbes Galleries, New York
    http://www.forbesgalleries.com/

    Fine Art Museums of San Francisco
    (de Young and Legion of Honor)
    http://www.thinker.org/

    Freer Gallery of Art & The Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Washington DC
    http://www.asia.si.edu/

    Frick Collection, New York
    http://www.frick.org/

    Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas
    http://www.guggenheimlasvegas.org/

    The Guggenheim Museum
    http://www.guggenheim.org/

    J. Paul Getty Museum
    http://www.getty.edu/museum/

    High Museum of Art, Atlanta
    http://www.high.org/

    Hirshorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
    http://hirshhorn.si.edu/

    International Center of Photography, New York
    http://www.icp.org/

    Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston
    http://www.gardnermuseum.org/

    Jewish Museum, New York
    http://thejewishmuseum.org/

    Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
    http://www.kimbellart.org/

    Las Vegas Art Museum
    http://www.lasvegasartmuseum.org/

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    http://www.lacma.org/

    Meadows Museum, Dallas
    http://www.meadowsmuseumdallas.org/

    Menil Collection, Houston
    http://www.menil.org/home.html

    Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
    http://www.metmuseum.org/

    Miami Art Museum
    http://www.miamiartmuseum.org/

    Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta
    http://www.carlos.emory.edu/

    Morgan Library, New York
    http://www.morganlibrary.org/

    Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art
    http://www.mwpai.org/museum/

    Museum of Arts and Design, New York
    http://www.madmuseum.org/

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    http://www.moca-la.org/

    Museum of Modern Art in New York
    http://www.moma.org/

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    http://www.mfa.org/

    National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
    http://www.nga.gov/

    Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City
    http://www.nelson-atkins.org/

    Neue Galerie, New York
    http://www.neuegalerie.org/

    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    http://www.philamuseum.org/

    Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
    http://www.phillipscollection.org/

    Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
    http://www.morganlibrary.org/

    P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
    http://www.ps1.org/

    Rubin Museum, New York
    http://www.rmanyc.org/

    Saint Louis Art Museum
    http://www.slam.org/

    San Diego Museum of Art
    http://www.sdmart.com/

    Seattle Art Museum
    http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/

    Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
    http://www.si.edu/

    Van Cortlandt House Museum, New York
    http://www.vancortlandthouse.org/

    Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
    http://www.whitney.org/

    Winterthur Museum and Grounds, Delaware
    http://www.winterthur.org/

    Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut
    http://www.yale.edu/ycba/

    Africa
    National Museums of Kenya
    http://www.museums.or.ke/

    Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum
    http://www.artmuseum.co.za/

    Pretoria Art Museum
    http://www.pretoriaartmuseum.co.za/

    Middle East
    Coptic Museum
    http://www.coptic-cairo.com/museum/museum.html

    Egyptian Museum
    http://www.sca-egypt.org/eng/mus_egyptian_museum.htm

    Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
    http://www.tmoca.com/home/

    Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum
    http://mushecht.haifa.ac.il/

    Israel Museum
    http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/

    Rubin Museum
    http://www.rubinmuseum.org.il/

    Tel Aviv Museum of Art
    http://www.tamuseum.com/

    Istanbul Modern
    http://www.istanbulmodern.org/

    Asia
    Bangladesh National Museum
    http://www.bangladeshmuseum.gov.bd/

    Brunei Art Gallery and Islamic Arts Gallery
    http://culture360.asef.org/organisation/brunei-art-gallery/

    Hong Kong Museum of Art
    http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Arts/index.htm

    Kyoto National Museum
    http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/

    Macau Museum of Art
    http://www.artmuseum.gov.mo/

    Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai
    http://www.mocashanghai.org/

    National Art Museum of China
    http://www.namoc.org/en/

    National Museum of Western Art
    http://www.nmwa.go.jp/jp/index.html

    Singapore Art Museum
    http://www.nhb.gov.sg/

    Thailand National Museum
    http://www.thailandmuseum.com/

    Publications

    Antiques Trade Gazette
    http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/

    Apollo
    http://www.apollo-magazine.com/index.php

    The Art Newspaper
    http://www.theartnewspaper.com/

    The Art Fund
    http://www.artfund.org/

    Art and Auction
    http://www.artandauction.com/html/

    Other Relevant Sites

    English Heritage
    http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

    Historic House Association
    http://www.hha.org.uk/

    IBA (International Bar Association)
    http://www.ibanet.org/

    Inland Revenue
    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/

    STEP (Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners)
    http://www.step.org/

    The Design and Artists Copyright Society
    http://www.dacs.org.uk/

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  • Antique Sculptures

    26 April 2016

    Antique Sculptures

    A large collection of architectural sculptures removed from Number 1 New Change, The Cheapside, City of London, the previous Annexe of the Bank of England.

    Circa 1957 – 1959.

    In these times of ‘credit crunch’ and hostility towards banks and bankers a major collection of Architectural Statuary acquired recently by Westland from the Bank of England, City of London, evoke a period when the world of finance could inspire national pride and global respect.

    Illustrated are examples from this collection of carved Portland stone architectural high relief sculpture, designed to decorate the exterior & interior courtyard of New Change buildings opposite the baroque splendour of Sir Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s cathedral and completed in 1960 by post-war architect, Victor Heal. This understated complex of red-brick office buildings, which housed the Accounts department of the Bank of England, was demolished in 2007 to make way for the less modest, 21st century, glittering shopping centre by French architect, Jean Nouvel.

    " I PROMISE TO PAY THE BEARER..."....IDEALISM , CAPITAL GAIN AND " BROAD SUNLIT UPLANDS" ..W.S.Churchill. Bank of England Sculptures: Illustrated are some examples from a major collection of carved Portland stone architectural high relief sculptures recently acquired from the Bank of England Annexe in the City of London. Installed in the 1950's and carved in the Art Deco & Baroque manner by sculptors: Sir Charles Wheeler, President of the Royal Academy, Donald Gilbert, Esmond Burton and others. The antique sculptures represent and symbolise the 17th century founding, majesty, abundance and the dynamic spirit of Credit and Trust around the World aspired to by the Bank.

    10764. THE NEW "OLD LADY OF THREADNEEDLE STREET."
    Circa 1957.Sculptor: Sir Charles Thomas Wheeler, President of The Royal Academy, 1956-66.

    This is a smaller version of the 1934 Art Deco sculpture which remains over the main entrance of the actual Bank of England, Threadneedle Street: also sculpted by Sir Charles Thomas Wheeler.

    The term "The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" first appeared in print as the caption "Political Ravishment or The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street in danger" to a cartoon published in 1797 by James Gillray. It depicts William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister of the day, pretending to woo the Bank, which is personified by an elderly lady wearing a dress of £1 notes seated on a chest of gold...to use banknotes instead of gold. An early example of quantative easing.

    10749. A PAIR OF CITY OF LONDON GRYPHONS HOLDING A CARTOUCHE CHARGED WITH THE CITY DAGGER

    Sculptor: Esmond Burton circa 1957

    Provenance: above the Cheapside entry to the courtyard of the Bank of England Annexe building in the City of London and part of a group symbolising 'The Granting of The Bank of England's Charter'.

    The city dagger in the cartouche held by the gryphons forms part of the coat of arms of the City of London. The design combines the emblems of the patron saints of England and London - the cross of St George with the symbol of the martyrdom of Saint Paul. The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. Associated with kingship, griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions; hence its iconographic value for the City of London.

    10739.BANK of ENGLAND STATUARY COLLECTION:
    THE FOUNTAIN OF MONEY GUARDED BY LIONS

    Sculptor Donald Gilbert. Circa 1957.

    Provenance: Our fearsome Bank of England lions guarding a fountain of coins: originally in the South Courtyard of the Annexe.

    10737 : MIDAS HOLDING A CORNUCOPIA OF GOLD COINS

    Sculptor Esmond Burton. Circa 1957.

    Carved in the Greek Revival manner, Midas grasps a frothing cornucopia of gold coins.

    Paired with Stock No 10736 above the archway entry to the courtyard on Bread Street of the Bank of England Annexe in the City of London.

    10736. ONE OF A PAIR OF LARGE CARVED TABLEAUX FROM THE BANK OF ENGLAND STATUARY COLLECTION:
    BACCHUS WITH SATYR.
    Sculptor Esmond Burton. Circa 1957.

    Originally paired with Stock No 10737 above the entrances on Bread Street of the Bank of England Annexe the Bon Viveur Bacchus, god of wine and pleasure, is accompanied by a satyr offering him a hog’s head feast.

    10734.THE BANK OF ENGLAND: A MASSIVE CARVED PORTLAND STONE TABLEAU DEPICTING WILLIAM & MARY (1689-1702) - THE GRANTING OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND'S CHARTER Sculptor Esmond Burton. Circa 1958-59.

    William of Orange from The United Dutch Republic, with his wife Queen Mary Stuart , daughter of James II of Scotland & England were " called to the throne " to become joint rulers of England , Wales, Ireland and Scotland, aka Great Britain, later United Kingdom, by Parliament, subsequent to the "Glorious Revolution. Together they ushered in a very progressive period for the nation, its institutions, economics and its democracy. Sited above the Cheapside entry to the courtyard of the One New Change building in the City of London, the frieze symbolises the Granting of The Bank of England's Charter by the monarchs.

    The Group included statues of Sir John Houblon the 1st Governor of the Bank (10747), Michael Godfrey the 1st Deputy Governor (10748), two City Gryphons (10746 & 10749) & two monogrammed keystones WMR 1694 & EIIR 1958.

    10732. A LARGE CARVED PORTLAND STONE TABLEAU:
    THE HEAP OF COINS GUARDED BY LIONS
    Sculptor David Evans. Circa 1957.

    Sculpted in the Art Deco Egyptian Revival manner, the lions guard a store of British coins - from a farthing decorated with a little wren at the top to the valuable guineas below.
    Provenance: Originally one of three sculptures above the Watling Street carriageway to the South Courtyard, flanked by a pair of unicorns on either side, (Stock Nos 10740 & 10741).

    10772. One of three keystones of the three London rivers, the Fleet, the Walbrook and
    Old Father Thames
    Sculptor Sir Charles Wheeler.

    Representing the prime River God of the English nation: ' Old Father Thames keeps rolling along, down to the mighty sea’ - Raymond Wallace. The great source of London’s existence, trade and economy, its strategic position has supported human activity from its source to its mouth for thousands of years and as a major highway for international trade through the Port of London.

    This keystone was above the central bronze door of the main entrance of One New Change.

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  • Bulletin, July 2010: Provenances & Air-Fer-Mer, Plane, Train, Road Ship and Mule miles.

    12 July 2010

    Bulletin, July 2010: Provenances & Air-Fer-Mer, Plane, Train, Road Ship and Mule miles.

    TRACING THE ORIGIN OR PROVENANCE OF Antique Architectrual Features and elements such as antique fireplaces and chimneypieces from thier original location can prove difficult and time consuming, even when investigated by experienced researchers familiar with the tools, sources and routines which are effective.

    Not infrequently however we are given or find clues that either identify or point the way to the original installation location as many of these items are relocated at various intervals in their lifetime.

     

    7436 : ONE EXAMPLE OF IRREFUTABLE VISUAL PROOF of provenance is the case of our sold stock no 7436. This antique French Louis XV rococo fireplace mantel was removed during the refurbishement of a large house in Essex. We restored, photographed and put images on the website.

    A month or two later we saw an article in a magazine on Sir Julius Wernher who was a major figure in the Kimberely Diamond Fields, one of the Randlords, and a great collector of antiques and works of art. A large part of his collection was displayed in his London Residence at Bath House, 82 Piccadilly in Mayfair..demolished in 1960. A photo in the article showed the Pink Room, and there unmistakeably was the large French Rococo marble fireplace which at the time was displayed in our gallery.

    The redecoration of Bath House was carried out for the Wernhers by the renowned French decorator and Architectural Antiques Dealer, Georges Hoentschel. Shortly after the article appeared it was bought from us by a charming enthusiastic couple from Cincinatti, Ohio.... and incurred airmiles.

    9061 WAS A LARGE OAK PANELLED ROOM COMPLETE WITH CHIMNEYPIECE which we removed from Kirkdale Manor, North Yorkshire which was built for the Beckett family at the turn of the century.

    The vast Carved oak ELizabethan / Jacobean chimneypiece with overmantel and part of the ensuite also Jacobean oak panelling were replicas of the original English Renaissance fireplace mantel and panelling removed from the 16th century Eliazabethan builidng known as The Old Palace, Bromley by Bow in 1894. This was despite great public outcry orchestrated by Charles Robert Ashbee, against the demolition of the venerable Old Palace and the later relocation of the chimneypiece and part of the panelling to the Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington at its opening in 1906.This room was installed in the new museum and can be viewed there to this day. In fact much of the panelling removed by us from Kirkdale proved to be 17th century, therefore probably original to The Elizabethan built Old Palace, which earlier in its life had served as King James 1st Hunting Lodge. This magnificent suite has been installed in a London project....About 300 road miles in all.

    4523….THIS VERY FINE GEORGIAN NEO CLASSICAL CHIMNEYPIECE was removed from a house in Scotland but had originally been installed in Bellevue House, County Wicklow, Ireland, which was built by David Latouche in 1754 but allowed to deteriorate to its present ruinous condition.

    Latouche was a Hugenot and founder of the merchant bank Touche, now Deloitte Touche. This original provenance was only discovered much later when we saw an entry in the Irish Georgian Society Records published in 1909. See image above. This one does have bountiful Air Miles, it went to Kyoto, Japan.

     THE CHATEAU AU MAQUIS DE LA VALETTE CHEMINEE.... A very, very large Louis XV Rococo carved stone antique fireplace mantel on which the particularly grand and noble styling befits the Provenance of this 19th century replica. It was made for the rebuilt chateau of the 17th century original which was destroyed by fire during the revolution.

    The original Medieval chateau and domaine of the Marquis de Valette at Pont St. Maxence, 50 miles north of Paris was severley damaged during the 1789 French Revolution . It was rebuilt in the same style in the 19th century – see present day images above and alngside.

    8282 : This chimneypiece was removed to safe storage early during World War II when the German Wehrmacht garrisoned troops in the Chateau. It was never reinstalled. The Marquis de Valette accompanied La Fayette on his American adventures during the War of Independence. Truck miles Isle de France - London. Air miles to Florida.

    6303 : LORD PEEL'S ANTIQUE CHIMNEYPIECE FROM GROSVENOR SQUARE : Lord Peel, a descndant of Sir Robert Peel the great reformer and a Cabinet Minister had this house redecorated in the late 19th century, probably like Wernher also by Hoentschel the Parisian decorater and supplier. Whoever did this redecoration supplied a pair of very finely carved and substantial English marble antique chimneypiece in the grandest Rococo Revival manner. An irrefutable proof of provenance for this impressive piece with its exquisite oval 'putti' central plaque was discovered by us in a survey of great London houses, showing it in situ in the Rococo decorated drawing room at Lord Peel's town house. Much later this decor was changed and the chimneypiece came on the market.

    Here it is shown in our Chapel Gallery displayed against a large panelled oak room in the Queen Anne, Baroque manner with carved panels reminiscent of Grinling Gibbons carving. This rich chimneypiece went to Dallas , Texas....by air.

    LEADS TO AN INTERESTING HISTORY OF 7927 were discovered in a March 1960 copy of the now sadly extinct Antiques magazine “The Connoisseur”. The information gleaned from this established at least two, now three relocations. Displayed in a monocolour advertisement on the back cover of the magazine by the renowned fireplace specialists Stanley J Pratt, founded in 1860, was this very chimneypiece exhibited at the time in their gallery at 17 Mount Street, Mayfair.

    Over many years successful trading Pratt and various partners and sons had galleries in various locations apart from Mount Street in central London including The Brompton Road and The Old Brompton Road, and to judge by their inspiring publicity they traded prolifically in the best in period chimneypieces and other Architectural elements. Their advertisements progressed and improved in line with the quality and variety of their traded stock. First in black and white and latterly in colour in such magazines as The Connoisseur and over a large part of the early to 2nd half of the 20th century. A worthy role model for aspiring Chimneypiece specialists.

     

    The brief description states that they removed 7927 from premises in Bath, Somerset in South West England, thence to Mount Street, W1 and presumably from there to where it was located when we entered its Pedigree of 270 years , namely Bagnor Hall in Oxfordshire. From our EC2 galleries it winged its way to Tokyo in Japan. Who knows it may one day relocate once more , incurring further transit miles. It, like many others has been treasured and cared for by owners and merchants alike in over a quarter of a millennium promising, like Patek Phillipe, Geneva wrist watch maker ,that you never really own such things, you hold them in trust for subsequent generations. A novel and appealing view....

    7927, BAGNOR HALL OXFORDSHIRE : A George II Statuary and Sienna English carved marble antique fireplace mantle originally in a house in Bath, Sommerset, a breakfront shelf with egg & dart & dentil undershelf above high relief carved urn endblocks and central plaque with accanthus floral decoration on the side panels above accanthus leaf corbals and descending floral decoration. Provenance: Bagnor Hall, Oxfordshire. English, circa 1750.

    Seria ludo. 

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  • The Grand Tour.....April 2010

    26 September 2010

    The Grand Tour.....April 2010

    ANTIQUE PROVENANCE & THE GRAND TOUR :

    From the 17th to the 19th Century the Romance and Adventure of the European Grand Tour grew as a phenomenon during which many younger members of English Scottish and Irish Gentry and Scholars, also those from other Northern European countries, sought or were enjoined by their elders to study and experience the grand Antique Monumental Chateaux Castles Houses and Palaces, Schloesser, Landhaueser, Pallazzi, the ancient Artefacts and Archaeological Treasures of the Great European Centers of Civilization.

    Apart from the voyage or journey itself this was an adventure into antiquity , the ancient culture and traditional heritage that were to be seen through Northern Europe, The Cathedrals and Temples,the Great Estates and Roman ruins of Flanders , France , Germany, on to Dalmatia but above all in Italy, in Florence,Venice, Rome and Naples , and later in the 19th century to the Balkans, Turkish occupied Greece and the Ancient Greek ruins of Western Turkey itself.

    ANCIENT AND CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN FIREPLACE MANTELS FROM 18TH CENTURY ITALY

    There was a constant traffic, 6000 travellers from England, Scotland and Ireland alone, interrupted from time to time by wars and religious confrontations, of wealthy focused travellers. The effect in Italy was considerable and beneficial to a all concerned. Firstly the support and patronage to artists, sculptors and artisans which traditonally had come from the Papacy and the Italian nobility for the creative abilites of skill, design and workmanship was now provided from the 17th century by these informed enthusiastic and financially substantial long and short term newcomers.

    This undoubtedly resulted in the revival of the fortunes of these talented Italian Scultori, Mosaicista, Painters , Woodworkers and Gilders, and in the process admirably facilitated the spread of breathtaking Italian Classical inspiration and sheer enlightened creative talent to the great benefit of Northern European civilization and thence to Russia and the USA.

    One area of the gradual growth of interest and patronage of visitors from the British Isles, from Inigo Jones in the late 17th century right up to Thomas Hope in the 19th century were the “… modern chimneypieces which are for sale in Rome which are of good taste, and the rarest of marbles which are introduced in them, particularly fine slabs of Egyptian Porphyry ” reported by early Grand Tour English visitors.

    Sourcing these rare marbles caused the later renowned artist , designer and entrepreneur Piranesi to join forces with Gavin Hamilton, a young Scottish nobleman, in the excavation of quantities of marble, decorative elements and fragments from the marshy Pantanlo area of Hardian's Villa at Tivoli. Hamilton, later Lord Hamilton was a talenrted portrait artist and also served as one of numerous buying agents of antiquities for visiting British Nobility and Landed Gentry. One of Hamiltons clients was Charles Townley, another passionate Antiquarian who assembled the famous Townley collection of statues , vases and elements from Antiquity which were later purchased for the fledgling British Museum. See room 83 , Roman Sculpture.

    PIRANESI IN ROMA

    Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian Artist, Printer of Art Works and designer whose studio in the Via Sistina in Rome was frequented by many Grand Tourists and resident cognoscenti from England Ireland and Scotland etc to supply the growing demand there by the Gentry for superb Chimneypieces.

    In the mid 1760s he had built up a network of specialist sculptors, dealers and agents for the production of fine mostly Neo Classical, which we now call Georgian, chimneypieces. Sometimes incorporating antique marble or bronze fragments and rare marble inlays such as those at Burghley House Lincolnshire in Grand Tourist Lord Exeter's Neo Classical restructured rooms, at Palladian Gorhambury House in Hertfordshire and in Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, designed by Robert Adam who also was known to and worked with him. " ..the best of the fireplaces are by Piranesi."

    Our stock no 10151 “Rare and important chimneypiece“ , this antique Palladian period fireplace is typical of design by Piranesi of chimneypieces produced in the late 18th century in this way.The typical features are of low relief intricate repetitive carving , the higher profile main features and the highly prized Egyptian Porphyry marble which would have been salvaged from ancient Roman elements within or outside of Rome. The other image on the right shows a similar one documented to have been made in Piranesi’s studio and delivered to 52 St Stephens Square, Dublin the town house just built in 1776 for David La Touche the Hugenot Banker, later Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

    The desirability and availability of exquisite creations through the discoveries of The Grand Tour resulted in an ongoing traffic in many fine newly made chimneypieces as well as many earlier antique examples, not to mention the antique archaeological and architectural elements, busts and sculptures, paintings and so on.
    This to the extent that many of the Great Houses of England Scotland and Ireland had and still have literally thousands of notable and fine 18th and early 19th century chimneypieces which are therefore now in 2010, venerable antique chimneypieces, fireplace mantels, sculptures and other elements which had been made by those skilled artisans in their Venetian, Florentine, Roman or Neapolitan studios andd workshops in Italy itself. Later many also were commissioned to travel to the British Isles to carry out the work for the great Palladian Houses that were being planned and built in the 18th and 19th centuries for the Landed Gentry.
    Examples being : The Piranesi designed Chimneypiece for Lord Exeter at Burghley House. Another fine Pophyry mounted Chimneypiece at Paxton House, Berwick on Tweed, and the previously mentioned one for Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, this last one bought by Patick Home, Scottish aristocrat, in Italy from Piranesi.

    We can be forgiven for assuming and indeed describing these superb antique chimneypieces and their lesser cousins as being English, Scottish or Irish but they were in fact mostly made in Italy, albeit frequently to the informed clients
    requirements.These attributions therefore denote the tastes and locations of the British purhasers who were usually concerned in the design which frequently used features and elements from Roman Antiquity. Initially the manufacture was just "on spec" by the Italian sculptors and other craftsmen, but later to order through the great designers, decorators and agents such as Piranesi. It progressed to later when the works were executed also by British and other Northern European Sculptors craftsmen or artists working in Italy such as Christopher Hewettson, 1736-1798, the Irish Sculptor who worked in Rome and Joseph Nollekens, the Anglo Flemish Sculptor.

    Here are two examples from Westland's present inventory of Antique Italian Chimneypieces made before the advent of the Grand Tour phenomenon and later brought back to England during it.

    This antique Italian Baroque fireplace mantel would have been carved for an Italian City Palazzo property in the late 17th to early 18th century, purchased in Italy some time after , and brought to England. Of the late Baroque Period one can see its styling as moving towards that of the Rococo.

    11198. An original period elegantly proprtioned late Baroque Italian chimneypiece in white Statuary marble from the Lombardy region, carved in three sections from the solid. The shelf is with a neat moulding carved into the integral panelled frieze, which is decorated with a typical assymetric large central stylised floral cartouche / motif, flanked by further smaller floral motifs on the upper jamb panels, all carved from the solid. Italian, early 18th century.

    This large antique Italian carved stone antique fireplace mantel dates from the 16th century and would have been bought from a Venetian demolition and therefore not expressly made for export.

    10419. A RARE & LARGE PERIOD VENETIAN RENAISSANCE Camino in carved limestone. The substantial top section with a stop-fluted gallery over the Vitruvian scrolled carved Lintol supported on scrolled brackets over fluted jambs with lion paw feet on baluster footblocks. Italian circa 1560.

    Seria Ludo.

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  • Aspects To Consider When Deciding On An Antique Fireplace For Your Home

    16 March 2010

    Aspects To Consider When Deciding On An Antique Fireplace For Your Home

    Referred to as fireplace, mantelpiece, or chimneypiece... kamine, camino, cheminee or chiminea, the antique fireplace is an important prominent architectural as well as decorative feature in the interior of not just the traditional home. It either sets the style or complements the existing setting of the room or building itself.

    WHY ANTIQUE?
    For many people there is a simple but deep seated satisfaction…even Mystique...felt in the presence of an antique mantelpiece that is in fact an Edifice in miniature itself.
    A structure that has endured the years ...or centuries...silent witness to bygone events and routines, dramatic and prosaic... of personages both notable and ordinary, poignant and joyful.

    The presence of an antique Fireplace in an environment... grand or modest, formal or understated affirms the unconscious human need for connection with the positive, distant past. Visible evidence is presented of the validity and quality of age old crafts and skills, concepts of eternal design and beautifully worked natural materials ...all combining in silent testament to the continuity and harmony of the ascent of Man's Civilisation.

    PERIOD AND STYLE TO SUIT THAT OF YOUR HOME AND THE

    INTERIOR DÉCOR.

    If you own a period home or a property of a particular period and style then you would normally prefer to choose a fireplace that matches or complements the period features. On the other hand you may wish to create an antique or period environmental style in a modern or neutral interior...either completely with furniture and fittings and chimneypiece blending to that effect...or in a completely plain or hi tech décor placing the one major traditional antique element, the chimneypiece.

    Over the centuries building styles and decoration fashions evolved and changed. There were transition periods long and short when one style evolved into the next and then there were less gradual changes where the next style bore no relation to any previous…This was the case when the exotic Rococo style arrived all over Europe.11098 It was considered a most radical, even risqué movement...In London the avant garde exponents were based around St Martins Lane. Then again many styles were revived in later centuries and referred to as Revival or Neo, mostly in the 18th and the 19th centuries...These included Neo Gothic, Gothic Revival and so on... Jacobean, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Palladian, Georgian, Regency Revivals. Therefore if you have a house of a particular period then a chimneypiece of the corresponding antique Revival or Neo period would serve well in the absence of an original "de l'epoque" as it also has a presence and patina, a history....a pedigree.


    For your contemporary, modern or even hi tech interior you should choose a style that appeals and pleases .The decorative design seen in the Antique Renaissance period featured much repetitive floral scrollwork , putti and deity figures intermingled with architectural detail. The Antique Baroque saw very imposing, grand, scrolled monumental features and facades, the Antique Rococo epoch saw floral, asymmetric, nature inspired sensual shapes and forms…whereas the Neo – Classical, Regency and French Empire periods saw more linier, geometric designs influenced by those of Greek and Roman Classical Antiquity but frequently with stylised natural and floral forms.

    At the Westland * London galleries, a vast and ever changing selection of antique fireplaces from all ages, period and styles are presented for the steady demand from professionals and individuals Worldwide seeking period antique statement pieces of varying degrees of uniqueness and splendour...along with a comprehensive stock of fire grates, fire dogs, and other antique fireside accessories, along with antique decorative and architectural elements, such as antique mirrors, lighting, fountains, panelled rooms, plinths, doors gates & windows, furniture and many more.

    DIMENSIONS...SCALE.

    Choosing the right antique mantel for the right room in the right house can provide a growing continuous satisfaction as the environment is placed around it...as it settles in as the sentinel, the tabernacle at the family's center...the frame for flame...the focus...the statement.

    Be careful when choosing your fireplace that it matches the scale of the room...in height, width but also in depth, for rooms of modest size. Be aware of all relevant dimensions including those of the firebox and possibilities for alteration to accommodate a particularly desirable choice of antique mantel.

    Before building renovations pay great attention to the size and condition of the flue...and room ventilation...as this will determine the size of the opening of your chimneypiece so that smoke or fumes can escape up the chimney adequately.

    Antique English Rococo and Neo-Classical or Georgian fireplaces tend to be taller, often with a shallower shelf depth than most French cheminee’s from the 18thc onwards, except for the grandiose variety.

    THE INTERIOR.

    The firebox can be lined with bricks...most attractively in the herringbone fashion, or simply in black dyed fireproof cement, or with decorative cast iron plates in addition to the fire back.

    If you already have a working fireplace you will either use gas or solid fuel. These days most antique grates, although built in the days when only coal or wood fuels were used, can be converted using a modern gas conversion unit, which can be controlled by a remote control.

    There are many different choices of fireplace implements which can be used and are decorative, attractive and interesting in themselves, under the following headings:

    Antique Firegrates: Log grates or coal grates...of all kinds of designs...these were developed to confine the fire itself, and for heat efficiency fuel economy.

    Antique Hobgrates: These are another usually very stylish form of firegrate with a structure whereon pots or kettles can be stood to heat water or food.

    Antique Register grates or inserts: These are again very often quite beautiful and are even more economical and heat efficient and close in the whole firebox opening.

    Antique Andirons or firedogs: These are the oldest method of supporting logs within a firebox. The logs rest on the rear billet bars fronted by the vertical plain or ornamental firedogs which are protected from the burning logs getting too close by the frequently ornamental log stops.

    Antique cast iron firebacks: Usually highly decorated, frequently heraldic features...Shields, Latin mottos, Kings, soldiery and trophies protection of the brick or stonework, and provide heat radiation, even for hours after the fire has died.

    Antique fire tools: Pokers, shovels, tongs and later brushes...all for tending and controlling the fuel and ash in the firebox, not forgetting bellows to encourage the flames.

    Reviewing the above brief survey one realises what a variety of aspects are involved in this subject. Frequently people are fascinated and are drawn into the broad spectrum that is revealed....from the fundamental age old technology of the provision of heat and light, to the focus for social gatherings, the aesthetic design and sometimes symbolic aspects. The relevance is that the antique fireplace, being such a centerpiece of indoor life should be regarded from an informed and opinionated standpoint, recognising and appreciating all its aspects rather than simply as a sterile, bland structure.

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  • The Antique Renaissance Fireplace...A short narrative...January 2010.

    18 January 2010

    The Antique Renaissance Fireplace...A short narrative...January 2010.

    THE EXPRESSION "RENAISSANCE" …meaning in French “Rebirth” , was coined in the 19th century and variously covers a period from the 14th to the 17th century…different schools of thought give different dates. It originated in Florence in Italy and was a broad cultural movement including style and design which drew inspiration from Classical Antiquity…Ancient Greece and Rome and the Etruscans in between….and spread through all of Europe, where it gained further impetus …the French even claimed it as their original creation at one point.
    9902...An antique Marble Renaissance Revival Fireplace Mantel , 19th century...typical of the genre...Available.

    ELEMENTS OF THE RENAISSANCE STYLE of design in fireplace mantels were again revived at later periods …notably the 19th century in Europe and North America, and called Renaissance Revival or Neo Renaissance..... 10837 is another typical example of a Venetian Renaissance Revival Inglenook fireplace mantel in this case it is richly carved in oak and was recently removed from what had been Sir Walter Raleighs still existant 15th century house in Ireland....Sold.

    RENAISSANCE , HIGH RENAISSANCE and NEO RENAISSANCE style fireplaces and design generally were and are mostly found in prestigious buildings of Grand Scale…both Palaces…. Palazzo ...Chateaux…. Castles and more recently in Municipal and State administration institutions…even Railway stations. 9856 on the right is a very early 16th Century Antique Italian Period Renaissance chimneypiece from the North East Venetto ...Verona / Venice region of Italy and was possibly the work of Jacopo Sansovino , 1486 -1570...and carved from intensly rich Fossilised Lumachella Bigia ...translates to Snails....marble....Sold.

    THE STYLE IS BEST DESCRIBED AS RICH AND INTRICATE , and while not appealing to all tastes or suitable for all locations or decors it is universally appreciated for its sophistication and quality of craftsmanship and materials essential to its proper execution.... incorporating as it does linear and geometric shapes and forms scrolled and intertwined with motifs from the natural world…frequently symbolic plants Vines , Palmettes, Oak & Laurel leaves , Acanthus etc….And floral … Anthymion / Honeysuckle , Fleur de Lys , Roses….. also Mythological, and Heraldic Animal forms…Griffins , serpents ,Dragons, Lions ,Panthers Unicorns and so on.....many of these motifs are to be seen on 7030 a period Italian Renaissance fireplace mantel in richly carved white marbleon the left ......Sold.


    APART FROM THE MANY EXAMPLES OF RENAISSANCE Chimneypieces in Florence…home of the Medicis and their rivals the Strozzis … L’Alberti …L’Albizzi , many Renaissance fireplaces are to be found in Venice…in the Palazzo Ducale in Piazza San Marco of course , and in many waterside Palazzos and Villas in that great former Maritime City State....4721 on the right being another very rare example of a period Italian , Venetian antique fireplace mantel finely carved in Pietra D'Istria...an attractive hard limestone...also considered to be a marble... which has sculpted characteristics from the 15th century Dalmatian Sculptor Giorgio de Sebenico who carved very comparable high profile imagery on the facade of Il Duomo D'Ancona....Ancona's Cathedral.....Available.


    IN ENGLAND THE RENAISSANCE ERA STARTED much later than and was mostly different from the Italian ...being heavily influenced by the Flemish and German...the evolving Northern Renaissance Architectural style. It included the Elizabethan Tudor and Jacobean eras and other examples in the preceeding reign of Henry VIII... during which Hans Holbein from Augsburg in Bavaria was gainfully employed at the court doing highly acclaimed portraits of the King and Thomas More, and actually produced a design for a large Chimneypiece in the style. Fine examples are to still to be seen in the Great houses or Palaces even, of Hampton Court, Hatfield House , Hardwick Hall and Burghley House….9061 ..this superb antique English fireplace mantel removed by us with the partly 17th century panelled room from a great house in Yorkshire , is an exact 19th century Renaissance Revival replica of a large English Jacobean Renaissance mantelpiece now in the Victoria & Albert Museum…but originally from the Hunting Lodge of King James 1st..in Bromley by Bow…Sold...


    REFLECTING ON THE ABOVE AND IMPORTANT to acknowledge….the Antique Renaissance Fireplace mantel….especially the typical Italian example.. can be said to frequently embody the Sophistication, the style , prestige , opulence and.. not least..the symbolised nature which when stylistically portrayed epitomised the emergence of civilised society from the gloom, ignorance…and repression of the aptly named Dark Ages…revealing the joy , beauty and fascination with the planet…the heavens…the liberated human mind and body……the rediscovery of the facts and exotic wonders of life and the Universe… such as Perspective in the Graphic arts… and the spirit... known to the Ancient Romans and Greeks but squirreled away theretofore by those Latin Scribes ..in the Know. 10321 is another 19th century Renaissance Revival Fireplace mantel in polished Namur Black Marble.... architectural , smart and imposing…with a Palladian element in the design......Available .

    11233. AN EXTREMELY LARGE AND RARE INGLENOOK CHIMNEYPIECE OF THE TUD0R RENAISSANCE PERIOD.The richly carved limestone detail on the top frieze depicting mythic deities, oak leaves and birds interspersed with drapes and floral decoration. A Wood Nymph or Dryad is carved on the left and a Dolphin on the right spandrel. Bead and reel, Bellflower and lambs tongue decoration are carved around the perimeters. The very broad arch has three central Joggled Voussoirs or keystones.
    PROVENANCE : Removed from a 19th century hostelry in North London, original provenance not known, but probably from the Great Hall.....rather than the kitchen....see the Jack and the Beanstalk one at Hampton Court Palace below...of a large Tudor / Jacobean Manor House or Priory. English circa 1600. SCALE : Immense.

    10419. A RARE & LARGE PERIOD VENETIAN RENAISSANCE Camino in carved limestone. The substantial top section with a stop-fluted gallery over the Vitruvian scrolled carved Lintol supported on scrolled brackets over fluted jambs with lion paw feet on baluster footblocks. Italian circa 1660.

    9807. A RARE, PERIOD VENETIAN RENAISSANCE CHIMNEYPIECE richly carved in Istrian Stone. The carved detail on the frieze centered by a Stemma Nobilare or Family Crest as yet not identified, flanked by a profusion of sharply defined scrolled foliage, urns of fruit and winged birds symbolising Peace and Abundance. The upper part sits on two typical scrolled Venetian Capitals and the supporting jambs are carved with flaming urns over ears of wheat on their leaved stalks in tall planters below.
    Italian 16th to 17th century. Photo before restoration.

    COMMENTS : Renaissance Venice, The Lion City, The floating Republic, Imperial Venice where commerce ruled, which challenged the Pope and Islam but absorbed qualities from both. The City of Titian and Palladio...


    9123.CAMINO IN LEGNO DI NOCE, STILO SCOLPTORI SALVATORE VALENTI , PALERMO , SICILIA... : A richly carved Neo Renaissance Walnut chimneypiece in the manner of Salvatore Valenti , an Italian sculptor active in Palermo, Sicily 1835-1903.The boldly scaled decorative features of florally scrolled Griffin panels either side of the central coat of arms under a seated male griffin, with Bacchanalian Satyr masks on either end over maidenheaded scrolled caryatids.
    Italian late 19th century, ( photo before restoration). CAMINO IN LEGNO DI NOCE SCOLPITO A MOTIVI FLOREALI

    11217. A large carved oak Italian Renaissance chimneypiece richly carved in oak. Of typical North Italian / Venetian format, the frieze centered with a mask of Bachus the Roman wine god, within a scrolled cartouche flanked by foliate / fish tailed amorini and scrolling foliage on the side panels , and bearded horned Satyr masks within draped cartouches on the endblocks. This is supported on Ionic capitals over male and female Atlanteans, with further grinning Bacchic horned masks centerfield. Images before restoration, and fitted with 11135, steel brass and copper insert altered to fit. Italian 19th century.

    4721. A rare Venetian Gothic Renaissance antique fireplace mantel from the fifteenth century. This extremely rare chimneypiece is carved in Pietra d’Istria marble from the Istrian Peninsula near Venice and is attributed to Giorgio da Sebenico, sculptor of the Duomo San Francesco, Cathedral of Ancona, which features nearly identical images on the portale.
    Italy, circa 1460.

    Scale : Large

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  • Bulletin - March 2009 - The Demise of Wedgwood

    26 March 2009

    Bulletin - March 2009 - The Demise of Wedgwood

    THE DEMISE OF WEDGWOOD : It is upsetting to view the downturn in the fortunes of this once remarkable company from its mid 18th century origins as one of the first World class commercial quality industrial creative companies, to being taken over by Waterford Glass in Ireland, transferring production…. to the Far East , and now in free fall waiting for a “White Knight”.

    Founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgewood, an invalid with vision and zeal, whose daughter was the mother of Charles Darwin, Wedgwood was one of the first commercial manufacturers to affordably satisfy the ascent of the new Gentry’s consumer requirement for elegance , simplicity ,and serene pastel beauty. Such creations must be credited with calming the mood, tempering the tempo, flashing gracious idylls before the beholder …promoting a feeling that all is well with the moment…...surely one of the arch talents.

    The point was it was made laboriously and expensively and can be made cheaper elsewhere..but these are the anchors of our present connecting to our important, worthwhile formative past. There is a need for our civilization not to trash and rationalise everything. Once the soul departs from a concern and it is viewed solely as a “ brand” or “product” and left to the blinkered herd of fiscal & other professionals the game is over. There was a whole issue of Life magazine at the Dawning of 1970..The Age of Aquarius…where one paragraph pops up in the memory…" War is too important to leave to the Generals , Money is too important for the Bankers, Business too important for the businessmen." ....That was hindsight regarding previous blinding calamities.

    Wedgwood is a representative of so many other wasted worthwhile Icons... fearlessly using this hi-jacked word…Another National Treasure…French would call Champion… on the brink

    What we are as a nation, a people, is what we do…what we think …what we save…what we discard . We are simply rejoining the Natural World if we try…if we up our game…because we are 60 millions, and a little more faith and sustained positive intent from enough of us will sort things out. Thriving UK quality enterprises like Martin-Baker …World leader in Military Aircraft ejector seats…JCBarling earth movers…Rolls Royce World No 2 Aircraft Engine manufacturer..Most of the Formula 1 racing teams are British based and manned , literally a World Class Cottage industry… are all National Gems and although would not be preserved regardless their souls have not departed they survive and thrive . All in niche markets ..what market isn’t / can’t be ?..Not conglomerate but man sized , steerable , good roadholding , good looking…like Bentley and Mini Motor Cars..recognized and appreciated by our German cousins if not by our fellows. Wake up England.

    There were many fine Chimneypieces, chimney furniture, lighting and other items decorated with Wedgwood Jasperware plaques in many fine important houses here and abroad.

    10244..is a pair of siverplated firedogs with green Wedgwood plaques…9858 is a beautiful chimneypiece in the manner of Robert Adam featuring fine Jasperware blue plaques…7794 is a pair of Robert Adam style wall lights / sconces again with green Jasperware…7755 is an elegant Georgian fireplace mantel with green Wedgwood decorative plaques…3212…is another.

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  • Bulletin - September 2008

    10 September 2008

    Bulletin - September 2008

    Terms of reference for antique fireplaces include mantelpiece, or chimneypiece... kamine, cheminee or chiminea …to mention just some of the European titles alone.

    In the layout of principal interior living spaces the antique chimneypiece is an important prominent architectural as well as decorative feature in not just the traditional home. Essentially it either sets the style or complements the existing setting of the room, entrance hall or of the building itself…. providing focus, gravitas, charm and delight , even benign presence.

    Why Antique?

    For many people there is a simple but deep seated satisfaction…even Mystique...felt in the presence of an antique mantelpiece that is in many configurations in fact an Edifice in miniature itself. ….A structure that has endured the years ...or centuries...silent witness to bygone events and routines, dramatic and prosaic... of personages both notable and ordinary, poignant and joyful.

    Importantly, the presence of an antique Fireplace in an environment... grand or modest, formal or understated affirms the unconscious human need for connection with the positive, distant past. Visible evidence is presented of the validity and quality of age old crafts and skills, concepts of eternal design and beautifully worked natural materials ...all combining in silent testament to the continuity and harmony of the ascent of Man's Civilisation.

    PERIOD AND STYLE TO SUIT THAT OF YOUR HOME AND THE INTERIOR DÉCOR.

    For the owner of a period home or a property of a particular period and style the preference would normally be to choose antique fireplace that matches or complements the period features. Alternatively you may wish to create an antique or period environmental style in a modern or neutral interior...either completely with furniture and fittings and chimneypiece blending to that effect...or in a completely plain or hi tech décor positioning the one major traditional antique element, the chimneypiece in its inevitably prominent location.

    Over the centuries building styles and decoration fashions evolved and changed. There were transition periods long and short when one style evolved into the next and then there were less gradual changes where the next style bore little or no relation to any previous…This was the case when the exotic Rococo style arrived all over Europe. It was considered a most radical, even risqué movement...In London the avant garde exponents were based around St Martins Lane. Then again many styles were revived in later centuries and referred to as Revival or Neo, mostly in the 18th and the 19th centuries...These included Neo Gothic, Gothic Revival . The same prefixes applied to... Jacobean, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Palladian, Georgian fireplaces, Regency Revivals. Therefore if you have a house of a particular period then a chimneypiece of the corresponding antique Revival or Neo period would serve well in the absence of an original "de l'epoque" as it also has a presence and patina, a history....a pedigree.

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  • Bulletin - May 2008

    01 May 2008

    Bulletin - May 2008

    At 9am the doors are opened letting in a wonderful London spring morning and the muffled bustle of the day begins. The Classical and Retro music softly filters upwards into the 90 foot high interior, this Edifice of Victorian Pride & Piety , "Standing Four Square, East to West”… a hop skip and a jump from where stood the original gated City walls of Medieval London, The Square Mile… within a stones throw from the White Portland stone Oranges & Lemons Church of St. Leonard..." When I grow rich , said The Bells of Shoreditch "…. Rebuilt by George Dance in 1740 on the original 12th century site , within the churchyard where many Tudor actors including William Shakespeare’s friend and builder of the Curtain Theatre , Richard Burbage are buried . Nearby Curtain Road marks the site of “The Curtain” which was the second purpose built theatre after “The Theatre" and predated the original “Globe" theatre on the Southbank.

    “ Pop goes the weasel ” commemorates a Pawn Shop in the City Road and the hostelry The Eagle…in once bucolic Shepherdess Walk . This stretch of the City Road leading from the Moore-gate up to the great Angel Inn , mentioned in Oliver Twist and previously the Great North Road…. was infested with footpads and highwaymen until the early 19th century, who preyed on travellers and were duly tried by visiting Assize Circuit judges, and hung on a permanent Gibbet in the courtyard of the great Coaching Inn at the top of Pentonville Hill .

    Just round the corner The Wesleyan Chapel of the 18th century Methodist Religious reformer, John Wesley (1703 – 1791 ) nestles quietly behind its garden on the City Road facing Bunhill Fields … the burial ground , outside the city walls… of many religious Non-Conformists like Daniel Defoe , author of Robinson Crusoe , John Bunyan……. Pilgrims Progress , and William Blake, artist, sculptor and write of the hymn Jerusalem. Further down is the castellated “ fortress" of The Honourable Artillery Company formed by Henry VIII in 1530, with their vast grass parade ground behind and which housed German and Italian prisoners of war in the early 1940’s..
    This part of London was pretty much “ hammered" during that war by the German bombers following the Thames…Even in the late 1940's it was possible to see St Paul’s Cathedral from the City Road over the flattened landscape. As in diarist Samuel Pepy’s account of The Great Fire of 1666, “….the Conflagration was universal"…..every night.

    One realises how tiny and “local” London was ..way back then…. But now it’s the World that has shrunk.

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  • Bulletin - April 2008

    26 April 2008

    Bulletin - April 2008

    Oriental Art and Western Art influenced by the Orient exerts an enigmatic, strong and subtle fascination which puts it into a world and class of its own. For the individual this can reveal itself when one focuses on a decorative piece or feature which previously was a familiar background everyday object such as Willow Pattern Design on crockery or the Chinese influence in European Rococo design as seen on carved antique wood fireplaces see stock nos… and 9605 the oil painted canvas screen which imitates..quite charmingly ..Japanese and Chinese lacquer work extending back into the millennium .

    Another example in our present stock is 9576, a delightful small red lacquered and gilded carved antique wood chimneypiece in the George II Manner , which again imitates Oriental lacquer work. ( Currently undergoing restoration ).

    The present emphasis on the Orient is nothing new…well predated by cross influences between the Portuguese, Spanish, the Dutch the French and the British from the 15th through to the 18th Centuries and was celebrated memorably in the early 19th century by the Brighton Pavilion and in the later 19th by Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado inspired by exhibitions in Victorian London.

    Well chosen examples of even the most unacedemic but stylistically valid and honest quality products from or inspired by the Orient can give great pleasure and delight by the very different nature of their conception, and execution ……VIVE LA DIFFERENCE !

    Recently updated on our website :
    8273. An interesting pair of Japanese street entertainers in spelter . They would originally have supported acrobatic children as part of their act. Japanese 19th century from the much earlier bronze originals.

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