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Beauty, Rarity, History...The M.S. Rau Antiques Blog

Bill Rau

M.S. Rau Antiques

Led by third-generation owner and published fine art expert Bill Rau, M.S. Rau Antiques has grown by leaps and bounds since his grandfather Max Rau opened the doors in 1912 to a then-small antiques store in the heart of New Orleans' historic French Quarter. Bill's extensive knowledge and reputation as a leader places him among the most respected antique experts and gallery owners today.

A New Orleans institution for over 100 years, M.S. Rau Antiques is among the premier antiques galleries in the world. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, our 25,000 square foot gallery overflows with incredible antiques by names including Tiffany & Co., Paul Revere and Fabergé. Our unparalleled selection of important, original paintings and sculpture spans the 16th through the 21st century, created by legendary artists such as Brueghel, Monet and Rockwell, and our diverse selection of exquisite jewels, including rare colored diamonds, Kashmir sapphires and Burma rubies is without equal.

Naughty and Nice Collide in M.S. Rau Antiques’ Latest Exhibition

  • Edward VII's Siège d'Amour Love Chair.  This chair allowed the notorious playboy to "entertain" himself with two women at once.

    Edward VII's Siège d'Amour Love Chair. This chair allowed the notorious playboy to "entertain" himself with two women at once.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

  • Entitled "Praying Madonna", this stunning depiction of Christian piety was painted by Giovanni Battista Salvi, also known as Sassoferrato.

    Entitled "Praying Madonna", this stunning depiction of Christian piety was painted by Giovanni Battista Salvi, also known as Sassoferrato.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

  • Belle Récolte (Beautiful Harvest) by Carl Kauba.  Left: the seemingly innocent farmer and haystack.  Right: the nude maiden hiding in the hay.

    Belle Récolte (Beautiful Harvest) by Carl Kauba. Left: the seemingly innocent farmer and haystack. Right: the nude maiden hiding in the hay.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

In one of America’s most historic and fascinating cities, a delicate balance exists between excess and reverence that has endured for 300 years. It is this dichotomy that is the focus of M.S. Rau Antiques’ latest, and most tempting, exhibition.

 

In commemoration of New Orleans’ tricentennial, M.S. Rau Antiques presents Vice & Virtue: An Exhibition of Sex, Saints and Sin. Through the careful curation of over 100 works of fine art and rare objects from throughout history, M.S. Rau Antiques weaves a fascinating tale examining the fine line separating the righteous from the scandalous while paying tribute to New Orleans’ vibrant history of faithfulness, revelry and indulgence.

 

Here’s a sampling of the incredible works featured in this amazing exhibition.

 

The Righteous

Throughout art history, the ultimate expression of Christian devotional piety has been the Madonna, or the Virgin Mary.  This exhibition features two breathtaking Italian Baroque-era paintings composed by Giovanni Battista Salvi, also known as Sassoferrato, depicting the religious figure in all of her glory.

 

Amongst an array of awe-inspiring religious objects that include Pope Paul VI’s Diamond Cross and Diamond Ring, these incredibly rare 17th-century paintings, entitled Madonna in Ecstasy and Praying Madonna, render the mother of Jesus using a radiant palette and masterful technique that achieves the perfect balance of humility, piety and innate beauty.

 

The Tempted

A colorful selection of important and exquisite erotic objets d’art are featured that illustrate the alluring power of temptation. Entitled Belle Récolte, or Beautiful Harvest, Vienna sculptor Carl Kauba blends humor and erotica with this enchanting bronze featuring a farmer and a rather risqué bale of hay which conceals a nude maiden.

 

At first innocent, this Vienna bronzes of a woman dressing by the famed Franz Bergmann shows its bawdy side with a lift of her skirt. Displayed alongside these marvelous objects include an amazing selection of art, ranging from a 17th-century painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger to a rather “enlightening” collection of Japanese shunga erotic drawings.

 

The Sinful

With an entire room of the exhibition designed to recreate a tantalizing New Orleans brothel, there is certainly a great selection eye-opening historical artifacts devoted to those who have given in to their lustful urges. For many, the pièce de résistance of the exhibition is Edward VII’s siege d’amour, or love chair.

 

Commissioned by Edward VII and created by renowned Parisian cabinetmaker Louis Soubrier in 1890, seat of love was kept at the Le Chabanais bordello for the future king’s personal use. The design allowed the infamous playboy to amuse himself with two ladies at the same time. This is one of only two “love chairs” based on the original design, with the other example residing in the sex museum in Prague. The original chair remains in the private collection of Soubrier’s great-grandson.

 

A must-see for locals and visitors alike, Vice & Virtue weaves a most enticing tale as told through some of the rarest and most intriguing treasures ever assembled. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, is happening now through June 9, 2018 at M.S. Rau Antiques’ extensive French Quarter gallery.  

 

Click to learn more about Vice & Virtue: An Exhibition of Sex, Saints and Sin.

 

About M.S. Rau Antiques:
M.S. Rau Antiques has spent over a century earning the trust of discerning collectors world-wide. Located in the heart of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, our peerless showroom houses one of the world’s most extensive and stunning collections of museum-quality fine art by artists such as  Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century antiques, and breathtaking jewelry, including rare colored diamonds.

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