Monday, July 23, 2012

A Stunning Monumental Scale Regency Painted Horn Inkstand

A lovely Coral Gables estate I was engaged to appraise recently had this quite impressive green painted inkstand which I initially believed to be painted tole. Closer physical examination along with my colleague Larry Sirolli who was formerly head of the English Furniture Department at Sotheby's in New York led to the realization that the material was in fact horn. It's almost certainly made in India for British consumption.

Stylistically this piece is assertively Regency and very much in the tradition of the shamelessly riotously exuberant style of Regency that predominated at Brighton Pavilion made for George IV when he was regent.  It dates from about 1825. However Mr. Sirolli was of the opinion that the green painting was of a later period dating about 1930. It measures 18 inches high, 17 inches wide and 11 inches deep.

The open area of the frame above has a blotter which runs on the rod and which is pulled up by a knob surmounting the pagoda inspired lid.

It also has a candle holder and other standard accoutrements such as inkpots and other small drawers and secret compartments.

A Charming Oval Painting After Francois Boucher

Now and again, as an appraiser of art and antiques, I find something that is not exactly valuable. But it is admittedly charming and not without some historical interest as well as visual appeal.  Recently, I encountered this lovely small oval oil painting on board in an Coral Gables estate I was engaged to appraise.  It is a competently executed 19th Century copy by the hand of a sure painter after an 18th Century painting depicting the baptism of Christ by St John in the manner of the great French Rococo master Francois Boucher.

It is small and measures 9 x 7 inches.

Close up examination attests to the fairly good quality of execution by someone who clearly had a feeling for Boucher's light touch and effortless sense of movement.


In spite of the markings on the back, optimistically attributing it to the master himself, it's clearly a nice decorative and economically accessible copy.

It would benefit by a professional cleaning too. But until such a time, it's still a lovely painting to exhibit, as did the late owner, on a stand.

A George III Style Serpentine Walnut Bench Inspired by Louis XV Prototypes

This is a good example of what regional appraisers of art and antiques see in places like S FL where I am based. The owner and a prior appraiser with scant background had assumed it was French and that it was a Louis XV period bench. The assumption was based on the cabriole legs more than anything I should imagine.


In reality, this was a prime example of English furniture made in a very French inspired style. And it's also a later generation bench of 19th Century vintage.  It was clearly made after French Rococo prototypes in the mid to  late 19th Century. 

It has an upholstered seat with obviously more recent floral blended (polyester and cotton) fabric resting on 4 cabriole legs headed by carved cabochons and terminating in scroll feet. Visually, the cabochons give it away as an English bench as such a decoration would not have customarily been seen on the head of a French cabriole leg. Also the sweep of the cabriole is too stiff to the trained eye of an appraiser who knows his or her furniture.  The bench measures 18”h., 23”w., 16”d.

A Jacobean Inspired Side Chair Probably Concieved as a Deliberate Fake

This rather penitential looking side chair was recently encountered in an estate appraisal here in S FL. It purported to be a Caroline Period oak side chair.  

Close examination revealed it was in fact a complete pastiche remade from some old elements. The tablet back panel has a geometric carved moulded motifs placed in between a pair of plain uprights and is noted for also having a “CR” carved into the verso. This was almost certainly likely to lead the buyer to believe it stood for "Charles Rex" implying a royal provenance. Some people really are gullible! The plain overhanging wood seat has a  rounded moulded edge resting on a plain apron with block front corners and round front legs with ring turnings connected by a similar style rod across the front.  The area below has a plainer flat H shaped stretcher connecting the front legs to the rear plain legs. The chair is also suspect as a piece of remade furniture by the presence of later screws and newer elements and the questionable initials carved on the tablet verso. All this  indicates this is a very decorative pastiche at best remade from some antique elements – possibly  in the late 19th Century when dealers started to do this more consistently. Although this production in which antique elements were cleverly reused to make such "antiques" really reached its apogee in the 20th Century during the 1920's following WWI, and again in the 1950's through the 1970's after WWII. The chair measures 37 inches in height.