The Story of M. Markley Antiques
Once upon a time…
Meril and Michael enjoying a romantic interlude in
the gardens of the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte
Two newlyweds, Meril and Michael Markley, were
transferred to Paris. After renting a
“furnished” apartment, they quickly came to realize that they needed some
pieces of their own to make their flat seem like a home. But when it came to new furniture,
everything looked ultra modern and sterile (albeit stylish, in a way only the
French can convey). What they wanted
was to live with antiques – sturdy, hand-made furniture of solid wood with decorative
flair yet evoking sensuality and comfort.
Once they began looking, they soon came to appreciate why French
furniture makers have innovated and influenced for centuries, as the pinnacle
of achievement in style, design, craftsmanship and sheer beauty.
To their relief and delight, they learned that the
world’s largest antique market lay just across the ring-road from Paris in an
industrial suburb called Saint Ouen. That
was the good news. The bad news was
that Michael was on his own, with limited French, since Meril was at work all
day while he awaited his work visa.
Views from Meril's office window of the Opéra
Garnier and the Eiffel Tower...
So, learning the French language by studying French
antiques became Michael’s mission, with the dream that one day he might
actually become a dealer importing antique French furniture into the U.S. In the meantime, he could acquire some very
interesting furniture for their own apartment while honing his international
Views of Saint Ouen, the world's largest antiques
market, just outside the Paris city limits and adjacent
to the Flea Market at Clignancourt...
As Michael’s abilities to speak French progressed,
he got to know the antique dealers in Saint Ouen. They were happy to share their expertise with him, while helping
him to improve his French vocabulary and grammar. Above all, they inspired him with their passion for rediscovering
and preserving France’s rich stylistic heritage.
Many of these dealers, along with ones we have met since then,
are trusted partenaires who help
seek out the unique and the beautiful for M. Markley Antiques.
& Roderic at Antiek Tijdloos
at Belgium Antique Exporters
and Tonino at Nord Antique
What started as the acquisition of a few pieces for
their apartment grew, over the course of the next decade, into a business based
on finding unusual, well-preserved and distinctive pieces for the American
marketplace. M. Markley Antiques, now
based in Texas, lives by the notion that French craftsmen of earlier centuries
were not just journeymen, they were artists whose works merit the admiration
otherwise reserved for painters and sculptors.
This reverence for the craft led M. Markley Antiques
to specialize in pieces from the 19th century and before, made of
solid wood, chiefly walnut and oak. The
Markleys are always on the look-out for pieces dating from the 19th
century revival of interest in Gothic and Renaissance furniture, particularly
pieces in walnut whose fine grain lent itself to virtuosic carving and
exuberance of decoration. Focusing
primarily on styles known as Henri II, Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV
(sometimes referred to in the American market as “country French”), they select
pieces in the best condition and, where necessary, arrange for restoration
using Old World methods. These styles
of furniture integrate well into modern American homes and businesses where the
emphasis is on comfort and gracious elegance, but without the elevated
formality and golden finish of the styles named after later reigns such as
Louis XVI and Empire.
these pieces has become more and more challenging over the years as collectors
have snapped them up and prices have soared.
But through a combination of close ties with their French partenaires
and their own frequent trips all over France, the Markleys’ business has
continued to grow and has contributed to the popularity of these styles of
furniture in the U.S. On their regular
forays through Europe, whether the sunny plains of Provence or the rainy market
towns of the Loire Valley, they are relentless in their quest for eye-catching
and utterly unique masterpieces of the furniture maker’s art.
Meril and Michael
Markley outside EDET International, their agent
in Europe, at Marché Biron in Saint Ouen...