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 faience Moustier-style plate, 19th 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 Lang Antiques: seed pearl & enamel filigree bracelet

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 Lang Antiques: Victorian diamond fleur-de-lis pendant/brooch


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

English fluted bottle with lid, circa 1950 B.C. Image via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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.

Pair of 19th century Chinese bamboo fretwork armchairs. Image via Christie’s.

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 Jayne Thompson Antiques: small English burr oak writing table, circa 1835


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.


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.

Empire parcel-gilt mahogany bed, image via Sotheby’s


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 Lawrence Jeffrey Estate Jewelers: charming enamel clover brooch, 14k, circa 1900s


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” by 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.

Corner cupboard by Thomas Chippendale, about 1768–78. Image via Victoria and Albert Museum.


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 S.J. 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 (San Francisco Fall) Show will go on!

When the decision was made to cancel the 2020 San Francisco Fall Show, Show Chair Suzanne Tucker’s thoughts immediately turned to the dealers from all over the world: “It is after all their expertise, their collections, and their curation that has made the show so renowned and respected across the globe for the last 39 years”. After she reached out to past and present show dealers, it quickly became clear that ingenuity, resourcefulness and team spirit should be added to their growing list of qualities. Suzanne worked out a real-time collaboration with InCollect for an online 2020 San Francisco Fall Show. To date, a strong and motivated group of over 60 dealers has already agreed to participate.

The 39th online edition of the Show will take place from October 16-25, 2020 and will feature dealers from around the world, offering for sale an extraordinary range of fine and decorative arts from antiquity to the present day. The goal is to represent all styles and periods including American, English, Continental and Asian furniture, art, and decorative objects, paintings, prints, photographs, books, precious metals, jewelry, rugs, textiles and ceramics. Show Chair Suzanne Tucker puts it this way: “For anyone interested in art and design, furniture and the decorative arts – buying, collecting, or simply learning about art and antiques – this 10-day online event is not to be missed. Dealers are spending the summer curating a unique selection of items for the show – and they will be available 24/7 to communicate directly or through the InCollect platform with buyers and collectors”.

InCollect’s advanced technology and robust platform will allow all dealers to have their own online “booths”, allowing for photo, video and video-chat, as well as take full advantage of the site’s purpose-built search tools and InCollect’s huge existing digital audience. In short, InCollect provides the absolute best experience for discovering and acquiring art, antiques, jewelry and design. in the words of John Smiroldo, InCollect’s President and Founder: “We’re devoting extensive resources to create an immersive online show experience unlike anything else, combining the benefits of direct live show interaction with the efficiencies of the internet. I’m very excited to work together with the San Francisco Fall Show as it is truly one of the great shows in America.”

Below are a few teaser images from the upcoming show (and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more previews and inspiration!) :

From Michael Goedhuis: Gilt Bronze tripod, China, Han Dynasty, 206 BC–220 AD

From Galen Lowe: Japanese low four panel folding screen (byôbu) with dramatic checkerboard (ichimatsu) pattern. Late Edo Period (1600-1868)

From Piraneseum: Temple of Hercules Victor, Rome, circa 1850, marble and patinated bronze

From David Brooker Fine Art: Late 19th century French forest landscape, the style of the painting is influenced by the work of Narcisse Virgilio Diaz de la Pena, a well known Barbizon painter

From Almond & Company: A pair of scoop style lounge chairs Model #115 by Theo Ruth for Artifort, The Netherlands, circa 1950s

From Peter Finer: A gorget, circa 1610, made to be worn independent of armour, perhaps with a coat of buff leather, and indicated the owner was an officer

From Kathleen Taylor/The Lotus Collection: Late 19th century Ottoman (Turkey) silk floss and metal thread embroidered cover

From Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge: Portraits of Four Foxhounds, signed & dated by Cuthbert Bradley, 1933

From DKF Estate Jewelry: Van Cleef and Arpels gold and diamond bombe shaped earrings, circa 1950s

From Peter Fetterman Gallery: Kussharo Lake Tree, Study 10, Kotan, Hokkaido, 2005 by Michael Kenna, Gelatin Silver Print

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 Antonio’s Bella Casa: Striking circa 1760, hand-carved, five drawer Sicilian desk with original ormolu mounts and cabriole legs


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.

French 16th century walnut caquetoire, 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 Lang Antiques: Victorian blue agate cameo pin


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 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, by Rembrandt, oil on pane, 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 (below).

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), 1952
© 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.

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 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

The alphabet of Art & Antiques – D is for …


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 Vandekar of Knightsbridge: Dutch Delft five-piece garniture, 18th century


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.

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


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 Clinton Howell: One of a pair of demi-lune console tables in the manner of John Linnell.


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).


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


A diptych is a 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 Almond & Company: Pair of Sawbuck Chairs by Hans Wegner


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 Lawrence Jeffrey: 19th century Demi-parure comprised of a pendant/brooch, earrings and bracelet constructed in 18k gold and set with vivid Persian turquoise.

By Vera Vandenbosch

The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – B is for…


Bauhaus – which literally translates to “construction house” – is a school of design established in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius, moved to Dessau in 1926, and closed in 1933 as a result of Nazi hostility. At the core of Bauhaus lies the idea of the “Gesamtkunstwerk”, a synthesis in which multiple art forms are unified through architecture. A building was not just an empty vessel for the Bauhaus school, it was one element of the total design, and everything inside added to the overall concept. Influenced by movements such as Modernism and De Stijl, and as a counter-movement to the Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles; Bauhaus artists favored linear and geometrical forms, while floral or curvilinear shapes were avoided. Only line, shape and color mattered. Anything else was unnecessary and needed to be reduced.

Walter Gropius’ Dessau Bauhaus building
© Tillmann Franzen and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

Belle Époque

Belle Époque literally means “Beautiful Age” and is a name given in France to the period from roughly the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1871) to the start of World War I (1914). It was so named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a “Golden Age” in contrast to the horrors of World War I. The industrial output of France tripled during the Belle Époque, thanks to the continued effects and development of the industrial revolution. Mass entertainment was transformed by venues like the Moulin Rouge, home of the Can-Can, by new styles of performance in the theater, by shorter forms of music, and by the realism of modern writers. Print, long a powerful force, grew in even greater importance as technology brought prices down still further and education initiatives opened up literacy to ever wider numbers.

Paul-César Helleu (1859-1927), La Lettre, 1880


A bergère is an enclosed upholstered French armchair or fauteuil with an upholstered back and armrests on upholstered frames. Designed for lounging in comfort, a bergère in the eighteenth century was essentially a meuble courant, designed to be moved about to suit convenience, rather than being arranged permanently and formally along the walls as part of the decor.

Pair of bergères
© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Peter Harholdt


The Biedermeier style in art was a transitional period between Neoclassicism and Romanticism, as it was interpreted by the bourgeoisie, particularly in Germany, Austria, northern Italy, and the Scandinavian countries. Biedermeier furniture derives essentially from the Empire and Directoire styles; with remarkable simplicity, sophistication, and functionality. Stylistically, Biedermeier furniture softened the rigidity of the Empire style and added weight to Directoire. Biedermeier pieces were executed in light, native woods and avoided the use of metal ornamentation. Surfaces were modulated with natural grains, knotholes, or ebonized accents for contrast.

From Daniel Stein Antiques: German fruitwood Biedermeier center table, circa 1830

Bloomsbury Group

The Bloomsbury Group – or Bloomsbury Set – was a group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists in the first half of the 20th century, including Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. They lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury, London and were united by an abiding belief in the importance of the arts and the rejection of bourgeois habits. A well-known quote about the Bloomsbury Group, attributed to Dorothy Parker, is “they lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”.

The studio at Charleston, the country home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.
Photo by Tony Tree/The Charleston Trust


A bouillotte is an 18th century table lamp with two or three adjustable candle brackets and a common shade that would slide down a central shaft and be secured by a screw to accommodate the dwindling length of the lit candles.

A pair of French Empire style silver-gilt six-light bouillotte lamps with ormolu shades


A briolette is an elongated pear-shaped gemstone cut with facets, and it is often drilled to hang as a bead. It was popular during the Victorian times. The Smithsonian has a 275-carat diamond briolette necklace presented by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1811 to his Empress consort Marie Louise (see below).


Brutalist architecture, or New Brutalism, is an architectural style which emerged during the 1950s in Great Britain, among the reconstruction projects of the post-war era. Brutalist buildings are characterized by their massive, monolithic and blocky appearance with a rigid geometric style and large-scale use of poured concrete. Brutalist furniture, lighting and wall sculptures often have hard edges, jagged shapes, rough surfaces, patinated finishes, asymmetrical organic designs, and metallic color palettes.

From Guy Regal: The “Sanctuary” Table by Silas Seandel

Buffet à deux corps

This type of furniture literally translates to “buffet with two bodies”. It’s often an ingenious combo of storage and display case. Since it could easily be split apart it was very easy to transport or travel with and deliver into homes through the typical narrow doorways of past centuries.

From epoca: a French provincial walnut buffet-a-deux-corps, circa 1750

By Vera Vandenbosch

The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – A is for…

Abstract expressionism

Abstract expressionism refers to new forms of abstract art developed by American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often characterized by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Barnet Newman, another artist associated with the movement, wrote: “We felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world destroyed by a great depression and a fierce World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of paintings that we were doing—flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello.”

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXV, 1977, oil on canvas


Aestheticism (or the Aesthetic Movement) is a late 19th-century European movement which centered on the doctrine that art exists for the sake of its beauty alone, and that it does not need to serve a political, didactic, or other purpose – “art for art’s sake”. More than a fine art movement, Aestheticism penetrated all areas of life – from music and literature to interior design and fashion. Key figures include artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and James McNeill Whistler, author Oscar Wilde, poet Algernon Charles Swinburne. Aesthetic style furniture is characterized by several common themes: ebonized wood with gilt highlights, a Far Eastern influence, a prominent use of nature, especially flowers, birds, ginkgo leaves, and peacock feathers.

Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Veronica Veronese, 1872


The acanthus leaf is a popular architectural design element in Ancient Greek architecture. It was first used on capitals, or tops, of Corinthian columns. Its design is a stylized version of a Mediterranean plant with jagged leaves known as Acanthus Spinosus. The Romans continued to use acanthus leaves in decoration, and many cultures followed suite in using this classic decorative motif, including Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic traditions. With the neo-classical revival in England in the eighteenth century, the acanthus leaf became a prominent feature in art once again: everyone from Thomas Chippendale to Robert Adam incorporated the acanthus leaf into their furniture designs, often featuring the acanthus leaf on the knees of chairs, friezes of tables, and stems of legs.

Temple of Castor and Pollux capital (detail) – Jean-Tilman Françoise, 1816 ink rendering; Rome Antiqua (Paris, 1985)


The Anthemion (or Palmette) is a motif in decorative art consisting of a number of radiating petals or leaves which resembles the fan-shaped leaves of a palm tree. It is found in most artistic media, but especially as an architectural ornament, whether carved or painted, and painted on ceramics. It is very often a component of the design of a frieze or border.

Etruscan architectural plaque with palmettes, from late 4th century BC, painted terracotta,
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Art Deco

Art Deco, or simply Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theaters, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name – short for Arts Décoratifs – from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern style with fine craftsmanship and rich materials.

From epoca: a chic American Art Deco 1930’s steel dressing mirror raised on a
maplewood base with ebonized highlights

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.

Jannis Kounellis, Untitled, jute fabric and wool, 1968


Created by the Asscher Brothers of Holland’s Asscher Diamond Company (now the Royal Asscher Diamond Company), this diamond cut features large step facets and a high crown that produces a brilliance unlike any other diamond shape. In fact, diamond experts often refer to the shine and sparkle of an Asscher cut diamond as “an endless hallway with reflective mirrors”.

The most famous Asscher-cut diamond of all was worn by the late Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. The story goes that Richard Burton bought the 33.19ct Krupp Diamond for the actress after she beat him at a game of table tennis. The diamond was previously owned – and named after – Vera Krupp, who was part of the Krupp dynasty that supplied arms to the Nazis during the Second World War. Burton bought the diamond for $385,000 in 1968 and Elizabeth later remarked in an interview: “When it came up for auction in the late 1960s, I thought how perfect it would be if a nice Jewish girl like me were to own it.”


Assemblage is an artistic form or medium usually created on a defined substrate that consists of three-dimensional elements projecting out of or from the substrate. Think of it as the three-dimensional version of a collage. In 1961, the exhibition “The Art of Assemblage” was featured at NYC’s MOMA. The exhibition showcased the work of early 20th-century European artists such as Braque, Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, and Kurt Schwitters alongside Americans Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, Robert Mallary and Robert Rauschenberg.

Robert Rauschenberg, First Landing Jump, 1961


An athenienne is a small, decorative stand in the form of an antique tripod, used especially in France (often in pairs) in the Louis XVI and Empire periods. The multi-purpose athénienne was intended for entertaining in the salon or boudoir, including pedestal table, perfume burner, heater (for coffee, tea, or chocolate), a planter to grow bulbs in the winter etc.

Pair of tripod stands or athèniennes, after a design by Jean-Henri Eberts, 1773
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Vera Vandenbosch

The psychology of collecting

Roaming the isles of the San Francisco Fall Show, there is one prevailing emotion that almost all shoppers have in common – the thrill of the hunt. Fellow collectors are quite familiar with that feeling of excitement and anticipation that, any minute now, you will stumble upon the treasure that has been waiting just for you, that unique gem with perfect patina and a fascinating backstory. And yet, art and antique collectors are anything but materialistic adrenaline junkies. So let’s delve a bit into the psychology of collecting – what motivates us to seek out ancient objects, one-of-a-kind pieces, precious art, heirloom jewelry…

From DKF Estate Jewelry: Schlumberger “ribbon” ear clips with eighteen karat gold, platinum, diamonds, and mismatched pearls, circa 1960s

While there are quite a few theories among psychologists as to why one would desire to acquire and accumulate certain objects or pieces, it seems that most collectors’ motivations are not monetary but emotional. Pioneering psychologist Carl Jung hypothesized that collecting stems from the memory of our old “caveman” hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Since we no longer have to collect food to stay alive, we turn that primal impulse to other, perhaps more trivial subjects.

From Antonio’s Bella Casa: Large, 18th century, hand-carved, 22k gold, and silver gilded, Continental, radiant cloudburst.

Equally serious are the notions that we collect in order to gain control over our lives – or our imminent death. The former leads us to put together collections for which we ourselves determine the rules. Since much of what happens in the world is beyond our control, a personal collection gives the owner a sense of mastery and satisfaction that may be lacking elsewhere. The latter scenario proposes that we deal with the inevitability of our death by creating something that will outlast us and stand the test of time, a collection that we are able to pass on to the next generation.

From The Zentner Collection:
Japanese Takagari (falcon) painted & gold gilt Byobyu (screen)

Personally, I like the idea that we we collect because we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I distinctly remember looking at my reflection in an early 18th century mirror, installed by the Tucker & Marks team in a San Francisco apartment. This spectacular piece was handcrafted by La Granja, the royal mirror manufacturer to Philippe V of Spain. Beyond the fact that it was an astounding thing of beauty, I couldn’t help thinking of the many faces over the course of history that had pondered their reflection in this very same mirror. I found this eerie, intriguing and immensely exciting.

Interior design by Suzanne Tucker/Tucker & Marks, photo by Pieter Estersohn

To collect precious art and antiques is in many ways a humbling experience: we don’t really own anything, we’re just the caretakers of these treasures that make us feel a part of the larger “human experience”. When British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of Tutankhamun 1922, the whole world was thrilled and could talk about little else (in fact, it gave new life to Egyptomania: the enthusiasm for everything related to ancient Egypt, an interest that is not merely scientific, but adopted throughout visual culture including architecture, on clothing and jewelery). Why? Because it made the past come to life, and it revealed the life of that ancient time in a new light: maybe we’re not so different after all…

I will leave you with this quote by American poet Aberjhani:

Art, rightly applied, provided humanity with the symbols, insight, and vicarious experience necessary to help one person place him- or herself in the shoes of another, and by doing so come to appreciate the commonality of human experience.

By Vera Vandenbosch

An important message about the 2020 Show

Dear Friends of The San Francisco Fall Show,

We hope you are doing well during this difficult time. The COVID-19 situation has presented us all with great challenges, and our thoughts are with you.

We are writing to let you know that after much consideration, the Enterprise for Youth Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 San Francisco Fall Show. The decision is heartbreaking for this beloved cultural event on many levels – certainly to those who have been supporting and attending the Show for many years, in addition to the dealers, staff, sponsors, and all those who are involved behind the scenes. Please know this decision was not made lightly. Only after serious review coupled with an unknown future and everyone’s concern for the health, welfare, and safety of our communities, did the board determine canceling the 39th Show was the best decision.

Although we are currently in such a challenging time, we are hopeful about the future. We will continue our weekly blog on collecting where we feature designers, dealers, and experts in the field of art, antiques, and design. To stay up to date on this blog, please follow us on Instagram and Facebook. And optimistically, we are looking forward to our 2021 Show! Please save the date for the 40th San Francisco Fall Show with the Opening Night Gala on October 13, 2021, and Show dates of October 14 -17, 2021. Undoubtedly we will have much to celebrate!

For now, we extend our best wishes to you. From The San Francisco Fall Show family to yours, we wish you the best of health and well-being.


Photo – Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography

Sustainability, more-is-more… and grandmillenials

At the end of 2019, writer David Bryan Nash – who reports regularly on the San Francisco Fall Show – wrote a feature for Architectural Digest on the major furniture trends we would be seeing in 2020. Top of the list: antique furnishings! According to David: older pieces not only look great but are also an easy way to integrate sustainable products into the home. Tamara Rosenthal, Sotheby’s VP of Marketing, says an uptick in antiques sales reflects changing attitudes toward the environment and consumption. “People are becoming increasingly mindful of how their shopping habits and daily lives are impacting the environment. Because of that they are finding ways to curb this impact and be more eco-friendly.” Simply put: the antiques trade is the oldest recycling business in the world – buying antiques reduces landfill, carbon emissions and consumption of new goods from abroad – as well as the ultimate in terms of preserving our heritage for future generations. We could not agree more…

From San Francisco dealer epoca: 1960’s bronze and leather campaign chair designed by Otto Parzinger for Maison Jansen

Anna Brockway, cofounder and president of Chairish sees a broader return to traditional décor in interiors with classic shapes; beloved prints from established design houses; landscapes and portraits in substantial frames; wallpaper, tapes, and trims to create rooms that feel exuberant, layered, and full. Chairish fan favorites include pieces from Maison Jansen, Maitland Smith, Piero Fornasetti, and Fortuny. We spotted all of these names at past San Francisco Fall Show editions! In October 2019, the New York Times added its voice to the conversation with a piece highlighting the growing prevalence of Victorian style, particularly within home furnishings. The article piggybacks on a more-is-more moment that’s been rapidly spreading throughout the design industry, a resurgence of pretty, layered, charming, and personality-rich interiors. This seems to be a cross-generational thing as well: writer and House Beautiful senior features editor Emma Bazilian coined the term Grandmillennial, a young-ish, Instagram-posting, décor aficionado with a passion for floral chintzes, Sister Parish interiors, heirloom hand-me-downs, and more.

Photo courtesy of dealer Charles Plante

While San Francisco Fall Show Chair Suzanne Tucker is not a big believer in trends – here today, gone tomorrow – she does feel that it’s time to update our furniture mix of antiques with contemporary pieces, the classics with the new:

“The world of antiques and furnishing a room as our parents knew it, that’s a set of rules that is now thankfully gone. My clients are a sophisticated lot and expect me to create timeless, highly personalized homes for them. So, do not have all-matching styles! Upholster the old pieces with a contemporary pattern. Create a modern interior but throw in one piece that has a beautiful finish of age and patina. When it comes to antiques, I believe that one should always have at least one piece with some age in a room – and you don’t want to be the oldest thing in your room 😊”.

From Earle D. Vandekar: vintage French metal and glass bar cart, mid 20th Century

by Vera Vandenbosch

At Home with Paul Vincent Wiseman of The Wiseman Group

Paul Wiseman’s iconic design firm, The Wiseman Group was founded in 1980, just two years before the founding of The San Francisco Fall Show. And he has been an avid supporter throughout the show’s 38-year history. His whole team arrives to preview the show each year and I have watched Paul take them on his own personal guided tour, chatting with dealers and locating treasures. So it was an honor to have The Wiseman Group create a Designer Vignette for the Grand Entry of 2018 Show. Wiseman chose “Stars” as the focus for the vignette, from that year’s theme, The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars. Not surprisingly, the celestial imagery incorporated into the display, through a combination of surrealist works by American artist and filmmaker Joseph Cornell and custom wallpaper designed in collaboration with de Gournay, offered a sparkling deep blue night sky with an otherworldly aura.

STARS – Designer Vignette by The Wiseman Group at the 2018 San Francisco Fall Show
Photo by Drew Altizer

I chatted by phone with Wiseman from his home in Belvedere, CA, and asked about how he brings design into his own home and what turns a house into a retreat. “When people of all walks of life can be comfortable in your home, when the owner of the home has things that are very personal—things that make you real,” he says. Wiseman has an affinity for unique objects, antiques, and art “pieces that have soul-even if you don’t know what you are looking at.” But he doesn’t have a favourite piece. “Each piece is from a different realm of beauty,” he says. “I view all my objects as some aspect of myself. They caught my eye and gave me pleasure. My home is my sacred temple.” When pressed, however, he was able to name four pieces that bring him joy:

William Kentridge wall sculpture

A William Kentridge wall sculpture. “It is so much about shadow and dark and light, it’s made of black steel, is 5’ tall x 4’ wide and looks like a calligraphy stroke,” says Wiseman.

Han Dynasty 3-Footed Vessel

“A period Ming lacquered scholar’s desk that I use as a coffee table in my living room” and a Han Dynasty 3-footed vessel. “It looks quite contemporary” he shares, “but it is 2-3,000 years old.” If it looks familiar, you may have seen it on the cover of Wiseman’s design book Inner Spaces (Gibbs Smith 2014)

Opalized Ammonite

An opalized ammonite. “It’s the second largest in the world,” he shares (The Smithsonian has the largest). “It is 80 million years old and changes colors when you pass by it: green to red to orange.”

Wiseman has been working on his home in Belvedere for 20 years. “I’ve created a summer house environment. The staff is surly,” he jokes, “Spa Belvedere.” But he has created an oasis. “I have a 100-year old arbor, I’ve created an herb garden and a Bali Bed with pillows and cushions. I love going down there. I have a pair of 2nd-century Roman busts and they sit there between the columns, looking down on the bed. It’s heaven, it is its own world. I sit and watch the water and the boats.”

Color is important to Wiseman. “I was born and raised in California. The greens and golds of our landscape have always resonated with me. I appreciate so many other colors—nature shows you colors that you never thought could work together. I collect Wedgwood, I love the color. I bought three pieces from Bill Blass’s collection and sent them to Peru with Sandra Jordan (of Sandra Jordan Prima Alpaca) and she made me an Alpaca textile in that color.”

During this time of quarantine, I asked Wiseman how he is creating a space to separate work from personal life. “My home and garden is my workspace,” he says. “Even at my office, I don’t have a desk, I have a chaise.” And what is the thing he is indulging in during the pandemic that he normally doesn’t allow himself? “Baking! I’ve done three bread puddings with bourbon, raisins, brown sugar, pecans, and vanilla. I have leftovers for breakfast. Yesterday I baked Martha Stewart’s Meyer Lemon Upside Down cake. Instead of flour, you use ground almonds.”

I’d call that Home SWEET home.

By Ariane Maclean Trimuschat

At Home with San Francisco Designer Jay Jeffers

San Francisco designer Jay Jeffers knows a thing or two about beautiful objects. His retail showroom Jay Jeffers-The Store offers a collection of furniture and pieces discovered along his travels. When he agreed to create a vignette for the 2017 Fall Show, the theme that year was Flower Power and the vignettes focused on the Four Seasons. Jeffers’ boldly graphic, deep plum showcase beautifully conveyed the warmth of a cozy winter evening.

2017 San Francisco Fall Show Designer Vignette “Winter” by Jay Jeffers
Photography credit: Drew Altizer

I recently chatted with Jay about the many cozy days and nights we are all spending at home during quarantine, and how that has impacted his life, and his appreciation of his own collection of beautiful objects. “One of my favorite pieces is by New York artist Forrest Williams. It has a mysterious haunting quality that I love” says Jeffers.

Photography credit: Matthew Millman

In designing a house, there are certain things that make it a home. For Jeffers, it is the personal effects that create memories, “whether it is art you have collected, or family photos, books, some kooky object that you bought when traveling in Africa—those things that invoke memories of a time and place. This is what created soul in a home.”

Photography credit: Matthew Millman

Jeffers is spending quarantine in the Napa home he shares with his husband Michael Purdy. “I have commandeered one of the guest bedrooms as my office. The closet holds my papers and files. There is a small desk, though I admit most of my computer and zoom meetings have taken place on the guest bed with my laptop.”

The best part of spending so much time at home? “Well, my dog, Olive is by my side, basically all day long, which is so nice. We have been cooking, setting the table every night with candles and linen napkins, and just generally slowed down a little bit.” He shares. His favorite room is the living room, “A fire in the fireplace, with the fire going is a good spot for me. I’m an early bird and always the first one up. It is so nice to sit by the fire and have my coffee and slowly wake up.”

Photography credit: Matthew Millman

When it comes to the San Francisco Fall Show, Jay has discovered many treasures over the years. His favorite find? “A pair of art deco club chairs that were made in India out of rosewood. Their new home are clients of mine that are of Indian descent so these chairs fit perfectly with our design and reminded them of home at the same time.” Jay has been a longtime supporter of the Show “it is so great to see the entire design community out and supporting an amazing cause that I have been involved with for years” he says. “But also for me it’s a chance to see beautiful things from galleries all over the world that I may not have visited. The internet, 1stdibs and all of the other sights are a wonderful tool for sourcing, but nothing compares to seeing the beauty and the condition of a piece in person.”

Photography credit: Matthew Millman

With no social engagements, travel or commute, Jeffers is appreciating the extra free time, and using it well. “I’m finding more time to deep dive into inspiration—Pinterest, Instagram, etc. There are some crazy talented people out there I am just discovering. In the evenings, I’m taking the dog for a walk or going on an easy bike ride.”

With all that is going on in the world, I think we all get a pass to break a rule or two. What is Jeffers? “Cocktails every night!” Cheers to that!

by Ariane Trimuschat, Director at Large/Europe