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Wheel Chasers: Historical Paris Street Furniture of the 19th Century.

historical chasse-roues, cast iron ball Paris street furniture and other designs.

Wandering through neighborhoods in Paris, you’ll notice that doorways are often flanked by low structures made either of stone or metal. These guard stones are called chasse-roues (French lit. “wheel chaser“) or bouteroue (“to push the wheel out of the way“). These projecting metal, concrete, or stone exterior architectural elements are usually located at the corner and/or foot of gates, portes-cochères, garage entries, and walls. They function to prevent damage from vehicle tires and wheels. During the period of horse-drawn vehicles, the wheels, including the hub, would protrude beyond the vehicle’s body, and were thus prone to collide with and damage a corner of a building or gate. Chasse-roues were developed as a warning signs: ‘keep back‘, ‘keep your distance’, ‘don’t brush up against me’, and as traffic bollards––or, in the common parlance, ‘traffic cones’ ⚠️😄.  They are a historical item of street furniture and some are still in use today. 1 2 3

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photos: Sylvaine Lang, Moments Parfait blog, Chasse-roues. February 26, 2019

Stone was the favored material for chasse-roues during medieval and Renaissance times but many different cast iron designs were installed during the Haussmannian transformation of Paris. 4 Of the surviving chasse-roues in Paris, many are from that age of economical iron and steel. Cast iron was often preferred because it’s affordablity and versatility. Initially, a pattern or mould of the design––the most expensive part of the process––would be made. Then the molten cast iron would be poured or ‘cast’ into the mould and could take many decorative forms with each subsequent casting being relatively inexpensive to produce. Many ornamental cast-iron pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries survive today. These decorative artifacts represent a perfect union of form and function projecting a sense of strength, durabilty and good design.

When automobiles replaced fiacres 5, chasse-roues no longer served their purpose being replaced by objects meant for automobile traffic, such as curbs and guard rails. They were, in fact, undesirable but because they were unusually difficult to remove, most of them were just left in place. Those that remain stand as silent sentinals to earlier traffic on those historic roads. 6

Today these architectural artifacts are treasured for historic reasons and are often protected as part of a city’s cultural heritage.

On one of our recent excursions into Paris, we found a lovely patinaed pair of iron ball, “boule”, chasse-roues which we had electrified and museum-mounted as an impressive pair of table lamps.7 ^jh

Pair Of Iron Ball, "boule", chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, circa 1870.
Pair Of Iron Ball, “boule”, chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, circa 1870.

Further readings and sources:

  1. Moments Parfait, https://www.momentsparfaits.com/blog
  2. The Parisian Fields, Noman Ball, June 2011, https://parisianfields.com/2011/06/26/the-art-of-the-chasse-roue/
  3. Un jour de plus à Parishttps://www.unjourdeplusaparis.com/en/paris-balades/balade-belleville-menilmontant
  4. Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haussmann%27s_renovation_of_Paris
  5. A fiacre is a form of hackney coach, a horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage for hire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiacre_(carriage)
  6. Revolvy : https://www.revolvy.com/page/Guard-stone
  7. Pair of cast iron ball chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, Circa 1870 at Garden Court Antiques, https://www.gardencourtantiques.com/shop/pair-of-iron-ball-finials-now-mounted-as-table-lamps-french-circa-1870/
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An Archeaological Mystery: Discovering The Riace Warriors August, 1972.

Diver, Stefano Mariottini with bronze Riace Warrior statue, Aug 1972, Italy

On August 16, 1972 Roman diver, Stefano Mariottini, made a “macabre” discovery. He was diving at a depth of 8 meters in the waters of Marina di Riace (Reggio Calabria), when he noticed a hand sticking out of the sandy bottom. He began digging in the murky sea floor until it revealed at first a face and then a full body. Indeed, there were two bodies; one lying on his back another lying on it’s side. These are what are now known as the Riace Bronzes. Both statues are almost two meters in height.

In the following days municipal divers tied ropes to balloons that were then filled with air lifting the bronze statues to the surface. Statue B was recovered on August 21st, while Statue A was retrieved the next day (It had previously fallen back to the bottom once before being brought safely to the beach).  1 2 3

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The Riace Warriors (also referred to as the Riace bronzes or Bronzi di Riace) are two life-size Greek bronze statues of naked, bearded warriors. The statues are currently housed in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in the Italian city of Reggio Calabria. The statues are commonly referred to as “Statue A” and “Statue B” and were originally cast using the lost-wax technique 4.

These two warriors are an example of the severe style. The Severe or Early Classical style describes the trends in Greek sculpture between c. 490 and 450 B.C.E. Artistically this stylistic phase represents a transition from the rather austere and static Archaic style of the sixth century B.C.E. to the more idealized Classical style. The Severe style is marked by an increased interest in the use of bronze as a medium as well as an increase in the characterization of the sculpture, among other features. 5

The two statues are thought to represent Tydeus (Statue A) and Amphiaraus (Statue B), two warriors from Aeschylus‘ tragic play, Seven Against Thebes  (about Polynices after the fall of his father, King Oedipus) 6 and may have been part of a monumental sculptural composition. The statues have lead dowels installed in their feet, indicating that they were originally mounted on a base and installed as part of some sculptural group. 7

Large cast bronze of head and torso, modeled after the Riace Warrior B; 20th century;
Large cast bronze of head and torso, modeled after the Riace Warrior B; 20th century;

Currently, we have an imposing and detailed cast bronze torso and head modeled after the Riace Warriors, Warrior B. on display in our gallery at 1700 16th Street in San Francisco 8 ^jh

Further readings and sources:

  1. Excerpt from Radici, Chi Sono? Da Dove Vengono? Chi Fu L’Autore E Perché Sono Finiti In Fondo Al Mare? Il Mistero Dei Bronzi Di Riace È Aperto., Jul 2016. https://www.radici-press.net/chi-sono-questi-due/ 
  2. Vanity Fair Italia Bronze Statues: who stole the third man? As promised by Vanity Fair, here are the documents and photos, discovered by Professor Giuseppe Braghò, which demonstrate the theft of the “kits” – shield, spears and helmets – of the two most famous Greek statues in the world. And also the existence of their “brother” https://www.vanityfair.it/news/italia/2012/08/16/bronzi-riace-40-anni-dopo-terzo-bronzo-rubato-furti
  3. Strettoweb, Reggio Calabria, today the 45th anniversary of the discovery of the Riace Bronzes: an exciting story, “16 agosto 1972: 45 anni fa Stefano Mariottini ritrovava i Bronzi di Riace nei fondali del reggino Reggio Calabria, oggi il 45esimo anniversario del ritrovamento dei Bronzi di Riace: una storia emozionante”, August 2017, http://www.strettoweb.com/foto/2017/08/16-agosto-1972-45-anni-fa-stefano-mariottini-ritrovava-i-bronzi-di-riace-nei-fondali-del-reggino-foto/448020/  
  4. Lost-wax casting, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost-wax_casting
  5. Riace Warriors, Catherine E. Olson, Furman University, Scholar Exchange, https://scholarexchange.furman.edu/art231/40/ 
  6. Seven Against Thebes, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Against_Thebes
  7. Excerpt from an Essay by Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker,  Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/greek-art/early-classical/a/riace-warriors
  8. Large Scale Cast Bronze Grecian Torso; modeled after the Riace Warriors (b), 20th century at Garden Court Antiques, https://www.gardencourtantiques.com/shop/large-scale-cast-bronze-grecian-torso/ 
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Demystifying Antiques: an ASID Evening Event

It’s our first event in tandem with epoca in our new location: 1700 16th Street in San Francisco. We set out to demystify the sometimes esoteric world of buying and decorating with antiques.

This is an ASID Members Event for those who intend to buy, design, decorate and collect antiques & mid century modern furniture for clients and their own enjoyment.

Furniture is best experienced ‘Hands-On’. In order to do design, you must look, touch and feel pieces. As of late, the trends, when shopping for antiques & midcentury, presupposes one may rely solely on the internet and furniture web portals to make critical decorating decisions & choices. “Jpegs” are fine for previewing a lovely cabinet or chair but it’s likely you’ll be disappointed once the piece arrives. It is counterproductive to think that one doesn’t need to feel, see, experience a piece of furniture in-person.

Design & Decoration is a Hands-On Affair and So Is Shopping for Antiques & Vintage Pieces!

Experts learn by traveling locally and to various far-flung places. It is edifying to experience in-person, a lovely gilt wood mirror or sterling silver chandelier. You grow by looking, holding, touching these articles and by traveling places and meeting various dealers and resources––whether it’s that vintage store in the Mission or with your own car & driver visiting the fabulous Flea Markets of Paris & throughout the bucolic English Countryside.

So, don’t be shy. Visit the dealers’ shops & galleries available to you. See what catches your eye. Be persistent and ask questions. Dealers love to talk about their pieces, and the more questions you ask the more you will learn, and understand developing your own eye. You can learn a lot by expressing genuine interest and engaging with the different dealers and galleries. San Francisco has a full panoply of artisans, crafts persons, designers and design resources at your behest. Our Design & Decorative Arts Community is rich with history and bonhomie.

The good dealers know their stuff. When you the find ones you like and trust, establish a rapport with them. These professionals will teach you a lot.

Read books! ..consult internet guides, take-in lectures ( i.e. ASID, Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA), Art Deco Society of San Francisco, San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show ). Compare the information you read to the knowledge you gather through your conversations with the various dealers. And by all means, share your own growing expertise to “pay it forward”.

Instant gratification! Visiting antiques galleries in person means when that when you find that perfect armchair, side table, low table or precious box, you can take it with you which is so much better than the anxiety & added cost of having the piece shipped from–well, who knows where.. Have it now. Place it now!

Recycle, Reuse. The materials and workmanship found in antique furniture just cannot found in the furniture that is mass-produced today. These pieces were crafted with care. They have endured the test of time and they still look fabulous. (How many of us can say that for ourselves?!) These are prized possessions that have been handed down through generations and cared for lovingly. It is our heritage and they are now in our care. We curate these pieces so that they will exist for future generations to enjoy & ponder.

We do hope you’ll join us Thursday, February 28th to enjoy a cocktail, appetizer and some engaging conversation. Come and mingle with fellow ASID members, introduce yourself and circulate through beautiful furniture and accessories.

Since moving Garden Court Antiques at the beginning of 2019 we’ve been hard at work combining our 18th century European country aesthetic with the sophisticated midcentury stylings of epoca. We are more than pleased with the results–its just fabulous: the layering styles, periods, textures, colors is a somewhat maximalist approach that encourages your eye to wander and your imagination to soar.

We look forward to your visit, to get to know one another and..to ‘get educated’!

Jim Gallagher, Curator, Garden Court Antiques.
Eric Petsinger, Curator, epoca

Thursday, February 28 at 5:30 p.m. cocktails & appetizers,
6-ish p.m. brief presentation,
afterwards: mingle-mingle-mingle.

Where: Epoca
1700 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: 415 355-1690

Sign up at Eventbrite:

“…One should always have at least one piece with some age in a room. It does not have to be over-the-top expensive, but antiques resonate with history’s silent voices. The appeal resides in a patina only achievable with time: their very imperfections speak to me of soul and character and life lived.” ~ Suzanne Tucker, Tucker & Marks and The Annual San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show Chairperson [ 1. The Incollect Q+A With Suzanne Tucker, The Collector’s Interior Designer ]

“The intrinsic beauty, the ‘soul’ of an object captivates me. A rich past life is revealed through antiques, but historical context is secondary to their essential visual power. I use antiques in my interiors to elicit emotions from the individuals who inhabit the space.” ~ Timothy Whealon, Interior Designer, Author “In Pursuit Of Beauty” [ 2.  Interior Design Master Class, edited by Carl Dellatore, Rizzoli. p232 ]

“It makes me sad when there are no antiques in a room.” ~ Bunny Williams, Interior Designer, Author

In this image:

  1. A Painted Swedish Chest of Drawers, circa 1880. height: 31 in. width: 42 in. depth: 22 in.
  2. A Boulle Light Blue Enamel Highly Decorative Box With Precious Materials And Brass Inlay; French, Circa 1860; Light blue enamel inlay to all sides; brass moulding around the top and bottom edges. All resting on a rosewood mouleded base; precious materials inlay with rosewood interior; drop down front; working lock & key; Light French polish; height: 4.5 in. width: 10.75 in. depth: 4.5 in.
  3. A French Giltwood Fluted Mirror, circa 1840. An elegantly large rectangular gilded mirror frame with with concave channels.
    height: 48.5 in. 123 cm., width: 29.5 in. 75 cm.
  4. A Pair of 18th Century Italian Carved Limewood patterns used for the decoration in leather wall panels or ceiling panels, now a decorative curiosity. height: 13″ width: 13″
  5. A Pair Of Round Decorative Painted Terra Cotta Victorian Heat Registers
    A Late 19th Century Primitive, Worn, Painted English Milking Stool.
  6. In this photo from epoca: An Ethereal Pair Of American 1960’s Frosted Ice-blue Glass Baluster-form Lamps With Raised Floral Decoration 1960’s. Each tall and striking lamp in a soft frosted blue glass adorned with raised floral decoration; excellent condition with no chips or cracks height: 20″ (top of glass) 32″ (top of shade) diameter: 8″

^jh

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It’s 2018 and Back to Work! Welcoming, Wonderful and Inspiring!

Happy New Year 2018 from Garden Court Antiques San Francisco!

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

I hope that you all had holidays filled with laughter and love!

Now it’s time to get back to work! There are walls that need color, rooms that need furniture and houses that need to be turned into homes. It is our job to make the places that our clients live and work to be welcoming, wonderful and inspiring. How lucky are we to do this work and how lucky are they to have us!

I am looking forward to working with you in this next year. Please come by and see us at the showroom or take a look at what we have to offer at GardenCourtAntiques.com.

Sincerely,

Garden Court Antiques

Items Featured:


^jg ^jh

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How Jeremy Irons Rescued and Restored a 15th-Century Irish Castle – Vanity Fair, October 2017

Kilcoe’s main living area, known as the “solar,” showcases art and collectibles acquired by Irons in his travels. Photograph by Simon Upton.

We are absolutely taken by this article by David Kamp for Vanity Fair Magazine and this ambitious restoration project undertaken by Actor Jeremy Irons. The fact that he’s a sailor iswell, just bonus!

Its a wonderful read. We encourage you to pick up the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine and read it for yourself or view it online.

Below a few excerpts:

In the midst of a creative crisis, the British actor impulsively purchased Kilcoe Castle, a long-abandoned fortress near the water. VF Writer, David Kamp learns how a magical retreat came to be.  Inlaid in the wall of the courtyard, was a pale stone slab. Etched into the slab were the following words

MANY HEARTS LIE IN THESE WALLS.
FOUR YEARS WE WORKED, AND WE
JUST DID THE BEST WITH WHAT WE KNEW.
AND WHAT WE DID YOU SEE.
A.D. 2002

The hard work of making Kilcoe habitable again began in 1998 and took six years, wrapping up in 2004

Kilcoe, while not remotely a faithful re-creation of what it was 600 years ago—it offers such modern features as hot and cold running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi—is a magnificent place: at once stately-home beautiful and slightly mad, a 360-degree immersion in its owner’s eccentric psyche.

As Irons took on the massive project, his wife, the actress Sinéad Cusack notes: it was no coincidence that Irons, who was born in 1948, was soon to turn 50. “I did see it very much as Jeremy’s midlife crisis, and that he should get on with it,” she said. “Also, I understood where the need came from. Jeremy can’t bear waste. He can’t throw things out. I think he saw that castle as a beautiful ruin that needed to be saved, that needed not to die.”

But generally his instincts proved sharp. Early on, Irons noticed twig-like striations in the mortar on the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the main tower’s second floor, which is now a game room occupied by a large snooker table. Doing some research, Irons learned that, in medieval times, builders formed arched ceilings by bending into place a series of large wicker panels made of pliant, weaving-friendly woods such as hazel and willow, and holding these panels aloft from below with strong timber posts. The builders would then lay stones and mortar above the panels. Once the mortar squeezed through the woven panels and dried, the arches would hold themselves, and the underlying timber posts were removed. This backstory warmed Irons to the idea of using wicker panels as a decorative element throughout Kilcoe. He found a German-born weaver based in Cork, Katrin Schwart, to make such panels for the game room’s ceiling, and the results proved so spectacular that Schwart’s ornate wickerwork is now a motif throughout the castle, appearing on guest-bedroom ceilings, in the headboard of Irons’s own bed, and even on the outer frame of his bathtub.

“There’s something about the castle that generates the most extraordinary energy,” Irons said to me. “Everybody stays up ‘til three, four in the morning—talking, listening to music, drinking. You just want to go on, go on. It takes a bit of getting used to, this place. Because it does somehow produce an energy. Have you felt it?”

Kilcoe.
Article by David Kamp.
Photographs by Simon Upton.

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Read the article in it’s entirety in the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine and online at https://www.vanityfair.com (yes, we are all subscribers :) ^jh