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Behind the Scenes: A Container Shipment to M.S. Rau

Have you ever wondered how M.S. Rau fills the gallery with such exceptional antiques, famous portrait paintings, furniture and other fine art? One way is through shipments from our team based in the United Kingdom. Every few months, they send us a container filled with some of the most unique treasures from all over the world. Impeccably crafted tables, once-in-a-lifetime antiques and the best fine art are often part of these containers.


Rau’s UK team consists of four world-class cabinet makers and restorers. Members of this team travel all over Europe to find new treasures for our clients – their expertise in antiques is astounding. Additionally, they are also able to restore, clean and fix nearly anything our gallery acquires. Thus, all of the objects that are acquired by this team arrive to the United States expertly packed and in pristine condition.


Weeks before the container arrives, we find out what is on the way, and the suspense starts building. Some employees say that container day feels like Christmas Day! And when these shipments come in, it is all hands on deck. Members from each department at Rau show up early in the morning to unpack as a team. A special breakfast is provided and everyone breaks up into groups to help with the unboxing. And just like a holiday morning, packing paper, tools and cartons are scattered all around the floor. It is quite a scene!


After everything has been unpacked and all items have been accounted for, Bill Rau, M.S. Rau’s 3rd-generation owner, will walk all the employees through the new acquisitions. During this walk through, Bill will share the histories of these exceptional items. One of the best parts of being an employee at M.S. Rau is being constantly surrounded by beautiful treasures that we are lucky enough to learn about during walk throughs such as these.





Our Art Handlers are experts when moving and displaying our new acquisitions. Here, they are moving the British Hardstone Surtout de Table in order for it to be photographed. Typically, we use our in-house photo studio to take pictures. Some pieces, like this table, are so large and heavy that they must be photographed on the gallery floor. After the photos are taken, the Art Handlers are swift in moving the items back to their homes on the floor.


Our Art Handlers are an unbelievably important part of the success of M.S. Rau, as they are constantly moving and arranging our inventory to ensure it is being beautifully displayed. Some of the antiques we acquire are enormous, weighing as much as two tons. There are often days when our Operations team, which includes the Art Handlers, will move these gigantic and highly important objects three to four times just to ensure they are being presented in the most appealing way possible. Our Art Handlers are truly impressive, and we would not be the gallery we are today without them!





All in a day’s work! Here, the Art Handling team is moving a bronze statue that weights over 1.5 tons. Not only does this team unpack our items when they arrive, they also pack them once they sell. Loading trucks, making crates and bubble-wrapping delicate objets d’art are everyday tasks here at M.S. Rau.


Curious about the items that arrived in our latest container? Read on! Some of the new items include a statue of Napoléon on horseback, a King Louis-Philippe tea service, and a delightful bronze representing Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Let’s take a closer look!



Napoléon on Horseback by Louis Marie Moris



This incredible gilt bronze sculpture depicts the Emperor Napoléon on horseback. The figure is incredibly detailed and rests atop a magnificent green marble base. Crafted by famed French artist Louis Marie Moris, the horse is equally impressive as the artist specialized in equestrian sculptures such as this piece. Napoléon is depicted here at the end of his reign, sporting his familiar bicorne hat and miniature star of the Légion d'Honneur on his vest. Due to its exceptional detail and subject matter, this piece is considered the artist's crowning achievement.



King Louis-Philippe Tea Service for Sultan Mahmud II



This awe-inspiring tea service boasts not one, but two royal provenances! It was made as a gift from French King Louis-Philippe to Mahmud II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, around 1835. It is one hundred percent complete and consists of 78 pieces, including a silver-gilt tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl. The set has four different colored sets of six cups and saucers. Also included are two extraordinary large lacquered trays (one stored behind the other in the lid of the case), with the example on top depicting Orientalist motifs. Every piece has its own fitted place within the case and rests in its red silk lining. This piece was certainly a thrill to unbox!



Maquette for Allies by Lawrence Holofcener



This charming bronze sculpture is a replica of one of the most famous monuments in all of London. Entitled Allies, the original life-size statue by Lawrence Holofcener pays homage to the relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during the 20th century. A few years after its completion, Holofcener sat in front of the original monument and rendered this reduction. The result was a nearly exact replica by the artist's hand that exudes all of the character and personality of the statue in the pedestrian area of Old Bond Street.


We are always looking for and finding the most exceptional treasures from all over the world. Make sure to join our email list and visit our website regularly to stay in the know about our recent acquisitions. Our next find may be the one for you!


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