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Percier's Tomb

About the Item

Acrylic and shellac based inks on Ingres paper; book binding board Signed and dated by artist on underside A hand-constructed, tomb-inspired box with a widening base and stepped lid which is flat at the top. The box is wrapped in a gray and blue porphyry-inspired paper. The interior of the box is painted gray. From architectural follies of the eighteenth-century to crystalline rock formations, Thomas Engelhart translates the angles and polished surfaces of ancient artifacts into hand-painted paper objects. A Charleston, South Carolina native, Engelhart began his career in fashion, studying at Studio Berçot in Paris in the 1990s. His intuitive eye and meticulous attention to detail were cultivated designing for famed houses such as Thierry Mugler and Hermès. “Paris gave me elegance, rigor, and an understanding of quality,” reflects the artist. By absorbing the French approach to fait à la main, Engelhart flourished upon his return to New York in 2017. Engelhart’s papered obelisks and pyramid boxes are the result of a passion for antique curiosities. The Metropolitan Museum in New York or the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna are sources of inspiration for Engelhart’s faceted shapes and jewel tones. Pietra-dura inlay, silver-gilt reliquaries, and carved stone sarcophagi are just a few elements which influence his allusions to antiquity. The artist hand paints the paper, which is then delicately applied to hand sculpted boxes, tabletops, or mirrors of his own design. Encased in mesmerizing colors of marbleized, speckled, or malachite finishes, Engelhart’s boxes deign to be defined by their surprising functionality. By painting a fresh take on ancient porphyry and hardstone specimens, the artist creates a wealth of papered antiquities for the twenty-first-century collector.
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