Trace Mayer Antiques

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Behind the Scenes

Frequently I find paintings in distress.  There's nothing wrong with the paintings- the condition is fine.   In fact, they are typically in perfect shape.  The problem is that they are frequently housed in the most horrible, terrible, no good, very bad... frames (to steal from the children's book title).  It's often really difficult to see that they are anything at all. 

For that reason, a quick visit to the gallery usually reveals a number of paintings floating around without frames. You will find them leaning under tables, perched on chairs, nestled into a plate stand, hung on the wall, and even stacked up waiting for a frame. 
After all, No frame is better than a bad frame! 
I buy a lot of antique frames for this very purpose.  Not that there's anything wrong with new frames, but I prefer the old ones.  They integrate much more effectively and anything with patina and character is usually much better than not (wrinkles and gray hair included).   So I've detailed a few pieces that have been in the gallery for a while- and the frames that I think will bring out the better qualities of both the painting as well as the frame. 

One wonderful by-product from this process is that we recycle the left over pieces of frames to create  our 'Bee's' (pictured bottom right)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Introduction to Antiques: Part 1

One of my first assignments as an intern at Sotheby's in 1992 was to catalog an English chest of drawers.  It wasn't a terribly fancy or complicated piece, but furniture was foreign to me and it took much longer than I expected.  What took me fifteen minutes over twenty years ago, now takes a quick glance and a few seconds. 

The heads of the English Furniture Department at that time were Larry Sirolli and Peter Lang.  The patience Peter and Larry demonstrated while I ''worked'' for them was monumental.  My next assignment came quickly- and they led me to believe that I was to catalog the Important English Furniture Sale.  One of two major English furniture sales they had each year in New York City at that time.  After a quick drive from 72nd street up to the warehouse in Harlem- I was surrounded with 375 sublime items in need of classification.  Larry and Peter coached me through that first catalog- which really meant that I mostly wrote down what they dictated- and with flashlight in hand they both kindly pointed out the subtle details that distinguished them from others.

Since then, I have been searching for an easy introduction on the subject.  I figured there must be a course or book on Antiques that can get you started, but for the most part this knowledge is one that tends to be passed down orally through the ages.  Unlike Art History, which is part of the scholastic curriculum from Middle School on- Antiques and the decorative arts haven't had mainstream advantages.

Keeping with these oral traditions, and with a grateful nod to Peter and Larry, we have put together a series of video's on Antiques.  My principle interest is to communicate the trends and styles as simply as possible.  We hope that you enjoy the talks, and more importantly-- that these help you to experience the beauty, grace, and art hidden in these wonderful pieces.

Click Here to go to the first video.