Friday, July 24, 2009


Opium Bed 1885

Ah, this is what I was looking for when I stumbled upon Pauline Viardot the other day. I have no idea if Gabriel was related to Pauline but the dates suggest that he could have been from her husband's family. On a recent Antiques Roadshow, an armoire was presented and attributed to Gabriel Viardot, so I checked him out. I love the colour of the leather in the above bed; it matches the wood perfectly.

Gabriel Viardot - Sculptor in wood (French, 1830-1906)
Viardot inherited his family workshop. He is remembered for his Asian style furniture, the carved animals, masks of lions, twisting smakes, the mother-of-pearl inlay, geometric patterns, gilded bronze and brass ornaments; a theme very popular in the 1850s but, one would say, 'over-the-top' today. Not to my taste entirely but I wouldn't sell an inherited piece!

End of Opium Bed

Viardot's creations were very successful, he exhibited widely, including the Crystal Palace, London, in 1851 and won four medals -

- in the 1867 Paris Exposition universelle
- a silver medal in the 1878 Paris Exposition universelle
- the gold medal in the Antwerpen International Exhibition in 1884
- a gold medal in the 1899 and 1900 Paris Expositions universelles

and, as well as being a participant, was also a jury member for exhibitions in Paris.
'Pagode a the' Table
Maple-sycamore tinted mahogany,
rosewood, gilt bronze and mother-of-pearl

In the second half of the 19th century, he developed a taste for fantastic visions, in which were included animals coming from old and remote worlds such as dragons, or salamanders.

Gabriel Viardot was famous for the fine quality and refinement of his pieces. He provided mainly a clientele of amateurs, aesthetes and collectors coming from the artistic circles (Monet, Debussy), the world of finance and high administration.
'Another spectacular day bed carved as a reclining dragon stunned buyers at Sotheby's in London's Olympia in February 2004 when it fetched AU$56,000. A number of Viardot pieces have turned up in Australia over the past five years, though so far most have sold for sums below $5000. (Source)


Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

Maybe he had been using the opium bed a little too much himself?! Certainly phantasmagorical!

Susan said...

Wow! That is some bed! Can you imagine the hallucinations the opium users who laid on that bed must have had when seeing the footboard? Yikes! They must have imagined themselves at the gates of hell!

Wonderful artist!

I love the birds in your new header!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen anything like this before. It is beautiful.

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vicki archer said...

What incredible pieces; I am unfamiliar with this work so I was delighted to learn about such an artist. Derrick may have a point ....Enjoy the rest of your weekend, xv.

Alaine said...

Hello Vicki and thankyou. We've just returned home from five lovely days on the Gold Coast, where our son lives. Balmy weather and home to rain but we love it.

ruthie said...

oh my these are truly spectacular, so intricate & the colour so rich. i adore all that detail. thank you for posting