Forewarned of 40 millimetres of rain for the day, we anticipated the morning would be dark, and it was. The comfort of the house was quite the contrast of the aquarium look of the outdoors. Neither of our two little dogs went willingly outside to do their business, and came back indoors utterly drenched. Scrub the very notion of a ravine walk, other than with a lull in the rain, which simply did not develop.
We had indoor plans, however. A trip across town to the Carleton University indoor sport arena where this day that huge indoor space was taken up with various booths selling antiques and supposed-antiques. The rain pelted down unrelentingly as we drove there, the streets aswamp with rainwater, slapping back at us from vehicular spray. This was not a pretty day, with the dark ambiance, and wind whipping the remainder of the fall leaves from dark branches.
Everyone, it seemed, had anticipated some indoor activities, driven there by the sheer volume of rainfall, and the parking lot was full. We had worn rain jackets and shielded Button and Riley, seated in their little carrying bags slung over our shoulders, with our arms, as they hunkered down to ride out the afternoon while we made our way along aisles of furniture, porcelains, sculptures, paintings, icons, jewellery, glassware and crystal.
Something for everyone, particularly for women on the prowl for different types of "estate" jewellery and money to spare. We recognized many of the dealers, having seen them countless times over the years. Our attention driven for the most part to paintings, porcelains, along with sculptures and clocks, we were still drawn to other, unusual and beautiful objects bearing no resemblance whatever to modern bric-a-brac.
From long familiarity we know those dealers who value their objects higher than their intrinsic, aesthetic and historic worth. And look with appreciation at what they offer, but pass them by in favour of others who price their wares realistically, more in line with what we can afford, while still procuring quality objects that we value for their design, workmanship and beauty.
We greet some of the vendors as one would old friends rarely seen. And are stopped often by both men and women who cannot help noticing our little dogs riding along under our shoulders, seemingly oblivious to the crush of people, content in their perches, and from time to time nestling into their conveyances to snooze. Most people love small animals, and enjoy seeing them anywhere.
We truly do enjoy ourselves strolling the aisles, discussing what takes our attention. It's interesting how often we each independently, and occasionally simultaneously, will espie an object that fascinates us sufficiently that we bring it to the other's attention, for we don't always walk together, as one of us will invariably straggle behind the other for closer looks at what enthralls us.
The offerings outdid our expectations. There were simply so many excellent paintings, pieces of sculpture, porcelains, and other objects that we find so compellingly interesting. We speculate as to origin, date of execution, and, sometimes, price. While most dealers do tag their offerings with prices, some do not. And, for the most part, those who don't price their pieces tend, when asked, to respond with outrageous, spontaneously-high prices. But not always.
In the end, conferring between ourselves - but not very strenuously, because he's the final arbiter of quality and originality and the acknowledged expert between us - we decide, what, if anything, we're interested in acquiring to add to our considerable collection. We're rarely in disagreement, however mild, but he always looks to my agreement before considering making an offer. And he will defer to me to make offers when we decide to offer less than the stated price.
This time, we acquired more than we'd anticipated. We'd be more than satisfied if we came away from one of these exhibitions with a single notable object. On this occasion, we acquired three; two paintings and a sculpture. Only two of which can be classified as genuine antiques; the third a present-day copy. We selected a 19th Century French oil, a small but beautifully painted still-life. It depicts a collection of objects that we can relate to.
On that painting - on a table, beside it draperies - a small statuette stands, a Cervantes-like figure, armoured, holding beside him a staff, his bearded face narrow and Spanish. A colourful Oriental porcelain covered jar, and a collection of books, one halfway opened, the writing on it almost legible in its grace, the plate on its face painstakingly painted, the numerous pages finely edged to represent a true rendition of the original.
The second painting, much larger, with a lavishly carved ormolu gold frame, is a 19th Century Canadian landscape, a watercolour. It is quintessentially Canadian, the foreground trees well leafed, standing beside a wilderness lake, the background a carefully etched forest of deciduous trees. The vendor, a man we've known for years, informed us he'd had both the painting and its frame cleaned and restored, and it looked pristine.
The third acquisition was an alabaster, two-thirds-life-sized bust of a 2nd Century B.C. Roman, a man of noble bearing, with finely carved, tumbling curls resting on neck, a toga on his broad shoulders. This was a contemporary sculpture, done in Spain and shipped to Canada by its vendor, along with many other marble and alabaster pieces, mostly pedestals. It's the work of an accomplished sculptor, and although an obvious copy, beautifully realized.
Our antiques-acquisitory cup truly runneth over.