Large idyllic oil painting (18 Th c. ?)… took me to an antique store on Calle Ribera de la Curtidores, home of Madrid antique shops and the buzzing Sunday flea market El Rastro.

My old friend was a larger than life character ,  with huge personality and many passions.  A raconteur and renaissance man in essence, he was  a doctor and therapeutic hypnotist.

Many years ago a tragic event happened in his life: his beautiful wife, a talented piano artist , took her own life with one of his guns. The tragedy and his sense of guilt pushed him on a quest for answers. Where can one go ? Only  beyond our physical world he figured , into the supernatural world of ghosts and spirits. He traveled to join seances of all sorts here and overseas, to find the “why “?

He encountered “renowned ” spiritualists and characters of all sorts before finally he gave it all up, without signs or answers. The experiences he gained, were really mixed he said. Some events turned out quite supernatural, like the mysterious apparition of what looked like Lincoln, a ghost in full figure at a seance session .

The door to the world of spirits had to be closed.

Sounds like an opera right ?

Classical literature, music, opera, African safaris, remarkable collection of hunting trophies,  beautiful art and  Spain ….his favorite: Madrid , the Hotel Ritz across from Museo Prado …  he loved them all! A man with refined taste, eyes for quality and beauty.

From his estate comes the very large, gilded framed, pastoral themed oil painting.

What made him purchase it,ship it across the ocean and when?

Canvas darkened by time,  from around the 1800 s , a Spanish romantic piece, the Arabic window arch of the ruined  building by the fountain tells me that. At the fountain by the woods a young shepherd and a young maid are talking while he is handing her a flower. The scene is set in a meadow , flanked by huge trees.

Few years passed after the death of my old friend, and I did not find any info  about the painting besides the fact that he had it shipped from Madrid , the only proof was an old label tied to the back of the stretcher frame. No date , only a name and a street address in Madrid .

Two years ago armed with pictures of the painting and label  I dedicated a half day in Madrid to find the address and the shop.

Madrid, Calle Ribera de la Curtidores on a sunny Saturday. I am walking searching for house numbers, I see many antique shops some open some closed for good and my number is non existent . I walk the street again …this is getting really aggravating … that particular house number is nowhere, around that number no one to ask .  On the opposite side the antique shop is advertising their longevity! Great ! He should  know , his shop was there for 60 years! The shop keeper is second generation running the store. A heartfelt,  angel type (who one  would like to have in the family) who was one of the nicest person to chat with . He reminisced ” oh business was great till the early nineties, while  many Americans were  stationed at the Rota base I sold them lots of nice pieces !  We did lots of shipping  overseas”,

And yes, the building I am looking for (saw it on google couple years ago ) was demolished . I found out that my shipping label has the info of a specialized shipping business, he knew them really well. I learned, that Second generation is running an antiques business and moved shop to an affluent part of the city ….but wait ! …their son in law has a shop next door. The charm of well established business dynasties!

The son in law has a beautiful antique store in a courtyard along with several nice antique stores. I showed him the pictures etc but without seeing the original painting he does not have a clue of its value etc . I was hoping for a small clue to where to look …My time in Madrid was running out so visiting the heirs of the shipping shop’s owner was out of reach. The neighbor who tried to help me said they might have the old shipping  records in their books and maybe all the rest of the info I was looking for .

If I will be in Madrid soon I should try again….who knows if the internet might help?



Napoleon Ceremonial Sword,Toledo Spain,1809 by Martin Biennais/I found a very nice Replica







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Napoleon Ceremonial Sword,Toledo Spain,1809 by Martin Biennais/I found a very nice Replica

Replica of Napoleon’s Sword, Toledo Spain, 1809 by Biennais

Gilt brass hilt with rocaille motifs, helmet head and  goddess of war.

Gilt brass cross guard with crowned imperial eagle; finials ending in lions’ heads.

Double-edged straight blade.

Top 1/3 of blade etched and blued, with martial motifs. No scabbard.

Napoleon’s Ceremonial Sword, made by Martin-Guillaume Biennais in 1809.


That find lead me to read about the Empire Style & Napoleon.

Found a really informative description from the traveling exhibit in the USA: SYMBOLS OF POWER.

(See link containing pictures bellow )

Exhibition itinerary was
Saint Louis Art Museum
June 17–September 16, 2007
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October 21, 2007–January 27, 2008
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
April 2–October 5, 2008
Designer: Emily Lessard
© 2007 American Federation of Arts
American Federation of Arts




Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style


Symbols of Power: Napoleon
and the Art of the Empire Style, 1800–
1815 provides a sumptuous visual overview of a remarkably sophisticated and
highly influential decorative style, as well as intriguing insight into the
political, social, and economic forces behind its development and evolution.
The eighteenth-century monarchy had found expression in the majestic

furnishings and ornamental designs of the decorative arts.
Napoleon began his reign as the first consul in late 1799 (becoming
the first emperor in 1804), soon after which he began to vigorously champion
the Empire style as the embodiment of the new French state.

Napoleon’s enthusiasm for elements of Greco-Roman design stemmed from his desire for

a style that communicated grandeur. As the exhibition shows, however, his
relationship with expressions of luxury was complex. Even as he promoted a
decorative program designed to dazzle the courts of Europe, he disdained
extravagant expenditures (partially due to the moral strictness of postrevolutionary France).
The most influential figures in the development of the Empire style
were Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, celebrated architects and designers who had studied in Rome. Percier and Fontaine
helped establish and disseminate the new decorative language with their very popular 1801
book Recueil de décorations intérieures (Anthology of Interior Decoration), which provided illustrated patterns for the forms, materials, colors, and textures that would come to
characterize the Empire style. In 1804, Napoleon appointed Percier and Fontaine as his
official architects and decorators. Typically
designing every element of a room to fit their
overall aesthetic, the two men attached immense
importance to the interrelationship of architectural
setting, furniture, and decoration. As presented
throughout the exhibition, their designs—carried
out in the palaces of the Louvre and the Tuileries,
the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Vendôme
Column, and the imperial chateaux of Versailles,
Malmaison, Compiègne, and Saint-Cloud—
together with the wide circulation of their Recueil de décorations intérieures
assured the spread of the “official” Empire style to the growing middle class
(albeit in a scaled-down and simpler form) and led to the Empire aesthetic
becoming the touchstone of early nineteenth-century French decorative arts.
Characterized by seemingly conflicting qualities of sobriety and
luxury, the Empire style became one of the grandest and most opulent in the
history of decorative arts. Under Napoleon’s direction and patronage,
designers and craftsmen of the period developed a new formal language for
decorative arts that fueled a renaissance of French artisans and industry.
Designs inspired by the simple, symmetrical, and at times austere lines of
ancient Rome and Greece were enlivened with bold and saturated colors
(including black), expensive and elaborately worked materials, and ornate
decoration that included animal and fantastical figures, as well as symbolic
references to Napoleon’s reign. Symbols of Power reveals Napoleon’s deep
understanding of the power of ancient symbols to legitimize and glorify his
rule. As can be seen in the exhibition, imperial emblems, as well as military and
triumphant symbols, are to be found on everything from his snuffbox to his
coronation robe.
The exhibition includes a small number of works designed and
produced during and immediately following the revolution—the Directoire
(1795–99) and Consulate (1800–03) periods—to provide a context for the
evolution of decorative arts in France in the late eighteenth
and early nineteenth centuries and illustrate the hallmarks of
the emerging Empire style. As is demonstrated by the
juxtaposition of these earlier works with works from the
Empire period, the new moral rigor that emerged during the
revolution rejected the frivolous luxury of the late eighteenth
century, which had become directly associated with the
corrupt values and excesses of the Bourbon kings. In the
design of furniture, wallpapers, and cups and saucers, images
from the former monarchy, such as the fleur-de-lys, were
replaced with symbols of the new France, such as the cockade (a knot of ribbon
worn as a badge on hats or lapels), and patriotic phrases. The red, white, and
blue tricolor flag of independence, triumphant laurel branches, and the red
Phrygian cap of freedom (referring to the cap worn by Roman slaves after
they were freed) were some of the most common revolutionary symbols.
Elements of design were charged with meaning. By the end of the revolution,
the decorative arts in France would be characterized by a new simplicity in
the materials, shapes, and forms of objects as a mark of revolutionary ideals.
Napoleon appropriated emblems of power from the ancient cultures of
Egypt, Greece, and Rome in order to visually and conceptually link
his reign with those of grand civilizations of the past. Exemplifying this link
is Napoleon’s own stunning steel and chiseled brass cuirass, or ceremonial
breastplate (fig. 3). Made for him in 1805, just one year after he was crowned
emperor, the cuirass features an allegorical scene of Mars (the Roman
god of war) being dressed by two nude spirits. This exceptional piece not
only reflects Napoleon’s desire to associate himself with ancient Roman
emperors but also his own active role in the French military. Napoleon’s wish
to associate France under his rule with the civilization of ancient Rome is
also evident in the pervasive use of the Roman eagle, gods and goddesses of
mythology, and other architectural forms and symbols used by the
earliest Roman emperors. Napoleon admired the early Roman
leaders and identified with their pursuit of peace and order
through expansionist military policies.
Strong, masculine symbols reflecting
strength of France abound in the Empire style. The most prevalent of these were the emperor’s emblems: the Merovingian beeand the Roman eagle (fig. 2), representations of military trophies, and Egyptian themes introduced after his famous campaign in that country. Warriors in battle, the powerful claws of a lion, helmets, swords, and axes appear on everyday objects such as clocks, light fixtures, writing tables, and ewers and basins. The walls, windows, and beds of the palaces were draped with rich fabrics embroidered with gold and silver threads, bees, shields, and other imperial emblems. Included in this exhibition are several ornate and luxurious chairs and stools with imperial emblems from Château de Malmaison and Château de Fontainebleau.After the revolution, especially as a function of the victories underNapoleon’s leadership, the military was very much on the mind of French

society, and perhaps as a counterweight, feminine symbols and images were
juxtaposed with images of masculinity. This exhibition examines the
visual metaphors of femininity that were meant to evoke the ideas of love and
seduction—images of nudity, women in motion, the swan, the butterfly,
flowers, and cornucopia (fig. 4). The swan—an ambiguous symbol of
seduction, referring to both femininity and the god Apollo—was one of
the favorites adopted at this time by Josephine, as well as other wealthy and
cultured ladies (fig. 6). A departure from the straight line typically used in
Empire decorative arts, the curved lines found in objects such as the boat
bed (a bed with the curved shape of a boat reserved generally, though not
exclusively for women’s chambers) (fig. 5), was a clear allusion to femininity.
Another emblem was the letter J, paired with a cornucopia full of fruits and
flowers, which were incorporated into designs of furnishings and decorative
arts made specifically for Josephine.
Ornamentation was an essential and clear means of communication
under Napoleon’s empire. The Empire style embodied a design philosophy
that was driven by arts and politics. It sought to fuel and perpetuate the
regime’s strength and legitimacy through a united aesthetic that reinterpreted existing symbols of power. Its impact filtered into every aspect of life
through architecture, interior design, furnishings, and fashion. Even after
Napoleon’s final abdication in 1815, the Empire style continued and was
highly influential throughout Europe and


Egyptian expeditions lead to a new style Egyptian Revival.

Bonaparte Before the Sphinx 1867-1868 by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904)

Great article with many pictures about French Egyptian Revival is found :

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My new find:Japanese Yoshitoku doll, dolls are not for kids and can be valued highly.



Yoshitoku is a luxury Japanese doll maker, known as doll maker to the emperor, the company has been in business since 1711, the Edo era. Its high quality dolls body is made of crushed oyster shell, dressed traditionally in kimonos and some are modern, are not for play. These dolls are treasured by collectors. The flagship store is in Tokyo and sells dolls worldwide.


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“I collect thes…

“I collect these objects to learn from them. In some moment these things are going to teach me something. For me, this is like a library.”
– Jose Bedia in ARTNews, Summer 2000

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February 8, 2013 · 5:28 pm