Bill+rau63x80

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

Bill Rau

M.S. Rau Antiques

Considered one of the foremost experts on 18th- and 19th-century European and American antiques and fine art, Bill Rau has worked in the family-owned gallery for over 30 years. 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 100 years, M.S. Rau Antiques is among the premier antiques galleries in the world. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, their 30,000 square foot showroom houses one of the world’s most extensive and stunning collections of rare antiques, important fine art and breathtaking jewelry.

An Image is Worth 1000 Words: The Triptych

The Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots triptychs illustrate how the medium was perfect for telling a story
The Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots triptychs illustrate how the medium was perfect for telling a story
(M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans)
  • This Austrian example pays reverence to the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child.  Religious triptychs were small enough to be carried by the devout when they traveled.

    This Austrian example pays reverence to the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. Religious triptychs were small enough to be carried by the devout when they traveled.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

  • The details in these elaborately carved triptychs were amazing and important for conveying their stories.

    The details in these elaborately carved triptychs were amazing and important for conveying their stories.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

Whether it's meant to tell you what to wear, what to eat or what to admire, images surround us in our media-rich society. But not that long ago, images served a much higher purpose. Images were a visual representation of the world and its principles of both order and morality. Various forms of ecclesiastical art immerged primarily to convey these principles to the masses, and the triptych was one of the first of these stunning art forms.

Often referred to as the "traveling icon," the triptych, whether painted or carved, was a portable, convenient, and often times breathtaking work of art that told some sort of story of religious significance. In times when the ability to read was truly a luxury, even those untutored in letters could understand the incredibly detailed images artists created. Even the use of the three panels was significant in representing the Christian Holy Trinity. This beautiful Austrian Ivory Triptych depicts the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. As you can see, the central panel is the primary focus, with the flanking panels supporting the theme.

As years progressed, the triptych evolved and became used for depicting secular stories. Take these Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots triptychs, pictured to the right. With the Elizabeth triptych, her hinged skirt opens to reveal a courtly scene with two panels depicting two pivotal figures in the Queen's life, Mary Queen of Scots (who tried to have Elizabeth dethroned) and Lord Robert Dudley, the love of Elizabeth's life. Within Mary's triptych, the queen's skirt opens to reveal a scene of the Catholic queen and her supporters above the inscription "Maria Stuart." This scene is supported by the images of a court musician, and the other, the queen's masked executioner (Elizabeth did not take the dethroning attempt very lightly).

Without saying a word, the triptych has the power to tell a story-to enlighten and bring to life events from our distant (or not so distant) past. Regardless of the tale being told, these exquisite little rarities will continue to fascinate and delight collectors for generations to come.

To view M.S. Rau Antique's selection of triptychs, click here.
To view M.S. Rau Antique's selection of religious art, click here.

 

More posts from Beauty, Rarity, History...The M.S. Rau Antiques Blog

The ethereal light of the moon cast a glow upon this nocturnal dock scene painted by Grimshaw in 1883 entitled "Whitby"
  • September 17, 2014

The consummate, self-taught Victorian artist John Atkinson Grimshaw possessed an unquestionable gift for painting. The influence of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement is apparent throughout ...

Read More

Godward's "Phyleis" renders the Greek tragedy with an exquisite color palette and meticulous detailing
  • August 27, 2014

Known as the most talented Neoclassical painter of all time, John William Godward’s (1861-1922) Classical-inspired canvases, with their sensual subjects and scrupulous attention to ...

Read More

Renaissance-period clocks, like this Turret (Table) timepiece is an example of the earliest mechanical clocks ever made that could go inside the home.
  • June 13, 2014

Mention the Renaissance, and most people envision the revival of Classical literature and art after the dark days of the Medieval, or Middle Ages. But did you know that some of the ...

Read More

The quality and scale of these stunning Sèves porcelain vases denotes their creation for the 1900 World's Fair.
  • May 23, 2014

Beginning in the mid-19th century, the universal showcase for the world’s greatest artisans and craftsmen to unveil trend-setting techniques, styles and ideas were the International ...

Read More

26481016

ArtfixDaily Artwire