Monthly Archives: June 2015

Art Deco Bronzes – The Figural Form





At Canonbury Antiques we are great fans of the art deco era. Though the style took its name from ‘L’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes‘, held in Paris in 1925 it initially began to emerge during the 1910’s reaching its height during the roaring 1920’s. The art deco aesthetic influenced all creative areas – architecture, typography, fashion, music, paintings, furniture, design and of course the figural form, mainly in the shape of art deco bronzes and statues, which will be our focus.


(Above: Beauty of Paris by Joe Descomps)

In this piece we will examine the main influences that affected the shaping of the figural form of the time and some of it’s most famous proponents, including Chiparus, Fayral, Max Leverrier, Ferdinand Preiss, Lalique, Colinet, Joe Descomps and a whole host of other artists, a rolecall of the deco greats. We have all manner of art deco bronzes available at Canonbury Antiques , mainly of the female form which was obviously the most favoured subject of the artists.

The 1920s seem to be a time of great social change, technical development and historical advances in science and travel that really influenced the overall look and feel of the time. Here’s some of the main factors:



(Above: Gorgeous Biba – or Clarte – figurine in the form of a lamp. Classic example of the 1920s idealised female form)

Every era has it’s asethetic version of the idealised female form. Whether it be a Rubenesque 1600s version of the more rounded female to the wasted heroin chic waif look popular in the 90s. In the 1920s it seemed like the first stirrings of the fully modern woman were made – female suffrage clearly gave women independence and confidence. Women were granted suffrage (the right to vote) in the United States in 1920 and in Britain in 1918 (although propertied and over 30 was a requirement). Hence, coming in the aftermath of the First World War, the twenties are often looked at through rose tinted glasses as a time of progression and growing freedoms. The 1920s idealised form of the female was all lithe athleticism, perhaps in a skimpy bathing suit. It was almost a hark back to classical antiquity with the degree that youth, beauty and perfect physical proportion were worshipped. It certainly made for some great statues and works of art.

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(Above: The fashion designer Erte extered a massive influence sartorially)

Romain de Tirtoff was a Russian born artist who worked out of France in the 1920s and worked under the pseudonym Erte. Erte was a polymath who worked in jewellery, costume, set design and fashion and had a sweeping influence, particularly on female dress that can be seen in various dresses and fashions of women featured in art deco bronzes. He would have dressed the stars in the silent movies of the time and just a cursory search of his imagery on Google will reveal how big an influence it was.


ballet russes_0

(Above: Ballet Russe’s influence can really be seen in the works of DH Chiparus)

The Ballets Russes was a travelling ballet company based in Paris who toured the world throughout the twenties. The companies productions created a big sensation and influenced performance art and costumes. It also introduced European and American audiences to designs, motifs and music from Russian folklore. Art deco artists, particularly DH Chiparus were extremely influenced.


Streamline Moderne

(Above: Streamline Moderne in the architectural medium. If this was in marble could almost be a base to a bronze)

Sleek aerodynanism was a recurrant look and feel to the art deco figural form. This can be seen as a response to the technical advances in travel – by air, car, train and boat – that were enabling mass commercial travel to really grown in the 1920s. In turn the designs of these modes of travel incorporated a streamline look for quicker travel. These advances can really be seen in the architectural works – for eg the Streamline Moderne movement –  of the day which have  fine lines, elegant areoplane-like curves and a clean symmetry.


Cubism is an early Twentieth century art from that emerged in Paris in the early 1900s. It’s leading proponents were Georges Braque and of course Picasso. The impact of Cubism were far-reaching and definitely influenced the art deco bronze figural form, mainly in the way faces were depicted with slightly exaggerated features and clean angular lines. The look often had an almost tribal art feel, again a response to an opening up of the world to other cultures and arts as anthropologists and ethnographers encroached on formerly remote tribes and parts of the world.


egyptian dancer by gori

(Above: Egyptian Dancer statue by Colinet)

In 1922 Howard Carted and George Herberts (5th Earl of Carnarvon, and owner of Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey) discovered Turankhamun’s nearly intact tomb. This led throughout the 1920s to a fascination with all things Egyptican – pharos, pyramids, pharaoh hounds, obelisks etc – as images and photos were brought back from Egypt and manifested itself in the art and design. Again particuarly Chiparus who had a penchant for all manner of Egyptian dancers and belly dancers, a flirtation with the exotic.



(Above: A right bunch of Flappers! Where’s the champagne and jazz records?)

Tieing in with female emancipation touched on above through universal suffrage, was the emergence of the ‘new breed’ of young Western women called ‘flappers’. The flapper wore short skirts, had bobbed hair, danced to jazz, drank, smoked, had casual sex and generally flouted any social norms they could. They sound like a lot of fun and greatly advanced the cause of liberalism. As such it was a great influence on the art deco bronze figural form.




(Above: Lovely Odalisque figurine in the form of a lamp)

Clowns – predominantly the Harlequin and Pierrot – seem to be a recurring fixation in the figural form. Clowns have always been a mild obsession in French culture and in the 1920s silent films, clown antics would have been a main source of humour and entertainment. As most of the important figural works and artists came out of Paris we can see the direct causation here.


Click here to view our range of art deco bronzes >>


The odalisque – another 1920s artistic fixation – was a concubine in a Turkish harem. Artistically it emerged as an eroticised genre in which a normally semi nude Eastern woman lies on her side on display for the specator. Maybe it was just another great motif within which to study the female form, preferrably in a partially clothed manner.

DH Chiparus, although now ubiquitous, has to be the most important and iconic sculpturist working out of Paris in the 1920s. Original works of his command figures well into six noughts and are highly sought after and collectable. He really was a man of his times and the whole look and feel of the roaring twenties seem to reach its zenith in his statues and figurines. Here are some of our current favourite Chiparus pieces:


(Above: Eternal Friends by Chiparus – flapper flanked by two borzoi hound, the ultimate deco dog)


(Above: Chiparus Fan Dancer statue – Harlequin meets Ballets Russes)


(Above: Karmona by Chiparus – again Ballets Russe meets Egypt)


Canonbury Antiques – Where Are We


Canonbury Antiques
Redwell Wood Farm
Ridge Hill
Potters Bar
Hertfordshire EN6 3NA

Canonbury-Antiques-Hertfordshire antiques Showroom (1)

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We are very well connected, close to M1 and right on the M25 just outside Potters Bar in Herts. Many of these goods are on display in our Hertfordshire antiques showroom so please come in and say hello. Whenever people visit we always get the same commments – ‘it’s like an Aladdin’s Cave!’ Yes, it’s packed to the rafters with all manner of furniture and objet’s d’art. So please come in and enjoy the best Herts antiques showroom. Please click here to find us on Google Maps 


One thing we ask – if there are specific things you’d like to see that you have seen on our website, please let us know the item numbers so we can check it’s on display. Nine times out of ten it will be but some of our goods are in storage as we just don’t have the room for all our stock. If it is in storage we can arrange in advance to have it ready for a viewing.
Just 25 minutes north of London..via rail…and Eurostar

eurostar terminal near canonbury antiques

We are easily accessible from London either by car or rail. Via rail the nearest train station is Potters Bar which is just 20 minutes north of Kings Cross with at least four trains an hour. The station is around 5 minutes from the showroom by taxi – there is a taxi rank just outside the station. Most local drivers will know the Canonbury Antiques Hertfordshire showroom. The rail network in the UK is excellent and easy to use. Kings Cross is also the terminal for Eurostar – perfect for our European friends visiting from Paris, Brussels and anywhere else on the Continent.

Close to Heathrow / Luton / Stanstead Airports

Canonbury Antiques Map - London Hertfordshire

For our many customers from abroad we are very close to Heathrow airport (just 25 minutes around the M25). We are also close to both Luton and Stanstead airports which are approx 30 minutes away. We have visitors from all over Europe, North and South American, Australia, Asia – in fact everywhere in the world. Our Hertfordshire antiques showroom is truly global.
Large field next door to park helicopters

The-helicopter-touches-down-at-Canonbury Antiques Hertfordshire showroom

That’s right, if you have your own mode of air transport you can land your helicopter in the field next door. As exactly a number of clients have over the years. If you don’t own a helicopter the Number 179 bus stops relatively close to us on the St Albans Road!
Nice things to visit in the area

st-albans-cathedral near canonbury antiques

Often people who come to visit our Canonbury Antiques Hertfordshire showroom they might incorporate it with visiting some of the many local places of interest. We’re just 5 minutes down the road from historic St Albans which has a cathedral, Roman ruins and was the place of various battles during the War of the Roses. It’s a gorgeous market town with nice shopping and lunch spots.

There are also numerous good lunch spots, pub lunches, walks and we’re also opposite the Mosquito aircraft museum. Please let us know if you have any questions whilst visiting our Canonbury Antiques Hertfordshire showroom.

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Silver Plate Epergne Centrepiece – A Guide

Pair Sheffield Silver Plate Epergnes Gilt Swan Dippers Cut Glass Plates Dish C_C_T Co-1418774205-zoom-68(Above – these look great with the intricate gilded swans)

At Canonbury Antiques we carry a range of silver plate epergnes or centerpieces. These ornate and florid works of art are designed to go in the centre of a dining table as part of the dining arrangement and to serve condiments, sauces, exotic nuts, small food items or perhaps in a purely decorative function to showcase a floral arrangement. They will certainly add a certain oomph to any dinner party – and also look great at other times just as decorative pieces.

Victorian Silver Plate Epergen Centrepiece Gilt Swan Dish Bowl-1418773831-zoom-10

slot into the corresponding numbered hole on the centerpiece. An extra nice touch are the mirrored trays that these will come on – so you can admire them from every angle in the reflection in the glass.

Sheffield Silver Plate Epergne Centrepiece Glass Stand Dish Bowl-1395810949-zoom-63


(Above – note the mirrored tray so you can enjoy views of this epergne from all angles)

Working out of Sheffield – a city in the North of England – famous for steel on an industrial level and silver plate on a smaller scale, is where many of the silver plate techniques were first developed and mastered. The Elkington technique of electroplating surfaces also developed in England, specifically out of Birmingham in the Midlands.  George Richards Elkington worked in the science of electrometallurgy and took out various patents of his system of finishing objects in silver plate. Of course with aristocratic patrons this soon took off resulting in the plethora of designs and styles made.



(Above – chips and salsa night suddenly got more upmarket)

Famous silver smiths working out of England in the 1800s include Matthew Boulton (working in a largely neoclassical style) and Thomas Pitt who was based in London. We have a range of silver plate epergnes so hopefully you can find one to suit your needs and tastes. Nothing beats a serving lovely sauces from these works of art during a high end dinner party and they really add some style to the occasion.

Please check out our video below showing how these look in their element – on a large walnut Victorian dining table all we need are some guests and fine wine:

Canonbury Antiques – new website launched with mobile and tablet versions

After much toiling and going cross eyed staring at screens, we’re pleased to announce the launch of our new website. The very website that you are now currently reading this story on. We hope you like what you see.

Apart from a cleaner design which is faster and – we hope – easier to use we’ve also launched mobile and tablet versions. Amazing isn’t it what you can do with mobile phones these days? I never imagined we’d live in a world where you can buy antiques off a mobile phone but we’re in it – and now on it!

It’s so clever that when you search for us, the correct version of the site will launch depending on what device you are reading it on. Wowsers. Plus the photos are easier to scroll through – well in this case swipe through. It’s like Tinder but for antiques.

website canonbury antiques

We’ve also launched a section entitled Knowledge Base – where we will be writing regular product guides, videos, information on styles and interior design tips. Content is king and all that.

We appreicate any feedback so please send any comments, suggestions or tips, please get in touch

Canonbury Antiques – Easter Opening Times

It’s that time of year again – spring has sprung and it’s Easter..

We are closed Good Friday and Easter Monday. Open Saturday 4th April 10am to 5pm – please let us know if you would like to come in. As ever, if it’s something specific you’d like to see let us know as some of our goods are in storage.

Of course the website is open 24 / 7 – 365 days of the year…


A guide to Regency dining tables >>>

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Perfect for the collector, discerning individual and interior designer. With our bi-monthly email we will be highlighting the best of our ecelectic finds from up and down the country and via our frequent hops to mainland Europe. Running the gamut from a lifesize bronze rhinocerous to a metamorphic arm chair, whatever it is you are looking for we’ve got all bases covered with our quirky product range. Plus news, reviews, guides and photo galleries..

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