Fabulous Finds

By Karen Parr-Moody

Published: September 20, 2016


I recently visited the historic Germantown home of one of Nashville’s top interior designers, Jason Arnold, and noticed a gorgeous chandelier made of oxidized brass hanging in his living room. It dates to the Brutalist aesthetic movement of the 1950s to 1970s and was designed and produced in 1960s Denmark by SvendAage Holm Sørensen (photo, right; courtesy of Alyssa Rosenheck). Brutalist designs were made of rough, textured metals that were hand-hewn as the antithesis of sleek 21st-century materials and technology.


Arnold had found it at GasLamp Too, which was no surprise, because both the original GasLamp and GasLamp Too are filled with such fabulous finds just waiting to be found.


Many good buys can be found at both stores in the genre of “smalls” – what the New York Times calls, in antique speak, “a category of antique usually greater in personality than size or price.” Then there are the “objets de vertu,” which is a category of petite, beautiful and relatively expensive items.


GasLamp surely offers some grand pieces among the many reasonable finds. These offer shoppers something extraordinary, such as the chandelier that Arnold found for his historic home.


One of my favorite fabulous finds currently at GasLamp Too is this 19th-century mounted centerpiece bowl from Sèvres (photo, above left; $2,450 at Booth T-293).  It has a floral gilt bronze candelabra frame with six arms. The bowl’s front features a hand-painted scene depicting a floral tableau bouquet, as well as a second painting of putti. It also includes intricately crafted floral garlands, grapes and leaves.


Sèvres, the most important French porcelain factory, was founded in 1740 in the 14th-century royal Château de Vincennes. In 1756 it moved to Sèvres, a village that belonged to Madame de Pompadour, who was the official mistress – or maîtresse-en-titre – of Louis XV of France (the village was a gift of the king). The factory was near one of her homes, the Château de Bellevue, and was ultimately bought by Louis XV.


The king and Madame de Pompadour ensured that the factory could hire the best artists, sculptors and chemists. Additionally, because Madame de Pompadour decorated with Sèvres items, such wares became a favorite among royals and courtiers. They remain objects of beauty today.


This credenza, created circa 1875, is ebonized and features bands of satinwood inlay and gilt inlay, along with brass trim throughout (photo, above right; $2,900 at Booth T-360). Its gilt neoclassical columns are flanked by two curved glass door curios.  


The piece is a product of the Aesthetic Movement, which has its nascent roots in the 1860s under the guidance of artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and designer William Morris. It was dedicated to beauty for beauty’s sake. The movement's furniture was influenced by the arts of Japan and featured ebonized wood with gilt highlights.


The credenza also features a Wedgwood blue jasper medallion plaque on the central door that depicts a Grecian woman playing a tambourine. This slightly convex plaque belongs to a group of such plaques created as furniture cartouche decorations.


A piece that cannot be underestimated in its ability to bring grandeur to a room is the Louis XVI fauteuil with lavish carvings and heavy gilding; a fabulous example is seen here (photo, below left; $2,500 for a pair at Booth T-360).


While some Louis XVI fauteuils display only a moderate degree of carved detail, others feature an elegant exuberance in their lavish carving, as does this shield-back version. Note that the crest is topped by an ornately carved wreath with acanthus leaves and fluted melon finials. The arms and rails also feature carved acanthus leaves. The rose-patterned upholstery and heavy gilding are perfect for this beautiful piece.


The Louis XVI fauteuil, a study in restrained classicism, remains one of the most popular chairs in the history of furniture design. In fact, when architect Philippe Starck created his "Ghost" chair in clear injection-molded polycarbonate in 2002, his interpretation of a historic chair in modern materials was modeled after a Louis XVI fauteuil. It caused a sensation in the design community and became a modern icon.




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