New management, some new dealers and some newer material spiced up Boston’s venerable Ellis Antiques Show this year, adding to its long-established distinguished air. Under the management this year of Christian Jussel, the blend mixed in four new dealers and two returning dealers, and widened the array to include some much welcome Twentieth Century offerings. The mix was electric and generated interest in all spheres.
This, the 48th Annual Ellis Antiques Show, opened Thursday evening, November 1, with a well-attended gala preview and continued for a three-day run through November 4.
C.L. Prickett came from Yardley, Penn., with some exceptional American pieces. They included an 89¼-inch Chippendale figured mahogany reverse serpentine bonnet top secretary desk made in Salem in about 1770, a circa 1780 Concord, Mass., a Chippendale cherry bonnet top chest-on-chest and a Federal mahogany bow front chest with flame birch inlay and veneer that was probably made in Portsmouth, N.H.
Several days later Todd Prickett said the show was good and activity was energetic; several pieces had been placed. He went on to say that the Ellis is a good place to be and that new show manager Chris Jussel “did a phenomenal job.”
The Pricketts also showed pair of Federal Baltimore mahogany side chairs with bellflower inlay from 1790‱810, the Appleton Robbins bonnet top highboy, circa 1793, made in Farmington or Wethersfield, Conn., and the Park family Federal sideboard with tulip inlay, shields and reeded columns that was attributed to George Rogers.
Elinor Gordon, who has been a fixture at the Ellis since it began in 1960, gave a warm welcome to old friends and clients. She displayed a fine Fitzhugh porcelain service in what she described as “Granny Smith apple green” that had once been part of the collection of David Rockefeller and bears the Order of the Garter with a crest. Gordon, who turns 90 on February 23, maintains a killer show schedule and says that when she retires she may write a book on the vagaries of the antiques business.
The star at Boston’s Vose Galleries was “The Quiet Afternoon,” a serene oil on canvas Hudson River view with cattle and figures by Asher B. Durand, $1.1 million. Another was “Winter Quiet, Gloucester,” a snowy harbor view with fishing craft by Cape Ann artist Frederick John Mulhaupt.
The gallery showed Childe Hassam’s pretty 9¼-by-12-inch oil on canvas “Willows in Spring” from 1884 and an Arthur C. Goodwin snow scene of Boston, along with several works by Frank W. Benson. Marcia Vose reported that the gallery enjoyed a strong show and noted that they have long established and new clients at the Ellis Antiques Show.
One hardly knew where to look in Hyannis Port, Mass., dealer Hyland Granby’s booth. It was overflowing with fine marine and nautical antiques. There was much to choose from among an array of exceptional pieces. A carved pine American eagle figurehead from about 1810 was certainly larger than life at 40¾ inches tall and a circa 1890 Bellamy eagle with a banner wished everyone Merry Christmas. There was also a fancy 52-inch brass and nickel plated signal cannon made in Chicago by the E. Baggot company and patented in 1891. One buyer wanted a pair of cannons and went home to clear it with his wife †he has yet to return, stated Alan Granby. Two sets of andirons and a Chinese plaque of an eagle sold, along with several nice Chelsea clocks.
The centerpiece of Newport, R.I., dealer William Vareika’s stand was the monumental “Sunset in White Mountains, New Hampshire, 1852.” Rhode Island images are of perennial interest in Boston and the gallery featured superb views of the Rhode Island coast, including William Trost Richards’ “Breakers †The Narragansett Bay” and the 1890 coastal oil on canvas view, “The Rainbow.”
Vareika also showed Edmund Darch Lewis’s watercolor “After a Storm, Indian Rock, Narragansett,” which sold, and “Sailing along the Coast,” which generated high interest. Arthur C. Goodwin’s evocative view of the Charles River with children and sailboards was lightly painted and also found a new home at Ellis. A still life by Fall River school artist Herbert Fish also sold. Two gems by John LaFarge were his 1871 “Evening Study, Newport, R.I.,” a smaller version of one at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and “Waterlilies” tempted several palates, as did “Winter in Gloucester,” by Frederick John Mulhaupt.
New York dealer Carswell Rush Berlin’s booth was a study in classical elegance. A carved mahogany and bird’s-eye maple bureau attributed to William Hook of Salem, circa 1815‱820, was the subject of discussion between Berlin and a Boston couple who own another of five known examples. The chest was a gem with forward curving saber legs with scrolled feet on ebonized ball feet.
A corner sideboard of flame mahogany with a curved façade and gleaming brass mounts is thought to have been made by Emmons and Archibald, considered by many to have produced Boston’s finest Empire cabinetry. Berlin said the piece is, as far as he knows, the only one of its kind. It descended in the family of Boston merchant Kirk Boott.
Berlin reported the sale of a “gem of a Philadelphia pier mirror” that he termed “the best I have ever had.”
Clocks lined the walls like sentinels at Delaney Antiques Clocks of Townsend, Mass. Of particular interest was a Timby’s Solar Time-Piece made at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., by L.E. Whiting in the early 1860s. Such clocks were sold as “Geographical Educators for the School Room and Family.” A tortoiseshell chinoiserie tall clock made around 1750 in London by William Kipling retained his signed label with instructions on regulating the clock. Cape Cod clocks are seldom seen, but Delaney brought a fine example: a circa 1825 mahogany tall clock by Philip Holway of Falmouth.
Bryn Mawr, Penn., dealer Diana H. Bittel’s booth was replete with the sailors valentines, woolies and ivory miniatures for which she is noted. She observed that the gate was up this year and her booth was a busy place throughout the show. Sales included a circa 1760 Queen Anne tea table, a New England Sheraton maple settee and a highboy, a bench and a card table. She also sold some of the China Trade paintings that she offered: a set of four China Trade paintings of port scenes, a circa 1850 gouache of the hongs at Canton attributed to Tinqua and three China Trade watercolors of port scenes.
Michael Dunn Antiques of Claverack, N.Y., specializes in Asian antiques and brought along a varied selection. A Chinese scroll that portrayed a family of ten officials whose robes denoted their ranks was colorful and informative. A pair of simulated tortoiseshell chairs was offered, along with an official’s chair and an altar table. Dunn had a pair of fine quality bamboo round back chairs from Shanxi province illustrated in Friends of the House: Furniture from China’s Towns and Villages , the catalog of the 1995 exhibit of the same name at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.
Solebury, Penn., dealer Charles Washburne can be depended on for a booth explosive with color and distinctive form. He had a rare Massier majolica vase in the form of three entwined open-mouthed frogs and a Minton majolica ewer in the form of a heron with a gasping fish in its mouth. He reported that a copy of the piece was a prop in the HBO television series Sex and the City .
Ralph M. Chait Galleries, now in its 99th year, attracted knowledgeable collectors, as well as the neophyte, to its booth filled with Asian objects such as a pair of glazed stoneware seated Buddhas from the Sixteenth or Seventeenth Century, and a large stucco figure of Lohan from the Thirteenth or Fourteenth Century retaining the original polychrome. A reverse painting on glass based on Sir Joshua Reynolds’ “David Garrick between Comedy and Tragedy” was center stage along with a Sancai glazed pottery bird head ewer.
All eyes were on the Connecticut River Valley carved entranceway, thought to have been made in the Deerfield area, circa 1750, that was offered by Dorset, Vt., dealer Judd Gregory. Carved with vines, flowers and berries, the rare piece listed provenance of Chicago’s Field Museum and, ironically, it was attracting serious interest from a local institution.
Gregory also displayed a Massachusetts Queen Anne maple and bird’s-eye maple high chest, circa 1750, and an early Pennsylvania corner cupboard that had been repainted in a wonderful blue around 1800. A New York classical card table by a maker from the Duncan Phyfe School, a selection of sewing tables and a Massachusetts Chippendale serpentine front chest rounded out the display
New York’s Lillian Nassau came to Boston for the first time and attracted high interest. The brilliant colors of Tiffany glass drew new clients along with familiar faces and sales were brisk. Nassau representative Eric Silver was enthusiastic about the level of interest in the material, the sales and in the noticeable presence of museum curators, all of which made for a very positive experience.
Andrew Spindler, Essex., Mass., was also new this year and his booth offered an eclectic blend of the serious and whimsical, the antique and the contemporary. The dealer noted that the Ellis show was the first show outside of New York that he has exhibited at, and he was heartened by the warm and positive reception.
Spindler adorned an exterior wall of his booth with the world’s largest grocery bag, which had once been exhibited at a New York state fair. He admitted that he was unsure how people would react to the piece. It caused much comment and sold during the preview. Other sales included a Twentieth Century tea service by Allan Adler and an array of Twentieth Century Austrian Art Deco pieces, a Turkish-inspired sofa and a verdigris Boston street lamp that had been electrified. A pair of teak easy chairs with wide saddle seats by Ole Wanscher, which he described as a modern riff on the Chippendale ladder back, was also listed among the dealer’s sales.
Woodbury, Conn., dealer Gary Sergeant showed a fine circa 1780 Chippendale mahogany breakfront with three glazed doors embellished with molded and carved mullions with leaf decoration in the manner of London makers Ince and Mayhew. A handsome George III tray on stand and an English Chippendale mahogany console table, circa 1760, were among the tempting offerings, along with a fine chinoiserie slant front bureau and a pair of lacquered stands. An Adam writing table held center stage.
The entire back wall in the booth of Washington dealer Kyser Hollingsworth was taken up by a seven-panel panorama, “Les Courses de Chevaux.” The circa 1920 scenic wallpaper was made in France by the Zuber company using the original Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century woodblocks and entailed the use of 18 shades of gray. It suggested the races at Ascot, England.
The panorama hung kitty-corner to an imposing nine-foot two-inch English Georgian mahogany secretary bookcase from about 1750‱765. It had been purchased in 1900 from the Reverend Michael Davey Lines, rector at Yoxford in Suffolk. Also on offer were a Massachusetts Hepplewhite sideboard from about 1790 and a smart pair of New York side chairs, circa 1790‱805.
Gleaming Boston silver attracts lots of local interest each year when New York dealer Robert Lloyd comes to the Ellis show. This year was no exception. A spectacular display of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Boston silver tankards included a 1690 example by John Coney. Other tankards on view included a Josiah Austin of Charlestown example from about 1765 and one from 1760 made by patriot David Parker. A child’s tankard by Thomas Bentley was made around 1790.
For information, 617-248-8571 or www.ellisantiques.com .