Monday, November 9, 2009
Chic Antiques at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show
A Chat with Therien’s Bob Garcia
The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show last week was a great success. Boris Vervoordt from Antwerp showed glorious photography, Egyptian sculptures, and sublime twenties French chairs.
Bernard Steinitz, based in Paris, displayed a dazzling array of Chinese antiques (theatrical chandelier with tassels), and gilded French girandoles, as well as his highly desirable boiseries.
Cheers and applause must go to Therien & Co., a founding member of this much-loved antique show thirty-five years ago. Therien’s stand has been for many years the most elegant, the most superbly stylish, and the most compelling.
Therien partner Bob Garcia keeps a pied-a-terre in Lisbon. He travels to Europe often to seek and find and acquire in Italy, Russia, Stockholm, France, Germany, and hidden hunting grounds on the Continent.
During the show, I sat down with Bob to catch up with him on new directions in antiques, styles and taste in twentieth-century pieces. All photos below are of the handsome treasures on the Therien stand, which had a sleek background of grey sheetrock with aluminum framing and criss-crossed nailheads. With dramatic tall plants, a spiffy painted wood floor, and a large-scale shagreen desk by R&Y Augousti, the stand was a lesson in style from top to toe.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE ANTIQUES:
DDS: Bob, I love the mix of the streamlined, custom-made ivory shagreen desk from Augousti, circa 1995, with the elaborate gilding and carving and bella figura of the Sicilian gilded table. This new/old and elaborate/rococo is the modern way to use antiques.
BG: Yes. This contrast and juxtaposition and vivid mix of furniture and styles and periods are critical to our aesthetic today. We seem to have freed ourselves from the old paradigm “Does this go with that”. It used to be sort of like matching gloves and shoes. That idea is out—for antiques as well as for fashion.
We definitely see style in a much more individualized manner and today it is not about perfect period rooms but what suits us and our personal esthetic. It does seem that all design has more “tooth” or counterpoint when given an unexpected selection to contrast with. It’s rather like restaurants today, where the most successful dishes are the unexpected and creative mix of tastes or sensations, bitter and sweet, salty and tart.
DDS: Therien originally sold only period furniture, pre 1830. Now you’ve refreshed your antiques collections with rare and beautiful custom and one-off 20th century pieces, like the handsome Mario Ceroli sculptural round table you are showing.
BG: We’ve developed the appreciation of “design” in furniture as if it were sculpture. And especially now when serious artists are focused on furniture as a medium for their expression. The Ciroli table we feature in the show was perhaps the most widely admired piece we’ve ever shown. It was both furniture and sculpture.
DDS: One virtuoso piece, like the secretaire, can make a room.
BG: That’s all it takes. One wonderful statement rather than a clutter will make an environment have resonance. Think of this bold lacquered piece in a minimalist interior with comfortable understated upholstered furniture and good art. Nothing more is needed.
DDS: For Therien, what is the key to buying contemporary pieces?
BG: Difficult to answer this question, Diane. One uses all the academic benchmarks in making a selection such as reputation of the designer, provenance, condition, and is it the best example, along with suitability, integrity, quality of workmanship, originality. But what it comes down to is basically does the piece “speak” to us. Is it beautiful? Are the proportions in harmony? I’ve been buying antiques for many decades now, and the finest things do tend to jump into the foreground and grab me. If they won’t let go, I’m very interested.
DDS: Bob, you also keep the background of the booth very quiet and restrained when setting out these beautiful objects. The paneled walls in the book at the antiques show are sheetrock with aluminum framing. With the nail-head detail, it looks rather glam but completely recessive for antiques.
BG: The background does set the mood. The necessity for precious materials does not exist if the quality of the pieces is of super high caliber or the sensitivity to design is honed. As you noticed in the stand, quite humble materials like plain old grey sheetrock are once again a “counterpoint” which gives emphasis to the abstraction of fine design.
MARIO CEROLI, "ROSA DEI VENTI" TABLE Russian pine and inlaid table with a top of circular radiating solid timbers enriched with stained compass rose pattern and inlaid with metal N, S, E, W over inverted ribbed dome pedestal. Raised on a geometric compound base. Circa 1973. Mario Ceroli (1938 - ). Overall Dimensions: 64 ½” diameter x 28 ½” high.
PAIR OF SICILIAN NEOCLASSIC GILTWOOD AND VERRE EGLOMISE CONSOLES Consoles with rectangular inset white marble top within carved and pierced egg and dart molded frame with applied carved and molded meandering foliate reserves. Framed by blocks of floral quatrefoil medallions, raised on similar blocks surmounted by outward scrolling fully realized acanthus leaf sprays over square section tapering legs with similar applied floral and foliate enrichment; the whole mounted with applied glass panel reserves painted to simulate agate and marble. Circa 1770 – 1785. Overall dimensions: 45½” wide x 23” deep x 38” high.
DANISH ROCOCO ROSEWOOD AND PARCEL GILT CHATOL Comprised of three sections; the upper with molded arched swan neck pediment centering carved wood floral cartouche over two mercury plate fielded panel hinged doors. Two fixed shelves and two drawers; the center section with fall-front writing surface enclosing fitted interior, the bombe base cabinet of three long drawers flanked by canted corners on pierced foliate and rocaille carved apron centering fruit cartouche. Raised on outward scrolling foliate carved feet; retaining original hardware with later flame finials and pendant mounts. Third quarter 18th century Overall dimensions: 57” wide x 29” deep x 109” high.
(also in photo above) FRENCH GLASS AND PATINATED STEEL CENTER TABLE The circular glass top on four contiguous loop concave shape supports joined by circular platform stretcher; the base given patinated finish. Circa 1970. Designer unknown. Overall dimensions: 50” diameter x 29” high.
ETRUSCAN EARTHENWARE FRAGMENT In the form of a fully realized nude male youth. First century B.C.E. (restorations). Overall dimensions: 10” deep x 13” wide x 30” high.
PAIR OF ITALIAN LATE NEOCLASSIC WROUGHT IRON, GILTWOOD AND GESSO TORCHERES The hand forged circular section stem surmounted by flaring turned joint fitted with two spiraling upward scrolling candle arms in the form of ribbon twisted swan necks, flanked by wings, the heads rising to support flaring circular bobeche fitted with later palm frond trumpets; the whole raised on rectangular section tapering downward scrolling tripartite feet and surmounted by acorn finial, previously electrified. Circa 1810 Overall dimensions: 19” deep x 32” wide x 80” high.
ITALIAN ROCOCO GILTWOOD ETAGERE The carved and molded frame with inset cartouche shaped mirrored reserves composed of foliate and rocaille ‘C’ scrolls with floral enrichments, supporting carved brackets and suspending shell form pendant. 18th century. Overall dimensions: 26” wide x 71” high.
R & Y AUGOUSTI SHAGREEN AND PARCHMENT “OSCAR” DESK The rectangular top has an inset parchment blotter with bone stringing over straight conforming apron, and single drawer with applied paneled handle, over double pedestal “rusticated” base. Two stacked hinged drawers with similar applied paneled handles, the upper enclosing shallow box drawer, the lower with multiple file drawer, contiguous with plinth base. CA 1990s – Paris – Branded Mark. The R & Y Agousti label by Ria & Yiouri Augousti was launched in Paris in 1990. Overall dimensions: 30” deep x 84” long x 31 ½” high.
FRENCH BAROQUE TERRA COTTA MAQUETTE Depicting two high relief sculpted intertwined dolphins amongst reeds on half classical urn; now mounted on iron stand. Circa 1780. Overall dimensions (sculpture): 9” deep x 26” wide x 14 ½” high.
GUSTAVIANSK CRYSTAL CHANDELIER The circular brass cage fitted with attached lion masks and six downswept arms terminating in circular bobeches and gadrooned urn shaped nozzles. Surmounted by domed, shaped canopy, suspending various twist-turned links with concentric cages and Murano glass bell shaped pendant; the whole strung with interlocking crystal strings, graduated pendants, rosettes and festoons. Fourth quarter 18th century. After Haga Palace model. Overall dimensions: 30” diameter x 62” high.
PAIR ROMAN EMPIRE PAINTED AND PARCEL GILT FAUTEUILS Each with arched shaped upholstered boxed back within foliate carved and molded frame. Joined to boxed seat by circular section downward scrolling foliate carved tapering arms ending in rectangular reserve. Greek key carved apron, raised on circular section tapering fluted legs headed by foliate carved collars and ending in toupee feet. Early 19th century. Overall dimensions: 24” deep x 25 ½” wide x 39 ½” high.
PAIR ITALIAN NEOCLASSIC GILTWOOD TABORETS The rectangular upholstered box seat over molded apron with relief carved foliate reserve, on tapering round section, partially fluted legs with foliate carved collars, raised on ball feet. . Late 18th century. Overall dimensions: 18” square x 20 ½” high.
ITALIAN MARBLE TAZZA Deep ovoid bulbous form rising to rolled edge and ending in conforming circular straight foot. Circa 1700 – possibly earlier. Overall dimensions: 18 ½” diameter x 12” high.
PAIR ROMAN EMPIRE PAINTED AND PARCEL GILT FAUTEUILS Arched shaped upholstered boxed back within foliate carved and molded frame, joined to boxed seat by circular section downward scrolling foliate carved tapering arms ending in rectangular reserve, over Greek key carved apron, raised on circular section tapering fluted legs headed by foliate carved collars and ending in toupee feet Early 19th century Overall dimensions: 24” deep x 25 ½” wide x 39 ½” high *Settee also available
PAIR KARL XII GILT LEAD APPLIQUES Oval plate secured by foliate molded lead frame issuing downswept scrolling brass arm ending in circular bobeche with vasiform nozzle. Surmounted by blue grass reserve with paired bird finial, flanked by female figures in classically draped cloaks; the pendant base with applied rosettes centering floral basket. Circa 1710. Attributed to Christian Precht after a design by Daniel Marot. Overall Dimensions: 21” wide x 30” high
WHERE TO FIND THERIEN & CO, ONLINE AND IN CALIFORNIA:
411 Vermont St, San Francisco, CA 94107
716 North La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069
Photos: Philip Stites