History

Antiques

Antique, a relic or old object having aesthetic, historic, and financial value. Formerly, it referred only to the remains of the classical cultures of Greece and Rome; gradually, decorative arts—courtly, bourgeois, and peasant—of all past eras and places came to be considered antique.

Frederic and Lorenzo Painting

Félix Auguste Benneteau-Desgrois

Félix Auguste Benneteau-Desgrois was born in the 20th arrondissement of Paris , rue de Ménilmontant , where his father was an eyewear maker .

Admitted to the National School of Fine Arts in Paris in 1904, he entered the workshops of Alexandre Falguière , Antonin Mercié then Denys Puech . In 1904, he obtained a second grand prix de Rome [ 1 ] and was crowned, in 1909, by the first grand prix. He became a resident of the Villa Medici in Rome from January 1910 to December 1913.

Appointed professor at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, Félix Benneteau-Desgrois was notably educated by the African-American sculptor Augusta Savage [ 2 ] .

He regularly participated in various art exhibitions including the Salon d’Automne , the Salon des Indépendants [ 3 ] between 1895 and 1945, and the Salon des Artistes Français .

He died in Nogent-sur-Marne , on November 5, 1963[ 4 ] .

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A Time Capsule

The collecting of antiques goes back almost as far as history, beginning with the preservation of temple treasures. In England, concern for the historical as well as aesthetic significance of antiques led, as early as the 16th century, to collections illustrating the national past. In 1857 the museum now called the Victoria and Albert opened in London as a repository for decorative arts, intended to stimulate designers as well as collectors. It was followed in 1863 by a great public collection in Vienna, in 1882 by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, and in 1897 by the Museum of the Arts of Decoration at Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in New York City. Collecting antiques became a truly popular pursuit in the 20th century.

Date Style
1558-1603 Primative
1625-1689 Baroque
1730-1770 Rococo
1750-1830 Neo Classical
1880-1910 Art Nouveau
1908-1935 Art Deco

We Have Inherited An Historical Legacy.

History of veneering – from handicraft to industrialisation

The German word “Furnier“ (veneer) originated in the 16th century from the French word “fournier”, meaning “supplying, providing”. During renaissance, baroque and later centuries grand masters created artistically perfect furniture, demonstrating how this cultural legacy was developed further – as a symbol of its times.

The origins lie in Egyptian high culture

Veneer technology was developed around 3000 BC in Egypt. In a land that is awash with desert and sand and where precious woods were priced as rarity. That fact made it necessary to utilise supplies in the most economic manner. No wonder the idea of cutting precious wood in thin sheets in order to cover less precious surfaces with them was born right here. Wood was scarce in Old Egypt, it was a rarity and valued as much as precious gems that were used to artistically adorn furniture.

Veneers were created in environs whose landscape is not characterised by lush vegetation, but rather where wood was valued as a rare resource and people were aware of the significance of its optimal use. At first, veneers were handcrafted, by cutting wood from the stem, which was an extremely demanding and time consuming task.

Nonetheless, beautiful shrines that were discovered in 1922 in Tutankhamun’s tomb bear witness to the rudimentary method of wood processing, commonly practiced back then, while revealing a natural beauty of the inner structure of the wood.

Renaissance in Europe

Records of objects and images displayed on tombs and ceramics, document the path of veneers from Egypt, to Greece and the Roman Empire, up to our modern age. Veneer production disappeared almost altogether during the early middle ages and was only rekindled during the gothic period. In Germany it was discovered at a time where the rest of Europe used almost exclusively massive wood.

The heyday of veneers transpired during renaissance, baroque and rococo. The production of even small quantities of veneer was a difficult and time consuming task back then. Consequently, this method was only used for decorative purposes and the manufactured objects were reserved for the well-heeled.

Cabinet makers in Italy began producing complex veneer surfaces. This trend also prevailed in Spain, where intricate veneer cabinets were crafted boasting skilful handicraft. Meanwhile, in Germany fret saw technology was introduced that was put to use for producing ebony cabinets. Intricate marquetry – a method for gluing individual veneer pieces to a surface – was used to adorn these objects with arabesques.

Such trends also took root in France. Until past the rule of Louis XV an individual antiquish style emerged there, sporting the art of veneers par excellence. The rupture over veneers and marquerty even crossed the English Channel and spread across England, where carpenters soon developed a unique style featuring decorative walnut veneers.

The industrial revolution

In the early 19th century veneer production was automated. In 1806, Marc Isambard Brunel was awarded the British patent for a hand operated veneer machine. Henry Faveryear, another Englishman, invented a veneer splicing apparatus in 1818. In 1843, the first veneer factory was opened in Germany, which was still operated with veneer saws back then.

The transition from handicraft to industrial production permitted veneer production in large quantities. Uneven spots resulting from the cutting process could now be eliminated by new splicing machines. Soon after, everyone was able to afford mahogany, nut and rosewood veneers.

Our modern age

Worldwide Industrial production of veneers began in the mid 20th century. Veneers have been used for furniture production and for large veneered wall panels. Veneers have ever since dominated home furniture.

Although veneers are manufactured by using modern technology, the production process requires much experience and excellence in craftsmanship. The process starts with being able to identify and evaluate the quality of the stem in its round, unprocessed state, as well as selecting amongst a variety of processing methods to generate the most refined veneer structure. This includes also evaluating of produced veneers to put them to their ideal use and achieve highest quality through creative processing methods. Each type of wood is processed and assembled individually. Thus, each sheet of veneer is unique.

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Frederic and Lorenzo Antiques

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