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


Dean Farris said...

Beautiful post for a beautiful show, by an even more beautiful lady!

Philip Bewley said...

Dear Diane,

We are thrilled delighted that you included our stand from the recent San Francisco Fall Antiques show in The Style Saloniste. This is truly an international show in scope, with some of the world's best dealers, as you describe.

I hope that people interested in all kinds of design will be excited about new ways of approaching antiques, and a 21st century outlook that is exiting and invigorating. The Style Saloniste certainly does that in a wide range of fascinating subjects, and it is always inspiring to talk with you and share with your many readers these period antiques , and the wider ideas of how they are relevant today.

The "ecstasy of beauty"!- I love that title included here, and that is something that is truly timeless.

Thank you, and warmest regards,

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Thank you, Dean (blushing).
Thank you, Philip (totally blushing).

I'm so pleased that everyone has been inspired by this post.
It is about educating your eye, as you noted, Philip--and it is always about looking at everything with passion and excitement and openness and curiosity.

Therien's stand was an opportunity to encounter centuries of beauty--the ecstasy of beauty--and to see such diverse materials, techniques, high and low, grand and not so, as well as new concepts and classic eternal truths.
FACEBOOK--I posted the story and I'm so happy it has given many friends, including Darra Baker and Tamar Mashigian, such pleasure.
And Suzanna Allen and Kate Harbin send messages, saying 'reading this post was almost as good as being there again." Wonderful.
very best to all, DIANE

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Diane, What a delightful antique show. Amazing selection you share with us here. I adore that Baroque mirror and beautiful chandelier. Pietra Dura Panel looks incredibly intricate and elegant. Your taste is unerring as always. I love to go out shopping with you because I know every expenditure would be right!!

Bumble at home said...

Antiques ,especially as they have been shown here give a room individuality......a rare thing these days.
On another note have just received your Ann Getty book and have devoured it in one sitting, what a great book.
Thank you!

Frances Schultz said...

Loved every participle and pixel. Frances