Wednesday, February 6, 2013


To continue my ramblings on imagery that is evocative, or provocative for that matter, I have been going through images that have held some level of mystique for me. I did not take these images and the credit goes elsewhere. This first image is very dreamy and makes me want to visit Paris again. I saw the Eiffel Tour up close and personal on my last trip, but spent very little time during that jaunt. I love the Marais and Latin Quarters the most and never branch much further west than the Louvre. Now, don't get me wrong, I've been to Paris twice, so it's not as if I've had numerous jaunts to the City of Lights. Nonetheless, those two districts are my favorite as they tend to be less touristy and a tad quieter. More on Le Marais later...

Doorways of Paris always seem so special. The French have a way with most things decorative and have provided their own distinct spin on the decorative arts over the centuries. They have a long and storied blacksmithing tradition, thus the many iron elements on doorways and entries. From the ancient to the Art Deco, there are always great surprises.

Doorknobs and other hardware are particularly visually appealing.






Le Marais is an arrondissement of central Paris that has long been known as the aristocratic district. It is actually the oldest district in Paris dating from well before the Middle Ages. It houses many of the oldest structures in the city and is home to Places des Vosges, the former royal apartments of King Henri and Louis XIII that were constructed in 1605. Once Versailles was built outside Paris by Louis XIV, the apartments were all but abandoned. The district today is a diverse, bustling neighborhood being home to a large portion of city's gay population and Jewish communities. There are many trendy restaurants, bars and all manner of shopping. I also find the Marais to be more affordable than some other districts based on hotel rates and dining. Nothing is cheap in Paris, but the Marais won't disappoint if you want to see the "real" unvarnished city. Check out the home of medieval alchemist Nicolas Flamel which houses a fine restaurant. It's the oldest standing house in the city dating to the early 15th century.

A great web site is that provides a plethora of information about the district. They have great links to restaurants/bars and their selected hotels are beyond fabulous.







"Paris is always a good idea." - Audrey Hepburn

Monday, February 4, 2013


I am intrigued by photography of the macabre, the spooky and the mysterious. I collect images when possible for eventual reuse in some fashion. These images are striking in their subject matter and the sheer jarring quality. Perhaps better suited for Halloween than Valentine's Day, but I digress...

There is something a tad unsettling about a crowd facing a camera all wearing masks. It's a tad Eastern Block/post-WWII. Das Boot!

This one is sort of funny and sad all wrapped into one. Is this Grand Central in NYC?

 There is always something appealing about derelict houses. This one reminds me of Scandinavia or perhaps Romania?

 Little Red Riding Hood?

 A foggy lane into the decrepit graveyard. I am thinking Scotland with this one.

Sort of funny, but alarming in an abandoned-amusement-park sort of way.

Speaking of amusement parks; very little can top the creepy factor than images of Chernobyl post-nuclear meltdown.

And for those fans of sci-fi - recognize this from Prometheus?

I will save the topic of ghosts for another post, but spirit photography can be quite interesting. The following two photos were taken in my home using a "ghost detector" that uses electromagnetic frequencies to captures anomalies in the atmosphere. I have many photos capturing white mist, black mist and lots of orbs.

Whoa...who is that in the background? Yikes!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


If allowed, a dog will be your friend for life. This is one of my favorite photos. I took it on a moment's notice as they stormed the door to see what was outside. Left to right, Pedro, Divit (since deceased) and Niles.
One of our many dogs is a special little fellow by the name of Country. He has a wonderful, loving disposition. When we adopted him he had just been recovered from an abusive home and had been clearly the punching bag for some aggressive dogs. He was scarred and bruised, hungry and just all around neglected. He has since become a most animated member of our family. This photo was taken when he decided he wanted to be photographed along with items I was preparing to shoot for my web site. The pictures speak for themselves.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Ralph D. Curtis - American Folk Artist Discovery

In the November 2009 edition of "The Magazine Antiques", Dr. J.E. Jelinek published an article outlining his research into a previously unidentified nineteenth American folk artist, Ralph D. Curtis. Curtis was born in 1808 near Syracuse, NY. His work is readily identified by his use of tulip wood panels, thin oil pigments, dark backgrounds and his seeming avoidance of modeling the human thumb. Dr. Jelinek's article takes a scholarly approach and provides a fine survey into the history of Curtis from his beginnings in Upstate New York to his eventual settlement in Michigan. There have been many portraits over several decades reliably attributable to Curtis based on stylistic criteria rather than signatures.

Here is a link to the article by Dr. Jelinek:

By luck or chance, I have had the distinct opportunity to have owned two portraits by Ralph Curtis over the past five years. I purchased the first one through eBay and was drawn to it merely on its "folky" merits - flat,  almost cartoon-ish appeal. The subject is quite handsome, wearing a dark overcoat and holding a silver-tipped cane. He appears to be in his twenties and is rendered in oil on wood panel. You be the judge:

The subject is unidentified, but certainly by the hand of Curtis. At the time, I was unaware of Curtis (this was prior to the article) and was later informed by a scholar friend of the solid attribution and the interest of Dr. Jelinek in garnering more information on its provenance. I offered what little I knew at the time and he cited a reference in the article to the existence of this portrait as "being found in the south.". The portrait left my collection shortly thereafter and I said 'goodbye' to what I thought was a rare opportunity to have owned a portrait by a recently discovered American folk artist.

Folk art portraiture is a personal passion and I am always on the hunt for inspiring (and seldom affordable) examples whether it be at auctions or shows. As luck would have it, last year I was perusing the site of my scholar friend's fantastic antiques web site and found something that made my heart skip a beat. I immediately recognized the hand as that of Curtis and contacted him immediately with my supposition. He confirmed my thoughts and told me that the portrait had just come in for consignment by a mid-western collector and a quick sale was desired. While I, and my wallet, were not in the market for a portrait, I couldn't resist. I took the portrait on terms and it arrived in my possession a couple of months later. And here he is...

What a handsome young man! See the similarities to he and his above predecessor? I learned from Dr. Jelinek's article that Curtis often demonstrated a deep philtrum (dimple above the upper lip) in his works. They definitely both have it and those hands almost look otherworldly. Since human hands are notoriously difficult to render in painting, many unschooled or itinerant artists would intentionally paint the sitter holding an object to avoid modeling. The boy holding the red book does just that even if it looks a little wonky. This beautiful portrait hangs in my collection and I admire him each day. He is unframed and painted on poplar wood panel.

I have included several other examples of Curtis' work as presented in the article. (Photos are courtesy of Dr. Jelinek and The Magazine Antiques).

I know American folk portraiture isn't for everyone, but it is representative of our rich artistic history and are uniquely American in their approach to capturing likenesses of our ancestors.

There are some wonderful museums which showcase the best folk portraiture in the country. These include:

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg,VA

Old Sturbridge Village

American Folk Art Museum

Always a great resource for great folk art and antiques:

Antiques Associates at West Townsend (Massachusetts)

Seeking inspiration in the ethereal

Nothing quite spurs creativity like being inspired by a beautiful room, a beautiful book or nature unedited. To kick off this February, I am sharing a few photos that inspire me and provide a constant reminder of beauty around us all just beckoning to be discovered. It merely takes a moment to identify and only a bit longer to embrace.

Take, for example, this boudoir. Immediately, I was pulled into the scene by the early portrait (a severe weakness of mine), the neutral billowing textile simply framing the equally simple bedstead and the darkly painted wainscot. This makes me want to crawl inside the space. It evokes an almost ancient interior, but when inspected more closely, the flooring, side table and lamp add a decidedly more modern aesthetic. It's nonetheless inspiring. Perhaps the adjoining room offers this...

A beautiful table setting in a lofty plastered room. It feels as if it would capture the dinner guest in candlelit splendor spurring on hours of conversation. Note the giant iron pot crane in the fireplace. What's next might add a little more color to the room...

An 18th century Italian gesso carved wood mirror with original plate glass and three colors of original paint (green, red & gold). This very large mirror is in my collection and dates to approximately 1760-90. It is a rare survivor in that it has endured little restoration over its long life. Incidentally, it's currently for sale on my vendor site @ One Kings Lane ( Shameless self-promotion? Perhaps; but I buy and sell only what I love, so if it doesn't sell right away - oh, well. I guess I'll just have to live with it. While visiting Italy in the late 18th century, it could have been this dainty English maiden might have peered at herself in this very mirror?

A wonderful portrait formerly in my collection with which I begrudgingly parted. Well, I did purchase her with the intent of selling, so it wasn't that traumatic, but I love her formal pose; quite typical of this period in English history. She dates to approximately 1770, a miniature painted on copper in an oval shape. She came to me unframed and that never detracted from her beauty. Some might find her a little homely, but I love her grace and regal presence. She could possibly be by the hand of a renowned artist such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, but we might never know. All in all, I miss her.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming Soon...

The Period House...

a compendium of decorative arts and period architecture as interpreted through the eyes of a self-professed antiquarian.

Check back soon as I am gathering the muster to get this thing going.