Where we breed Dragons

Dragon panels drying in the workshop

In European mythology, the word dragon derives from two separate Greek words. One word means “a huge serpent or snake” and the other means “I see clearly”. Dragons in European traditions have wings, allowing them to soar freely above, resulting in a perspective that encompasses a huge panorama below. In this context, dragons can be thought to symbolize the ability to see the “big picture” as well as the ability to see far off danger or future circumstances.

European dragons are fire spitting evil forces.

Chinese or Feng shui dragons on the other hand are exuberant, playful, beneficent creatures that live on land as well as in water and in the air. They are associated with spring rains and water and are symbols of abundant life, strength, fertility, and prosperity.

Myths change over time. Oral traditions were not there only, to reproduce the exact tales told by the ancients. They were a basis for talented storytellers to catch the attention of an audience and storytellers have fantasy thus myths muted, stories changed and our perception on a subject or personage changed too.

If there must still be storytellers around the campfire, the main stories are told on media and travel the world in seconds, if the story is well told it is imprinted in our minds in its new updated from.

I don’t doubt the influence of series like Game of Thrones, and the influence they had on our perception of dragons I believe there will be a before and and after.

In Game of Thrones dragons are massive, flying reptiles that can breathe fire onto their enemies and cook their food with the same flame. They are rumored to have a strong connection to magic which seems to be proven true when magic begins to return to the world after the birth of the first three in over two hundred years. Dragons possess awesome and devastating power, capable of laying waste to armies and burning entire cities to ashes. Men who were able to tame and ride dragons as beasts of war used them to burn their enemies and forge vast empires across the continents.

At Lutson we breed Dragons since many years, Lutson Dragons are European dragons in their physical appearance. Our Dragons are exclusively female and are a magical mix of the European and the Chinese Dragons they are winged and spit water producing flowers and abundant life.

Lo and Behold its still a Dragon

The Dragon panel is a reproduction of a mid 18th century Flemish design.

In our collection we have a 17th century panel in which a tiny dragon sits on a branch, innocent and cute.

Baby Dragon from 1650

 

As always

Fred

 

MetLife NY Boardroom Leathers

Back in 2004 we were asked to reproduce the leather wall coverings for

MetLife NY

The job and the challenge were considerable.

We made samples for over 8 months, meanwhile the people in charge of the project tried to source other suppliers for the gilded leather in order to secure their need.

In the end we got the order for over 400 panels of gilded leather.

The finalization of the samples was done over here in our workshop, along with Alaxandra Allart form ArtCare Resourses whom traveled all the way to France

    For many years I have been trying to get some pictures of the job which I never physically saw.

    For an unknown reason MetLife has not been very diligent with pictures.

Despite several requests we never got one picture.

Recently however Robert M. Kelly from the Wallpaper Scholar wrote an article on his blog about the dismanteling of the MetLife Boardroom at One Madison Ave and the transfer and rebuild of this imposing room to the penthouse floor at the actual MetLife building which sits atop Grand Central Station

Robert Kelly was one of those involved in the installation of the leathers along with Barry Blanchard, for those who wish to read the whole story click the link:  http://wallpaperscholarblog.blogspot.fr/

Perhaps the posting from Robert Kelly and this one might help moving lines and will we finally get some good pictures from our distinguished customer.

Removing the ceiling at One Madison, 2004

This is an original panel which we were to reproduce.

 This picture shows the leathers at One Madison, 2004

unfortunately one can’t judge the poor condition of the leathers from this picture.

In his text Mr kelly describes the contition of the leather extensively

Lutson Leathers installed at the MetLife Building atop Grand Central, 2005

Many thanks to Mr Robert Kelly.

Best Wishes

Frederic

Swedish Baroque Chair

This is the back of a Swedish Baroque chair, ornate with the original leather. The seats are worn and lost, the remaining leathers have been removed from the chair and are now stored safely.

color samples have been made at first.

Along with Annika our Swedish distributor http://www.lagestapetserarverkstad.se we discussed the matter of how unusual the Putti looks

Indeed you will notice that he looks like a grown man, which is quite unusual.

The fact is that the we find him not looking like a Putti at all, but a naughty Eros thats what he is !!

The real identity of our Swedish Eros was revealed by Sophie & Jean Marc form www.academiededessin.net

He is no less than Gérard Depardieu 😉

                   

Unfortunately we don’t have a panel with putti’s in our collection.

so we produced 3 Aboncance panels.

The Abondance is from the same style and period. Here painted in a similar coloursceme.

I think the  chairs will look very nice.

As soon as Annika and Leif have the chairs finiched I’ll post some pictures.

As Always

Frederic

Bespoke Verentuil

This Verentuil has an Antiqued Gilded ground.

 As background paint a burgundy colour was required.

Instead, Lut decided to use two shades of burgundy in order to accentuate  the central medallion.

Bleu and Pink were also on the list of the designer.

Usualy some of the leaves are painted in shades of greenish earth colour

Here the greens have gone and been replaced by a bluish colour

Finally the pink went on the Plumes forming the central theme.

This Sample goes to our London showroom at Tatiana Tafur Ltd.

It will also help Tatiana or Andy by showing the customer a possible interpretation of his requests.

And it will be easier to make adaptations based on this existing panel than from some  loose colour swatches.

I guess we soon will be updated on the customers comments.

… ?

Best Wishes

Frederic

The Dragon

The Dragon 1745  – 1760

The Dragon is the only “real” Rococo design in our collection.

It was made in the right period of time, undoubtedly by a talented ornamentalist. Just looking at the quality of the sculpture tells the story.

Rococo is all about Grotto’s and Rocaille. Nature is slightly twisted, its sensual, unusual and fascinating, it creates an environment that helps escaping the threats of the real world.

Escape reality and live in your own beautiful world was the message. It was the privileged and yet fearing situation of those who lived at the court in Versailles under the reign of Louis XV

Dragons lived in grottos. That’s why the Dragon fits in the whole picture with natural ease. It’s rooted in the romantic European past and it’s venerated in the exotic and in those days unreachable Far East.

The ornamentalists thought it had to be a special Dragon not one breathing fire and sulfur, not one that kills and leaves behind a scene of desolation and destruction.

It had to be the most kind of Dragons a Dragon that gives life and beauty, a reassuring Dragon. The Good Dragon had to be a female Dragon that breathes water from which the Flowers sprout and Life spreads in all its generous beauty.

 In 2002 the “Deutsche Tapetenmuseum” Kassel

purchased the Dragon tapestries that were fitted in a room form “Kasteel De List”  in Shoten near Antwerp

http://www.museum-kassel.de/index_navi.php?parent=1590

Das Tapetenmuseum has a fabulous collection worth a visit.

Frederic

The Famous Herter Brothers Side Chair

The Famous Herter Brothers Side Chair

In the early days of 1995 The Metropolitan Museum of Art orders
two Gilded Leather panels for an exceptional piece of furniture.
It turns out to be a side chair.
Made in 1881 by the leading New York cabinet makers and Interior decorators                                       “The Herter Brothers”
The side chair was part of a huge project for William H. Vanderbilt.

“In May 1880 when Herter Brothers received the profitable contract for designing, decorating and outfitting Vanderbilt’s large New York mansion, it was a crowning achievement for the firm, providing the brothers with the opportunity to create the epitome of the cosmopolitan environment with few financial constraints. They were superbly matched with their client, who wanted a grand interior to equal his elevated social and economic status, who embraced the firm’s predilection for mixing eclectic styles as an indicator of culture, who relished and could afford the Herter’s lavish use of luxurious materials, and whose public stature would ensure lasting fame for Herter Brothers’ designs. “
Quote: “Wendell Garrett”

This Famous side chair was going to be part of a traveling exhibition entitled
“Herter Brothers: Furniture for the gilded age”
Organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and  The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and held in 1995

As often the case, when the spotlight shines  upon a forgotten name or an exceptional talent that went out of the picture, not only does it create stupefaction, it also reveals hidden treasures.
Indeed, little later four more chairs appeared in the Mid-West and sold for a considerable price at Sotheby’s
Also a single side chair turned up and we were to supply the same leather as for the Metropolitan chair. Eventually in 2008 this same chair came on auction at Sotheby’s.  Setting a new record for a Herter Brothers chair.
http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult–herter-brothers-usa-chair-from-the-dining-room-of-2054423.htm

Here you will find a link to the article written by Wendell Garrett on the Herter Brothers and more specifically on the side chair. Published by Artnet.com
http://www.artnet.com/magazine_pre2000/features/garrett/garrett7-13-99.asp
for those of you who don’t want to click the link please find here a copy of the text.
By Wendell Garett

A traveling exhibition entitled “Herter Brothers: Furniture for the Gilded Age” was organized and held in 1995 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. In that groundbreaking show on Gustave Herter and his brother, Christian — New York’s leading cabinetmakers and interior decorators in the late 19th-century — was a single Herter Brothers dining room side chair. Originally made for the palatial William H. Vanderbilt residence on Fifth Avenue, it was one of the two known examples from a set of at least 18. The chair is currently on permanent exhibition in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Since then, four more side chairs from the suite unexpectedly turned up in the mid-west, and sold at Sotheby’s New York for $99,000 on June 24 in a 19th-century furniture and decorations auction.
In 1848 the young cabinetmaker and woodcarver, Gustave Herter (1830-1892), left his native Germany and emigrated to New York City. By 1858, he owned what would become a leading New York cabinetmaking and interior decorating company. Together with his younger brother, Christian (1839-1883), who arrived in New York in 1859, they formed Herter Brothers, which became one of the most respected firms not only in the city but in the whole country.
Herter Brothers created cosmopolitan environments encompassiong every aspect of interior design, including furniture and woodwork, wall and ceiling decoration, floor treatments and drapery. The firm’s clients were among the most visible and affluent of the era — the White House, Mrs. Mark Hopkins, Jay Gould, J. Pierpont Morgan and William Henry Vanderbilt, who during 1880-1882 was building his mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue.
A writer in the Decorator and Furnisher in 1887 claimed that “every private residence ever before constructed in America is entirely eclipsed by the house of the American railway king, Mr. William H. Vanderbilt.” It was estimated that 600-700 men worked to complete the huge Beaux-Arts house that occupied the entire block between 51st and 52nd Streets. The total expense was approximately $1.75 million. Interior decorations and furnishings alone were said to have cost about $800,000 — more than had ever been spent on the interior of any other American house.
William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885) was the son of the financier and railroad promoter Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt (1794-1877). When his father died, William Vanderbilt inherited the bulk of an estate estimated to be worth about $90 million. In less than a decade he had more than doubled that sum. Like many Herter clients, Vanderbilt spent most of his life in business, and was able to enjoy his dream palace for only three years before he died.
Relatively free from the lingering influence of historical styles and European guild traditions, the Herter factory was able to take certain liberties in its cabinetmaking, carving, gilding and upholstery. Thus a chair in the Second Empire style, which by French convention might have been made by a menuisier of gilded or painted wood, in the Herter’s hand could become a vibrant combination of imaginatively upholstered, carved, ebonized natural wood decorated with marquetry or ormolu and highlighted with gilding.
Herter examples have a vivid and adventuresome appearance; they frequently contrast rich rosewood veneers with bright marquetry bands and classical imagery. Part of the firm’s success was due to its exceptional ability to create handcrafted, luxury products in an industrial environment. What also distinguishes Herter furniture from its English counterparts of this era is its assertive, complex, floriform marquetry decoration, as opposed to painted and often figurative English surfaces.
In May 1880 when Herter Brothers received the profitable contract for designing, decorating and outfitting Vanderbilt’s large New York mansion, it was a crowning achievement for the firm, providing the brothers with the opportunity to create the epitome of the cosmopolitan environment with few financial constraints. They were superbly matched with their client, who wanted a grand interior to equal his elevated social and economic status, who embraced the firm’s predilection for mixing eclectic styles as an indicator of culture, who relished and could afford the Herter’s lavish use of luxurious materials, and whose public stature would ensure lasting fame for Herter Brothers’ designs.
Indeed, the Vanderbilt house garnered considerable notice during its day, most of it focusing on its immense size and cost. The house also achieved lasting posterity from its being published in two lavish limited-edition, multi-volume publications, both appearing in the 1880’s. This remarkable house was demolished in 1946.
The dining room was of oak carved in the Neo-Renaissance style, as was typical of dining rooms in the 19th century, and appeared solid, somber and rather dark. Motifs such as swags of fruit, putti in full relief and low-relief classical vases from which emanate symmetrical floral tendrils were found on the furniture as well as on the built-in buffet and cupboards, which housed some of Vanderbilt’s collection of 18th-century continental porcelain.
The dining room chairs were carved of oak to be en suite with the surrounding woodwork. The carved crest rails depict fruit, nuts and flowers, which allude to the function of the room. The chairs’ solidity is belied by the delicacy of the carving. Symmetrical, stylized foliage climbs the square-sectioned legs. The side stretchers are a conceit of the carver’s art: they appear as separate elements — a loop, a chain link and two square rings hang from the center of the side seat rail and join each leg by means of a sash carved to look as if it is looped through each square ring. The stretchers seem to be attached to the legs by means of Egyptian palmettes at either end. Corners of brass cut into ornamental profiles highlighted with incising to conform to the shape of the carved ornament cover the top of the legs just below the seat rail. Brass also covers the “sock” portion of each leg, and a narrow strip is affixed by means of floral-headed screws to the edge of the chair back.
Furniture historians have tended to disparage the quality of American design during the years following the Civil War, and not without some reason. But Herter Brothers’ rational approach, its uncompromising quality and impeccable craftsmanship, and its ability to identify the best in many cultures and embrace it as its own, have set the firm apart from the majority of other furniture factories.
The decades following the Civil War, at once brilliant and depressing, dramatize the contradictions within American culture. During the rich confusion of this era, we became industrialized and developed a new life in an Eden that had embarrassingly outgrown its old patterns and institutions. We produced the most amazing gallery of powerful and picturesque personalities we have ever fostered — some ethically corrupt, economically ruthless and politically incompetent, others dreamers and reformers who carried utopias in their heads and men who had money to spend without knowing very well how to spend it.
The ruthless accumulation of wealth and uninhibited display of possessions by “captains of industry” such as Vanderbilt reflected the laissez-faire social Darwinism of the American aristocracy. “Who knows how to be rich in America?” demanded E. L. Godkin in the Nation in 1866. “Plenty of people know how to get money; but not very many know what best to do with it. To be rich properly is a fine art. It requires culture, imagination and character.”

WENDELL GARRETT is senior vice president of American decorative arts at Sotheby’s.

 Finally dont miss the amazingly complete article on the W.H. Vanderbilt house at 640 Fifth Ave NY published by

http://halfpuddinghalfsauce.blogspot.com/

Wishes
Frederic

Handbag by Lutson

At Lutson  we manufacture Gilded Leather panels. Period.

At least we know this trade.

In earlier mails I’ve shown several applications for our leathers. Here’s another one.

Making a handbag is something I wanted to do for a long time and yet it never happened.

 You will notice that this is a prototype, a one-off.

all pieces were glued,  there is not one stitch.

because I couldn’t make handles that matched my ambition,

I tought “lets forget about the handles”

the matter here is how does it look, does this sort of hand bag make sence,

are we in the right proportions and many considerations of this sort.

Well let’s hope Lut will enjoy the bag and have some good use of it.

Bien à Vous

Fred

Japanese Ornate Leather Picture Frame

In our collection we have this Japanese picture frame from the 19th century.

The work is detailed and small scaled, it’s beautifully done with finesse and métier. The colors have faded and blend nicely into one another. Yet I’m convinced that even when newly done the color scheme would have been a well-balanced one.

It’s a precious and unusual object I have not seen any other alike. Having said that, it could well be that in other areas of this small planet there are plenty of them and that they are regarded as a banality. I you happen to be there and know more do not hesitate to share your thoughts.

The picture frame has a book shape and you will notice on the front the heavily ornate hinges. To me they look like  Spanish or Portuguese baroque items.           

 They have no function but to add some Kitsch to the ensemble, it’s more likely that they’ve been added to please an international clientele.

There must be descriptions if this sort of designs somewhere out there but I couldn’t find any.

 You can se for yourself, here’s my attempt.

 It’s a geometrical pattern of squares and lozenges. In the two opposite corners of the squares, there are again squares and the other two opposite corners there are sort of circular flower ornaments. The whole surface is ornate with small geometrical patterns on which they have disposed raised floral ornaments. It’s all a bit over the top, one could use the term Horror Vacui.

                   

Again the design is small scaled and the mould to produce this sort of pattern doesn’t need to be big I can imagine it    being 50 X 50 cm.

The pattern itself must be inspired from a fabric or, why not, the other way around.

Your expertise is welcome to enlighten us.

In all western literature on leather craft I have found but one illustration of such a work it’s in a reference work called Leather Craft from Henri Clouzot edited in 1920, soon a century ago… the fragment is conserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs Paris.  Some similar leather panels are in the collection of Hermes Paris  aswell.

Best Wishes

Fred

Verentuil ~ Feather Bouquet

 Picture: Jan Verlinden Week-End Knack

The Verentuil is a unique design from the early 18th century probably around 1710.

Its uniqueness resides in the fact that the central theme is a bouquet of feathers. Strangely enough in the specialized literature this panel is hardly described. The panel is dated and dimensions are given only very few panels have survived. This is it.

Other designs give more readable info with grapes and insects, birds or flowers. Some designs are allegorical themes and these are also pretty easy to comment on.

My guess is that they have not seen it was a bouquet of feathers or that they didn’t dare to come with an interpretation of this design, its anyone’s guess.

When Lut and I came across this design at an antique shop in Ghent we were wild about it, we never saw this design, it was a revelation

We decided to reproduce this design and called it Verentuil as to us it was obviously a bouquet of feathers

Throughout the ages Feathers were used to in ceremonial and festive events when grandeur or respect was demanded or when one decided to stand out. Feathers did ornate helmets and shako’s as to add a touch of elegance and brightness in a poor attempt to compensate the brutality of the men wearing them.

Few years after we made the panel a booklet was published on the subject of gilded leather and in there was a picture of a room (pictured here above) in a small castle owned by a Flemish Knight 5 min from where we lived, I was blown. We have been there and put along the original panels a panel of our production in exactly the same color ways. The Knight couldn’t believe it, neither could we, it was a perfect match. Unfortunately no business spin-off, well at least not immediately.

Today the Verentuil is one of the classics in our collection

While doing some research for this article I came across a picture of a chair upholstered in the Verentuil and look the seat is upholstered in the correct way whilst the back is just some piece of a panel upside down, nevertheless it still  looks good.

I have seen interiors where some panels were hung upside down, and it looked very good, today this is unthinkable. Poor us.

This panel  is painted in a traditional way on a silver-gilded ground.

 Here a more contemporary version on a silver ground.

The picture here under is the same panel but with a different setting on the camera which shows you how difficult it is to make good pictures from gilded (or silvered) leather !

As always.

Fred