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.


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

411 Vermont St, San Francisco, CA 94107

716 North La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Photos: Philip Stites


Blue said...

The winged elements mounted on steel(?) rectangular stands are utterly contemporary. Wonderful post - as usual.

Trouvais said...

Thank you, Diane. Love the Therian website. My daughter's violin teacher related a dictom that one must never "try out" a violin one couldn't would never be happy playing "down". But seeing the furniture selections of the very finest eye can train one's eye towards a rough aproximation on a lesser budget. Still...was there ever a gorgeous piece you lost sleep over? Trish

DHD Design Studio said...


I love the Pair of Sicilian neoclassical gilt wood and verre eglomise consoles. Thank you for this elegant post.

Brillante Interiors said...

Exquisite pieces and great insight in the world of antiques. As for Mario Ceroli I was stunned to see that table since I have known him in the 70's and after as a sculptor with a totally different approach to wood. Great timeless piece.

debra@dustjacket said...

Wonderful pieces, just stunning.

Loved the interview .. good tips with using "a great statement piece" and not having to match everything. All very interesting.

Thanks for the greetings, hope you enjoyed yourself whilst living in Sydney.

DennyHollandStudio said...

Very informative post and homage to our fine SF event. There's so much for our eyes to dance around on with these antiques.

So glad to see you've added my blog to your list-welcome Diane!


Karena said...

Gorgeous works of art. I would love to see them all in person!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Thank you so much for thoughtful and lovely comments about Therien's antiques. Other than Vervoordt and Steinitz, the Therien booth at the antique shoe was such a standout...wonderful.
I like Bob's observations on using antiques today. Fresh.
Notice that Therien was totally formally committed to only period antiques dating before 1830...SERIOUS! And now they sell 20th century pieces that are custom made or of the finest quality.
Bob Garcia has such a fantastic eye for vintage and antiques of all kinds--all countries.
I've written about Therien before--they are splendid. I like their LA gallery, as well...which has all the most lustrous and wonderful antiques for serious collectors.
Dustjacket: I did live in and love Sydney. I lived on Moncur Street in Woollahra, and adored it. That lovely tree-shaded area around Queen St hardly changes at all..same shops, same families selling magazines and Queen St still has the same groceries and jewelers and antique dealers. I step back in as if I never left. I adore Sydney, always have, always will.
And I love San Francisco and California, too. Thank you for asking.
Fondest to you all, DIANE

Unknown said...

therien's gallery here in LA is always beautifully edited, and in my mind, adding 20th century pieces to antiques, only enhances both. lovely post.


great! like youre blog a lot! (;

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends in Southern California and Germany-

I LOVE having an international audience for the people I write about.
Thanks so much for your wonderful comments.
Maison 21: I love your blog--you are on my favorites list--and appreciate your comment about the La Cienega gallery that Therien has had for so many years. Cheers, DIANE

vicki archer said...

Diane, these are magnificent pieces and I am guessing important too. These could bring out the greedy girl in me....xv

Bleudelavande said...

Tank you to be one of my followers! I'm so excited and glad!!! You are so talented and your blog is fantastic!!!!
Have a great day!

Greet Lefèvre said...

To be present at the San Francisco Antiques show must be gorgeous! I wish I would go to this gorgeous show!
The pictures are just wonderful! I adore the Gustavian chandelier and a lot of other antiques pieces here! I just go to visit the Therian website! Thank you so much for sharing! Your blog is a delight!


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Lovely and wonderful to hear from my dear friends in Provence and in Belgium and ...all over Europe.

Yes, the Therien pieces are always serious...and as Bob Garcia said in the interview, one or two can make a room. Interesting, the shagreen desk is quite recent, and was a custom design in 1990 by R&Y Augousti, who are bases in Paris (shop on the rue du Bac near Bon Marche)...and sell a lot at Barneys.
Thanks for your great messages. Vicki...Provence is a great place to bring out your Greedy Girl side.
cheers, DIANE

A Super Dilettante said...

I've always loved Rococo period for its elaborate design. I love the gilded framed mirror and elegant chandelier! Imagine a dinner party underneath that chandelier reflecting all the shimmering pearl necklaces and silk black dresses.

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

Diane - what an absolute treat to read this interview. Love love love it.

I love you blog too. I used to be an interior design student of yours at UC Berkeley and really missed the classes when we were done... but now I get to read your blog.

Thanks so much.


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Thanks so much for your spirit and enthusiasm.
I am do delighted to hear from you both.
Valerie--so pleased you were my student. Those classes were such a pleasure to teach. If you're in San Francisco now, please stay in touch with California College of the Arts--as I am teaching a 'Behind the Scenes' course in February, one-day, off-site.

Super Dilettante!
That is exactly the right idea. Yes, Rococo and Baroque mirrors and chandeliers and sconces make a room feel like a party...and all you
need is some really wonderful very chilled Champagne.
Baroque and bubbly--a very good combinations.
Cheers, DIANE

Fiona Cartolina said...

Beautiful blog Diane - and fabulous interview. I am in awe of all of these gorgeous works of art - I wish I could see them in person. I am looking forward to following your posts.
Best, Fiona(Cafe Cartolina)

*Chic Provence* said...

Oh Diane, I couldn't be at the show and now it doesn't matter. Your post brought it to us. The counterpoint of the grey sheetrock backdrop to the stunning pieces is jaw-dropping...those torchieres make my knees weak!

Thanks for including my blog in your list, I am thrilled to be here!


Renée Finberg said...

it is a gem.
everything else is fab as well, but the chandie is purrrrfect.


mermaid gallery said...

The Etruscan earthenware fragment of the nude youth is absolutely amazing to see in a modern setting instead of locked up in a museum. As a potter and sculptor, I really appreciate the weathered beauty.

Olga Granda-Scott said...

Dear Diane,
What an elegant show-as a dealer I just hope it was successful or we won't be seeing much of these gorgeous setting post-recession.
It was such an honor for me to have you visit my blog and list me under your favorites--I hope I can live up to the expectations.
Olga ~Dancing Through Paris

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Susan Kit, Olga, Fiona, and Renee-

I loved hearing from you.

Yes...that chandelier would make any room look divine. I want two of them! (And miniatures to wear as earrings, perhaps).
I'm so very pleased everyone has appreciated all the details of this stand of Therien's--and that detail, he grey sheetrock with aluminum framing--was such a distinct and chic contrast to the elegant antiques. As someone said, these are all 'investment grade' antiques--though Therien would never discuss them in an 'investment' sense. Yes, each is a singular piece--and I appreciated Bob's comment that one great piece can make a room.


wonderful post - thanks !

♥ Braja said...

Love the torcheres and fauteuils....lovely post as always :))

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Welcome to THE STYLE SALONISTE...and thank you for your comment.

Thanks for your kind message all the way from WEST BENGAL...among the yogis and literary figures and great thinkers of India.
Cheers from California.

Clarity said...

I'm noticing a theme in your blog interviews: People who are passionate about what they do, yet it is your questions that help translate that passion for us.

Thank you for sharing Diane and I thought your Fred Lyon interview was just lovely too.

Mark said...

The San Francisco show was a great success this year, despite the bridge being shut people still made the effort to get there!

Beautiful objects as always.

Styling by Coty Farquhar, Australia said...

What an absolute treat to come across your blog this week, I look forward to popping over each week to see your posts. I have added you into my blog, along with many other creative women. Please come and visit and I also want to introduce you to my husbands furniture, after reading this post I'm sure you will love to see his work.

Coty Farquhar, Australia

Coty Farquhar, Australia

red ticking said...

FABULOUS post... i was at the show last year and wish i could have attended this year.... thank you for the lovely update.

Mélanie said...

Wonderful pieces ! I love every piece and such fabulous antiques dealers . I hope one day I will be one of them

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through Clarity's blog "Clarity in Wonderland." I have to say that your blog is outstanding. The broad range and depth of what you cover here is very impressive.