12 October 2017

The Art of Maiolica

Maiolica wet drug jar, Montelupo, Italy, 17th Century. Available at Guest and Gray

Maiolica is the name given to the tin- glazed earthenware which flourished in Renaissance Italy.

In the early 1400’s, fine ceramics from Moorish Spain began to reach Italy, mainly through the trading port of Majorca, from which ‘Maiolica’ is thought to derive its name.

The Spanish ceramicists had mastered the art of the tin glaze, whereby tin oxide (purchased as a powdery white ash) is applied to kiln-fired clay. The glaze produces the characteristically opaque white background, to which other colours are delicately applied. 

 Maiolica was used for a variety of practical wares such as plates, bowls, tiles and drug jars; but it is perhaps best known in the form of the show dish.

Large decorative dishes in the Istoriato style, (translated literally as ‘painted with stories’) became popular in the 1500’s. Historical, biblical and mythological scenes inspired their decoration.

The chemical qualities of the tin glaze protect and preserve colour and line with a glass-like finish. The technique has ensured that over hundreds of years the distinctive designs of Maiolica appear much as they did when they were first produced, offering a fascinating insight into the visual world of Renaissance Italy.

Maiolica is produced in Italy to this day and workshops throughout Europe have sought to revive it's unique aesthetic since the Renaissance. If you are enchanted by the beauty of this fascinating ceramic, we've selected some original antique and revival style pieces available at Grays...
Maiolica plate, Castelli Italy, c.1700. Available at Guest and Gray.

Maiolica 'Istoriato' dish, Urbino, Italy, c.16th century. Available at Guest and Gray
Maiolica Apothecary Jar, Montelupo Italy, c17th-18th century. Available at Guest and Gray.
'Istoriato' Show Dish, Continental Revival, c.1800. Available at Patrick Boyd Carpenter
Maiolica Armorial Jar, Montelupo, Italy, c.1500-1520. Available at Guest and Gray.

6 October 2017

Birthstone of the month: Opal & Tourmaline

October's birthstone is considered one of the most desirable because it has two stones to choose from - opals which are famous for their "play on colours", and tourmaline known for its wide array of colours.  

Through the ages, Monarchs have treasured opals, both for their beauty and their protective powers.  Traditionally set into crowns and necklaces they were worn to repel evil and protect the eyesight.  The opal has certainly had a reputation over the centuries from the time of The Black Death, when they mainly believed the gem to be the cause of death, thus losing its buying appeal. Then in the Elizabethan period it was deemed a treasured beauty, which was further expressed during Queen Victoria's reign when she gifted opal  jewellery to her children, thus recreating an increase in popularity again.  However, the stone continued to have a mixed reputation, no thanks to the novel Anne of Geuerstein - written by Sir Walter Scott in 1887 - who depicted the opal as an evil stone.

Tourmaline, the alternate birthstone for October, is a gemstone that displays a vast spectrum of colours and is often misidentified as ruby, emerald or sapphire.

Here at Grays you will find a wonderful display of opal and tourmaline pieces waiting to be discovered.

Edwardian 18ct gold, four stone opal & diamond ring. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company

Edwardian 18ct gold, large opal & rose diamond cluster ring. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian tortoise opal brooch dated 1870s, with cahonsion eyes set in silver and gold. Available at DB Gems

Opal cufflinks. Dated 1890. Available at DB Gems

1920s Mexican fire opal platinum ring. Available at DB Gems

Opal and heart brooch. Dated 1890. Available at DB Gems

1930s Suite, 70ct green tourmaline rose gold and diamonds. Available at Bellum Antiques

A very high quality white oval opal ring surrounded by 1.0 ct diamonds. Available at S.Greenstein
18ct Gold mounted wood opal and ruby stone set lady's tortoise brooch, c1960s. Available at Shapiro & Co

28 September 2017

Birthstone of the Month: Blue Sapphire

While sapphires around the world are generally blue, unknown to most people is that there are also different shades of sapphire such as pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, and black. Needless to say, it is a truly rare gem. 

The stone has become synonymous with royalty and romance, as a couple of recent princesses - most notably Princes Diana - were given blue sapphire engagement rings. Since sapphire symbolises sincerity and faithfulness, it is an excellent choice for an engagement ring. It is also the traditional wedding anniversary gift for a couple's 5th and 45th years.

For those in search of the perfect sapphire gift, Grays is abundant with these stones in all shades,  making it the ideal place to start. Here are our current top picks... 

Sapphire and diamond tortoise brooch, platinum and gold, c1900. Offered by Nigel Norman

18ct Gold sapphire and emerald Mario Buccellati ring. Offered by Anthea AG Antiques

Carved ring set with natural ceylon sapphire and 2 mine cut old diamonds. Offered by Wimpole Antiques

Edwardian 18ct gold snake ring set with a sapphire & diamond eyes. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

Sapphire and diamond Art Deco engagement ring (dress ring ). Offered by Leila in the Mews

Sapphire and diamond pendant set in 18ct white gold. Offered by Horton London

22 September 2017

Matisse In The Studio Exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts

Matisse In The Studio. Image courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts

Matisse In The Studio is currently exhibiting at  the Royal Academy of Arts until Sunday 12th November 2017.

This exhibition offers a rare insight into Matisse’s personal collection, which inspired his paintings, sculptures and drawings. Matisse drew his collection from all across the world, including pieces from a Thai Buddhist statuary,  Mali Bamana figures and furniture and textiles from North Africa. These pieces may not have been valuable but their symbolism was important to Matisse, who used them as a recurring theme throughout his career, by reinventing and reintroducing them into a new settingMatisse’s objects not only formed his body of work, but they also provided him with influences beyond the limits of Western art, as seen in his use of African sculpture and masks, which he used as a means to convey the human figure and face.  

Later, Matisse developed an interest in the Islamic art, that adorned his Nice studio. His collection of Islamic pieces would be used as props to create sensuous sets, depicting women in harems, surrounded by vivid backgrounds.  Matisse then went on to develop his cut-out style works, looking for inspiration through Chinese calligraphy and African textiles, as an expression of his own simplified language of signs.

Henri Matisse, Safrano Roses at The Window, 1925.
 Oil On Canvas 80 x 65 cm. Photo from the private collection. Image courtesy of the  Royal Academy of Arts

Henri Matisse, The Morrish Screen, 1921.
Oil on canvas 91 x74 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bequest of Lisa Norris Elkins, 1950. Photo © Philadelphia Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY. Artwork: © Succession H. Matisse/DACS 2017. Image courtesy of  the Royal Academy of Arts

Haiti North Africa, late 19th early 20th Century.
Cotton plain weave cut and appliquéd to bast fibre cloth. 217 x 212 cm. Private collection, on loan to Musée Matisse, Nice. Former collection of Henri Matisse Photo © François Fernandez, Nice. Image courtesy of  the Royal Academy of Arts

After you have visited the exhibition, then why not head to Grays and build on your own collection of antiques inspired by Matisse.

19th Century Turkish Ottoman Green Ground Calligraphy Textile.
Available at Antique Choices

Close up of the Turkish Ottoman Green Ground Calligraphy Textile, above

19th Century Mother of Pearl Wooden Table, made in either Egypt or Syria.
Available at Antique Choices

Chinese blue and white bowl, Kangxi (1662-1722), with two panels one decorated with two ladies on a fenced terrace, the other with two men on a terrace standing at the entrance of a tiled room, the panels divided by text, the rim decorated with liewen with five cartouches containing peaches, diameter: 8 3/8in., 21.3cm,  height: 3 3/4in. 9.5cm. Available at Guest and Gray

The other side of the above image showing the Chinese inscription.
Chinese blue and white censer, Kangxi (1662-1722), decorated with auspicious objects with inscriptions which roughly translate as Zia Huo Fang promises to be forever devoted to Buddha, the vertical inscription reads devoted disciple Yip You Boon happily presents this piece, Chenghua six-character mark, diameter: 8in., 20.30cm.
Available at Guest and Gray 
18th -19th Century Pagan Style Burmese Wooden Standing Medicine Buddha.
Available at  Peter Sloane

A Pemde Tribe Democratic Republic of Congo Mask. Pr-war date, from an ex American Private Collection.
Available at Peter Sloane

14 September 2017

LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, Berkeley Square, September 2017

The LAPADA Art and Antiques Fair is a prestigious international showcase and an exciting high point of London's Autumn social calendar.

Presented in the historic and atmospheric surroundings of Berkeley Square, a stone's throw from Grays, the fair begins Friday 15th of September and will run until Wednesday 20th.

Tickets are still available at the LAPADA website.

100 exhibitors will present work from across the art and antiques spectrum, spanning fine art, jewellery, furniture, antiquities, ceramics and much more.

Each and every piece and exhibitor is vetted by a 70-member strong specialist committee, and as ever many of our Grays dealers will be presenting. Below we have picked out some of our favorite pieces from these dealers, with details of their stand number. We hope to see you there !

Green garnet and diamond Prince of Wales Feathers brooch, 19th century. Offered by Nigel Norman Stand C30

Inkwell desk set by Max Bochmann for Meissen, c1905-10. Offered by Serhat Ahmet Stand C34

Van Cleef and Arpels sunburst pendant dress clip, c1960-70. Offered by Anthea AG Antiques Stand B40

Diamond tiara mounted in platinum, c1905. Offered by Moira Fine Jewellery Stand B47

Gold and enamel jewelled bourbon presentation snuff box, French, c1855. Offered by Pushkin Antiques Stand C10

18ct gold drop pearl earrings set with diamonds and emeralds. Offered by The Gilded Lily, Stand B35 

Carved beech cat, Faust E Lang, c.1930. Offered by Horton London Stand B32

18ct French gold and diamond ring, c1890. Offered by John Joseph Stand B45

Triumph of Love diamond and gold with blue enamel pendant, c1820. Offered by Wimpole Antiques Stand B1

Art Deco Lacquered box, Japanese, c1920s. Offered by Matthew Foster Stand B13

7 September 2017

The Mews at Grays - Part 2

This week's topic is a follow-up of a previous post about The Mews at Grays. The Mews offers a diverse collection of vintage, antiques and collectables.

We're highlighting three Mews dealers:

Ting's Jewellery Box
Showcase C22 | Grays Mews |Tel: 020 7629 7034

Ting is a well established dealer here at Grays and can be found in the basement of The Mews. Her stand contains a dazzling variety of fun vintage costume jewellery as well as a highly desirable collection of Victorian lockets. Pieces are often featured in glossy magazines such as Vogue.

Victorian Lockets
1950s Mermaid locket
Diamante Hand Necklace

Don Bayney Antiques
Stand A20-A21 | Tel: 020 7491 7200

Don has been a keen collector of Japanese swords and armour since the late sixties and has traded in this field since the early nineties. He joined Grays in 1991, where you can find him on the lower-ground floor in The Mews.

3 Swords on a Stand. Top: A boy's sword (possibly for the son of a Daimyo or Lord) Centre: Wakizashi blade (Shinto period) Bottom: Wakizashi blade (Shinto period) in excellent condition.

Tsuba, Iron, depicting rice bales. Signed and made by father and son.

Tsuba, Iron, depicting dragonflies in gold, signed Iwamoto Ikkan with Kao.

Pavlos S. Pavlou
Stand L17 | Tel: 020 7629 9449

Pavlos has been a numismatic consultant to a well known London auction company for many years. He is located on the ground floor in The Mews. You will find ancient, medieval and modern coins up to 1850 in his stand.

Ptolemaic Empire Egypt. Alexandria. Cleopatra III and Ptolemy IX Soter II 116-107 BC. 

IC-XC, the redeemer enthroned holding the book of gospels, amulet lower right panel of throne. 

Christ enthroned, right hand raised in benediction,large dot either side. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...