Piano originally the property of Queen Mary, residing at the Ballroom in Malborough House
Unique, 1899 Bluthner grand piano with a rosewood case. Cabinet decorated with Art Nouveau and Empire style elements. It was showcased at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. Piano originally the property of Queen Mary, residing at the Ballroom in Malborough House.
The piano cheek is inlaid with an Art Nouveau design featuring a stylised female head surrounded by whiplash lines and foliage. Columnar, Empire style gilt mounts stand each side of the inlay. Napoleonic emblems of stars, palmettes and foliage feature here. Female heads with flowing tresses and floral headbands in gilt metal sit atop each cheek. The butterfly shaped, music desk is made from bevelled glass and an intricate metal filigree design. A central circular tree of life is surrounded by a laurel leaf wreath. Whiplash lines and stylised foliage and flowers complete the design. The three piano legs are heavily carved, yet appear understated due to minimal use of gilt filigree banding. Each leg is a tapered, four-sided baluster shape, carved with sunflowers and foliage. The two-pedal lyre has three central spindles accented with gilt acanthus and palms at either end. Two gilt lions feet frame the cabriole lyre. The piano lid is attached with two large ornate, brass hinges in a flowing intertwined design with symmetrical foliar motifs. The front panel features gilt, Empire mount motifs. Bees fly around flowers, between two winged lions couchant. Scrolling whiplash lines lead to and outcrop of poppies, foliage more bees and thin trailing ribbons. The piano fall is inlaid with a symmetrical Art Nouveau design of stylised foliage and whiplash lines in coloured woods. The piano lid is also inlaid with an Art Nouveau style border in a stylised rinceau of interlocking foliage and flowers in coloured woods. The piano has a specially cast, ornate, burnished gilt frame.
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Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture, and applied art, especially the decorative arts. The style was most popular between 1890 and 1910 during the Belle Époque period that ended with the start of World War I in 1914. It was a reaction against the academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. Other characteristics of Art Nouveau were a sense of dynamism and movement, often given by asymmetry or whiplash lines, and the use of modern materials, particularly iron, glass, ceramics and later concrete, to create unusual forms and larger open spaces. One major objective of Art Nouveau was to break down the traditional distinction between fine arts and applied arts.
The Empire style is an early-nineteenth-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts, representing the second phase of Neoclassicism. The Empire style originated in and takes its name from the rule of the Emperor Napoleon I in the First French Empire, when it was intended to idealize Napoleon's leadership and the French state. The Empire style "turned to the florid opulence of Imperial Rome. All Empire ornament is governed by a rigorous spirit of symmetry. Individual motifs themselves are entirely symmetrical in composition: antique heads with identical tresses falling onto each shoulder, frontal figures of Victory. Napoleon had a set of emblems unmistakably associated with his rule, most notably the eagle, the bee, stars, and the initials I (for Imperator) and N (for Napoleon), which were usually inscribed within an imperial laurel crown. Motifs used include: figures of Victory bearing palm branches, Greek dancers, nude and draped women, figures of antique chariots, winged putti, mascarons of Apollo, Hermes and the Gorgon, swans, lions, the heads of oxen, horses and wild beasts, butterflies, claws, winged chimeras, sphinxes, bucrania, sea horses, oak wreaths knotted by thin trailing ribbons, climbing grape vines, poppy rinceaux, rosettes, palm branches, and laurel. There's a lot of Greco-Roman ones: stiff and flat acanthus leaves, palmettes, cornucopias, beads, amphoras, tripods, imbricated disks, caduceuses of Mercury, vases, helmets, burning torches, winged trumpet players, and ancient musical instruments.
A Royal Life: Mary of Teck, Queen & Mother (1953)
1900 - The Paris Exposition Universelle
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