November 22, 2021

ART NEWS: ‘We Were Speechless’: Restorers Uncover Pristine Elizabethan Murals Behind Peeling Paint in a Yorkshire Manor

Art History

‘We Were Speechless’: Restorers Uncover Pristine Elizabethan Murals Behind Peeling Paint in a Yorkshire Manor

The paintings were inspired by the rediscovery of Nero's Golden House in Rome.

Sarah Cascone, November 15, 2021, ARTNEW NEWS

November 18, 2021

Artist Profile: George Inness

The United States in the 1800’s was not a nation looking to rediscover its past. Rather, it was growing into itself with the innovations of the Industrial Revolution coupled with an unsinkable optimistic spirit. Many artists adopted the ideological  pursuit of Manifest Destiny, choosing to depict the American frontier as a chaotic, unruly land in need of a moral cleave to make room for a greater, more civilized society. However, within this religious and political fervor, George Inness struck out, choosing to seek and reveal the connection between the spiritual and natural worlds as a revelation of the power and awe of a Divine Truth. 

George Inness, 1890

Breaking away from family farm life, George Inness began his artistic studies with itinerant painter, John Jesse Baker. From there Inness moved to New York and worked as an engraver for the printmaking company, Smith and Sherman, Inc. Similar to many artists, the metropolitan life of New York City provided the young Inness exposure to both canonical as well as fashionable artists. Old Masters such as Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa broadened Inness’ understanding of compositional structuring and landscapes while contemporaries such as Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand of the Hudson River School embodied the aesthetic values he hoped to instill into his own practice. In the mid-1840’s Inness enrolled in lessons at the National Academy of Design and then exhibited for the first time in 1844. Two years later Inness opened his first studio. 

While on his first international trip to Europe Inness developed a friendship with the artist William Page. It was through Page that Inness was introduced to the writings of theologian, scientist, and mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg. Though a prolific writer, this Swedish Christian-pluralist never elucidated any aesthetic edicts for his New Church. Rather, Inness drew from Swedenborg’s concept of “correspondences” in which the etiology of the natural world is bolstered by the spiritual realm, or as Swedenborg wrote

“Nothing can exist anywhere in the material world that does not have a correspondence with the spiritual world - because if it did, it would have no cause that would make it into being and then allow it to continue into existence. Everything in the material world is an effect. The causes of all effects lie in the spiritual world, and the causes of those causes in turn (which are the purposes those serve) lie in still a deeper heaven.” 

What Inness began to implement as an artist was to bring to the surface spiritual realities and truths. To him, the use of imagery and color to depict the natural world was not of primary importance, rather Inness sought to perceive and present “the divine causes beyond natural effects.” 

George Inness (American 1825-1894), Landscape, Oil on Canvas

As he settled into the middle of his career, Inness left New York in 1870 to live in Europe for four years. During this period he began to further explore Swedenborg’s discourses and, separately, explore different compositional structuring with space and brush work techniques. In Landscape the viewer becomes a wayfarer along the Appian Way, nearing Rome, passing between Albano and Ariccia in the hills.  Here, Inness focused on creating flat shapes and muffling detail in the foreground, resulting in the land and trees being perceived as one ambiguous shape. But to the viewer looking in at an air of calm, one finds themselves grasped by a hidden emotion --a rising spirituality that holds the viewer as their eyes move from darkened foreground up to the lit horizon. In Landscape Inness has managed to use Swedenborg’s teachings as an aesthetic vehicle, thereby rendering Swedenborgism doctrines pictorially

In the course of his long career, George Inness created over a thousand works and continued to travel throughout. Along with being credited as a founding figure of Tonalism and widely seen as the father of American Landscape Painting, he was also an activist for the Abolitionist Movement and Workers’ Rights. Inness died on August 3, 1894 while at Bridge of Allan in Scotland. A public funeral for Inness was held at the National Academy of Design, while a memorial exhibition was conducted at the Fine Arts Building in New York City. 

November 15, 2021

Top Find? Cleopatra’s 3rd Egg, 30 B.C. | Nolan Booth | ANTIQUES ROADSHOW | PBS

Is this our most valuable find ever? Learn more about this incredible treasure with...suspicious...provenance brought to ROADSHOW by a strikingly familiar looking “collector.” Maybe somebody should call @The Rock? ANTIQUES ROADSHOW airs Mondays at 8/7C on PBS. Watch more full-length episodes of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW at or on the PBS Video App: ANTIQUES ROADSHOW: Facebook:

September 23, 2021

The Vampyre and The Party That Started it All

The Villa Diodati in Geneva, Switzerland 2008.07.27, view 5 out of 6, Image Source: Wikipedia

Lake Geneva, Switzerland, June 1816

It was June of the year without a summer, when the skies were perpetually dark and the crops didn’t grow, that English poet Lord Byron took to Lake Geneva looking for an escape. There, he and his personal doctor, John William Polidori resided at Villa Diodati, where they frequently entertained the company of close friends; Percy Shelley, his fiancé Mary, their 4 month old daughter, and Mary’s step-sister Clare Clairmonte who, after a dalliance in London, was carrying the daughter of Lord Byron. It was during one such visit, that the friends' stay was dismally extended and the unrelenting weather exhausted their soirée.

John William Polidori, by F.G. Gainsford (floruit 1805-1822), given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1895, Image Source: Wikipedia

The weather in Switzerland that summer was atrocious and this weekend was no exception. Tumultuous skies and torrential rain cast a shadow on the friends' getaway and as the waters of the Lake Geneva rose, so did the tension in the rooms of Villa Diodati; Claire’s unrequited pursuit of Lord Byron’s affection provoked his attitude, while Dr. Polidori’s unbecoming advances towards Mary unsettled her and left Percy with certain distaste. As the nights drew on, the party imbibed and debates over the effectiveness of galvanism permeated the conversation. On one particular evening, their entertainment was found in the candlelit reading of Fantasmagoriana and other series of ghost stories, which sparked the idea of a challenge. A challenge that would come to change literary history. Byron proposed each guest write a story, a horror story that was more terrifying than any they had heard that evening or any evening before.

As a part of this challenge, Mary Shelley produced one of the most important and influential horror stories of all time, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. Lord Byron's contribution was an incomplete tale titled Fragment of a Novel, in which the narrator recounts his journey with vampire Augustus Darvell in a fictitious letter to the reader. Though unfinished and hardly worth mentioning among Byron's other works, this fragment inspired John Polidori to write his own novella, The Vampyre, a harrowing narrative involving deception, seduction, and murder that revamped the folkloric villain into the aristocratic incubus that we know today.

It is rumored that the main character in this tale, Lord Ruthven, a sexually deviant, blood-lusting powerful vampire who was attracted to the virtuous and the virginal, was inspired by Lord Byron himself and his situation with Clare Clairmonte. As the summer holiday drew to a close, an infuriated Byron terminated the doctor's position and upon his dismissal, Polidori subsequently sent his writing to the Countess of Breuss to be published in an act of revenge on his former boss.

In April of 1819, The Vampyre was published in the New Monthly Magazine under the false attribution of Lord Byron. Despite the multiple attempts by both Lord Byron and John Polidori to correct the attribution, the story would go on to be published in book form with the misattribution. The first edition work did have Byron's attribution but it was removed by the second state.

Polidori, John. The Vampyre, A Tale, Paris, 1819 Image Source:

One of these 1819 first editions of The Vampyre can be found in a sale of Antiquarian and Other Books that is live on now to October 12, 2021.

July 23, 2021

About the Patek Philippe Nautilus Wristwatch

The Patek Philippe Nautilus was designed in 1976 by Gerald Genta. Supposedly designed in 5 minutes, Genta drew his inspiration from the portholes of a ship. This nod to sailing was made as he knew the owners, the Stern family, had a love of sailing. This watch has remained one of the most desirable Patek Philippe designs for almost 5 decades. These watches are in such high demand that there is a waiting list of eight years from Patek Philippe, if you can even get on it. The value of the watches has risen substantially over the years and is unlikely to slow down as the Nautilus 5711 was discontinued with a new unique version being released due to demand.  The dedication of the Stern family to the company and to maintaining the same level of quality almost guarantees the longevity of these watches.

Patek Philippe 18K White Gold Nautilus Wristwatch with Original Certificate and Box, Ca. 2009.
Patek Philippe 18K White Gold Nautilus Wristwatch with Original Certificate and Box, Ca. 2009, sold for $53,750 in July 2021

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