In a post earlier this week, I shared that if I were an heiress, I would become an art collector. While I was referring to collecting works by masters and well-known artists at high-end auctions, I was sort of skipping over a current truth – I am an art collector now. I might not be collecting Pissaros and Renoirs, but I am displaying my own works and collecting the works of artists I follow on Instagram and a few antique & vintage pieces I’ve bought at antique stores, markets, and online over the years. In addition, I’ve been collecting “everyday art” for decades in the form of furniture, Civil War-era flatware, 100+-year-old letters, transferware dishes from the 1800s, and hand-stitched quilts. It really all is art in one form or another.
But, in recent years, I have become more interested in collecting original paintings, specifically ones that are old and have the look and feel of museum pieces. So, I was actually laughing with excitement as I hung this little gentleman, an original 1886 portrait of a Belgian schoolboy from the French Art Shop.
I wasn’t sure where I would hang it at first as I carefully carried it around the house, holding it up against this wall and that, testing out possibilities. In the end, it felt like the perfect piece for it was this dining room wall. I love how the dark colors in the portrait balance out the softer colors of the mural and furniture. It really is the perfect finishing touch and I smile every time I see him. I can’t explain why this painting speaks to me so much except that I love his expression, soft eyes, and little schoolboy outfit.
I’m really looking forward to doing a study of him. The French Art Shop listed the painting as Portrait de Garçon, so I’ll call him Garçon as well. It seems fitting.
Update! So, apparently, Garçon means “boy”, which I would’ve known if I had looked it up or I asked Jeff, who took French in school. After this was pointed out to me, I asked Jeff, “Do you know what garçon means?” “Yes, it means boy.” I just laughed and then he asked with suspicion, “Why? What did you do?” So funny! Anyway, I think our boy needs a name! Any suggestions for a name for a handsome little Belgian boy?
As beautiful as the painting is, I was just as captivated with the back, where I could see the antique linen stretched by hand over an old wooden frame. The gilded decorative frame it came in is beautiful as well.
It has a few chips in it, but that is pretty normal for old plaster and gilt frames. I think it just adds to the character and story and all of the “defects” were clearly pointed out in the listing.
Now that I’ve introduced you to Garçon, I’d like to introduce you to Hanna and Paul, the two talented people behind the French Art Shop.
Hanna is an American who has lived in Paris for the past 7 years with her French partner Paul. She worked on antique buying tours for Americans visiting France, before starting the business – French Art Shop.
Paul and Hanna travel around France shopping for one-of-a-kind artwork to sell online to collectors around the world! I mean, first of all, can they just carry me around in their pockets for a few days? I know there is a lot of hard work involved in scouring out the best finds at good prices, but it just sounds like one of the best jobs in the world to me! I wouldn’t mind climbing through barn rafters and waiting in long lines at estate sales when the scenery looks like this…
Anyway, Hanna and Paul clearly have a passion for beautiful artwork, and their eye for pieces that are both interesting and have high decorative appeal shows in the works they curate for their online shop. They are specifically inspired by the ateliers of Paris, Paul’s family village in Normandy in the Calvados region, and impressionist works painted “en plein air” (outside) in France from the 1800s and early 1900s. They buy what they love to sell in the French Art Shop, but also take special requests from the clients.
I was also very impressed and pleasantly surprised with their prices. I’ve browsed around online and at markets for antique paintings, specifically portraits, and they can run in the thousands. The French Art Shop prices are particularly good considering the age and quality of the pieces, worldwide shipping is included, and, in most cases, the piece comes in a beautiful old frame.
They currently release new paintings about once a month and their next launch is April 19, 2021, at 11 AM PST/2 PM EST. If you want to be notified when new paintings are listed, you can sign up for their newsletter HERE. You can see a preview of their April paintings HERE, but this is one of my favorites…
The French Art Shop is giving 10% off through June 30, 2021, to my readers! Just use code “MISSMUSTARDSEED” when checking out on www.frenchartshop.com for 10% off.
Even if you don’t ever plan on purchasing antique European art, I would suggest following them on Instagram HERE! As I said, I think they have an awesome job and it’s fun to follow their journey. As an artist, I like to look at their finds and see if I might want to try a study of any of them. Not only are they gathering paintings, but inspiration as well.
So, I’m curious, do you consider yourself an art collector? What kind of art speaks to you?