Monday, October 29, 2012

Style Report: Antiques Trends and Directions. The Ecstasy of Beauty

An insider view from the recent San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

The News:  Neo-Classicism, and the Shock of the New
For the past five days, I’ve been sleuthing the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show. (It closed October 28.) Thrills and chills. So much beauty.

It was inspiring to see the fragrant antique pine-paneled room that Steinitz brought over from Paris (with enchanting cloisonne figures) along with a very seductive collection of Chinoiserie porcelains and paintings (trending).

In addition to seeing rare antiques and superb collections of plein-air paintings I admired the wit and subversion of Ray Azoulay’s quirky figures and animals (Diane Keaton is a fan).

I also made the discovery of vintage San Francisco photography (thanks, Fred Lyon) and exquisite collections from Carlton Hobbs (always superb), and Daniel Stein and Foster Gwin.

I swooned over Scandinavian silver, rare Indian and Southeast Asian jewelry (breath-taking), and Kathleen Taylor’s dazzling tapestries and Japanese textiles.

Thanks for the marble urns and columns, Mallett.

Thanks, Hayden & Fandetta for your compelling and authoritative collection of rare books on design and antiques—as well as for selling lots of copies of my new book, ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE.

I went looking for news and trends in antiques and design—and I found it at the Therien stand.

Come with me for an insider look at the collection presented by Therien & Co, and discover a new way of living with antiques. 

A 17th century French Baroque limestone fountain is reflected in the degraded mercury plate of an 18th century Venetian Baroque mirror.

Antiques Show, 2012
Therien & Co.

Conversational Notes:

I spoke to Philip Bewley, Bruce Tremayne, and Philip Stites of Therien at the show.

Therien has been involved with the San Francisco Fall Antique show from the very beginning, over thirty years ago. The show raises funds for Enterprise for high school students, a job training and job education non-profit in San Francisco.

“The stand and this collection is our aesthetic statement of where we are now, dealers, designers, collectors, those interested in design) and where we will be and what we will want, or desire, in this 21st century,” said Bruce Tremayne. “Our approach to antiques and their incorporation in design has changed over the years, and the stand reflects these trends -with Baltic pieces in the 1980’s and 1990’s (Russian and Swedish Neoclassic, late 18th century), to an embrace of the Baroque in the late 1990’s (especially Italian, but also Spanish and Portuguese furniture and objects), to a real shift of taste at the turn of the 21st century and our incorporation of 20th century classic pieces in 2005.” 

Philip Bewley noted that this year Therien is deliberately minimal in its presentation, and incorporates a collection of important period pieces juxtaposed with just a few signature 20th century pieces.

There are standout pieces here –pieces that those “in-the-know” –other dealers, serious collectors –have exclaimed that pieces of such quality are rare on the market today.

“One fellow dealer said to us it is practically impossible to find examples like this today, even in Italy,” said Bewley. Dealers especially commented on an intricate 17th century Pietra Dura panel from the Ducal Workshops depicting a floral arrangement of inlaid precious hardstone and nacreous (mother-of-pearl) inlay. 


Each with rectangular verde antico marble top with straight edge, over conforming frieze of carved blossoming meandering vines centering a tablet with oval reserve depicting a pair of swans drinking at a basin, flanked by outset corners with carved rosette filled blocks, the sides similarly carved, raised on tapering circular section leaf-carved fluted legs ending in lobed ball feet; the whole retaining original gilt finish

Last Quarter 18th Century
Overall Dimensions: 70” wide x 35” deep x 36 ” high

A Swedish Rococo Gilt Bronze and crystal chandelier 18th century, by repute from the court theater of the Royal Palace Drottingholm; a pair of italian Neoclassic console tables, each with rectangular verde antico marble top with straight edge, over conforming frieze of carved blossoming meandering vines centering a tablet with oval reserve depicting a pair of swans drinking at a basin; An italian walnut facade maquette.

On one end of the stand is a Neapolitan Neoclassic rosewood marquetry commode. The intricate geometric and foliate inlay of rare hardwoods adds enrichment to the straight lines of the commode in accord with the Neoclassic period.

Neoclassicism is represented in other examples, such as a pair of late 18th century Neoclassic giltwood consoles in the center of the stand.

There are also the classical Roman carved stone capitals, a relief carved stone seated female figure from Syria of the Roman period (second century CE) and a Roman breccia marble carved throne, with similar examples in the collections of Louvre and the British Museum that had formally been in the personal collection of Michael Taylor. 

A set of four Italian Regence fauteuils, ca 1730, are placed with a contemporary red painted sheet metal table, a unique prototype by Alfred Burzler and Thomas Exner. To the left is a French baroque limestone fountain. On the wall is an 18th century Venetian Baroque giltwood mirror; to the right is a seated female figure, carved limestone from Syria of the Roman period, 2nd century CE

A contemporary red painted prototype table constructed of sheet metal by Burzler and Exner is placed with a set of four Italian regence fauteuils a la reine, ca 1730. Beyond is a seated female figure carved of limestone from Syria, Roman period, 2nd CE. beyond is on of a pair of italian Neoclassic giltwood console tables,  late 18th century


Period antiques are deliberately juxtaposed with 20th century pieces so that the period antiques can be seen for their own sculptural forms and values. The vigor of a set of four Italian Regence fauteuils, unusually large of scale, with deeply carved walnut frames, is enhanced by the placement of a contemporary red painted prototype table.

This table’s design produces a sculptural effect that seems to be composed of two interpenetrating loops. 

A pair of Italian Neoclassic painted and " dorato e mecca" armchairs, retaining original finish, Piemontese, 4th quarter, 18th century is placed with a table by Luigi Caccia Dominioni (1913-) Rosewood veneered and brass folding table, 1950's Italy, Milan. A Han green glazed pottery jar, 206 BC, 220 AD. A pair of Italian faux marble and parcel gilt columns, 18th century. 


The Basilica of San Lorenzo is one of the largest and most iconic buildings of Florence.  The church, which was consecrated in 393 AD, was the parish church of the Medici and served as the family’s burial place from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III.  In 1419 Giovanni de Bicci de Medici hired Filippo Brunelleschi to design a new building that was to replace the old Romanesque structure.  However, due to financial difficulties, the new basilica was only partially finished during Brunelleschi’s lifetime and artists of future generations left their indelible marks on the building.  These artists include Michelangelo Brunelleschi’s first plans for the building.  Leo X commissioned Michelangelo to prepare designs for the uncompleted outer and inner facades of San Lorenzo.  Out of the two, only the inner façade was built, incorporating three doors between two pilasters decorated with oak and laurel festoons and a balcony supported by Corinthian columns. 
Michelangelo’s design for the outer façade survived on paper and as a wood model, both now in Casa Buonarroti, Florence.  The design shows how Michelangelo intended to rhythmically accentuate the façade with pilasters and windows, raise the sides to the level of the central nave while harmoniously incorporating the original tympanum of the bare brick front.  The detailed copy of Michelangelo’s model was executed at Bottega d’Arte Bartolozzi e Maioli, one of the most respected workshops in modern Florence specializing in wood carving and restoration

By Bartolozzi E Maioli, after a design by Michelangelo
Mid 20th century
Overall Dimensions: 26 ½” wide x 7” deep x 20” high

In another vignette, a pair of Piedmontese Neoclassic painted armchairs (GLORIOUS!) with silver gilt and scrolling arms is combined with another graphic and geometric and unexpected Italian design, a table by Luigi Caccia Dominioni produced the 1950’s.

As Bruce Tremayne of Therien said, “The armchairs have a full-blown, exuberant interpretation of the Neoclassic taste of the late 18th century.

Across the stand, the utterly pared-down Italian table has a discreet luxury of design in its dramatic oval rosewood top that so characterizes the best of Italian 20th century design.” 


The massive solid horse-shoe shaped and molded back, the interior with low relief carved spreading wings, extending to lion head carved arms contiguous to lion paw feet with foliate collars, joined to shaped and molded seat with conforming apron with wave pattern relief over concave base with volute and foliate carved tablet; the whole raised on contiguous conforming plinth 

19th century – After the first century B.C.E. Model                                                                         
Overall dimensions:  33” wide x 26” deep x 30” high   Seat height: 17”
A similar example can be seen in the Sully Wing of the Louvre as well as the Biel Throne in the British Museum
Provenance: From Michael Taylor Collection, San Francisco

Italian Baroque Pietra Dura Panel
Depicting a floral arrangement of tulips, narcissus and various other flowers in the Dutch manner, issuing from a blue and white vase resting near a cluster of peaches; the whole composed of various rare hardstones and specimen marbles on slate ground; now fitted with a later silver gilt moulded frame.

17th century
Overall dimensions with frame: 33” wide x 38 ½” high

Philip Bewley at Therien made a comment about antique shows and their relevance:

“I always encourage people who are interested in design generally to go to the San Francisco antiques show, and others, even if they are not necessarily in the market for purchasing antiques. It’s important to be informed about period antiques, and to remain a student for life. It is by seeing these pieces in person that a real

appreciation and ‘eye’ can be developed. I suggest looking closely at the bravura of execution, the true dazzling qualities of art and antique pieces can be seen, and there resides these objects emotional appeal. Of course, dealers love to discuss their collections.” 

About Therien & Co.
Therien & Co. has specialized in fine continental period antiques and decorations for well over thirty years, with galleries in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The galleries’ collections have included examples from antiquities, early furniture and the Italian Baroque, to the Gustaviansk and Russian Jacob, period Spanish and Portuguese furniture, as well as other areas of focus.

Therien & Co. has produced landmark exhibitions for scholarly awareness including one the first exhibitions of Russian furniture in the West, and “Trade Winds”, an exhibition of important tropical colonial furniture from the East and West Indies.

The firm includes a separate division of new designs named Studio Workshops with freestanding showrooms in both California cities as well as national distribution in multi-line showrooms. At the turn of the 21st century Therien & Co. introduced 20th century classics into the mix of period antiques and has kept pace with the dynamic world of design.

Photo Credit: 
All images exclusive to THE STYLE SALONISTE, Therien & Co.
Where to find Therien & Co.:

Therien & Co., Inc
716 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 657-4615

Therien & Co., Inc. and Therien 20th
411 Vermont Street (entrance on 17th street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 956-8850

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Mystical Discovery in Tangier: On a Recent Visit to Morocco, I Discovered the Poetic and Provocative New Photography of Tangier by French Artist Jean-Pierre Loubat

Come with me to the Casbah!

Meet a brilliant French artist to catch a glimpse of Tangier—classic images of today and yesterday. The past is always present.

This is my ‘Taste of Tangier’ story: I’ll be writing more about my visit to Tangier in the coming weeks.

I was in Tangier in September to conduct research on the culture, antiques and Moroccan crafts, and traditional interiors and houses, and to study the historic architecture of this most mysterious and rare place.

Situated in a wind-buffeted bay at the northern coast Morocco as it arches toward Europe, and on the northern-most tip of the African continent, Tangier is just a few miles across the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain (the lights twinkle in the distance at night).

From ancient ramparts and arched stone-framed windows, Tangier looks over the swirl of sea and ocean where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.

Tangier has always been on my list of places I must visit. 

Tangier was for centuries on all the trade routes east and west and north and south, and at the crossroads of Greek and Roman and Carthaginian civilizations and exploration. At various points under the rule of Spain and France. It’s highly strategic, with CIA and other listening posts watching every movement of ships through the straits.

Today it is a town with a legacy of shady history to add to its allure. Best of all, for me, there are the intact citadels, the Casbah, wonderfully gregarious people, the decades of British eccentrics with great style, and danger seekers and literary wrecks and geniuses.

And I went in search of exquisite and moving Andalusian/Arab music, all to be revealed. 

I stayed at the divine Hotel Nord Pinus Tanger, the most romantic riad in a former pasha’s palace. I’ll tell you more.

It’s owned by the great Anne Igou, who also created the legendary and equally chic Hotel Nord-Pinus in Arles.

Nord Pinus Tanger is utterly private and personal and chic. It’s perched over a cobblestone street, and arched across the old stone walls and ramparts.

My suite, with its antique Chinese lacquered cabinets, brass four-poster bed, brocante fabrics, and too-narrow Isle-sur-le-Sorgue old linen curtains, was up on the top floor, and sheltered within the walls of the ancient walled Casbah.

The restaurant and bar/terrace at Nord Pinus peer above sweeping views of the Straits of Gibraltar. Dramatic. Interior and inward-facing. Old architecture intact. Quirky flea-market finds. Quiet. One-of-a-kind. Check. Must visit.

After a quick exploration of the hotel, I was impatient to see the centuries-old Casbah (fortified castle), the get lost in the historic Medina (intricate market/village) and to experience the evanescent and rare light that so attracted artists like Matisse and Delacroix. 

Jean-Pierre Loubat’s beautifully composed images of Tangier are on display at the Galerie Delacroix in Tangier. Called ‘Tangier the Fugitive’ his collection captures today’s Tangier, in images that look as if they could have been taken a hundred years ago.

I found Loubat himself at the elegant Galerie Delacroix, directed by the French Cultural Institute of Tangier. (Tanger, in French and Tanga, procounced tange-ah, for the locals.) 

Tangier, the great artists’ inspiration and hedonistic paradise had always been intriguing, since I first saw Matisse’s paintings from Tangier and other regions of Morocco.

These vivid works, so atmospheric, are among his best works. Tangier and Morocco inspired his later portraits, décor and explorations and are among my favorite works in his repertoire.

Conversely, there’s the rough-and-tumble history of the Tangier of the Beats, and renegade writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and other thrill-adventurers, and danger seekers like Paul Bowles and Truman Capote and Aaron Copeland and the Rolling Stones, and my artist friend Ira Yeager (you’ve seen my feature on him), as well as Tennessee Williams and William S. Burroughs and, surprisingly Barbara Hutton (whose house in the Medina I saw one evening.) 

I’ll be reporting more about my voyage to Morocco in upcoming blog posts.

I went chasing Paul Bowles, and set forth with my driver, Hassan, looking for Matisse and Delacroix’s hotel (found it in the Petit Socco). My friend Vincent Coppee, who just opened a fantastic restaurant/café, club in the Casbah, told me I just missed Mick Jagger.

In Tangier every moment is a hallucinatory state, offering never-ending mystical and magical encounters at the Fils deu Detroit (sons of the Straits) music club, with costumed Tangier musicians, lute players. Heart-rendingly beautiful music.

I left the club late…and came upon a tribal wedding procession with trumpets and flutes.

I met the Café Baba owners, artists, antique dealers. And at night, I slept at the Nord Pinus Tanger hotel with its bohemian-chic style. 

I was very fortunate to see Madison Cox, the director of the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, just before I headed up to Tangier. He recommended several extraordinary antique dealers, and Pierre Berge’s book shop, and mentioned that I must visit the GALERIE DELACROIX, directed by the French Cultural Institute, on rue de la Liberte. That’s where I met Jean-Pierre Loubat. 

It was at the elegant Delacroix gallery that I discovered the elegant and haunting black and white images of Tangier by Jean-Pierre Loubat, the French photographer. Jean-Pierre happened to be at the gallery. I was so impressed with the way he had captured the timeless style and texture of Tangier, that I asked him if I could publish a selection on THE STYLE SALONISTE. He was kind enough to agree. 

Paul Bowles, is of course the great chronicler of Morocco, north Africa, and Tangier. In his writings, ‘The Sheltering Sky’, and ‘Their Heads are Green and their Hands are Blue’ and his poetry and novels and photography, he documented his life as an exile in Morocco. Bowles lived in Tangier on and off for five decades and I was shown one of his dwellings, in the Medina of Tangier. (He had several.)

I’d been reading Bowles’s biography, ‘Without Stopping’ in preparation for my recent visit to Tangier.

Now with Jean-Pierre’s Loubat’s graphic Tangier photography in mind, I opened Bowles’s book and found this remarkable description of Tangier, published in 1972.

It perfectly mirrors and matches Loubat’s images—shot in 2012.

Here is Paul Bowles’s first reaction to Tangier:

“If I said than Tangier struck me as a dream city, I should mean that in the strict sense. Its topography was rich in protypical dream scenes: covered streets like corridors with doors opening into rooms on each side, hidden terraces high above the sea, streets consisting only of steps, dark impasses, small squares built on sloping terrain so that they looked like ballet sets designed in false perspective, with alleys leading of in several directions. As well, there were the classical dream equipment of tunnels, ramparts, ruins, dungeons and cliffs. The climate was both violent and languorous.” 

‘To discover Tangier, it’s essential to walk around at all hours of the day, to observe, and especially to see, and wait patiently.” —Jean-Pierre Loubat


Jean Pierre Loubat is a photographer who lives in Nîmes, France.

His work focuses on the issues of space and time. The work carried out in "the footsteps of Marcel Proust" addresses the question of the place apprehended in connection with the time and the Memory , he shows the link between the places and the writer’s books .

In recent work, he chooses to explore Tangier, mythical city, that has attracted many artists, painters, actors and writers, in order to capture the particular genius of this place that inspired so many works of art.


All images here are copyright Jean-Pierre Loubat, Nimes, France.

Images are published here with express permission of the photographer.

photo © ADAGP Jean-Pierre Loubat


Jean-Pierre LOUBAT


Tel : 033 06 72 28 99 44

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