Classic art in a modern world
If fine-art period pieces and old-world antiques are your fancy, there aren’t too many places in the high country where you will find them.
However,Vail Village is fortunate to have The Englishman, one of three showrooms bearing that name. The other two are in Naples, Fla., and Surrey, England, just outside London, where the gallery had its origin 28 years ago.
Although the name suggests its British roots, antiques and art on display are imported from all over the European continent – with a great many pieces coming from France.
To get to the museum-like establishment, you will have to go up one flight of stairs at the east end of the Crossroads Shopping area. Once inside, there is enough artwork and furnishings on display to keep you occupied and enthralled for hours.
The paintings, furniture, stoneware, accessories and clocks exhibited, are generally from the 19th century, but there are a few pieces from the 17th and early 20th century, as well.
The first painting that caught my eye was “The Card Game.” Done in the 19th century by Cesar Auguste Detti, the image possesses a startling luminosity. The two central characters are highlighted as if by a light from within, while two other figures witnessing the transaction taking place, fade into shadow.
To be sure, there are hundreds of paintings of all subjects, both religious and allegorical in nature. Still life arrangements, landscapes, coastal scenes, sporting life, horses, dogs and cats, are all part of the enormous variety of work on display in the rooms and alcoves throughout the gallery.
Interior designers and homeowners, bent on furnishing a traditional dwelling, will do well to visit The Englishman. Many of the tables are set with antique china and silver. Buffets, cabinets, side tables, long case clocks with intricately-detailed faces and hand-painted surfaces, are exquisite examples of a craftsmanship not often found in today’s mass-produced objects.
Browsing in the shop is an experience that doesn’t require knowledge of art or antiques.
The paintings won’t require explanation, as so much of modern art does.
The furniture begs to be touched, running fingers across the top or down the leg, feeling the hand-finished surface, sensing the history that speaks of another time, is part of the enjoyment to be had. Chances are, you will want to come back more than once.
Stew Mosberg works out of Blue River, Colorado. He is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, holds a degree in Design from the University of Florida, and is the author of two books on design. He can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com
Fanciful and Fine
Gallery: The Englishman
Location: 143 East Meadow Drive #205
Hours: Mon-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun.10 a.m.-6 p.m.