Pretty Things

By Karen Parr-Moody


“Pretty things; so what if I like pretty things?” This is a line from a song by Rufus Wainwright which I often think of when I admire antiques. Some antiques may not be particularly practical, but are grand reflections of the artistry of yesteryear, including these finds from GasLamp Too.


This lamp, in the photo at right (T-114; $385), is Capodimonte porcelain from Naples, Italy, which was known for pastel colors and hand-applied and hand-made roses. Capodimonte, which in Italian means “Top of the Hill,” made its debut due to a jealous notion of Charles III of Naples (1716-1788). He wanted to create a porcelain that would rival that of the first European hard-paste porcelain factory, which was founded in Meissen, Germany in 1710. The soft-paste wares were first produced by a factory established in 1743 at the Palazzo of Capodimonte; in 1759, the factory was moved to Buen Retiro, near Madrid, when Charles III became king of Spain.


By the 1920s, it became very popular to convert Capodimonte porcelain vases into lamps by adding bases and other necessary accessories. This lamp, with its handles molded into beautiful swans, looks like such a project.Upon close examination, one will see that putti and pretty ladies grace this lamp. Molded Roman figures, done in soft pinks, yellows, and greens, were common to the 1930s.


The unique table in the photo, left, is made of hand-carved walnut with “horse hoof” feet (marked down to $750 from $2,200). What makes it even more unusual is the silk lithograph under the glass. It commemorates the June 5, 1935 English Derby, which was won by Prince Aga Khan’s Irish-bred, English-trained thoroughbred racehorse, Bahram.


“The sun was beaming down on the historic course,” reported the Chicago Tribute of the derby, which was witnessed by King George, Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Kent.


Such commemorative scarves were made in England with the race winners traced back to 1780, the date of the English Derby’s first race. Also known as the Epsom Derby, The Derby and the Derby Stakes, the English Derby is the oldest derby in the world. This scarf retains a number of empty circles waiting for the names of winners beyond 1935.


The colors of these teacups by M. Redon & Company, of Limoges, France, would enliven any china cabinet (photo, right; $90 at T-371). M. Redon & Company was founded in 1853 by M. Martial Redon, who was made Knight of St. Stanislas by Alexander III for his assistance with the Imperial China Works at St. Petersburg (according to the book “A Pottery Primer” written in 1911 by William Percival Jervis).


Redon plates, cups, and vases were typically done with lavish decoration; the company also did underglaze patterns. From 1867 to 1878 Redon gave special attention to decorations in pâte-sur-pâte, a French term meaning “paste on paste.” Pâte-sur-pâte is accomplished by applying liquid clay with a brush to create relief decoration similar, without using a mold, that is similar to Jasperware.


In the photo, left, is a reticulated Dresden porcelain corbeille compote ($98 at Booth T-108). Its beautifully modeled flowers, along with hand-painted flowers, are hallmarks of porcelain that comes from the Dresden and Meissen regions of Germany (Meissen, Dresden and Saxon are all synonymous terms).


The Meissen factory was founded by King Augustus II in June 1710 in the castle at Albrechtsburg. While its porcelain never approached the quality of Sèvres for the ground colors that the French factory was known, some experts believe Meissen was superior to Sèvres in figure, flower and animal painting. At its zenith, from about 1730 to 1750, Meissen produced hand-painted works with exquisitely modeled flowers that correctly imitated nature and reflected the era’s Rococo tastes.


Do you love “pretty things”? If you shop at GasLamp or GasLamp Too, you must. The stores are filled with pretty things – items that have been adored through the decades and, to paraphrase Shakespeare, are beauties that age cannot wither.




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