By Karen Parr-Moody
One cold Saturday afternoon, desperate to find a pulse-quickening frock for a fête that night, I rushed to GasLamp. What did I find? A vintage caftan cut from mint green silk in a delicate floral print. That night, guest after guest complimented the caftan and – not for the first time – I sang GasLamp’s praises.
How did I know GasLamp would sell a style no one else would be wearing? Because GasLamp sells the peak of unique. From vintage clothing to over-the-top antiques, GasLamp carries an array of curiosities, oddities and out-of-the-box finds. And at GasLamp, these finds come with a story.
One of the most unusual pieces currently on view at GasLamp is a circular, segmented settee ($8,898; B-210). Upholstered in cream-colored silk, this settee features armrests and backrests painted in the black-and-gold combination that was popular during France’s Second Empire, also called the Napoleon III period, from 1848 to 1870. Named for Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Louis Napoleon, the Napoleon III style is an exuberant blend of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles, as shown in this rare find.
Such settees originated as two-way and three-way chairs during the time of Napoleon III and have been appointed a flurry of names since, including conversation couch, divan de milieu, courting bench, tête-à-tête, chaperone chair, vis-à-vis and borne settee. Most recently, they became “lobby sofas” when the managers of grand hotels discovered they held more people than conventional sofas while taking up less space in the lobbies.
These settees continue to be found extensively in larger, ornate drawing rooms of English and French estates, as they have long been associated with Old World elegance. If you love blending antique and modern pieces, this settee at GasLamp will bring drama to a large foyer or a walk-in closet in a home. It would also look amazing as a sitting area in a boutique entry.
Peter Carl Fabergé created all 50 of the jewel-encrusted Imperial Easter eggs that would become forever linked with the grandiosity and tragedy of the ill-fated Romonavs, Russia’s last royal family. The eggs from the House of Fabergé were handcrafted from 1885 to 1916 as annual gifts given by Czar Alexander III and Nicholas II to their wives.
To catch a glimpse of artistry inspired by Peter Carl Fabergé’s creations, visit this musical egg in vibrant green enamel at GasLamp Too ($3950; Booth T-293). Made by the Franklin Mint House of Fabergé, the frame on this “Garden of Jewels” egg is gold-plated sterling silver (.925) onto which a liberal dose of natural rubies, natural pearls and diamonds has been scattered. When opened, the egg produces a bouquet of gemstone flowers and plays a musical tune.
This Art Deco settee, circa 1930, features a sculpted barrel back design that makes it both stylish and comfortable ($1,900; T-250). Living up to its sleek shape is its genuinely interesting upholstery inspired by a famous work by Pablo Picasso called “The Three Musicians.”
Painted in the summer of 1921, “The Three Musicians” depicts a clarinet player, guitarist and singing monk on a small stage with a dog at their feet. The painting came to be regarded as the climax of Cubism and a masterpiece that synthesized this style. The fragmented and overlapping shapes of this painting work fabulously with the settee’s Art Deco lines.
This unique piece of assemblage art entitled “Running on Time” is a creation by Carolyn Jarrett Elam, who exhibits her artwork at GasLamp Too’s T-416 gallery wall ($400). In her art, Elam mixes dime store toys with other nostalgic ephemera, all vintage, to create pop-culture altarpieces. Over many decades working in the antique business, Elam amassed a trove of collectibles and tiny toys to refashion into art.
“I’ve always liked odd little things,” she says. “I just picked them up along the way by being in the antique business for so long.”
From the 1860s, this filly may have begun its life as a toy for the children of a wealthy family ($450; W101). Careful attention was paid as the artisan crafted the horse’s ears from leather and the tail and mane out of natural hair; the glossy brown eyes are also original. With its prancing form, this horse would make an excellent addition to any living room, conference room or child’s nursery. It’s a handsome sculpture that would naturally complement a Folk Art collection, as well.
If you seek something beyond the same-old, same-old, GasLamp is the place to search. If you live for the hunt of the next hidden treasure, you’ll find it at GasLamp. Because location is everything, and between the two GasLamp stores, they’ve got the most unusual finds in town.
Featured image by Lisa Fotios at Pexels
Store product images by David Wariner