Tuesday, December 20, 2016

King Louis XIV Breaks the Murano Monopoly and Gives Us Venetian Style Mirrors

By the time Venetian mirrors came into being in the late 15th century, the island of Murano had reigned as the world’s premier glass manufacturer for three centuries. The island had long been home to the world’s best glassmakers, in part precisely because it was an island. Artisans and glassmakers were isolated from much of the rest of the world specifically so that the secrets of Venetian glass would not find their way to other places. While Murano was something of a cage, it was for most of the glassmakers, a gilded one with a lifestyle many from outside would envy.

Although the techniques were certainly a critical element of the success of Venetian glass, in truth there were other factors that played a significant role as well, but there was no chance of their being easily stolen. Why? Because they included the unique salinity of the sea around Venice as well as the local salt and soda the glass was made from.

Besides the quality of the glass itself, the key process that made Venetian mirrors so sought after was a closely held secret called the Gold Dust Technique, where gold leaf would be inserted into the glass prior to the solidification process, leaving the gold leaf floating in the mirror's glass. Protected forever, the gold leaf added color and an eternal sparkle to the Venetian mirror.

By the middle of the 16th century Venetian mirrors were considered one of the most collectible forms of art in the world. It’s said that the mirrors were so sought after – and rare – that one would have been more valuable than a naval ship or a Rafael of the same size!

Gilded cages are, after all, still cages, and eventually three birds flew the coup. France’s Louis XIV succeeded in luring the Venetian glass makers to Paris and the monopoly of Murano glassmaking was history. Although the French quickly replicated some of the Venetian techniques, Venice and Murano would remain the world’s premier glass makers for centuries to come.

One result of the French breaking the Venetian monopoly was the fact that lower priced Venetian style mirrors became commonplace throughout Europe. It turned out that the market for a more affordable Venetian style mirror was considerable and demand was able to keep glass manufacturers across the continent humming for centuries.

Today Venetian style mirrors are still sought after, and we have a variety of them available. From beautiful classical styles to Art Deco and modern there’s a something for everyone… Just in time for Christmas!

The "Queen Anne" Venetian Style Mirror

"Bullseye" Venetian Style Mirror

"Rectangular Bullseye" Venetian Style Mirror

"Judy" Venetian Style Mirrored Coffee Table

"Hugh" Venetian style mirror

"Sevilla" Venetian style mirror

"Verona" Venetian Style Mirror

"Caroline" Venetian Style Mirror

"Angie 2" Rectangular Shaped Venetian Style Mirror

Early 20th century Italian Venetian Mirror
(Note:  This is a Venetian mirror, not a Venetian style mirror)

"Judy" Venetian Style Console Table

"Art Deco" Venetian style mirror

"Paris" Venetian Style Mirror

"Versailles" Venetian Style Mirror

"Milano" Venetian Style Mirror

"Roma" Venetian Style Mirror

"Classic" Venetian Style Mirror

"Etched Venetian" Venetian Style Mirror

"Octagonal" Venetian Style Mirror



Thursday, December 1, 2016

When Lions Roar... and other accessories to bring a room to life!

Often when people think of interior design they think of curtains, paint colors, tables, seating, chandeliers etc. Those are of course the workhorses of design, they are the foundations upon which everything is built in creating just the right look whether a single room or an entire house. Foundations are important of course, but they are rarely the whole story. One of the key elements of, and one of the most challenging aspects of design are the accessories. Whether it’s a panel on this wall, a mirror on that wall or a set of gilded candlesticks on a buffet, just the right accessory can spark magic in a room or bring a foyer to life.

While there are myriad types of accessories coming in all shapes and sizes, we’d like to focus on one small area of accessories: Animals!

From lions to dogs to elephants, animals make for wonderful conversation pieces, and not just because of what they are, but for the images they bring to our minds. A carved dog often makes visitors think of their own precious pooches… A sculpture of a lion makes us think of the king of the Wild as he lays under a tree in the Serengeti surveying his domain. A wooden elephant makes us think of an ancient Indian society where a Maharaja might travel by elephant. But of course that’s exactly what accessories do, they highlight, they accentuate, or sometimes they even become the stars of the room themselves, the things that visitors remember six months after they visited…

And so, as the holiday approaches and you’re wondering what to get that person who has everything or you’re thinking of that client whose master bedroom is missing that last perfect accessory, we’d like to showcase a menagerie of choices that might be just what you’re looking for.

Gilded Wood Whippet

Carved wood Lion of Lucerene 

Early 20th Century leather Indian horse on custom stand

An expressive 19th Century Italian terracotta lion on marbleized wood base

Terracotta cow from southern India

Pair of Italian Faux-Marble Lions

European leather hippopotamus with glass eyes

Carved Wood Roaring Lion

A Burmese Merry-Go-Round tiger made of painted wood 

A pair of terracotta British colonial lions from India

A realistic rhino head sculpture of carved wood and composite

Pair of Cast Stone Greyhounds

A pair of British Colonial terracotta elephants

British Colonial terracotta lions

Below are vignettes from our shop featuring some of these pieces.

If none of these animals jump out at you... we invite you to visit our accessories section to look for that perfect something that will bring a room to life.