Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Giacometti Brothers

Alberto and Diego Giacometti: brothers in life and in art. They are both recognized for their unique sense of form and scale, and yielding a variety of work that is not easily categorized into one particular artistic movement.

Alberto, a famous and self-confident Swiss sculptor, created the most expensive sculpture ever sold- “Walking Man I” (1960) for $ 104.3 million. He is best known for this figurative post World War II work, though he has many others of comparable acclaim.

Walking Man
Giacometti Style Coffee Table | JMF


Diego, more reserved, but an artist and sculptor in his own right, also created whimsical and inventive furniture. His works combined the function of the craft with the majesty and artistry of sculpture. He especially enjoyed incorporating animals-frogs, horses, cats, turtles, etc.- into his pieces.



Giacometti Forged Iron Console Table | JMF
Ostrich by Diego Giacometti, circa 1959

Alberto and Diego’s similarities in style and medium are clear, while each maintaining their own realm of work and recognition. They shared a studio in Paris for 40 years and were each other’s biggest inspirations, advisors, and fans. There’s nothing quite like brotherly love!

Jean-Marc recently exhibited at Galerie Lympia in Nice, France displaying Alberto Giacometti’s latest works. His first-hand pictures provide a glimpse at the rich texture, striking beauty, and Giacometti’s unique interpretations of the human form.



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Elusive History of the Chesterfield

Possibly the most recognizable and iconic style of furniture, the Chesterfield sofa has a long, mysterious history. Tailored and sophisticated, this celebrated design has adapted through the centuries of interior trends and has now become a must-have for any home. The Chesterfield is a tufted leather sofa with rolled arms at an even height with the back of the couch, often decorated with elaborate wooden feet or brass nail heads. Found in an abundance of colors and fabrics, the Chesterfield is both comfortable and posh.

Chesterfield Sofa, Jean-Marc Fray Antiques
Chesterfield Living Room, Timothy Oulton

Though the first recorded use of the word “chesterfield” was not until 1900, many documents, paintings, and anecdotes depict the Chesterfield sofa decades before the turn of the century. Lore surrounding the style describes Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) as the originator of this seminal design. Stanhope, known by his contemporaries as a fashionable gentleman, is said to have requested a local craftsman to produce a sofa on which he could sit in comfort, while also wrinkling his extravagant clothing. Despite the widespread knowledge of this story, there is no proof of the Chesterfield being procured in such a way. In fact, there is no concrete evidence of it’s mysterious beginnings at all.

Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield by Benjamin Wilson, Leeds Museums and Galleries

By the Victorian Era, the Chesterfield sofa was seen prominently throughout the gentlemen’s clubs of London. As an elusive meeting place for the most well-respected and high-society men to congregate in secret, the design flourished and can still be seen in some of these clubs to this day. These secret clubs ultimately add to the popularity of the sofa, but more than likely stalled the widespread interest in the Chesterfield by keeping the design to this exclusive setting.

Castle Balmoral, the Scottish holiday home of the royal family, was opened in 1853. In a James Roberts’ painting from 1857, the drawing room of Balmoral can be seen in all of it’s plaid splendor, including two Chesterfield sofas in a traditional Scottish plaid pattern. This is one of the earliest known images of a Chesterfield. Soon after, another early painting of a Chesterfield can be seen in Frederick Walker’s 1867 illustration for the novel The Adventures of Philip by William Makepeace Thakeray. This Chesterfield can be seen surrounded by a more traditional Victorian decor, including floral wallpaper and a gilded mirror. Even in these early examples, the Chesterfield was already demonstrating it’s elegant versatility.

Brooks Gentlemen’s Club, one of the oldest in London
Balmoral: The Drawing Room, Royal Collection Trust
Frederick Walker’s 1867 Illustration, Apartment Therapy

As the British Empire expanded, so did the British cultural influence and popular fashions. The Chesterfield was one of these exports, expanding the sofa to Australia, India, Canada, and the US. The design became so popular in Canada that the word “Chesterfield” became the overarching term used for all sofa designs and was only recently replaced with the US term “couch.” This archetypal influence continued through the 1920’s, when the Chesterfield became a must-have for the middle-class dreaming of extravagant living. Moving into the Mid-Century, the style continued to be a symbol in living rooms across the world.

Chesterfield with iconic Eames’ chair, Home Edit
Chesterfield Armchairs, Jean-Marc Fray Antiques
Chesterfield in Mattie’s, Joel Mozersky Design

The beautiful materials and strong classic style allows the Chesterfield to adapt to the aesthetics of traditional or modern spaces. At Jean-Marc Fray, we love the durability and strength of the leather with the wonderful details of the brass nail heads and tufting. The mysterious saga of the Chesterfield’s history makes this design both beautiful and important. Please check out the Chesterfields we have in a wide range of colors and sizes, available on our website!

Black Leather Chesterfield, Jean-Marc Fray Antiques
Chesterfield Office, Better Decorating Bible
Red Chesterfield Sofa, Jean-Marc Fray Antiques
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