The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! C is for…

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show will celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. We’re breaking it down alphabetically… C is for:

Calcedonio glass imitates the agate rock (called “calcedonio” in Italian and a type of quartz), with veins of contrasting color running through the deep-colored glass. It is produced by mixing coloring agents into a fusion of different types of glass.

Covered beaker in calcedonio glass. Europe, 18th century. The Corning Museum of Glass.

Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)

Caravaggio was a master Italian painter, father of the Baroque style, who led a tumultuous life that was cut short his by his fighting and brawling. As a child and art student, he trained in Milan under a teacher who had been taught by the great Italian painter Titian himself, and who exposed him to the great works of Leonardo de Vinci and the Lombard artists. He moved to Rome in 1592, at the time the city was in a period if great expansion, and the many churches and palaces being built were all in need of paintings to decorate the walls. He immediately began working for Giuseppe Cesari, the favorite painter of the Pope, and throughout the end of the 16th century his reputation as a great painter grew. His big break came in 1599, when he was commissioned to paint the Contarelli Chapel in Rome, which was finished in 1600. after which he began receiving many commissions, both public and private. Some of his works, being controversial in subject matter (his unacceptably vulgar realistic style) and models (one of his favorite models for the Virgin Mary was a prostitute), and some of his works were returned to be painted over or fixed. Others were returned entirely, but Caravaggio always had a public willing to snatch up any painting he produced.

Caravaggio’s “Boy with a Basket of Fruit,” one of his first paintings.


A cassapanca is is an Italian-style furniture piece that combines the comfort of a bench with the storage capabilities of a chest. It features a low-profile seat on top of a hinged wooden box with plenty of space for storing items like blankets, books, toys, and more. 

Cassapanca, Florence, mid 16th century. Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Cassone is the term given to large decorated chests made in Italy from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Next to the marriage bed, cassoni were cherished in wealthy Renaissance households, for they held clothing, precious fabrics, and other valuables. Often commissioned by the groom in marriage, a cassone was prominently carried in the nuptial procession, laden with the dowry of his new bride. In the fifteenth century, whole workshops were given over to the manufacture and decoration of cassoni.

Italian cassone, circa 1425–50. Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The Castellani family were goldsmiths, collectors, antique dealers and potters who created a business “empire” active in Rome during the 18th and 19th centuries. Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794–1865), the forefather of the family, opened his own workshop in Rome and specialized in the creation of jewels imitating the ones that then came to light from the necropolis of Etruria, that were found in the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum or that could be observed in the Campana collection. Initiating a partnership with Duke Michelangelo Caetani, a lover of fine arts and a designer of jewels himself, allowed Fortunato Castellani to quickly work for the most illustrious aristocratic families, initially Roman and at a later date even European. Fortunato also imported luxurious goldsmith works from the rest of Europe to be resold in Rome. The Castellani of the second generation devoted themselves only to the trade of jewels of their own production or to the sale of archaeological finds.

Castellani 15k gold bracelet, with four carved scarab carnelian elements. Italy, early 20th century.

By Vera Vandenbosch

The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! B is for…

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show will celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. We’re breaking it down alphabetically… B is for:

Osvaldo Borsani (1911 – 1985)       

Osvaldo Borsani was an Italian designer and architect, born into a family of artisan furniture makers. His father, Gaetano Borsani, owned a furniture shop, the Atelier di Varedo, where the 16-year-old Osvaldo first started to train. Best known for his research-based approach to making furniture, throughout his career Borsani merged technological and material improvements with inventive Modernist stylings. In 1953, Osvaldo and his brother, Fulgencio, founded a firm called Tecno. There, he created one of his hallmark designs, the P40 lounge chair, featuring rubber arms and the ability to assume 486 distinct postures. Some early designs from the Tecno company can now be found in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Pair of burr walnut-veneered armchairs by Osvaldo Borsani, 1930s

Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510)

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century, when he was rediscovered by the Pre-Raphaelites who stimulated a reappraisal of his work. Since then, his paintings have been seen to represent the linear grace of late Italian Gothic and some Early Renaissance painting, even though they date from the latter half of the Italian Renaissance period. In addition to the mythological subjects for which he is best known today, Botticelli painted a wide range of religious subjects (including dozens of renditions of the Madonna and Child, many in the round tondo shape) and also some portraits. His best-known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera, both in the Uffizi in Florence, which holds many of Botticelli’s works. This fall, San Francisco’s Legion of Honor will hold the first exhibition ever dedicated to Botticelli’s drawings. Exploring the foundational role drawing played in Botticelli’s work, the exhibition traces his artistic journey, from studying under maestro Fra Filippo Lippi (c. 1406 – 1469) to leading his own workshop in Florence. Featuring rarely seen and newly attributed works, the exhibition provides insight into the design practice of an artist whose name is synonymous with the Italian Renaissance. Botticelli’s drawings offer an intimate look into the making of some of his most memorable masterpieces, including Adoration of the Magi (c. 1500), which will be reunited with its preparatory drawing, surviving only in fragments. From Botticelli’s earliest recorded drawings through expressive designs for his final painting, the works on display reveal the artist’s experimental drawing techniques, quest for ideal beauty, and command of the line.

Sandro Botticelli, Study for the Portrait of a Lady in Profile to the Right (detail, recto), ca. 1485. Silverpoint, heightened with white, on yellow-ochre prepared paper (recto), 13 3/8 x 9 in. (34 x 23 cm). The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford, UK, WA 1863.613


The long-established Italian jewelry and watch company is synonymous with tradition, creativity and skill. Buccellati’s craftsmanship resolves around intricate textural details in the highest quality materials, derived from inspirations such as Venetian lace, Etruscan patterns, Italian vegetation, insects and animals. The founder Mario Buccellati (1891-1965), nicknamed the Prince of Goldsmiths, was fascinated from a very young age by all types of metals, gemstones and the Renaissance period. The extraordinary combination of these three inspirations led to his own distinct style, allowing the brand to become a highly recognizable jeweler and goldsmith in Italy.

Gold cuff with a semi-baroque cultured pearl and rose-cut diamonds, signed M. Buccellati

Paolo Buffa (1903 – 1970)

Paolo Buffa was an Italian architect and designer best known for his designs of mid-century furniture. Characterized by a melding of tradition and modernity, he used a combination of low-profile, rectilinear, and hardwood forms to produce his most classic pieces. Known for his elegant, Neoclassical designs as well as his use of superlative materials in his dining chairs, Buffa also worked with local cabinetmakers to pioneer more efficient production techniques. In the 1960s, Buffa began working with the Italian furniture company, Cassina de Meda, ultimately moving Italian design toward even more streamlined and efficient production models.

From Milord Antiques: Mahogany and sycamore bar cabinet by Paolo Buffa decorated with fencing scenes. Italy, circa 1950

Carlo Bugatti (1856- 1940)

Best known for his associations and contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, Carlo Bugatti’s most recognizable work is his furniture, often composed of natural materials like wood, parchment, vellum, and copper. These pieces are usually heavily decorated with organic accoutrement, such as tassels, painted motifs, and woven fabric. Bugatti had a unique gift for combining and evoking a startlingly wide range of styles and eras. A single chair could reflect Gothic, Asian and Moorish styles, as well as the more-is-more attitude to ornamentation that dominated the Victorian era; the naturalistic motifs of Art Nouveau; and touches that foreshadow Art Deco.

From Milord Antiques: Rare Carlo Bugatti cabinet of asymmetrical design is made of intricately carved and ebonized walnut inlaid with pewter, bone and copper, partially covered with parchment. Italy, circa 1902


Even though Bulgari is an Italian luxury fashion house known for its jewellery, watches, fragrances, accessories, and leather goods, it was actually founded in 1884 by the Greek silversmith Sotirios Boulgaris (1857 – 1932). In its early years, Bulgari was known for silver pieces that borrowed elements from Byzantine and Islamic art, combining them with floral motifs. At the time, Paris was the apex of fashion and creativity, and its trends influenced Sotirios’ designs for decades: jewels of the early 20s were characterized by platinum Art Deco settings while those of the 30s featured geometric diamond motifs—sometimes set in combination with colored gemstones. Convertible jewels were also popular during the time, and one of Bulgari’s major pieces was the Trombino, a small trumpet-shaped ring.

From Kentshire: 1980s Bulgari gold, diamond, and chrysoprase doorknocker hoop earrings

By Vera Vandenbosch

The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! B is for…

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show will celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. We’re breaking it down alphabetically… B is for:


A baldacchino is a canopy over the altar in a church, sometimes made of a permanent material like bronze. The most famous is Bernini’s baldacchino for St. Peter’s in Rome.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680)

From his early days as a child prodigy until his death in 1680 at the age of 82, Gian Lorenzo Bernini remained unchallenged as the foremost sculptor of his time. His dynamic and exuberant style perfectly embodies the baroque period, of which he has become the symbol. Bernini excelled in every sculptural genre (portraiture, tomb sculpture, religious and mythological representations). He was equally creative in other media, including architecture, painting and drawing. An early practitioner of the art of caricature, he used his quick sketches to poke fun at the Roman papal court. In his all-encompassing virtuosity, Bernini brings to mind another prolific artist who redefined sculpture, Michelangelo.

Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome built between 1648 and 1651

Harry Bertoia (1915 – 1978)

Harry Bertoia’s oeuvre encompasses sound sculptures, furniture, and jewelry design. A successful designer at the mid-century furniture company Knoll, Bertoia famously designed their Diamond Chair (below), a delicate and airy steel-framed chair introduced in 1952 and still sold today. He would later devote his artistic energy towards innovative sculpture, finding ways to bend and stretch metal so that when crossed with wind or touch, it would create different sounds. Many of Bertoia’s “tonal sculptures” were commissioned for established institutions and as public art displays. He has also performed concerts with these pieces, even recording a series of albums known as Sonambient music. From a young age Bertoia was friends with other prominent designers such as Walter Gropius and Ray and Charles Eames, and he regularly designed jewelry for his friends.

Bernardo Bertolucci (1941 – 2018)

Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director whose films were known for their colorful visual style, was born in Parma, Italy. He attended Rome University and became famous as a poet. He served as assistant director for Pier Paolo Pasolini in the film Accattone (1961) and directed The Grim Reaper (1962). His second film, Before the Revolution (1964), which was released in 1971, received an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay. Bertolucci also received an Academy Award nomination as best director for Last Tango in Paris (1972), and the best director and best screenplay for the film The Last Emperor (1987, below) – the first Western feature film authorized by the People’s Republic of China to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing – which walked away with nine Academy Awards.

Umberto Boccioni (1882 – 1916)

Umberto Boccioni was an influential Italian painter and sculptor. He helped shape the revolutionary aesthetic of the Futurism movement as one of its principal figures. Despite his short life, his approach to the dynamism of form and the deconstruction of solid mass guided artists long after his death.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni, 1913

Cini Boeri

Cini Boeri was one of the first female Italian designers to rise to prominence after the second world war. Over the course of her career, Boeri collaborated with some of the biggest names in Italian design, including lighting brand Artemide and furniture makers Knoll, Magis and Arflex. “There is nothing affected or elitist in the essentialism of her architecture, just as there is nothing austere or penitent in the minimalism of her furniture design projects,” states her son, architect Stefano Boeri.

Strips seating system designed by Cini Boeri for Arflex, 1968

By Vera Vandenbosch

The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! A is for…

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show will celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. We’re breaking it down alphabetically… A is for:

Sofonisba Anguissola (1532 – 1621)

Sofonisba Anguissola was a (female!) Italian Renaissance painter born in Cremona to a relatively poor noble family. She received a well-rounded education that included the fine arts, and her apprenticeship with local painters set a precedent for women to be accepted as students of art. As a young woman, Anguissola traveled to Rome where she was introduced to Michelangelo, who immediately recognized her talent, and to Milan, where she painted the Duke of Alba. The Spanish queen, Elizabeth of Valois, was a keen amateur painter and in 1559 Anguissola was recruited to go to Madrid as her tutor, with the rank of lady-in-waiting. She later became an official court painter to the king, Philip II, and adapted her style to the more formal requirements of official portraits for the Spanish court. After the queen’s death, Philip helped arrange an aristocratic marriage for her. She moved to Sicily, and later Pisa and Genoa, where she continued to practice as a leading portrait painter.

The Game of Chess (or Portrait of the artist’s sisters playing chess) Sofonisba Anguissola from 1555. Anguissola was 23 years old when she painted it.

Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1526 – 1593)

The job of a renaissance court portraitist was to produce likenesses of his sovereigns to display at the palace and give to foreign dignitaries or prospective brides. It went without saying the portraits should be flattering. Yet, in 1590, Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted his royal patron, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, as a heap of fruits and vegetables (see detail below). With pea pod eyelids and a gourd for a forehead, he looks less like a king than a crudité platter. Lucky for Arcimboldo, Rudolf had a sense of humor. And he had probably grown accustomed to the artist’s visual wit. Arcimboldo served the Hapsburg family for more than 25 years, creating oddball “composite heads” made of sea creatures, flowers, dinner roasts and other materials.

Arte Povera

The Arte Povera (literally “poor art”) movement took place between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s in major cities throughout Italy and above all in Turin. The word “poor” here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones of oil on canvas, bronze, or carved marble. Materials used by the artists included soil, rags and twigs. In using such throwaway materials they aimed to challenge and disrupt the values of the commercialized contemporary gallery system. Among the leading Arte Povera artists were Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Living Sculpture (detail) by Marisa Merz, 1966, aluminum and enamel

Gae Aulenti (1927 – 2012)

The Italian architect and designer Gae Aulenti will forever be best remembered for her work with museums, in particular her 1980–86 renovation of a Beaux Arts Paris train station to create the galleries of the Musée d’Orsay. Aulenti — whose first name, short for Gaetana, is pronounced “guy” — should also be recalled for her tough intellectual spirit and for working steadily when few women found successful architectural careers in postwar Italy. After she graduated from the Milan Polytechic in 1954, Aulenti opened an architectural office. She also joined the staff of the progressive architectural magazine Casabella, whose editorial line was that the establishment, orthodox modernism of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus, had outlived it usefulness. When their movement for fresh approaches to architecture and design received a sympathetic hearing, Aulenti found patrons — most prominently Gianni Agnelli, of Fiat, who later employed her to renovate the Palazzo Grassi in Venice for use as an arts exhibition space. Commissions for showrooms and other corporate spaces brought Aulenti to furniture and lighting design. Her lighting pieces in particular are an artful grace note in the career of a woman who believed in strength.

Gae Aulenti’s Pipistrello lamp

Aventurina – also sometimes termed “avventurina” or “adventurina”
The art of precipitating copper deposits in glass was a closely-guarded secret which developed in the 17th century. The root of the word is sometimes wrongly ascribed to “avventura” (adventure), rather than the correct “ventura” (fortune or chance), but both give a good idea of the skilled nature of producing consistent pieces.

By Vera Vandenbosch

La Dolce Vita

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show invites you to celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. Andiamo!

The phrase “la dolce vita” gained recognition after the release of the 1960 film directed by Federico Fellini. The film portrayed the hedonistic lifestyle of a journalist in Rome during the ’50s, and features the iconic scene of screen siren Anita Ekberg frolicking in Rome’s Trevi Fountain. During the post-war La Dolce Vita years Italian culture started to flourish again. A lot of famous intellectuals met in the numerous cafes of Piazza del Popolo, such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, the writers Alberto Moravia, Umberto Eco and so on, exchanged their ideas and their art.

Since then, the phrase La Dolce Vita has come to describe a life full of beauty, pleasures, and mundane events as well. People interpret the phrase differently; for some, it means traveling and exploring the world, while for others, it means pursuing their passions, large and small: savoring delicious food and fine wines, collecting art, living with well-designed pieces… By embracing pleasure, indulgence, and beauty, one can live the sweet life. After all, taking time to appreciate life’s simple pleasures makes a significant difference in one’s happiness and well-being. We look forward to seeing you at the 2023 San Francisco Fall Show!

Show preview by Cecilia Sagrera-Hill and George Brazil of SagreraBrazil Design

The highly anticipated Design Council preview of the 2022 San Francisco Fall Show took place on Tuesday, October 11. Design Council members – and 2019 Show Vignette Designers – Cecilia Sagrera-Hill and George Brazil of SagreraBrazil Design kindly agreed to share their first impressions, and personal favorites.

Cecilia states: “There is always at least one piece at the San Francisco Fall Show, a piece that just simply takes your breath away and pulls at your heart strings. For me there are two so far: Lucy Glendinning’s Together I sculpture at Waterhouse and Dodd (left), the emotion in this piece is overwhelming. The other item that immediately caught my eye is the French Chinoiserie polychrome painted six-panel paper screen (right): the various scenes and storytelling around the exterior edge of each panel is something I have not seen before.”

George says: “My breath was taken away by the oversized, incredibly mesmerizing, abstract by David Leverett, entitled The Wound (1988), at Henry Saywell”.

Cecilia and George concur: “What we saw and loved this year are the various screens throughout the show. They are such a versatile piece, whether a room divider, behind a sofa, behind a headboard to create depth and be the artwork above the bed without having to hang it or simply as artwork either flat or folded. Their usage has endless possibilities. We love the idea of taking 18th century panels and transporting them to a 21st century high rise condominium – a space stripped of architectural detailing – to showcase the beauty of hand-painting and delicate detail work that can only be admired from close up. This series from Galerie Steinitz can be incorporated down a hallway to bring life to a transitioning space”.

“The 17th century Dutch Baroque polychrome painted and gilt leather 8-panel screen from Philip Stites is another showstopper”.

“At Galen Lowe, we spotted a beautiful 18th century Japanese Edo Period screen with colored medallions on a finely painted ground, each with a poem (left) and an equally stunning Japanese Meji Period three-circle screen (right)”.

“Lighting has endless possibilities – but when you stumble upon a beautiful 1950’s stylized sculpted hand grasping a circular section sconce – you can’t resist the texture, or the emotion of the grasping hands. You could place these in a beautiful contemporary space, but what if you paired them with a chinoiserie wallpaper to play off each other in a cozy space (a powder room perhaps)? A small and subtle tongue-in-cheek moment that make us all smile!”

“A great example of mixing eras is through accessories – at Hyde Park Antiques we discovered James Bearden, an artistic welder whose smaller sculptural functional pieces take center stage displayed upon antique Chinese marble top tables with antique mirrors above – just because one is contemporary/modern, and the other antique doesn’t mean they can’t live in the same home and live in harmony”.

Cecilia loves this “jewelry as art” from Kentshire: “Who wouldn’t want to wear these? I sure would!”

“Last but not least, there’s floor art – art that keeps your feet warm. Take a living room with modern/contemporary furniture and a pale color palette, mix in an antique one-of-a-kind area rug – art for your feet, and a perfect balance. Love the color palette of this Tony Kitz area rug”.

By Cecilia Sagrera-Hill and George Brazil, SagreraBrazilDesign

Sneak Preview

The 2022 San Francisco Fall Show will include many of the world’s most distinguished art and antiques dealers, offering an extraordinary range of fine and decorative arts and representing all styles and periods from antiquity to contemporary – American, English, Continental and Asian art, furniture and decorative objects, paintings, prints and photographs, books, gold, silver and precious metals, jewelry, rugs, textiles and ceramics.

Here’s a sneak preview:

From De Angelis: A Tommi Parzinger design Chinese red lacquer credenza with polished brass mounted hardware. United States, 1950s
From Arader Galleries: Raspberries, Plate IV by George Brookshaw (1751-1823)
From Guy Regal NYC: Bronze Apple by Clara Duque, 1995
From Greg Pepin: A rare 18kt gold Georg Jensen bonbonnière set with a single ruby, four oval black agates and six small green agate stones, 1908
From Modernism Inc: ABSTRACT #217 (cadmium red deep), 2014 by James Hayward
From Phoenix Ancient Art: A Roman Cornelian Intaglio with the nymph Galatea, goddess of calm seas, 1st century A.D.
From Carlton Hobbs: A red lacquered cabinet with shaped panels decorated in imitation of blue and white Delft porcelain, on original silver gilt stand, English, last quarter of the 17th century

By Vera Vandenbosch

Ruby Red

2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the San Francisco Fall Show – our Ruby Jubilee! Rubies are thought to possess an inner flame, symbolizing passion, devotion and endurance. How apt for the longest running art, antiques and design fair on the West Coast, renowned and respected across the globe and a beloved and integral part of the San Francisco Bay Area’s art and design communities. The Show will embrace all shades of glorious red, celebrated in cultures around the world for extraordinary energy, romantic love and good luck.

We’re not the only ones “seeing red”. After returning from Milan Design Week, the editors of Architectural Digest declared tomato red to be this season’s “it color”.

Versace Home’s presenattion at Milan Design Week – photo courtesy of Versace Home

This summer’s must-see exhibit is NYC’s Museum of Modern Art’s “Matisse: The Red Studio,” a small but spectacular exhibition that dissects one of the artist’s greatest early paintings. This show reunites — for the first time since they left the artist’s studio in the Parisian suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux — all the surviving works that Henri Matisse depicted in “The Red Studio,” a painting whose seductive radicalness has attracted admirers since it entered the museum’s collection in 1949.

In the words of legendary icon of style Diana Vreeland: ”Red is the great clarifier – bright and revealing. I can’t imagine becoming bored with red – it would be like becoming bored with the person you love.”

Horst P. Horst/Getty

By Vera Vandenbosch

The alphabet of art & antiques – F is for …


Faience is tin-glazed earthenware made in France, Germany, Spain, and Scandinavia. It is distinguished from tin-glazed earthenware made in Italy, which is called Majolica, and that made in the Netherlands and England, which is called Delft.

From Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge: French creamware or faience fine soup tureen, 18th century.


Fauvism is a style of painting with vivid expressionistic and non-naturalistic use of color that flourished in Paris from 1905 and, although short-lived, had an important influence on subsequent artists, especially the German expressionists. Matisse was regarded as the movement’s leading figure.

Think of Fauvism as Impressionism that is taken to the absolute extreme with bolder colors and thicker brushstrokes (often applied straight from the paint tubes).

Open Window, Collioure (1905) by Henri Matisse


The ferronnière was a delicate jewelry item worn by women on the forehead which served to help hold hairstyles in place. It consisted of a chain with fine links – or a textile thread – usually with a single gemstone in the center. The name is derived from a painting, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, named La Belle Ferronnière (from French: “the beautiful blacksmith’s wife”) currently in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, see below.


A festoon is a decorative element consisting of a wreath or garland hanging from two points. In architecture, a festoon is typically a carved ornament depicting an arrangement of flowers, foliage or fruit bound together and suspended by ribbons. The motif is sometimes known as a swag when depicting fabric or linen.


A fibula is a decorated fastening brooch which was used by the Romans to secure a robe on the shoulder. It is the ancient equivalent of a safety pin.

Roman gold crossbow fibula (brooch), A.D. 286–305 or 306/7–308/9. Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Filigree is a form of intricate metalwork used in jewelry and other small forms of metalwork. In jewelry, filigree is usually made of gold and silver, with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination, soldered together and arranged in artistic motifs.

From Kentshire: A pair of antique day-to-night gold filigree, foiled citrine, and seed pearl earrings, probably Neapolitan.

Fleur de Lis

The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily that is used as a decorative design or symbol. Traditionally, the fleur-de-lis has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life. Legend has it that an angel presented Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, with a golden lily as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity.

From Carlton Hobbs: interesting burr mulberry or elm and brass inlaid sofa table with drawers, flanked by panels, filled with a fleur de lis motif. English, first quarter of the 19th century.


Fluting is a decoration formed by making a series of parallel, semi-circular shallow grooves running along a surface.

From Artistoric: Doulton Lambeth fluted stoneware vase (1886-1891)


Fretwork is an interlaced decorative design that is either carved in low relief on a solid background or cut out with a saw. Most fretwork patterns are geometric in design. The materials most commonly used are wood and metal.

From James Sansum: Kimbel and Cabus Japonisme rosewood center table with fretwork apron, circa 1880.

By Vera Vandenbosch

The alphabet of Art & Antiques – E is for …


An ébéniste is a French term for a cabinet-maker, particularly one who works in ebony. Ébénistes make case furniture, either veneered or painted.

From Carlton Hobbs: an extraordinary walnut and exotic woods inlaid parcel gilt commode of profoundly shaped reverse bombé form bearing the arms of Vialètes d’Aignan “Manufacture Royale” of Montauban. French, mid-eighteenth century.


Egg-and-dart is a repetitive design, most often found on molding or trim. The pattern is characterized by a repetition of oval shapes, like an egg split lengthwise, with various non-curved patterns, like “darts,” repeated between the egg pattern. In three-dimensional sculpting of wood or stone, the pattern is in bas-relief, but the pattern can also be found in two-dimensional painting and stencil. The exquisite architectural fragment belongs to one of the decorative moldings of the Erechtheum, the building on the Athenian Akropolis that accommodated a variety of venerable cults and sanctuaries, circa 421–409 B.C.

Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Empire style is an early-nineteenth-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts, representing the second phase of Neoclassicism. The style takes its name from the rule of the Emperor Napoleon I in the First French Empire. The previous fashionable style in France had been the Directoire style, a more austere and minimalist form of Neoclassicism, that replaced the Louis XVI style. The Empire style brought a full return to ostentatious richness.

From Milord Antiquites: Fine gilt bronze Empire period mantel clock, circa 1810.


Vitreous enamel, also called porcelain enamel, is a material made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850°C (1,380 and 1,560°F). The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating. The word comes from the Latin vitreum, meaning “glass”. Enamel can be used on metal, glass, ceramics, stone, or any material that will withstand the fusing temperature.

From Kentshire: Gold and enamel Gucci bracelet/watch, circa 1965


Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are also used. Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface. Today, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat allow artists to extend the amount of time they have to work with the material. Because wax is used as the pigment binder, encaustics can be sculpted as well as painted. Other materials can be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to stick them to the surface.

“White Flag”
Jasper Johns, 1955 (Encaustic, oil, newsprint, and charcoal on canvas)


Encoignure is a type of furniture located in a corner of a room. In French, it literally means the angle, or return, formed by the junction of two walls. Since the 20th century, the word has been mainly used to designate a small armoire, commode, cabinet or cupboard made to fit a corner.

From Antonio’s Bella Casa: A pair of elegant, hand-painted, ebonized, parcel gilt, 18th century Italian Chinoiserie corner cabinets.


An epergne is a table centerpiece, usually made of silver but can also be made of another metal, glass, or porcelain. An epergne generally has a large central “bowl” or basket, resting on three to five feet. From this center “bowl” radiate branches supporting small baskets, dishes, or candleholders.

From SJ Shrubsole: a George III Antique English Silver Epergne, London, 1778 by Thomas Pitts


A decorative plate used to conceal a functioning, non-architectural item – such as a keyhole, door handle, or light switch – for protection and decoration.

Escutcheon on chest of drawers attributed to the Philadelphia joiner John Head, image via Sotheby’s


Egyptomania was the renewed interest of Europeans in ancient Egypt during the nineteenth century as a result of Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign (1798–1801) and, in particular, as a result of the extensive scientific study of ancient Egyptian remains and culture inspired by this campaign. The grandeur and “exoticism” of its pyramids, temples, Great Sphinx, and culture have made this great civilization a recurring subject in architecture, film, art, and popular culture. During the 20th century Egyptomania reached a fever pitch in the United States: Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen’s Tomb caused a nationwide craze, and Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of Cleopatra in the 1963 classic film inspired a new interest in ancient Egyptian fashion.

Regency Egyptian Revival style settee by Thomas Hope, circa 1802. Image via the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.

By Vera Vandenbosch

The alphabet of Art & Antiques – D is for …

Delftware Delftware or Delft pottery – also known as Delft Blue – is a general term now used for Dutch tin-glazed earthenware, a form of faience. Most of it is blue and white pottery, and the city of Delft in the Netherlands was the major centre of production, but the term covers wares with other colors, and made elsewhere. Delftware includes pottery objects of all descriptions such as plates, vases and other ornamental forms and tiles. The start of the style was around 1600, and the most highly regarded period of production is about 1640–1740, but Delftware continues to be produced. In the 17th and 18th centuries Delftware was a major industry, exporting all over Europe.

From Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge: Dutch Delft blue & white cress dish, Tichelaar, Makkum, 1890.

Directoire The Directoire style takes its name from the post-Revolution period 1795–1799 when France was ruled by a government of Directors – the Directory. Directoire is characterized by Neoclassical architectural forms, minimal carving, planar expanses of highly grained veneers, and applied decorative painting. Many examples of design from this period carried on the Classicism of Louis XVI, but with greater restraint and incorporating many of the symbols of equality, fraternity and liberty associated with the Revolution. One of the most notable pieces of Directoire furniture was the day bed, inspired by ancient examples and made famous in the portrait of the celebrated beauty Madame Récamier, by artist Jacques-Louis David (see below).

Duchesse brisée A Duchesse brisée – “broken duchess” in French – is three piece French chaise lounge consisting of a set of hand carved armchairs or bergères (one generally smaller than the other) and a bout-de-pied, or foot rest that fit together to make a single seating unit. This Louis XVI style piece rose to popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A Louis XV walnut duchesse brisée, mid 18th century. Image via Christie’s.

Demi-lune From the French for “half moon”, demi-lune refers to a a crescent or half-moon shape, as of the top of a piece of furniture.

From Jayne Thompson Antiques: Demilune serving table in satinwood, yew, and rosewood, Irish, 1790.

Dada Dada or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century. Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent toward violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical far-left. Renowned dadaists include Marcel Duchamp, Tristan Tzara, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Kurt Schwitters and American Man Ray (see below).

Daguerrotype The daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic process (1839-1860) in the history of photography. Named after the inventor, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, each daguerreotype is a unique image on a silvered copper plate. In contrast to photographic paper, a daguerreotype is not flexible and is rather heavy, with a mirror-like surface. Among the colorful characters immortalized in the colorless daguerreotype medium are (below, clockwise from upper left): writer Henry Thoreau, Seneca leader Blacksnake, Navy Commodore Matthew Perry, mental health crusader Dorothea Dix, showmen P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb, and actress Charlotte Cushman (Image via the National Portrait Gallery)

Diptych A diptych is an artwork consisting of two pieces or panels, that together create a singular art piece these can be attached together or presented adjoining each other. In medieval times, panels were often hinged so that they could be closed like a book and the artworks protected.

Diptych of Jean Carondelet (1517) by Jan Gossaert

Danish Modern Danish modern is a style of minimalist furniture and housewares from Denmark, embracing the principles of Bauhaus modernism in furniture design, creating clean, pure lines based on an understanding of classical furniture craftsmanship coupled with careful research into materials, proportions and the requirements of the human body. With designers such as Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner and associated cabinetmakers, Danish furniture and housewares thrived from the 1940s through the 1960s.

From De Angelis: Kurt Ostervig lounge chair and ottoman for Schiller Polstermobelfabrik, Denmark, 1960s.

Demi-parure A Demi-parure is a set of matching jewelry that is designed to be worn together, though fewer than a full set or parure. The term dates from the second half of the 16th century. Traditionally, when a parure involved six or seven pieces, a demi-parure was a three-piece suite of (usually) a necklace, earrings, and a brooch or bracelet; however, in the early 20th century, the term “parure” began to refer to just a trio of coordinating items, and a demi-parure was similarly downscaled to refer to any two matching pieces.

From Kentshire: An antique neoclassical carved agate and gold demi-parure. Italy, circa 1865.

By Vera Vandenbosch

The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – C is for ..

Cabriole leg

Cabriole refers to a popular furniture leg with the knee curving outward and the ankle curving inward terminating in an ornamental foot. It is commonly associated with Queen Anne and Chippendale styles of antique furniture. When used with Chippendale furniture, the cabriole leg commonly terminates with a ball and claw foot. In Queen Anne examples, the pad foot was popular, but other foot styles were used with these legs as well.

From Ronald Phillips: A mid 18th century Chippendale period carved mahogany card table on cabriole legs with channeled heading and acanthus carved knees, terminating in leaf carved French toes.


The caquetoire, or conversation chair, was an armchair style which emerged during the European Renaissance. It was largely used in France and is one of the most well-known pieces of furniture from the French Renaissance. Due to fashions of the time and the lack of heating systems in homes, women wore several layers of skirts and petticoats to keep warm. This often prevented them from fitting comfortably into armchairs with rectangular seats. A caquetoire seat is splayed so women in their large skirts could easily sit.

A French walnut armchair caquetoire, 16the century – Image via Christie’s


A cameo is a material that is carved with a raised relief that often depicts a profile of a face or a mythical scene. Cameos are commonly made out of shell, coral, stone (often agate or onyx), lava, or glass. The most common motif of antique cameo jewelry depicts a profile of a face or mythical creature. There are typically two colored layers; generally, figures are carved in one layer so that they are raised on the background of the second layer. England’s Queen Victoria is credited with popularizing shelled cameos in the 19th century.

From Lawrence Jeffrey Estate Jewelers: Georgian diamond and carved agate memorial ring, circa 1780.


A cellarette or cellaret is a small furniture cabinet, available in various sizes, shapes, and designs (and sometimes portable) which is used to store bottles of alcoholic beverages, as well as decanters and glasses. Prohibition in the United States brought about variations of trompe l’oeil cellarettes designed to conceal illegal alcoholic beverages. To the casual observer, the three dimensional trompe l’oeil artwork on these cellarettes made them appear to be an ordinary table, bookcase, or other piece of furniture.

From Carlton Hobbs: A carved mahogany neoclassical cellarette of large scale, designed by Thomas Hope, early 19th century


Italian for “light-dark,” chiaroscuro is the use of strong contrasts between luminosity and shadow to achieve a sense of volume and dimensionality. This unique technique was developed during the Italian Renaissance by Leonard da Vinci, the Baroque period by Caravaggio, and the Dutch Golden Age by Rembrandt.

Self portrait wearing a white feathered bonnet oil on panel, by Rembrandt, 1635


In sculpture, contrapposto (“counterpose” in Italian) is an asymmetrical posture in which most of a figure’s weight is distributed onto one foot. This results in a realistic stance, as famously evident in Michelangelo’s David statue.

David by Michelangelo at the Florence Galleria dell’Accademia

Color Field

Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to abstract expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering abstract expressionists. Color field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting “color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself.” Artists who are considered part of the Color Field style include Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and Frank Stella.

Mark Rothko, UNTITLED (No. 73), 1952High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc. 1985.27, © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko /Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York


Cloisonné is decorative work in which copper filaments are glued or soldered to a metal surface—gold in the Near East, bronze or copper in China—to create tiny compartments, or cloisons, that are then filled with ground glass blended with metallic oxides to produce colorful enamels.

Cloisonné dish with scalloped rim, early 15th century – Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art


From the French word for “cracking”, craquelure describes a pattern of fine cracks on the surface of a painting or a ceramic object. In an oil painting, craquelure forms because the paint dries and becomes less flexible as it ages and shrinks. It can be used by experts to determine the age of a painting and to detect forgeries.

The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck. Detail of craquelure in the Virgin Mary panel. Oil on panel. Completed ca. 1432. Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent, Belgium

By Vera Vandenbosch