Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chinoiserie, Chic! Chic! Chic!

Classical Exoticism: Antiques, Art, Jewels, Textiles and Exceptional Style at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, October 28 through October 31

The annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show is one of my favorite glittering events every October.

It’s a beloved only-in-San Francisco event. It’s on a pier in the bay, with sea air, the sound of seagulls, glinting views, and noble antiques and jewels.

Each year it attracts a rarified world of top dealers and avid collectors.

I always spy designer Ann Getty there, very early and very private. Danielle Steel, who lives just up the hill from the show, usually comes early (wrapped in sables against the cold) and departs just when everyone starts to arrive. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver bought some silk pillows one year. Designer Michael Smith buys, and so do all the top decorators and curators.

Princess Michael of Kent, Bunny Williams and Adam Lewis, all with new books to promote, will be on hand this year.

San Francisco architect Andrew Skurman, steeped in classical and historic knowledge of design, is the creative director who creates the dramatic entry décor and design, and directs the design of the special exhibit.

And if you cannot attend, come with me for a special insight into Chinoiserie and its place in design. I know you will find it fascinating, and the images are glorious and inspiring.

Chinese painted wallpapers, detail

A rare set of Chinese painted wallpapers, formerly  hung in colonial Williamsburg. Chinese for the European Market. Second Half of the  Eighteenth Century
The crowded preview party (caviar, Champagne, vodka, Dan McCall’s famous lamb chops) is always a smashing success and no-one wants to leave. I see all my friends looking fabulous, chat with my favorite antique and art dealers, and over the next four days feast on a series of stimulating and insightful lectures. I buy rare books from Hayden & Fandetta, swoon over Kathleen Taylor’s textiles, spend time with my pals at Therien and Steinitz, and all is well with the world.

The theme of this year’s show is Chinoiserie. Dazzling international retinues of leading dealers along with director Lisa Podos have gone all out to celebrate and illuminate this fascinating concept.

“We decided on Chinoiserie as a theme, at first inspired by the endless interest in Chinese art and design—and Shanghai,” said the divine Lisa Podos, the strategic and creative consultant for the antiques show, who spearheads all creative efforts. “Shanghai is San Francisco’s sister city. For centuries, we have had a fascination with the East, and we’ve always admired and copied China’s ceramics and lacquer, textiles and arts. It’s an on-going obsession, and very relevant today. The refinement of Chinese arts still resonate.”

France, 19th century, circa 1870
Chased and gilded bronze, glass       

Lantern (detail)
France, 19th century, circa 1870
Chased and gilded bronze, glass       

Pair of cache-pots
 China, beginning of the 18th century
Mounts: France, circa 1730
Enamels from Canton, chased and gilded bronze                                

Impressive Fireplace by Gabriel Viardot
France, 19th century, circa 1870
Carved wood 

Impressive Fireplace by Gabriel Viardot (detail)
France, 19th century, circa 1870
Carved wood                                

Paris antique dealer Bernard Steinitz has always specialized in fantasy worlds of Chinoisierie and his magical stand at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show is one of my great obsessions. Find me there!

“Chinoiserie has for centuries been of profound interest to the antiques world and the arts. It was so rich in vivid imagery, so refined, so exotic, with its gold-shimmered lacquer and craftsmanship,” said Bob Garcia, a partner in forty-year-old Therien & Co., the venerable antiques company based in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company is a stalwart of the show, always in the same centrally located stand.

A rare and unusual rosewood and hardstone mounted cabinet on stand in the chinoiserie taste. Probably Dresden. Circa 1750.

Cabinet in the chinoiserie taste, detail of side

English (Spitalfields) yellow watered silk with a damask pattern in white of \"Chinoiserie\" style buildings in landscape and floraglish l vines with vertical stripes. c. 1760 

Detail of English (Spitalfields) yellow watered silk with a damask pattern in white of \"Chinoiserie\" style buildings in landscape and floraglish l vines with vertical stripes. c. 1760 

One panel of late 18th century (c. 1770\'s)(kalamkari) painted cotton (chintz) from the Coromandel Coast, India, decorated with a flowering tree motif with squirrels and small birds, on a vermicilli ground. Also know as palampore. Provenance: Parham Park, Pulborough, England.

“Chinoiserie in the decorative arts is always in fashion,” noted Garcia. “It’s a classic element in décor, and Chinoiserie translates perfectly to textiles, a lacquered coffee table, the silhouette of a chair, or to a Coromandel screen or a desk-top box or tray. You can have a lot—and a little is equally delightful.”

Chinoiserie has been a continuous motif in French design. Bob Garcia also notes that the French, especially the French, have always embraced the unusual and exotic in culture and design.

French craftsmen and architects and designers have been drawn to the exotic with a vigor not to be seen elsewhere in Europe and they adore Chinoiserie,” he said. 

“Africa and China and Japan have held a fascination for French designers a have almost all foreign and primitive cultures.”

 Nouveau, Impressionism, Cubism, Japanese (as seen in lacquer work).

“I believe what we're seeing today is not a re-emergence of "Exoticism" but a continuation of it,” said Garcia. “There is a design restlessness today in all art forms, even fashion and art and interiors. that we have not seen since that last eruption in 1900.”

A pair of exceptional Genoese chandeliers with Chinoiserie influences, from Therien.

Bob Garcia’s notes on the Genoese chandeliers he is displaying at the antiques show:

“This pair of chandeliers is extremely rare because of the Chinese influence as seen in their 'pagoda parasol' upper crown and the rather exotic cascade of crystal that is almost fountain-like,” said Garcia. “Genoa was the richest city state in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries, surpassing Venice, Rome and Florence. 

“This was primarily due to the overseas trade and shipping that they monopolized on the Italian peninsula,” said Garcia. “I believe that as in Genoese painted furniture these chandeliers show the international confluence of design elements that trade fostered in Genoa. As with furniture, the basic form is classic Italian with the overlay of fantasized Chinese motifs. Cross-currents of design motifs, as exemplified in Chinoiserie throughout Europe, remind us, especially today, of how our romanticized perceptions of foreign cultures can charm us even in face of contradicting facts.”

Additional items pictured above are from Therien & Co.

Welcome Liz O’Brien
I’m so happy Liz O’Brien, the great New York connoisseur and dealer of twentieth-century furniture and decorative arts, is going to be showing in San Francisco for the first time. Below are images of her new Manhattan gallery, and a selection of pieces that typify her style.

Max Kuehne; Three Panel folding screen in gold leaf and lacquer with incised and painted decoration of monkeys. Signed. American, c. 1935.

John Vesey; Folding x-bench in chrome with black lacquered wood armrests. American, c. 1950.

Also among the dealers to watch--see a selection of their special wares below--are Carlton Hobbs from New York, Paris-based Bernard Steinitz, the great book dealers Hayden & Fandetta (located on the east and west coasts), along with Lotus Collection, Daniel Stein and Epoca, all in San Francisco.

Bureau plat by Jacques Dubois (1694 – 1763, maître in 1742)
Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1745-1750.
Oak frame; kingwood and rosewood veneer; gilded bronze; leather.

The Lecture Series: Chinoiserie Chic

Chinoiserie and Japonisme in European Ceramics
Christina Prescott Walker
Thursday, October 28, 11:00 a.m.

China and World Fashion Today
John S. Major
Thursday, October 28, 2:30 p.m

Chinoiserie at Court

Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent
Friday, October 29, 11:00 a.m.

Chinoiserie in Britain, 1650-1820

David Beevers
Friday, October 29, 2:30 p.m.

Billy Baldwin: America's King Cotton Decorator
Adam Lewis
Saturday, October 30, 11:00 a.m.

Bringing the Past to Present and Beyond
Bunny Williams
Saturday, October 30, 2:30 p.m.

An English japanned two part cabinet, the curved upper stage decorated with birds, flowers and a horse and carriage, the lower stage with a single drawer and straight legs ending in block feet, circa 1800.

The Chinoiserie Exhibit
From Rococo to Eco
Curator: Maria Santangelo
Co-Curator: Holland Lynch

Western art and decorative arts and furniture that incorporate or imitate Eastern design elements and techniques have been a popular artistic conceit across numerous styles of the last 400 years.

Asian motifs real and totally and even fancifully imagined, such as pagodas, parasols, flowers, and birds, have adorned all manner of architecture, interiors, furniture, jewelry, decorative and fine arts.

From the 17th century onward, increased trade between Europe and China fueled enthusiasm for all things exotic, loosely termed Chinoiserie. Continuing through the 18th-century English country house taste, 20th-century Art Deco, and modern interpretations, the examples displayed in the exhibit, drawn from private and public collections and participating dealers, illustrate the craftsmanship, whimsy and charm of this appealing aesthetic.

Chinoiserie by Dawn Jacobson.
Hayden & Fandetta Rare Books will have this title as well as other out-of-print books on Chinoiserie available for purchase in their booth at this years San Francisco Fall Antiques Show. The firm specializes in books about the fine and decorative arts, first editions with illustrated dust-jackets, gardens and interiors, and childrens books.   

The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: Essential Information
October 27–31, 2010

This fabulous show, now in its third decade, is a benefit for Enterprise for High School Students, a wonderful charity that trains students for jobs and careers, so that they can learn skills and gain real-world and social experience. A brilliant mission.

THE SAN FRANCISCO FALL ANTIQUES SHOW is the oldest continuously operating international antiques show on the West Coast. The Show features approximately seventy dealers from across the United States and Europe, offering for sale an extraordinary range of fine and decorative arts representing all styles and periods including American, English, Continental, and Asian furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, jewelry, rugs, textiles, paintings, prints, and photographs.

THE SAN FRANCISCO FALL ANTIQUES SHOW is vetted in cooperation with the Antiques Dealers Association of California to ensure the highest quality merchandise.

THE SAN FRANCISCO FALL ANTIQUES SHOW is held at Festival Pavilion in Fort Mason Center. Fort Mason Center is located in the Marina district, between Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge on San Francisco Bay.

Preview Party Gala Benefit

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
7 to 9 p.m.

2010 Show Dates / Hours

October 28 to October 31, 2010
Thursday - Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.


You may order tickets via 
Phone: (415) 989-9019
Website: www.sffas.org
Fax: (415) 392-7611
Email: sffas@ehss.org

General Admission tickets are generally no problem to purchase at the door. Tickets to the Preview Party Gala and Lectures can be purchased at the door, but it is possible that they may sell out, so it is best to buy your tickets in advance.

See you there!

Pair of Chinese figures
Figures: China, 17th century
Mounts: Europe, circa 1730
Lacquered wood, chased and gilded bronze 


Brillante Interiors said...

Diane, since I received a sneak peek of the Show I was waiting to see your post on it and I am sure, I hope, you'll write more about those extraordinary pieces and the people behind them. I was always fascinated by chinoiserie, perhaps because a great uncle used to travel to Japan and China in the 30's and brought home many beautiful artifacts that are still in our family. A few touches of chinoiserie can enhance any interior.

Hill House Ramblings said...

So much to admire here. Wonderful post! That Steinitz lantern is extraordinary.


A Super Dilettante said...

This post is bursting with East Meet West idea and beauty. I have kept my eyes on the English japanned two part cabinet! Thanks my dear for sharing this. It's truly magnificent! You don't have to go into Sotheby's or Christie's, we have your informative blog here xx

mary said...

Thank you for this highly informative post. Chinoiserie is one of my favorite design elements and I hope this show and your amazing post provide the impetus for a renewal of chinoiserie in contemporary design. We need the richness and playfulness that chinoisierie brings to the table.

Karena said...

Diane I don't know where to begin. I would love to attend, just taking this all in is a breathtaking experience!

Thank you for sharing so much.

PS Meeting Ann Getty would be a dream come true, as well as Danielle.

Art by Karena

Beryn said...

Thank you for your wonderful preview and insights! Can't wait to be there and smell the rarified atmosphere of these special dealers and what treasures they've brought for us this time.

peggy braswell said...

What a peak into a wonderful show. Thank you for that post. Wish I could make it..sent this on to clients in N.Ca. Great!!! peggybraswelldesign.com

Unknown said...

I wish I could attend! What a beautiful experience this show must be. Thanks for bringing it to us.

Unknown said...

I'm such a fan chinoserie!!! My dining room walls are covered in it!!
~ Elizabeth

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Good Morning Dear Friends-

I love your comments--and your great enthusiasm for Chinoiserie.
I attended the opening night gala for the antiques show last night--and it was superb and fabulous and memorable.
Andrew Skurman's gilt-edged red pagodas set the tone for a very fresh and re-invted show (thanks to Lisa Podos and her genius ideas).
It was a crush of friends, but I spent time with Liz O'Brien, superb booth, and Carlton Hobbs, Therien, and Hayden & Fandetta and Epoca and Kathleen Taylor and Dan Stein. Princess Michael dazzles. Steinitz: their selection is a dream. Be sure to see the quarter of white ceramic cranes...so elegant...for $260,000 and lanterns, mirrors, verre eglomise and beautiful and dreamy objects.
Returning on Friday to attend the Princess Michael lecture, and Saturday, Bunny's lunch. Can't wait.
Stay tuned for next week's post on CASTAING!
cheers, DIANE

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

a style that never grows tiresome and always lends itself to another style with great ease. a wonderful glimpse into a place I would love to be just ogling- is all I would ask (for the moment) pgt

Square with Flair said...

One of my favourite hobbies is antiquing, and would love to be able to attend San Francisco Fall Antiques Show if not for being on the other side of the continent.

I greatly admire chinoiserie, and have a number of things in that style, but am always conscious of the words of tastemaker and educator Van Day Truex as he directed a student working on the design of an Asian influenced interior. He reminded him to exercise restraint and not to make it too literally Chinese, or it would end up looking like a chop suey palace. Chinoiserie tends to charm the western taste when colours are muted or changed unexpectedly, and motifs are simplified or changed somewhat in scale or style. I think of many exquisite chinoiserie wallcoverings or interiors that look particularly appealing because they are in pastel versions, such as peach, pearl grey, eau-de-nil, or softest aqua.

Chinoiserie is a splendid theme for a museum exhibition or antique show, because it is an historic, rich theme with so many examples and variations. Interesting to hear of the VIPs who attend; that gives some cachet and glamour. Looking forward to more about that….







Virginia Country House said...

Thank you for the tour of a wonderful show. So many beautiful things!