Every now and then a work of art comes back to Lowy like a long-lost old friend.
We had this experience a few weeks ago, when a beautiful illuminated manuscript,
(Southern Netherlands, c.1530), framed by Lowy in 1969, returned to our workshop.
The stepson of the original owner saw our label on the frame and asked us to examine
it before he handed it over to Christies for an upcoming online auction starting on December 5. The sight of this extraordinary piece instantly transported me to 1969, the year I graduated
from Brandeis -- and the year before I joined my father, Hilly Shar, in the Lowy family
business -- and I experienced a rush of memories and emotions.
"I think the whole package (leaf and frame) is such an attractive offering that it's bound to do well" -- Christie's expert when piece was sent for evaluation.
Although many illuminated manuscripts remain unframed, Mr. Kolker, the avid
collector who owned the piece at the time (and whom I remember well), loved to live
with the art he bought. He was always passionately involved with the frame choice, and
he had decided that he wanted to display both sides of the manuscript page.
Images of both the back and front of the double sided manuscript.
My father came up with an ingenious solution that worked historically, aesthetically, and functionally.
He designed a double-sided frame with a base -- a 16th-17th century cassetta style (small box) with an antique wood finish and a painted panel with stencil design. The elaborate floral designs in the corners were chosen intentionally to add flourish and hyperbole to the design in the manuscript itself, a signature Hilly Shar touch. And in a nod to practicality, the bottom molding was not glued or nailed, allowing for the glass and the art to be removed easily.
Today, I find myself admiring my father’s handiwork. The frame he created showcases the art it surrounds in the best possible way. Indeed, the frame reminds me that my Dad was a great mentor to me, and I am proud to be continuing the Lowy tradition of creativity, expert craftsmanship, quality, and legacy with my son Brad. My reunion with this “old friend” is a wonderful occasion to remember how significant Lowy was -- and is -- in the service we provide to the art community. -- Larry Shar, President
As the manuscript appeared in the Kolker home, 1969
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