buying French art with the experts

by Sharon Santoni



I meet many interesting and amusing people while hunting for brocante and antiques.   Standing in the middle of damp fields before dawn tends to draw folk together!   Stories are exchanged, jokes are made, loot compared … you get the picture.   Of course most of the professional brocante and antique dealers here are men, so I particularly appreciate the girls I see in the business.

PicMonkey Collage2

One of my favourites is my friend Erell.  She has made a place for herself in the very specialised area of fine art, and when I asked her to share some trade secrets on the blog, she kindly invited me to join her at the big Paris auction house Drouot, where she had her eye on a couple of paintings.


Erell has a passion for art, she has chosen not to have a physical store, she prefers the liberty of selling at antique shows in Normandy and Paris.  She also sells on line, and of course she now has her regular clients who often ask her to look out for a particular artist or style of painting.

P1050941I caught up with her inside the auction rooms, where she was examining a late 19th century painting that I immediately loved.   Her expert eye however had spotted a tear that had been repaired, and she was also unconvinced by the signature … we moved on.

Drouot, the auctioneers, is open to the general public.  Most mornings you can go in and take a look at the goods that will up for bids that afternoon.  It’s not only paintings, there is furniture, jewellery, textiles and rugs too.  There were a couple of rugs here that I would happily have taken home with me!

PicMonkey Collage

Finally Erell found a painting she liked enough to bid on.  This charming village scene from Brittany in the west of France.   It was in excellent condition ( she unhooked it from the wall to check), but she knew nothing about the artist so our next stop was the national art library to discover what it may be worth.

Here is the inside of the library, where it is of course totally forbidden to take pictures but you know the risks I am prepared to run for your entertainment!   The library is only open to art students and to professional art dealers, the huge beautiful room was packed with silent workers, bent over art reference books, and computer screens.

Her research done, Erell and I had a quick lunch before she went back for the start of the auction.  She told me later on that the painting had proved too popular and bidding had risen too high for her … no matter, there will be others!

This lovely watercolour of a house  in Normandy is just one of the paintings that Erell is currently offering for sale.

If you would like to see her other items , then you can take a look at her  site, here.     The paintings change quite regularly and if you want any information Erell speaks very good english so you can always send her an email or a message on her facebook page.

Voila!  a little piece of daily life in France, just for you.  I hope you have a lovely weekend, thank you for reading me.


Erell Manach

French site  –  facebook page

English site




Emm March 1, 2014 - 1:10 am

Rugs and paintings, paintings and rugs. Oh, my! Just on a quick look-see, I liked a number of those paintings. One that looks quite charming — and who ever thought the subject matter could be that — is “Little Rodents,” by Keulemans.

Amanda Rush March 1, 2014 - 2:32 am

Hi Sharon, thank you for such a great post. What an interesting lady to introduce us all to. The photos are lovely! Best wishes, Amanda

Esther George March 1, 2014 - 8:15 am

Hi Sharon, I love the first painting and those rugs absolute elegance. I think hubby is just going to have to win the Lotto. I remember watching the movie Midnight In Paris with my daughter and getting excited about the rugs hanging off the wall at the music shop, all I could say was I want that rug on the left, I guess I wouldn’t know where to start in places like these, but it sure would be fun. Thank you for sharing these beauties. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS Have a wonderful weekend.

david terry March 2, 2014 - 12:24 am

Dear Sharon,

Well, your friend, Erell, is smart to avoid the traps (rent, for instance?) of owning a brick&mortar store. I have two friends who operate quite successful art businesses as she does (one owned, for fifteen or so years) a moderately successful gallery in a very expensive mall; she let her lease expire and now runs a very successful art-consulting and art-selling business………..and she does so by simply renting her former space for a single week, every two months or so. She throws a “gala show”, and everyone comes to buy, which certainl;y beats the days when she was pinned down in that gallery six days per week, often without any walk-in customers but ALWAYS with the rent due at the end of every month.

Additionally? Your friend Erell is remarkably pretty. I hope she won’t mind getting a compliment from a stranger in North Carolina.

—-david terry

Sarah@ european farmhouse charm March 2, 2014 - 10:16 pm

Hi Sharon,
I remember Erell and her beautiful paintings! I am thankful that you have provided her website in this post. Now I can never lose it :)! I love the two paintings I bought from her while shopping with you.
Hope you are well!
Sarah XO

Colleen Taylor March 2, 2014 - 10:39 pm

Erell has a very keen eye for artwork Sharon. I enjoyed her site, wonderful post & Thank you for sharing Erell.


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