Leigh and Leslie Keno, who taught Americans how to love age-old layers of dirt (patina!) and hairy-paw mahogany feet, are suddenly smitten with the sleek chic of glass-clad furniture and lighting with an Italian accent. The Antiques Roadshow twins aren’t turning their backs on Chippendale; they remain faithful to their quest for the best, whether it was designed 76 years ago by architects in Milan or 250 years ago by the famous cabinetmakers of Newport, Rhode Island.
“A room with classic architecture doesn’t need another 12-arm chandelier,” opines Leslie Keno, who is taking a break from his senior vice-presidential duties at Sotheby’s to visit brother Leigh and check out his latest haul. “I’d much rather see a blend of the old with the new,” he says while flipping through Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction catalogs, pointing out rock-glam chandeliers by Fontana Arte.
“Fontana Arte was expensive when first made; the craftsmanship is amazing,” notes Leigh (right), who recently scored this low-slung coffee table by Fontana at Sollo Rago auction house in Lambertville, New Jersey. Flashes of gold leaf peek through the aquamarine glass top, but it was the chipped-ice-like edge and flat, primitive drawings by artist Duilio Barnabé (nicknamed “Dubé”) that convinced Leigh to go the distance—$10,800.
The tabletop reminds Leslie of reverse-glass painting—“like the eglomise found on a banjo clock,” he says, stroking the table’s edge, which looks jagged but feels smooth. “I love the primitivism,” adds Leigh, pointing to the stump-shaped legs and flat, outlined faces. “Dubé’s paintings have sold for $25,000, and this painting on glass reflects his work on canvas.”
Photograph by Brian McCay
Text by Doris Athineos
Produced by Leigh Keno and Leslie Keno