The former owner of a major real estate development company in Denver, Allan Reiver moved to New York City in 1989 and opened the Elizabeth Street Gallery in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood. Among the many rare and unique items Allan Reiver housed at the Elizabeth Street Gallery is a 19th-century Spinario figure from Val d’Osne.
Taking its name from a town in the Haute-Marne department in northeast France, Val d’Osne was an art foundry that produced some of the finest examples of decorative cast iron pieces from the 19th century. Its original founder, Jean Pierre Andre Victor, is now considered to be the father of decorative and sculptural cast iron design, which really took off during that period.
Soon after the foundry opened in 1835, it grew quickly and bought out its competitors throughout the area. Over the years, work from Val d’Osne foundries was showcased in exhibitions across the globe, and many prominent artists produced pieces carrying the Val d’Osne name. Although cast iron art fell out of fashion after World War II, later generations displayed a renewed appreciation for the work, and surviving pieces from the Val d’Osne catalog are now highly prized.