I Want That “Old-Money” Art But Not A Crappy Art Print

Hey Guys,

So glad that you enjoyed Sunday’s post about blue and white rooms. I’ve been getting questions about art recently and would love to share some ideas.

First, a comment from Betty:

I love the huge artwork, but I do wonder how does one incorporate a large print into a room without it totally taking over the room after the initial viewing?


And then this email from Christine:


Hi Laurel,
Love Every. single. One. Of your posts. Thank you!
Could you do this for me (and all your other readers, too, of course)!
Where can the ‘not uber-wealthy’ — also known as ‘the rest of us’ locate fabulous large art? For reference: the first two rooms in today’s post — Ralph Lauren and Aerin Lauder. Or the infamous Tory Burch above green velvet, bouillon-fringed sofa. I’m talking the kind that looks inherited and rich.
Is it possible? — it’s certainly not art.com, minted, Michael’s, Ballard or World Market. Or any of the usual retail sites.
I guess you’ll tell me to hope for the inheritance, but hope not!
Thanks in advance,



Yes, indeed. If you fall in the bottom 99% (or maybe 99.999%) this post is for you. Or if if you fall in the upper. .001%, this post is for you because maybe you don’t feel like spending millions for something to hang on the wall.


We all know that gorgeous “Old-Money” look.


Here’s what I’ve discovered. People who are born into great wealth and for generations very often don’t have houses as spiffy as you might think.

I’ve been in a few over the years. And in a couple of cases, I thought– oh my, I’ve hit the jackpot!


A seat cushion and one slip cover later and she was done.

But that was only a few weeks after I opened my business over 20 years ago.


Of course, there are many wealthy people whose homes are more elegantly decorated. And they always have this gorgeous old art which looks like it was handed-down for generations.


Old art.

Old rare art.

Handed down.

Or, bought at Auction.

From Christie’s or Sotheby’s.

Like the aforementioned and immensely talented and stylish Tory Burch. Here is her unbelievably gorgeous living room, where lives her unbelievably gorgeous, humongous painting that I recognize to be the work of Melchior De Hondecoeter. Say that ten times fast. No wait. I challenge you to say it once! haha.

Tory Burch green living room with fine oil painting over the green velvet sofa

I put Mr. De Hondecoeter’s name in my google box and I found some of his pieces that have  sold recently.

Fine art auctioned at Christie's Melchior de Hondecoeter A peacock, a peahen, a monkey and other birds on a terrace

Melchior de Hondecoeter A peacock, a peahen, a monkey and other birds on a terrace

Auctioned at Christie’s and sold for $1,650,00.00.


I see…

Let’s see. How many of my rolodex will I need to sell? lol


But did you know?


I too, love this artist’s work (well before I saw it in Tory’s living room)


AND I actually have a Melchior de Hondecoeter too!


Uh huh, yes; poor slob me has a piece of original art! I do!

Well, alright. Melchior didn’t paint mine. He’s been dead for 300 years.

Minor detail.

A 12-yr-old* child in China painted mine 3.5 years ago! And did a damned good job!

*I made that up; It could’ve been the child’s grandmother for all I know.


This is my “Melchior De Hondecoeter” Peacock On Decorative Urn – painted by I-dunno-who, 2013

Image taken with my canon.


You might recall seeing this piece of it over my sofa.


Soooo, where did you get it Laurel? Oh please tell me!


Calm your peacocks! I’m going to tell you!

This place – 1st-ArtGallery


And I paid about $500 bucks for an original oil painting that measures 40″ x 46″. I did have a choice of size and I agonized over that one, but I think the size is absolutely perfect for my sofa which is only 75″ wide.

How was the experience? I will tell you. Before they sent me the painting, they sent me a photo for approval.

It sucked.

I mean it was totally lacking in-depth and detail and the colors were off too.

I canceled the order which one has the prerogative to do.

But the guy promised me that they can do better and in about 2 weeks I had another painting to approve and this is it! I received it in another two weeks and yes, it was slightly sticky but nothing major.

I will admit that several weeks later and don’t freak out, but I took a little brown shoe polish to it to knock it back a little and give it a little more age. And yes this painting is probably a little brighter than the original, but it is one of Hondecoeter’s more colorful pieces.

So, all in all, I was very pleased and would recommend them, but I would be very specific about what you want and tell them that it must look like exactly like the photo or you cannot accept it. I recommend that you get your own photo and as hi-res as possible. You can often find the hi-res images on Wiki-media. And if you like, you can put the photo in a photo editor to tweak the colors.

Please make sure the place has a phone number and a person you can speak with. And preferably an address. And please make sure that the image is part of the PUBLIC DOMAIN. No copyright infringement allowed!


(I know you guys know that, but just want to be clear that I am in no way advocating any criminal or unethical activity.)

BTW, that dude De Hondecoeter was OBSESSED with BIRDS! I MEAN OBSESSED. He even painted some dead birds! (more than once too!)

melchior-de-hondecoeter-dead-birdsThanksgiving anyone?

Painting and Frame

That’s another source for reproduction art. There are dozens of these places!


Let’s look at some famous rich people for inspirational ideas on how we can get the-been-in-the-family-for-centuries-look on an average person’s budget.


And who better than the delightful India Hicks, daughter of the legendary decorator, David Hicks.

Some of you may recall that I heard her speak at the Design Blogger’s Conference last March and let me tell you, she is the funniest lady on the planet! Did you know that she was one of Princess Diana’s Bridesmaids?

Lady Pamela (India) Hicks preparing for Princess Diana's wedding

Yes, that’s India, second from the left. And yes, she had some choice words to say about her dress. lol Like I said, she’s uproariously funny!


Please notice the fine art.


This was their family home and her mother Lady Pamela Hicks still lives there.

(All images via Domino Mag)

India and family live in the Bahamas. We’ll get to that in a sec.



India Hicks Home Fine Art
Fine. Laurel. Very lovely, but what is that art and how do I get it?

I’m going to tell you. :] Well, I don’t know if this was the artist, but one of the most well-known artists of the mid-19th century for this type of portraiture was Franz Xavier Winterhalter


The following portraits are all by him.

Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn; Franz Xaver Winterhalter, German, 1805 - 1873; 1843; Oil on canvas; Unframed: 142.2 x 212.1 cm (56 x 83 1/2 in.), Framed (Display): 182.9 x 251.5 x 16.5 cm (72 x 99 x 6 1/2 in.); 86.PA.534

Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn; Franz Xaver Winterhalter, German- 1843- Oil on canvas

Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn; Franz Xaver Winterhalter, German, 1805 - 1873; 1843; Oil on canvas; Unframed: 142.2 x 212.1 cm (56 x 83 1/2 in.), Framed (Display): 182.9 x 251.5 x 16.5 cm (72 x 99 x 6 1/2 in.); 86.PA.534

Lovely work, no?


eegads! It’s Meryl Streep! :]

franz_xavier_winterhalter_1_madame_barbe_de_rimsky_korsakov- beautiful 19th century portrait artSo, you could have one of the repro companies recreate this for you, but here’s the deal.


Oy! You could end up with something like this. No offense to the artist who water-marked this image. I’m sure he is well-meaning, but never mind, you get it.

This is why— sometimes it IS better to go with the giclee reproduction thing. I’m sure by now that y’all know about giclee (pronounced gee clay – if you don’t already know). It’s an advanced printing method that is so good that there was a woman a while back who set up shop on TV (!) selling “Picassos”. No worries, the law caught up with her and put her away for quite a while.


Something important about buying giclee art prints that you need to know.


Giclees can be wonderful or not-so-great.


Oh, the printing is great, but if the original file is not large enough to support your large image, then you will get a pixellated print which is obviously undesirable. So, before ordering, I would get on the horn and discuss that with them.

One excellent source is Art.com. Aside from what Christine said, I have had very good success with them except for one time. That is why you must discuss whether the file can support the size you want.



And folks like India et al. do not only use fine oil paintings, they also put up wonderful prints, sketches and fine photography. These images are from India’s home in the Bahamas.

And after a little redecorating

A different set of prints and a new pink slip cover.

Some observations. Rich folks love pink! Did you know that? Well, at least the Hicks family does. But there was a lot of pink where Princess Diana’s wedding party was assembled.

And also the frames. The frames need to look rich– and old. So, if you get your art from a place with new frames, don’t be afraid to add a little aging embellishment to the frame.

Oh, and you can frequently get the art in a canvas reproduction. Sometimes the art will even have brushstrokes and/or a real life artist enhancement.


Other great sources for old-money (antique and vintage) art are:



Flea Markets

Resale shops

Antique shops

Tag, yard and garage sales

Estate sales


Let’s move on to another beautiful queen of style and breeding.


The previously mentioned Aerin Lauder, the granddaughter of Estee Lauder. I guess we all know that by now.

aerin lauder - the art makes this sumptuous blue library
Here’s that incredible library again with the amazing painting over the sofa.

IMO, the art makes the room!

The colors!


This is good time to address Betty’s question about large art not overwhelming the wall.


Notice what’s in common between Tory’s Living room and Aerin’s Libray?

The walls are a rich hunky color.


Rich hunky art needs a rich hunky wall color.


Laurel went hunting for the source. I so enjoy doing this and I am not sure if I found the exact artist, but I did narrow it down in terms of style and time period. I cut out the little section of art and put it in google images.



It took a few stabs but it appears to be of the Baroque era, late renaissance mid-1600’s and feels very much in the style of French artist Nicholas Poussin.

I’m not sure what the hell was going on here but what I remember from my art history days is that paintings were largely allegorical. Phew!

I also seem to recall that the pigment to make blue paint was very scarce and therefore highly prized.


Another Poussin. The Rest On the Flight Into Egypt.

Okay. Hubs is resting. Mom looks like she has her hands pretty full. You know, some things really do not change.


Sainte Cecile by Nicholas Poussin

Boys will be boys?

Just imagine any of this art sitting in your living room and how rich it would look?

But that’s not all it takes to get that old-money look.

To be continued…


Note: 9.16.20016. I am turning comments back on, but please– respectful, comments only! It appears that a large number of people misunderstood this post and I feel badly about that.

However, please note, the post was not how to get artwork; or best places to get artwork. It was about a very specific type of artwork. Art that in many cases was produced 3 or 4 centuries ago. This art is part of the public domain. There is no violation of copyright if one has reproduced a painting by an artist who has died hundreds of years ago.

It is not different than buying wallpaper that’s been printed off of a licensed original. Yes, original art is wonderful and I fully support all talented artists and wish for them to prosper.

Are there artists in this country who can paint in a masterful old-world style large piece of art and do it for under $1,000 or even 2,000? Undoubtedly, there are. But unless one happens, per chance, to know of them because they are a relative or a friend or the child of a friend and they have no searchable website, how is one to find them?

That’s a rhetorical question because I do not wish to have a debate. There are many, many posts on this website about art which you can read about here, here, here, here and here.

Plus dozens of other posts which demonstrate ideas for art without implicitly saying so.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to peruse, flea markets, tag sales, consignment shops, etc. for “just the right piece for a pittance.” Great if you happen upon it. It usually happens when one is not looking. And yes, of course, that IS a great way to find less expensive art. I have some pieces of my own that were found that way and I love them.

As always, I want people to do what’s right for them. And some of what is in this post may not be right for you and that is absolutely fine.

I do appreciate your kind feedback and the vast majority of you are overwhelmingly kind, but when I get dozens of comments that are reproachful, damning, harshly critical or someone even telling me “you need to develop your eye,” then, I need to step in and set up some limits.

Thank you for your understanding.










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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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