tole wine cooler with chinoiserie decoration

One of the more more subtle pieces we've acquired recently has inspired us to start a new blog series titled "Things We Love." This chinoiserie wine cooler absolutely captivates us. At a glance, you might dismiss it as an old beat-up piece of metal. If you spend time to take a closer look, you might discover the beauty that lies in its imperfections. I guess our description of this piece as "untouched" isn't entirely accurate. It surely has been touched by the hands of time. Its 300 years of age is written into the dents and bruises and loss of decoration. These imperfections evince the age of the piece. When you pick it up, you are immediately aware that you're holding a piece of history. I imagine it to be something like the feeling an archaeologist gets when uncovering an ancient artifact such as a shard of pottery that has been buried for centuries.


 And while we do appreciate what's missing, what remains is equally intriguing. The faint traces of a red, possibly faux-tortoise shell ground; the sparkling nature of the gold floral painting; the crusty boundaries between the paint and the bare, patinated metal. All these details spark the imagination: what might this have looked like originally, who might have taken the time to create such a thing of beauty, and what tales has it overheard as dinner guests downed bottles of wine pulled from its interior.


Of course, we could find someone who could re-paint this piece. We could re-create what it looked like the day it was made without the use of imagination. But we feel that would rob it of its character. It would be akin to putting arms back on the Venus de Milo. A fully intact Venus would rob her of her mystery. There would be no room for speculation or imagination. She would be what she is and nothing more. It is her imperfection that makes her perfectly beauty. And while this wine cooler certainly doesn't reach the level of cultural significance of the Venus de Milo, we find it to be gorgeous and full of character for some of the same reasons.


August 14, 2018 by Mark Finke