Bill Rau, third generation owner of M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, started 2012 already thinking ahead to the next one hundred years that his family's world renowned antiques gallery will be in business. Steeped in history, Rau Antiques has been a solid fixture in New Orleans through the ups and downs of a city with its own remarkable history. Since 1912, Rau Antiques has seen a significant share of the world's pre-eminent antiques, fine arts and jewelry pass through its doors. Works by some of the most famous Impressionists, from Cezanne to Monet, as well as America's own illustrious painters like Norman Rockwell, spend very little time at Rau Antiques before being snapped up by collectors and museums around the world.
Specialists in 18th and 19th century antiques and art, Rau Antiques' vast inventory is spread over a sprawling, two-story gallery and includes furniture from Versailles and other royal houses, including early American industrialists, massive sets of sterling silver from King George VI, and other pedigreed decorative art objects, porcelain and unusual rare items and memorabilia from American and European history.
"Collecting has been the DNA of the Rau family for years," explained Bill Rau, third generation owner of the business. "Being able to source, sell and appreciate the heritage side of the business continues to be my passion, and I expect that M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts will be around for another 100 years in the same location," added Rau.
When queried about the most favorite painting Bill Rau has sold to date, he replied, "History buffs like myself already know that Sir Winston Churchill's artistic skills continued to develop in and out of office, and one of the most majestic works he painted, and which we recently acquired and sold to a high profile celebrity, is the only work that he painted and gave personally to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and depicts the famed Tower of Katoubia Mosque at sunset with the snowcapped Atlas Mountains in the distance. For Churchill, this was 'the most beautiful place in the world' ", explains Rau.
While Bill Rau enjoys keeping his clientele as satisfied and happy collectors, the piece he was most saddened to sell was a breathtaking, monumental carved wood sideboard depicting the great medieval Ballad of the Chevy Chase (of the Ballad of the Hunt). This extraordinary piece, meticulously crafted by the most famous of all wood carvers, Gerard Robinson of Newcastle, is considered by many experts to be the finest piece ever created during the 19th century. First recorded during the reign of Henry VI (1422-71), the ballad recounts the tale of the rivalry between the two great forces of Percy and Douglas, land lords along each side of the English/Scottish border. Gerard Robinson captured the glory and drama of the ballad in his remarkable sideboard, which he began working on in 1857 and completed six years later in 1863.
As for what's in store for M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts in 2012, Bill Rau continues to be on the lookout for a masterpiece original painting which has been off the market for 100 years, like a forgotten Monet in someone's attic. "Quite a few masterpieces from the Impressionist era have surfaced in recent months and we have been truly fortunate to have been contacted to sell them," continued Rau.
Taking place this year is the launch of Rau for Art Foundation, a non-for-profit program and art contest targeting high school art students in the 10th to 12th grades in local school districts. Besides promoting art appreciation, there is prize and scholarship money totaling $17,000 that will be awarded to winners and their high school art departments, and winners' artwork will be exhibited at M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts in March. The panel of guest judges includes local artists Alex Beard and Steve Martin, plus local musician Jeremy Davenport and local attorney Christine Guillory. More at: www.rauforart.com
Also on the horizon for 2012 is the publication of 19th century European painting by Bill Rau, which will cover topics such as the Barbizon School, sporting art, Pre-Raphaelitism, Impressionism and Venetian views. Closing each chapter will be brief biographies of leaders of the genre's leading artists.
M.S. Rau employs an in-house team of photographers and researchers who diligently record and detail every piece for the product database and website, which is a veritable lesson in art history. For lovers of prestigious antiques, jewelry and fine arts, Rau Antiques is unlike any other antiques and fine arts gallery in the US. In addition, a visit to M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts allows collectors and neophytes the opportunity to converse with experts about museum quality art and memorabilia. The Impressionist gallery on the second floor is a highly recommended stop for visitors to New Orleans by local residents and hotel concierges.
Learn more about M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts and experience the company's one hundred years of collecting antiques, jewelry and fine art at www.rauantiques.com