Peter Fetterman on the Art of Collecting Photography

Longtime show exhibitor – and photography connoisseur extraordinaire – Peter Fetterman recently lectured for Leica on the art of collecting fine photography.

Born in London, Peter Fetterman has been deeply involved in the medium of photography for over 30 years. Initially a filmmaker and collector, he set up his first gallery over 20 years ago. He was one of the pioneer tenants of Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica Center of the Arts when it first opened in 1994. The gallery has one of the largest inventories of classic 20th Century photography in the country particularly in humanist photography. Diverse holdings include work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry, Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, Willy Ronis, André Kertesz, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lillian Bassman, Pentti Sammallahti, Sarah Moon and Jeffrey Conley.

During his lecture, Peter speaks with great passion about his first purchase (a chance encounter in Hollywood), his drive to collect (all collecting is autobiographical), and the photographer he calls his “constant obsession” (Henri Cartier-Bresson).

In Peter’s own words: The only mistakes I ever made were the photos I didn’t buy. If you see something that speaks to you – and haunts you – find a way to buy it. A great photo to me is one that changes me: I am one person before I see it, and another one after. Every photo I have ever bought in 40 years has touched me because it brought out something in me and I think that is what collecting is all about – it’s a form of self-expression.

See you at the show Peter!

Henri Cartier-Bresson MUNSTER, COUNTY KERRY, IRELAND, 1952 Gelatin silver print

Schlepping in Style

The ritual of packing one’s belongings is an intricate part of indulging one’s Wanderlust – and the wide variety of bags, cases, trunks, packs, boxes… across history is mind boggling. Here are some exquisite examples that can be found at the 2019 San Francisco Fall Show, along with some sage traveling tips and insights.

Marcel Proust declared The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes, while his fellow countryman Andre Gide said Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Below from Milord Antiques: 1920s Louis Vuitton steamer trunk with studded black metal trim and two-tier interior compartments.

We all know the famous Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken: Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

Below from Peter Fetterman Gallery: Dog with Suitcase (1982) by Kristoffer Albrecht © Kristoffer Albrecht

Some of the world’s wisest men (and women) encourage us to travel, including the Dalai Lama: Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. Confucius advised: Wherever you go, go with all your heart. And Ibn Battuta, a Muslim Moroccan scholar, geographer and explorer who widely travelled the world in the 14th century, observed: Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

Below from Rodrigo Rivero Lake: Alabaster chest with exquisite silver filigree and Jesuit initials on the inside, 17th century Tecali, Puebla.

Last but not least, consider this from the late great Anthony Bourdain: Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

Below from Zentner Collection, left: a rare Japanese gyosho bako (peddler’s chest traveling backpack) made with 100% Kiri wood (paulownia), from the Edo Period (1603-1868). Right: an unusual traveling set of Japanese Black Lacquer Gyosho Bako (peddler’s boxes)

Interview with vignette designer Hutton Wilkinson

The 2019 San Francisco Fall Show is thrilled to welcome back the one-and-only Hutton Wilkinson, and this time as designer of one of the entry vignettes!

Hutton Wilkinson grew up in the Los Angeles architectural offices of his father and grandfather. At eighteen he had the opportunity to apprentice under – and later work for – the great American design icon and self-described “do-it-yourself-De Medici”, Tony Duquette. He collaborated in partnership with the legendary designer on a myriad of projects over the next twenty-five years while also running his own interior design firm creating custom interiors for Alida Davison Rockefeller, Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Stanfill, a palace complex in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Princes Tarfa Bin Abdul Aziz and executive offices for Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. With Duquette, he collaborated on interiors for Mr. and Mrs. Norton Simon, Herb Alpert and Doris Duke as well as houses in Paris and Venice for Mr. and Mrs. John N. Rosekrans.

In 1998 Wilkinson and Duquette, launched a collection of one-of-a-kind, hand made jewelry. Since the success of this new enterprise, Wilkinson has devoted his time exclusively to the design of these unique jeweled creations under the trademark “Tony Duquette”. These jewels have been used by such varied designers as Tom Ford at Gucci; Oscar de la Renta, Balmain, and Badgley Mischka.

After the passing of Mr. Duquette in September of 1999, Wilkinson as owner, creative director and president of Tony Duquette Inc. continues to design and market his one-of-a-kind designs for fine jewelry, as well as textiles for Jim Thompson, custom lighting products for Remains Lighting, carpets for Patterson, Flynn and Martin, furniture and accessories for Maitland-Smith, upholstery for Pearson, and tabletop accessories for Mottahedeh. Wilkinson’s book “Tony Duquette” (Abrams, November 2007) co- authored with Wendy Goodman, chronicles the great designer’s life and oeuvre. Its companion volume “More Is More, Tony Duquette” was published by Abrams in October 2009. The recently released “Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge” documents one of the most creatively designed private homes in America. In keeping with the spirit and aesthetic sense of Mr. Duquette, Wilkinson has utilized Duquette’s Dawnridge as the company’s worldwide headquarters. There, surrounded by works of Duquette’s art from the past, Wilkinson continues their design work as a seamless transition towards the future.

In anticipation of Wilkinson’s vignette at the 2019 show, we asked him the following questions:

How did you first become interested in antiques?

I grew up with antiques. My family home was actually furnished with four houses’ worth of antique furniture, two houses’ worth on my mothers side and two houses’ worth on my fathers side, all combined into one big mess of 18th century French with ormolu, Spanish colonial, Chippendale, mahogany… and a mishmash of American federal and a little bit of this and a little bit of that, combined with silk damask, creton and cut velvet curtains, orange leather upholstery mixed with crewel and Indian prints and everything but Fortuny. Walls were hung with everything from gold framed Barbizon school paintings, plein air paintings by Millard Sheets, and weird Victorian reverse paintings on glass, Japanese screens and Chinese carvings. The house which was in Los Angeles, it was built in 1918 and originally decorated by the Quezal Decorating Company, with a mix of high craftsman mahogany paneling, ruby silk brocade upholstered walls, and late Art Nouveau style light fixtures. It was a mess but it had walls and walls of books, mostly on architecture, furniture and world history, all of which I am still interested in. My parents subscribed to Réalités magazine and Antiques. I would read them both cover to cover but it was with Antiques where I would guess what the items were in the advertisements before reading the descriptions. It was mostly American antiques but I used it as a school book. That’s how I first learned the difference between Chippendale, Duncan Phyfe, Sheraton, and discern between Louis XIV, XV and XVI styles, as well as Empire, Napoleon III, Victorian and everything else in between. My father and grandfather were both architects in Los Angeles since 1918 and I wanted to be an architect until I realized that it was the decorators who got all the attention and drove the Rolls Royces. Of course that was back in the days before the internet ruined everything as far as the “do it yourself” nightmare is concerned. Anyway, that’s how I learned to love antiques, asking where they came from and learning the history of the pieces in my own family’s house.

Are there any specific historic periods that you are drawn to?

I like 18th century painted or Laca Povera Venetian furniture in the Louis XV style. I gravitate to Asian furniture in red, black or green lacquers accented in gold. I like anything Chinoiserie whether from England, France, Mars or the moon. The only raw wood I really like is when it’s painted on – faux bois – even on porcelain.

In your interior design work, what is your approach to incorporating art and antiques?

I’ve bought a lot of paintings in my life but i’ve never sold one to a client… ever!!! I’ve worked for several major art collectors, they hire me to hang their paintings in an interesting way to enhance their interiors. I’m talking about Picassos, Modiglianis, Braques, Courbets, etc.

I’ve been known to sell antiques to my clients but for the most part my customers have their own furniture and art and they hire me to decorate rooms around their possessions with paint, wallpaper, carpet, upholstery…

What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find? Or alternatively, can you tell us about “the one that got away”?

The ones that got away are the only ones I remember. There was an entire Louis XV boiserie room, a large scaled, 12-panel cinnamon lacquered coromandel screen, a suite of carved Indian blackwood furniture, a 19th century Chippendale Chinese cabinet, an 18th century Ca’ Rezzonico style Venetian chandelier, a set of 18th century hand painted Chinese wall paper, and a diamond necklace and bracelet by George Headly and a Paul Flato emerald bracelet with diamond tassels… and then there was the amazing vermeil flatware with amber handles carved with crests in a velvet lined fitted case, enough for twenty four guests with serving pieces en suite… oh the list is endless!!!

My favorite purchases have to be my four Venetian blackamoors which stand seven and a half feet tall. I purchased them to decorate the Palazzo Brandolini on the grand canal in Venice for John and Dodie Rosekrans. I purchased them back from the Rosekrans sale at Sotheby’s. They are my favorite objects along with my 18th century collection of Chinese export porcelain, and my set of eight 17th century Venetian veduta paintings by Heinze… But best of all is my collection of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar magazines which belonged to Nini Martin (they had a little tag that said, “property of Miss Nini Tobin”) that I purchased for $60.00 from the Patrons of Art and Music in San Francisco. They and my entire library of books are what I treasure the most.

What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show?

Seeing old friends, finding treasure and inspiration from all over the world, wallowing in San Francisco’s historic sense of inclusive hospitality.

Interview with Jean-Paul Tennant, CEO of Geographic Expeditions

The 2019 San Francisco Fall Show is once again delighted to welcome Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) as one of our principal sponsors. Considering the theme of the 2019 San Francisco Fall Show is “Wanderlust – Around the world with Art, Antiques, and Design” – this partnership seems especially apt this year: a pioneer of travel to remote and challenging destinations since 1982, Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) crafts wanderlust-fueled journeys to the world’s most astonishing places. They are driven by their love of travel, their fascination with the destinations they are privileged to visit, and their delight in sharing them with like-minded enthusiasts. GeoEx pours their in-country expertise and passion for eyes-open travel into designing Group Trips and Custom Trips—cultural tours, treks, safaris, cruises, and journeys by train—to the widest array of destinations. We interviewed Jean-Paul Tennant, CEO of GeoEx, on his (and ours) most favorite subject matter:

What does Wanderlust mean to your personally?

For me, it means the thirst to explore our planet in order to personally experience and better understand its places, people, culture, and history.

What does it mean for GeoEx in the 21st Century?

We are living in a time in which we are inundated with global news that is often negative, and typically doesn’t come close to fully capturing the reality on the ground. Governments may not get along, yet the vast majority of people welcome travelers with kindness and curiosity. Learning about a country by meeting its people first-hand is probably one of the best things we can do right now. It erases our differences and shows how much we all have in common.

Which GeoEx travel destinations should art/antiques collectors consider, if they are looking for a unique buying experience?

That is a hard question! The list is potentially very long depending on one’s particular tastes and interests. Places that I would put high on the list: Japan, South Africa, Bolivia, Peru, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Iran. When shopping for art and antiques, it is important to be sensitive to local customs and regulations, as well as the possibility of misrepresentation. For those that are interested, we make a point of connecting our travelers to reputable sellers.

What are your favorite parts/events/aspects of the Show – and why?

It is incredible to see such a high caliber of art and antiques together under one roof! I love being able to talk directly with the dealer, who often not only worked hard to procure the particular piece, but who also knows everything about its provenance, art style, historic usage, etc. And the gala is outstanding! What better way to enjoy seeing the art and antiques than to supplement with beautiful decorations, delicious food and drink, and a crowd of passionate and interesting fellow-enthusiasts!

Lightning round:

Favorite decorative arts era

Art Nouveau

Favorite (fine) artist

Claude Monet (with honorable mention going to Alphonse Mucha)

Dream travel destination

Another difficult question! I feel fortunate to travel anywhere. Personally, I love deep, powerful cultures that are very different from our own. India and Japan are high on the list. Also, despite the fact that I could be accused of being biased, I highly recommend Mauritius. It is a gorgeous island with friendly people and a fascinating history. (I happen to be half-Mauritian.)

Words to live by

Since we’re talking about wanderlust, travel writer Don George says in his book The Way of Wanderlust, “Ultimately, I have come to think, travel teaches us about love. It teaches us that the very best we can do with our lives is to embrace the peoples, places, and cultures we meet with all our mind, heart, and soul, to live as fully as possible in every moment, every day. And it teaches us that this embrace is simultaneously a way of becoming whole and letting go.”

Rule to break

This is a travel rule – skip the popular tourist sites and instead go where the locals go.

Best advice you’ve ever gotten

Never stop learning.

Thank you Jean-Paul – and see you at the Show!

Interview with Honorary Show Chair India Hicks

The 2019 San Francisco Fall Show is thrilled to have the uber-stylish and wonderfully witty, international “design royalty” India Hicks as Honorary Chair. India was born in London, England – her father was famed interior decorator David Hicks, and her mother is Pamela Hicks, daughter to the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma. Her grandfather was the last Viceroy of India, hence her name. The notion of Wanderlust is certainly not new to India: following school she backpacked around the world for a year. Back in London, she took a foundation course in art, before moving to Boston to take a degree in photography, graduating with honors. A fashion magazine feature lead to a successful career on the other side of the camera, as a model. India now lives on a small island in the Bahamas, with David Flint Wood and her five children where they have built and restored four houses and a hotel. This chapter in her life led to the publication of three books: Island Life, Island Beauty, and, most recently, Island Style. Part of the proceeds from these books have been donated to a small non-profit community school in the Bahamas. After a successful career designing collections of bath & beauty products, bedding and jewelry in partnership with others, a new book was born India Hicks – A Slice of England. India will tell you all about it during her lecture and Q&A on October 3 at 2:30 pm.

As her family was hunkering down to weather a hurricane in the Bahamas, India was kind enough to answer a few questions over the phone:

What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Show?

I have had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time in San Francisco over the years, and I find it a very exciting place to visit: the food, the people, the design scene, the city itself… what’s not to love?

When it comes to art and antiques, are there any specific historic periods or decorative styles that you are drawn to?

I am lucky to have grown up in some very remarkable homes, which in both architectural and design terms were considered very classical. So, at the heart of my design aesthetic there is a bit of modern but a lot of tradition. When my partner David and I moved to the Bahamas, some 25 years ago, we naturally gravitated to a style to was more in keeping with our new environment: Caribbean, West Indian… think dark stained floors, tropical foliage, and lots of white mosquito netting.

Over the years, I’d like to think that we would be better minimalists, but that may be a pipe dream, as we keep on layering more stuff into our homes rather than taking things away.

What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find?

I am so lucky to have inherited a few remarkable antiques from my parents. In fact, in England, we built an entire house around a pair of sensational gilt mirrors and eagle console tables that used to belong to my grandmother. And I mean that literally: we extended the roof of the house in order to fit them in! My partner David is an avid antique hunter, always bringing home new finds and it has made me realize how much I prefer the look and feel of a beautifully constructed piece with some age to it, over a brand-new “off the rack” retail item.

From the book India Hicks – A Slice of England (Rizzoli), photograph by Miguel Flores-Vianna

This year’s show theme is Wanderlust – Around the world with Art, Antiques, and Design? What does Wanderlust mean to you?

To me, Wanderlust is the passion for travel and exploration, and I have certainly led that life. I left England at 18 and backpacked around the world and that turned out to be a really inspiring education. Travel and adventure are key to my life and how I bring up my children. Of course, the same applied to my parents, so you can definitely say that Wanderlust is in my blood, in my DNA.

Thank you India – and we look forward to seeing you at the show!

Photograph by Sarah Wood

Orient Express

Nothing personifies luxury travel more than the legendary Orient Express. In 1865, a prominent Belgian banker’s son named Georges Nagelmackers first envisioned “a train that would span a continent, running on a continuous ribbon of metal for more than 1,500 miles.” During a trip to America, Nagelmackers witnessed the many innovations in railway travel there—chief among them George Pullman’s unprecedented, luxurious “sleeper cars”—and he returned determined to realize his vision. In 1883, after a number of false starts, Nagelmackers’s Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (wagons-lits is French for “sleeper cars”) established a route from Paris to Istanbul, then called Constantinople. The newspapers dubbed it the “Orient Express”—though Istanbul was as far toward the “Orient” as this train would ever travel and Nagelmackers embraced the name. On October 4, the Orient Express set out on its first formal journey, with many journalists aboard to publicly marvel at the train’s luxury and beauty. Aboard the train, the delighted passengers felt as though they’d entered one of Europe’s finest hotels; they marveled at the intricate wooden paneling, deluxe leather armchairs, silk sheets and wool blankets for the beds. The journey from Paris to Istanbul lasted a little over 80 hours.

The Orient Express soon became known as the King of Trains and Train of Kings. Leopold II of Belgium and Carol II of Romania were famed as on-board seducers. Tsar Nicholas II demanded custom-built carriages, while Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, scared of assassins, even insisted on driving the train through his own kingdom at breakneck speed.

Other famous passengers included Tolstoy, Trotsky, Diaghilev, Marlene Dietrich (below), Lawrence of Arabia and the spy Mata Hari – as well as fictional characters such as Hercule Poirot and James Bond.

In its heyday, the train earned another nickname: “Spies’ Express.” Continent-hopping secret agents loved the train, since it made their jobs so much easier and their travels much more comfortable. One of the most remarkable of these agents was an Englishman named Robert Baden-Powell, who posed as a lepidopterist collecting samples in the Balkans. His intricate sketches of the forms and colors of butterfly wings were actually coded representations of the fortifications he spotted along the Dalmatian Coast, which served as great aids to the British and Italian navies during World War I.

In later years, the pedigree of the famous train became rather complicated, as Nagelmackers’s original line spawned similar ones following slightly different routes, and as other providers began to use the phrase “Orient Express” for promotional purposes. The Direct Orient Express, the Venice Simplon Orient Express (below a current picture), the Nostalgic Orient Express and many others have existed over the years.

The original Orient Express made its last journey from Strasbourg to Vienna on December 12, 2009, but the Simplon Orient Express still exists. In fact, in a marriage made in luxury travel heaven, the Venice Simplon Orient Express was sold in 2018 to LVMH, the French luxury goods company that owns Christian Dior, Moët & Chandon champagne and …. Louis Vuitton, the storied French fashion house and luxury retail company founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton and renowned for its high-end luxury trunks and leather travel goods, adorned with the signature LV monogram.

Below from Milord Antiques: 1920s Louis Vuitton cabin trunk with studded black metal trim and all inscribed L.V. with a surface fitted by wooden trusts. France.

1920s Louis Vuitton cabin trunk

Interview with vignette designer Alessandra Branca

The San Francisco Fall Show is thrilled to welcome Alessandra Branca as one of the vignette designers for the 2019 show. Her eponymous company Branca is a full service, boutique interior design firm. Internationally celebrated for interiors with an inviting flair, its founder has classicism running through her veins—her signature style born of a Roman childhood, nurtured through 30 years of experience. Branca blends color, pattern and texture with an abundant sense of joy, a little wink and the wisdom to make it all work in perfect harmony. Her interiors are livable—designed to reflect and soften our complex worlds. What unifies her work is an overall sense of balance—and the practical magic she casts, turning houses into homes.

In anticipation of her vignette, we’ve asked Alessandra a few questions:

How did you first become interested in antiques? As a child in my grandparent’s home… and then as a teenager in Rome walking Via Giulia and via del Babbuino which used to have the most amazing antique dealers. I have not really stopped discovering new things and periods and styles which is the best part of life.

Are there any specific historic periods that you are drawn to? All periods and styles excite me. I tend to love earlier furniture mixed with some more modern pieces. Both periods have as much appeal and creativity. The earlier baroque for instance concentrated on making the useful beautiful, using materials and form to transform something as simple as a stool or chest into a spectacular object and then the mid century period, which I mostly discovered and fell in love with later on in the United States, also made more edited sculptures of useful items, both aiming to create and transform day to day items.

In your interior design work, what is your approach to incorporating art and antiques? It is a very fundamental part of every interior. I see furniture and decorative accessories as spices that can be incorporated into a space to give it life as well as play the contrasts for visual interest.

What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find? Or alternatively, can you tell us about “the one that got away”? I loved many of the pieces from the Wrightsman sale many years ago, as well as the Yves Satin Laurent/Pierre Berge sale. The quality and exquisite taste were extremely inspiring. There is nothing like a wonderful collector’s point of view to redefine the way you look at something and there have been so many incredible collectors and collections to inspire, mesmerize and make us yearn. Those that got away never worry me as I know they found wonderful homes, all part of the trip that a piece must go through…

What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show? I used to live in San Francisco and have come to the show numerous times and love it. I am excited to see the different presentations as well as those new and unusual pieces that could possibly fit in my projects whether in San Francisco or anywhere else for that matter…

How do you walk the show? What are you looking for? Any tips for shopping the show? I tend to walk through once to get a quick view of all booths then I go back to see specific items. Surprisingly I have a list of items I am always looking for for projects but occasionally there is that wonderful surprise of an amazing piece that I need to find a home for. Clients love when I am excited about something and tend to be like me in being as excited with something new and special!

Finally, the theme of this year’s show is “Wanderlust” – What is your favorite travel destination? And what country/place is at the top of your travel wish list? I travel an enormous amount as we have homes in various places, including in my hometown of Rome. We always make an effort to go somewhere completely new at least once or twice a year. I think we can cannot grow if not through the challenge and surprise that travel offers. New destinations and cultures are always a way to expand your sense of who you are and continue to define who you are. I am excited to go to Vietnam as well as Peru, both at the top of our list right now.

Thank you Alessandra – and see you at the show!

Campaign Furniture

Campaign furniture, as implied by its name, is portable furniture that was designed to be packed up and carried during military campaigns. Its origins can be traced back to the Romans, but it is most commonly associated with British Army officers during the Georgian and Victorian periods (1714-1901). There seemed no limit to the number of items an officer would take with him if he could afford to and how well one’s tent was kitted out was perhaps an indication of your social standing. The numerous items specifically made for travel include a variety of beds from four poster or tent beds to chairs that would extend for sleeping, large dining tables, dining chairs, easy chairs, sofas, chests of drawers, book cabinets, washstands, wardrobes, shelves, desks, mirrors, even lanterns and candlesticks, canteens of silver, cooking equipment, toiletry equipment and thunderboxes were all made to be portable.

Famous makers such as Chippendale, Sheraton and Gillows offered campaign pieces and the end of the 18th century saw the rise of specialist makers with the names of Thomas Butler and Morgan & Sanders. Their wares addressed not only military needs but also the increasing number of people who were moving to the colonies. In the 19th century, Indian cabinetmakers still grounded their work in the European tradition but added distinctly Indian touches. The emphasis was on decorative elaboration and much of the 19th-century Indian wood carving shows great technical skill.

Below from epoca in San Francisco: an Anglo-Indian traveling table originally used by the British colonial administrators for serving tea. Anglo Indian Furniture was crafted in India between 1858 and 1947.

The early 20th century saw a decrease in demand for campaign furniture: developments in transport and the rise of the motor car meant that travel was quicker so it was less of a necessity to equip oneself for a long journey. However, campaign pieces continue to be appreciated for their simple elegance, beauty and ingenuity. What was born of necessity was quickly adopted for its style, and these solid, classic pieces have retained much of their aesthetic allure so much so that campaign-style furniture continues to be designed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Below from epoca in San Francisco: a good quality and chic brushed steel, bronze and leather campaign chair designed by Otto Parzinger for Maison Jansen in the 1960’s.

The Silk Road

The legendary Silk Road was a network of trade routes connecting China and the Far East with the Middle East and Europe. Established when the Han Dynasty in China officially opened trade with the West in 130 B.C., the Silk Road routes remained in use until 1453 A.D., up until the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with China and closed them. Although it’s been nearly 600 years since the Silk Road has been used for international trade, the routes had a lasting impact on commerce, culture and history that resonates even today.

Below left, from Antonio’s Bella Casa: Pair of hand-thrown green-glazed six-tier Chinese terra cotta pagodas with figures (Republic Period, circa 1915). Below right, from Milord Antiques: Persian gold damascened steel mirror case on stand, Qajar Period.

Even though the name Silk Road originates from the popularity of Chinese silk among tradesmen in the Roman Empire and elsewhere in Europe, the material was not the only important export from the East to the West. Trade along this major economic belt also included fruits and vegetables, spices, livestock, grain, leather and hides, tools, religious objects, artwork, precious stones and metals and – perhaps more importantly – language, culture, religious beliefs, philosophy and science.

Below, from Rodrigo Rivero Lake: Pair of wooden dvārapālas from Kerala, South of India, 17th century. Dvārapālas are characteristic architectural elements of the Hindu and Buddhist culture. In sanskrit Dvāra means door and pāla means protective or guardian, they are responsible for not allowing the entrance of the impure to sacred places.

Venetian explorer Marco Polo famously used the Silk Road to travel from Italy to China, which was then under the control of the Mongolian Empire, where he arrived in 1275. Twenty plus years later, Marco Polo returned to Venice, again via the Silk Road routes. His journeys across the Silk Road became the basis for his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, which gave Europeans a better understanding of Asian culture and commerce. On his deathbed, he famously declared: “I did not tell half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed.”

Below left, from Antonio’s Bella Casa: 19th century Anglo-Indian, hardwood side table featuring beautifully rendered dragon feet between a serpentine X-stretcher. Below right, from epoca: A rare and exceptionally large pair of kashmiri Indo-Persian lacquered copper baluster-form vases, 19th century.

Interview with Interim Show Director Kay Evans and Associate Show Director Margan Mulvihill

How did you get involved with the San Francisco Fall Show?

Kay (left): I was introduced to the magic of the Fall Show by a friend who was an exhibitor in the very first show. He told me how great it was going to be and he was right – I’m so glad I listened to him. I was a designer in Southern California and nonetheless I knew I wanted to be part of this event. Through the years I’ve attended every show with the exception of one. I have always loved the energy, the wonderful exhibitors, world renowned lecturers, McCall’s lamb chops, and importantly I always found something to purchase for my clients. Fast forward to a few months ago when I was asked to come on board as Interim Director, trust me, I didn’t hesitate!

Margan (right): Before joining the Show, I worked in art galleries and had the chance to work at art fairs as an exhibitor. I loved the energy and the coming together of people with shared passions and I still do. So, when I saw the job posting for a position with The San Francisco Fall Show, I jumped at the chance to be on the other side of the coin–organizing an art and antiques show that not only celebrates the arts but also gives back to the community through Enterprise for Youth.

What are your favorite parts of the show – and why?

Kay: For me, through the years I’ve always made time to enjoy the Lecture Series. Some of the speakers have become friends and many I will truly never forget. One of these was the worldly and fabulous Rosamond Bernier. I heard her speak twice, both times at the SF Fall Show, and I quickly became enraptured with her life as well as her as a smart, interesting, and truly fascinating woman. I was fairly young the first time I heard her and I made up my mind – I wanted to BE HER! That not being possible, I wanted to emulate her and that decision gave me a life goal of the sort of woman I wanted to become. I have always loved attending the Gala, mixing with interesting guests and seeing for the first time all the exhibitor booths decked out for the event. In the early years, the Gala was black tie and the San Francisco ladies wore their bespoke jewelry and beautiful couture – what a sight that was! Gradually it became less formal but still is an event to be celebrated and dress up. The San Francisco Fall Show, as it is now known, is celebrated by residents and out of towners alike but we are so fortunate that it is held in our own backyard. I would never miss it!

Margan: From an organizers perspective, I love seeing a year’s worth of hard work come together. It’s incredibly rewarding and it truly takes a village to pull it off: exhibitors, sponsors, patrons, designers, a production crew, volunteers, show chairs, and more! From a consumer’s perspective, I love the breadth of art and antiques at the Show. Every corner you turn, you can find something from another part of the world, another time, another style, another piece of beauty and history. I have found that with other art fairs, the work you see starts to appear the same, but not at The Fall Show–there is always a new treasure to discover.

What are your top 5 tips for first-time show attendees?

Kay & Margan:

1. Plan your time well. Take your time to savor all the possibilities the show has to offer. Check event schedule online for daily lectures, events, and programs.

2. Ask a friend to join you in the Cafe for a delicious and leisurely lunch. It is located in the center of the show – great for people watching!

3. Don’t miss the caviar and lamb chops offered only at the Gala.

4. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of the dealers. They want to chat with you and love to share their knowledge of the treasures they have brought with them to the show.

5. If you are so inclined, get creative with your dress in the Wanderlust theme.

What does this year’s theme Wanderlust mean to you?

Kay: I’ve always had Wanderlust. I was raised in Mexico City by parents who loved to travel. Later in life I owned my own Interior Design business and during that time I also started the Kay Evans Decorative Arts Study Tours which I led for over 35 years. It all began when I invited like-minded individuals who shared a common passion for the Decorative Arts – art, antiques, gardens and private collections – to travel with me. Our itinerary consisted of visiting private homes, gardens, or private museums. We made it a point to never visit any place open to the general public. Fortunately, we were entertained in many of the private homes we visited and made great long lasting international friendships along the way. A magical side effect of having Wanderlust!

Margan: Oh, we couldn’t have picked a more perfect theme for me (except maybe dance… look out 2020!). Like Kay, I have the wanderlust gene. I love to travel to experience cultures and lands different from my own. Travel can open one’s mind to new perspectives on life. Wanderlust is synonymous with what’s at the heart of the Show – we invite exhibitors from around the globe to showcase brilliant works from different parts of the world. We are bringing snippets of new worlds to San Francisco. Plus, travel is often about seeing historical monuments, visiting museums, taking in the architecture of a new city, and learning about cultural norms and practices, which is often seen through objects, design, and art.

Lightning RoundKay

Favorite decorative arts era: 18th Century

Favorite (fine) artist: Favorite Contemporary fine artist: Hung Liu and 18th century: George Romney

Dream travel destination: Anywhere in Italy, particularly Venice

Words to live by: “I’m a pastiche of incongruity”

Rule to break: I don’t necessarily break the rules as much as I stretch the rules.

Best advice you’ve ever gotten: Challenge Yourself

Lightning Round – Margan

Favorite (fine) artist: I hate choosing favorites. I used to say van Gogh and I wrote my Master’s thesis on John Baldessari. The last exhibit I saw that deeply moved me was David Hockney at the de Young.

Dream travel destination: Anywhere that is distinctly different from home or that has awe-inspiring landscapes. I want to go back to India, it’s incredibly fascinating! In December I plan to visit Chile, my boyfriend’s homeland, and hope to “hop” over to Buenos Aires and Iguazu falls, or maybe Patagonia or Easter Island.

Words to live by: Dance like no one’s watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like no one’s listening, live like heaven on earth.

Rule to break: I don’t have anything specific, but as long as you are acting respectful and not doing harm to yourself or anyone else, I’m totally fine with bending the rules from time to time.

Best advice you’ve ever gotten: Professionally, I’ll go with show up with a smile and ask “how can I help”

The Seven Seas

All throughout human history, the lure of the sea has been strong for sailors and travelers alike. The phrase sail the Seven Seas has had different meanings to different people at different times in history. It historically referred to bodies of water along trade routes and regional waters; although in some cases the seas are mythical and not actual bodies of water. Seven Seas has evolved to become a figurative term to describe a sailor who has navigated all the seas and oceans of the world, and not literally seven.

Below from Roberto Freitas: “US Frigate New Castle, New Hampshire” by John Samuel Blunt (1798–1835) signed J. S. Blunt and dated 1828, oil on canvas

In order to truly grasp man’s desire to conquer the oceans, let’s turn to the insight (and wit) of some of our greatest authors:

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” – Herman Melville

Below from epoca: English oil painting of a schooner entering Liverpool harbor; signed and dated 1835

“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.” – Jules Verne

Below from Antonio’s Bella Casa: Grand, hand-beaded, crystal and gilt bronze, three-mast, galleon chandelier from Sicily.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Below from Peter Fetterman Gallery: “The Mauretania” (1910) by Alfred Stieglitz, vintage photogravure from Camera Work 36© Estate of Alfred Stieglitz.

“He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.” – Ernest Hemingway

Below from Roberto Freitas: “The Bark Columbia (Ships in New York Harbor)” by Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (1850 – 1921) signed Antonio Jacobsen and dated 1915, oil on board


Of all the scientific discoveries and intellectual advances of the eighteenth century, none sparked more enthusiasm and excitement than the balloon. On the 19th of September 1783 scientist Pilâtre de Rozier launched the first hot air balloon called the Aerostat Reveillon. The passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster and the balloon stayed in the air for a grand total of 15 minutes before crashing back to the ground…

The brothers Montgolfier, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne were responsible for the first manned balloon flight. They came from a family of paper manufacturers and noticed that ash flows in the air when the paper is burned and laundry rises when it is placed above the fire. This inspired them to design and make a hot air balloon – the Montgolfière – that would carry people. Their first attempt took place on 21st November. The balloon was launched from the centre of Paris and flew for a period of 20 minutes. This moment is most often considered the birth of hot air ballooning.

Below from Carlton Hobs (left) Watercolor depicting the first aerial hot air balloon flight made by the Montgolfier brothers in the gardens of Foile Titon at the Réveillon wallpaper manufactory. French, circa 1784. Watercolor and pencil on paper. Attributed to Claude-Louis Desrais. (right) The ascent of the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon Les Flesselles on the 19th of nJanuary, 1784 in Lyon, France by Joseph Audibert. Gouache on paper.

On December 1, 1783, just ten days after the first hot air balloon ride, the first gas balloon was launched by physicists Jacques Alexander Charles and Nicholas Louis Robert. This flight too started in Paris, France. The flight lasted 2½ hours and covered a distance of 25 miles. The gas used in the balloon was hydrogen, a lighter than air gas that had been developed by an Englishman, Henry Cavendish in 1776, by using a combination of sulphuric acid and iron filings.

Below from Carlton Hobbs: Carton for a Toile de Jouy printed textile entitled “Le Parc du Chateau” by Jean-Baptiste Huet for the Oberkampf factory, depicting the first balloon ascension of Jacques Alexander Charles and Nicholas Louis Robert. Ink and blue wash on paper. French. Circa 1783.

In the early days of ballooning, crossing the English Channel was considered the first step to long distance flying. In 1785 Pilâtre de Rozier and a man named Romain attempted to cross the channel in a balloon with an experimental system using both hydrogen and hot air compartments. Unfortunately this volatile mixture of highly flammable hydrogen with fire caused the balloon to explode thirty minutes after lift off and both men were killed. The first successful crossing of the English Channel was accomplished later the same year by French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries using a gas balloon. Jean-Pierre Blanchard also undertook the first manned balloon flight in America. This flight ascended from a prison yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He ascended to about 5,800 feet and he made a successful landing in Gloucester County, in New Jersey. George Washington observed the launch.

Below from Carlton Hobbs: gilded ground faux engraving on glass of a balloon flight by Monsieur Blanchard at the coronation feast of their imperial majesties in 1804. Etched leaf on glass. French, circa 1804.

The fascination with ballooning swept across Europe and America and became the 18th century’s version of going viral. Balloonmania inspired hair and clothing styles. Craftsmen and merchants produced jewelry, hats, fans, snuff boxes, match and needle cases, dinnerware, wall paper, bird cages, chandeliers, clocks, furniture, and a host of other balloon-themed objects to attract the eyes of customers and open their pocketbooks.

Balloonmania continued to capture the imagination well into the 20th century. Case in point from Earle D. Vandekar: this 1950’s plate, designed by Piero Fornasetti and depicting the 1804 balloon flight on the occasion of Napoleon’s incoronation as Emperor of the French.