BOOK REVIEW: Fabergé Rediscovered

Fabergé Rediscovered

Wilfried Zeisler

ISBN: 978-1-911282-16-7

D Giles Ltd

In association with Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

£35.00

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Catherine the Great Egg. Firm of Fabergé, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. © Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens / Photograph by Alex Braun

 

This new book focuses on the well-known collection of Fabergé at Hillwood and relates how new research and discovery of pieces thought to have been lost impact on items among the ninety or so pieces collected by Mrs Post.

We learn more about Fabergé’s firm in the 19th and early 20th centuries and its place in the world of goldsmithing and jewellery creation at that time.  It is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated study that will appeal to collectors and lovers of social history alike.

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Fig 143 (page 162) Marjorie Merriweather Post showing her Fabergé table clock to guests at Hillwood, Washington D.C., 1960s © Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens Archives

The chapter on Mrs Post as a collector of Fabergé is revealing and one understands what type of works appealed to her aesthetically and the reasons why some offers were turned down. She certainly had a discerning eye!

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court

Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court

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Christian Baulez and Charlotte Vignon. Contributions by Anne Forray-Carlier, Joseph Godla, Helen Jacobsen, Luisa Penalva and Emmanuel Sarméo

UK£54.95 / US$79.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-61-8
Published by GILES in association with the Frick Collection

 

This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in 18th century French decorative arts and interiors. Published to accompany an exhibition – just closed at the Frick Museum but opening in Paris on March 16th – it is a detailed consideration of Gouthière’s work in every way.

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The essays by leading experts and scholars reveal his life and work; the architects and designers for whom he worked for and the craftsmen he used for the production of the finished commissions. There is a fascinating section on techniques and skills used in the creation of these stunning mounts.  Indeed Gouthière is believed to have invented dorure au mat – a matt finish for which his work is noted. The last essay considers the appeal of Gouthière’s name to 19th century British collectors and how things were often wrongly attributed to him.

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The last major work on Gouthière was published in 1912 and so this beautifully illustrated volume is extremely welcome, especially as it includes a catalogue raisonné of the forty-nine pieces that are definitely attributable to him. It’s interesting to note that he only once made furniture mounts and that was for a jewellery cabinet for Marie Antoinette which was sold after the French Revolution and most probably dismantled. I also hadn’t realised that he worked in silver-gilt on a dessert service and toilette set.

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It is sad to think that Gouthière (1732-1813) never regained the popularity he enjoyed up until the French Revolution in his lifetime but this book allows us to fully understand and appreciate just quite how talented a man he was and what a stunning legacy he left for us to enjoy today. While I will probably not get to see the exhibition I am more than consoled by the fact that I have a copy of the book – possibly the next best thing to owning a Gouthière piece!

The authors: Charlotte Vignon is Curator of Decorative Arts at The Frick Collection, New York. Christian Baulez is an historian of French 18th-century decorative arts and architecture and former Chief Curator at the Château de Versailles. Anne Forray-Carlier is Chief Curator of 17th- and 18th-Century Decorative Arts at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Joseph Godla is Chief Conservator at The Frick Collection. Helen Jacobsen is Chief Curator at the Wallace Collection, London. Luisa Penalva is Curator of Gold, Silver, and Jewelry Collections at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon. Anna Saratowicz-Dudyńska is Curator of Silver and Bronze at the Royal Castle, Warsaw. Emmanuel Sarméo is an independent scholar.

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Paris Exhibition: Or virtuose a la cour de France: Pierre Gouthière (1732-1813) will open at the Musée des Arts décoratifs,, 16th March – 25th June 2017.

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BOOK REVIEW: In the Light of Naples – The Art of Francesco de Mura

In the Light of Naples – The Art of Francesco de Mura

Edited by Arthur R. Blumenthal. Foreword by Gloria Marina Belleni. Contributions by Nicola Spinosa, David Nolta, Loredana Gazzara, Maria Grazia Leonetti Rodinò

Published by GILES in association with The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park
UK£32.50 / US$49.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-85-4

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This book celebrates the work of Francesco de Mura (1696–1782), who is considered one of the leading painters of the Golden Age of Naples.  Stylistically he transcends Late Baroque, Rococo and early-Neoclassicism and it is no wonder that he was a favourite painter of the Bourbon king Charles VII (1735-59).

The authors consider all aspects of his work from the large paintings and frescoes he did for various churches such as his The Adoration of the Magi (ca.1728) for the church of Santa Maria Donnaromita to his paintings on canvas or copper. His interest in and bequest to the charitable institution Pio Monte della Misericordia is also discussed and they still have some thirty nine of the works he bequeathed.

As one looks at these elegant, colourful paintings one cannot but feel a sadness that a third of his work was lost during the British and American bombing of Naples and Monte Cassino in 1944 but as this book succinctly proves there still remains much to enjoy.

 

The book marks an eponymous exhibition which opens at The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, FL, September 17–December 18, 2016, before travelling on to the Chazen Museum, University, of Wisconsin-Madison, the Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, and the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame through the course of 2017.

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BOOK REVIEW: Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France

Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France

Aaron Wile

Published by GILES in association with The Frick Collection, New York
PRICE — UK£25.00 / US$39.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-79-3

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France’s involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) unwittingly provided Watteau (1684-1721) with an opportunity to produce a little-known body of work depicting military subjects. As one might expect the military glories of battles or the generals and kings involved were not the subject matter Watteau chose as he preferred the more run-of-the mill scenes of marches, encampments and bivouacs and showing soldiers at rest and play.

Antoine Watteau was a master draughtsman and the book reveals this through the images of the beautiful chalk drawings as well as finished paintings.  Watteau would take a figure from a drawing and with almost the idea of the ‘cut and paste’ technique use it in the composition of a painting as author Aaron Wile explains.

This book is a delightful and erudite composition which is easily accessible to all but is combined with a catalogue raisonné of Watteau’s military works, including drawings now only known from prints.

While the book was published in conjunction with the exhibition Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France, at The Frick Collection, until 2ndOctober 2016, it will have a very long shelf life and be much read and sought after by all interested in the arts of early 18th century France.

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