Monday, November 25, 2019

Martha Stewart Visits Lucullus Antiques - Patrick Dunne - New Orleans


"Cognizant of the publicity value of such a visit, Lucullus’ staff posted Martha’s picture as fast as a drunk tourist can eat a Lucky Dog..."

Martha Stewart Visits Lucullus Antiques - Patrick Dunne - New Orleans

It was unsurprising to learn that Martha Stewart studied history and architectural history at Colombia University, before she built the empire that catapulted her to billionaire status.  An education of that type elevated her aesthetic awareness, which undoubtedly impacted her later work.  Last week, Martha Stewart visited Lucullus Antiques in New Orleans.  Cognizant of the publicity value of such a visit, Lucullus’ staff posted Martha’s picture as fast as a drunk tourist can eat a Lucky Dog.

I am not acquainted with Lucullus founder Patrick Dunne, however I’m drawn to his fabulous story, which in my opinion encapsulates the most precious aspects of New Orleans - food and booze, architecture, aesthetic discernment, and history.  Dunne’s story began about 35 years ago at Galatoire’s over Mersault and trout meuniere.  “After a few bottles of wine during a long dinner with friends,” Dunne conceived the notion of combining his love of food and booze with his love of exquisite antiques.  His epiphany led him to open a “culinary antiques” establishment called Lucullus.

I don’t hold advanced history degrees like Dunne, but I did learn a tiny bit about the Roman Republic in graduate school, so I’m familiar with the Roman Republic general and statesman Lucullus.  Lucullus’ biographer Plutarch described him as tall and handsome, a powerful speaker, equally talented in the forum and on the battle field.  My favorite Greek historian Peter Green called Lucullus an intellectual bon vivant.

War booty from successful military campaigns in Asia Minor and elsewhere allowed Lucullus a luxurious retirement in Italy, with the means to express his passion for cuisine, sculpture, architecture and gardens.  Deeply devoted to literature and philosophy, Lucullus built a large library complex that included lodgings for visiting scholars.  Although Plutarch seems to greatly admire Lucullus’ connoisseurship and epicurean sensibilities, he makes a few snide remarks about vulgar displays of wealth.

Even if you agree that banquet vessels with precious stones and dramatic chorus recitations are pretentious displays of wealth, you can’t discount Lucullus’ most important contribution.  History credits him with bringing the cherry to Western Europe.  After eating delicious cherries in Pontus along the Black Sea, he finagled the transport of cherry pits or young trees to Italy, from where in typical Roman fashion the fruit spread to other regions.  It’s clear to me why Lucullus was partial to those cherries, commandeered them the way he did the priceless loot, art, gold and silver objects, chariots, ships and slaves he carried into Rome in his triumphal procession, because I ate the same cherries when I traveled in eastern Turkey.  Cherries grown near Gerusun and Trabzon, and sold in markets in Kars and Dogubayizit, and close to the Georgian, Armenian, Iranian, and Iraqi borders, were memorable.



When you visit the Bywater section of New Orleans, like Martha Stewart did last week, you are near the banks of the Mississippi River, a spectacular sight.  According to Patrick Dunne, in the Bywater you can hear the sounds of jazz and tug-boats.  Let me chime in, you might also hear the inebriated regulars in the local dive bars, B J’s Lounge for instance.  Lucullus Antiques recently completed its move into a new Bywater warehouse located at 915 Kentucky Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70117, after 30 years in the French Quarter (da Quarter).  In Lucullus’ new Studio and Showroom, find antiques from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, with every object depicting or complimenting “the grand pursuits of gastronomy.”  Along with culinary objects, Lucullus Antiques offers full decorating, design and styling services, as well as fine furniture restoration.

In an interview he did with Margaret Zainey Roux for Flowermag.com, Dunne described childhood influences on his interior design work.  His story warrants repeating, because in my estimation it touches on the most fundamental underpinning of any aesthetically pleasing interior:

The greatest lessons I got in those days were from an old cousin who had
fabulous rooms, rooms that still influence me. She asked me what was the
most important thing in a room, and silly me said, “Color.” “Oh,” she said,
“you are as stupid as a fish. Of course not. That is least important in a great
 room. Scale!” she shouted. “Scale, then balance, then color.” (Flowermag.com)


www.lucullusantiques.com
@DecorationsLucullus

Lucullus Antiques
915 Kentucky Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70117
(504) 528-9620 in the Bywater

(Images from Lucullus Antiques Instagram and Facebook)
Martha Stewart and Patrick Dunne at Lucullus Antiques - Instagram
Antique furniture and decorative objects in Lucullus new warehouse - Instagram
Antique furniture and objects in Lucullus former French Quarter location

(Selected Articles on BoudinandBourbon.com)

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