Monday, January 6, 2014

Decorating with the Old Masters

Recently while on a trip to NYC to see the Vermeers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I had an idea. Really more than I admired the artwork on the wonderful painting, I loved the glimpses into old timey interiors. As an antique dealer I am always struggling to understand how these objects were used by their original owners back in the day. And also how to use them set up in a house. What went with what? What did they use that for? Where did they keep it? You get the idea. But right in front of me on these gorgeous paintings was just what I was looking for. Evidence of use.
Look at this corner of one of Vermeer's contemporaries. Love the twig broom, the 2 stools, the staved keeler, a linen scrap and a redware jug handy to fill the keeler. Look at the clay pipe in the man's hand. And the barrel he is sitting on. I sell these things all the time. And here is how they were used. (Love the pants too!).
 Again, a great interior. Look at the oriental rug on the table, and the nice Cromwell chair.
And in this close up we see a stoneware jug with pewter lid, a delft charger, a knife, some fabric and a wineglass. Add some fruit and you have a lovely table setting.
Here's a corner of a bedroom, with again another early chair. The table is draped in fabric, and set up with a standing mirror, a candlestick, some jewelry coming out of a box. Again, things you see at almost any antiques show.
Here's a corner of a Vermeer. Oriental rug over a table, open jewelry box with pearls dangling out, brass charger and pitcher, early chair in the back. So easy, so real looking.
A riotous party, look at the great early jug. This time linen covers the rug on the table.
Here is a kitchen detail. Love the hanging garlic, the veggies, the staved keeler, the fabric, the basket of eggs, and a hanging brass scale I think. I don't think the housewife liked the fish the young man bought.
This lady looks like she's on the phone! But I think she's fixing her hair, looking at the mirror next to the window. I believe mirrors were often hung near windows to catch the light, not in the middle of the wall. But look above the window, her shutters would let down from the ceiling. What a great idea! Like the boxed bed in the background?
Well, there are my decorating ideas from the Old Masters. Good luck with them. I will follow up with a few of my favorite things from the museum.
The best bellarmine jug ever! If it goes missing you can just look in my house.
A pocket sundial for Cy.
A roemmer engraved with a map of Germany. At 10" tall they must have liked to drink. Wonder how this delicate glass survived so long?
An American room from the Hudson Valley area of NY. Again, carpet on the table. And I love the big fat cushions on the chairs. The skimpy ones we put on our chairs today I think are just wrong. Who would do that when that was all you had to sit on? If you could afford a cushion, why not a fat one?
Again, early stoneware on the mantel with some wine glasses. The delft monteith on the table was used for washing wine glasses, they could each sit in one of the scallops.  And a delft wine jug I think it was.