This magenta tablescape centerpiece is a statue called Parisian Woman Reading that was found at an estate sale in France. I got it directly from the dealer in central France. I believe this statue was probably on the top of a clock or some similar object at one time.
I chose the magenta colorway based on the color of the cherubs on the service plates. The dealer I purchased them from told me they belonged to a granddaughter of Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly [died 1952], who was one of nine children of William H. Vanderbilt. Apparently there was a large set of this china but by the time I found it only the dinner plates were left. According to the dealer, much of the set went to a man who collects Vanderbilt memorbilia. I did not buy them because of the V connection because I thought that was just sales talk, but checking into it further [I Googled], I did find the last name of the seller [Burden of Connecticut] and it matched the family name on her family tree. That doesn't really mean the granddaughter got them from Florence. They could have come from another source or even the other side of her family. This is when I really wish antiques could talk and tell the story of their lives. A lot of times there is more fiction than facts to inflate an object's value. I know that I could never sell anything that I inherited from my Grandmother or GreatGM even if I was starving. Here is a fun New York Times story about Florence's oldest daughter's wedding in 1904. Here I wonder if these plates came down from her inheritance. I will never know.
I do have a William K. Vanderbilt sterling slice from the special commission made for him by Tiffany. Apparently, a few years ago a division of the Vanderbilt Tiffany silver service was sold at auction after it had been previously split among family. My piece was bought from someone in Canada. When it came up for sale, I recognized it from a book I have on Tiffany sterling and was the only bidder. I did make sure it was not a fake.
I just know you are not going to notice I haven't polished it.
I'm not sure if it was used for slicing blocks of ice cream or something else.
Here is Florence's portrait by John Singer Sargent done in 1896. Photo: johnsingersargent.org. Here
There are several different cherub scenes in the centers of the different 12 plates. They are marked on the back with both the Dresden mark and Fraureuth of Germany.
Since I am doing this dinner for two in the living room on the marble-top center table circa 1902, there isn't a lot of room for a floral centerpiece so this statue works out nicely. On one end of the table I am also using a candlestand with white candles that I purchased earlier this year at a church rummage sale. It has cherubs in white porcelain around its base.
In the above photo, you can also get a glimpse of the milk chocolate walls and seagrass rug that I did as a loving gesture to my husband who loves brown. I've never had brown walls in my life, so that was a big departure for me. I think he was very surprised when he came home and found me in the middle of brown paint. I'm sure he thought the walls would become some shade of fleshy peach. Yum, yum.
I pulled the chairs back so you could see this 1902 center table. When I bought it at an antique shop, the dealer told me it came from Marble House mansion on North Parkway in Memphis when the mansion's contents were sold when the home became an office for a church. There were two tables for sale but the other one was huge and although I loved it more, I had no place for such a big piece of furniture. You always regret not buying those things later. I did drive past the house once but it is on a busy street and there is no place to park and take photos. It is possible the table came from there, but who really knows????
I think the Vanderbilt plates with frolicing cherubs are very romantic in style. I am using French maker JL Coquet's Hemisphere chargers with another French maker - Jaune de Chrome's dinner plates in the Feuille Or gold pattern. These plates are currently being made. They are not vintage nor antique.
For salad plates, I am using another German plate with a magenta floral border.
Here is a bigger photo.
Bread and butter plates as well as dessert plates have a darker shade of magenta in them. They are made by Haviland of France in the Malmaison pattern. I think the couple fishing is romantic as the wife is sitting on a rock holding their baby while keeping her husband company as he fishes for their dinner. So French!
Below, you can get a better view of the Jaune de Chrome dinner plates as more edge is showing.
I do love the unusual glazes that Jaune de Chrome puts on their china.
For napkins, I am using French maker Primrose Bordier Le Jacquard Francais's pattern Cassis Graphic Black Current. I have tucked them in between the charger and dinner plate as well as using them for a runner. They were a gift from Mr. Swede when we toured the cute little town of Franklin, TN and stopped in The Registry china shop on Main Street.
In the above photo, you can also see the glassware I have chosen to use in the closest color to magenta that I have. The stemware is by Moser in a cranberry cabachon panel pattern that I do not know the name of. They were inherited by my husband from his Mother. The tumblers are from the Italian maker Bormioli Rocco & Figlio in the Bicchiere Sorgente pattern "rosa fucsia" colorway. The day after I ordered these from a local china shop, I found out that Marshall's and TJ Maxx purchased a warehouse inventory of them in every color they were made in. I went down there to see if it was true, and sure enough they had the factory stickers on them. Price: $2.99. Well, you lose some and you win some, as they say. I purchased all the aqua ones they had but didn't like the other colorways that were left. When I was checking out, the clerk confirmed that they did indeed have them in all colors. What do you think Miss Vanderbilt would say about my putting these cheap glasses with her fine plates? The sides are undulating??? so you can put your fingers in the recesses to hold on to them better.
For flatware, I am using gold plated stainless steel made by the Italian company Ricci Argentieri in their Raffaello pattern. You can find these at neimanmarcus.com and the non-gold ones at some Dillard's stores. They were recently on sale at both stores with extra percentages off. The knife blades are not gold plated. I loved them because of the fish scale pattern and the handle is round. Sometimes sterling, being gray, just does not go well with gold rimmed plates. This is a good alternative.
Below, and above, you can see the Coquet Hemisphere's deep groove lines. They are very heavy.
It is fun to turn the forks upside down like the Europeans do.
Put on some romantic music.
I do like using the height of a center table as a coffee table so it can be used to dine on occasionally.
On the sofa in the back of this photo, the center pillow is a new one I just got made by Callisto Home here. I love all the embroidery on it. Don't tell Mr. Swede it was about half the cost of the Vanderbilt plates. Lovely, but ouch! Good thing my bonus check came in.
I am participating in Tablescape Thursday this week on the blog Between Naps on the Porch.
To see all the entries, after 9:00PM Eastern on Wednesday, go here:
All the best to you,