Published: August 7, 2012
The great wealth amassed throughout the Newport area in the early Nineteenth Century, a result of the shipping, textile and whaling industries, created a regional mecca for artists such as Charles Gifford, William Bradford, Albert Pinkham Ryder and John La Farge. It not only allowed the artists to flourish, it also resulted in, according to Old Dartmouth Historical Society trustee and guest lecturer, Keith Kauppila, merchants and businessmen not only becoming patrons of the artists, but also developing their appreciation of art and the subsequent formations of serious collections.
Aside from the industrial aspects of the region, little has changed in the Newport region, most recently witnessed at the stylish Newport Antiques Show, July 27′9, where local residents displayed their appreciation for the art and antiques presented by 41 select dealers from as far away as San Francisco. The show, a benefit for the Newport Historical Society and The Boys and Girls Club of Newport County, opened with a gala preview party on Thursday night, sponsored by William Vareika, starting the weekend off on a positive note with the lively event resulting in sales for many of the dealers.
Not quite as heavy with art as in previous years, but this year’s show was exciting, eclectic and just downright fun.
As patrons entered the show, they passed through a hallway whose walls were occupied by a special loan exhibit presented by William Vareika Fine Arts titled “Historic Artists of New Bedford” that featured a good selection of local artworks at moderate prices. Included in the selection was an assortment of paintings, watercolors, drawing and prints by Nineteenth and Twentieth Century artists associated with the New Bedford region.
As patrons entered the main exhibition area, it quickly became apparent that quality antiques abounded. To the right was a display by Roberto Freitas of prime Americana that ranged from an early paint-decorated salmon colored dower chest to a Chippendale graduated four-drawer chest. To the left of the entrance was the whimsical booth of Leatherwood Antiques featuring a good selection of Black Forest carved figures, rewards of merit cups and saucers, fanciful paint-decorated boxes and a nice pair of polychromed swans, probably trade signs.
Mirrors of all sorts covered the walls of Georgian Manor’s stand, Fairhaven, Mass., and an exquisite Syrian example constructed with a frame of reticulated mother-of-pearl, inlaid bone and metal, $15,000, highlighted the bunch. An Irish Georgian oval mirror with glass prism studs, $14,000, was also offered, as was an ornate Peruvian foliate carved giltwood also embellished with birds eating clusters of grapes at $12,500. Furniture included a nice Classical mahogany center table with figured mahogany top and scrolled leafy feet.
A pair of Northern Italian walnut commodes, circa 1770, with graduated drawers accentuated with geometric inlays and retaining the original bronze hardware, $55,000, was at Gary Sergeant Antiques, Woodbury, Conn. The dealer indicated that rumor was that the rare pair of commodes were brought to the United States in the 1920s by Italian dignitaries. A rare Italian Eighteenth Century Scagliola top console table, $35,000, with nearly all of its decoration was termed by the dealer “a rare survivor.” The central panel was decorated with wild animals living in harmony and suggesting a Peaceable Kingdom with floral designs lining the perimeter. The chinoiserie iron base was decorated with scrolls, open fretwork and Chinese symbols.
A pair of newly discovered monumental paintings by John La Farge, “The Virgin” and “St John the Evangelist at the Foot of the Cross,” $500,000, were displayed at William Vareika, Newport, R.I. According to the dealer, the paintings, among the largest and most important paintings by La Farge, have been lost to the art world since last displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the late 1930s. Originally commissioned in 1862, the oils on panel, measuring 95½ by 29½, were painted in La Farge’s Newport studio. The beach depicted in the background, according to Vareika, was the same view of Second Beach as was visible from the grounds just outside of the entranceway to the antiques show. The gallery listed an impressive provenance for the paintings that included the Whitney Museum of Art, Knoedler and Co. and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, where they hung in his, and another, villa in Spain until recently.
Vareika featured numerous select works by La Farge in the stand, including an oil on panel titled “Evening Study, Newport, R.I.,” priced at $325,000; a watercolor and gouache, “Tulips and Hyacinths,” at $375,000; and an oil on board titled “Water Lilies in a White Bowl with Red Table-Cover” that was marked $350,000. Also offered was an attractive oil on panel portrait of a gentleman, early Nineteenth Century, by Jacob Eichholtz, $22,000, and a Worthington Whittredge oil, “Farm Near Newport,” $250,000.
A pair of Moorhead earthenware curly coated spaniels, $11,500, flanked the entrance to the booth of Diana Bittel, Bryn Mawr, Penn., along with a cast iron reclining Labrador. The booth carried a heavy nautical theme, and ship portraits were available in a variety of mediums, ranging from watercolors, such as the portrait of the North America by Duncan McFarlane, circa 1850, $28,500, to woolwork pictures of vessels, such as a British “woolie” depicting a fleet of six ships, circa 1870, $12,500. A large group of sailor’s valentines were also displayed with a cased “Think of Me” motto example with heart decoration priced at $10,500.
Other items included a large and extensive German carved child’s Noah’s Ark with a huge assortment of colorful carved animals at $23,000; a tole tray, one of four examples known to exist with “Adam Naming the Animals” decoration, $38,000; and an impressive Chippendale tiger maple chest on chest with strong figuring that was stickered $26,000.
Adding diversity to the show was a grand selection of art pottery, including vibrant and colorful pitchers, pots, creamers and vases by Clarice Cliff at Cara Antiques, Langhorne, Penn. A stellar selection of Boch Freres pottery rounded out the selection with the strong Art Deco designs, including a variety of vases, as well as a rare charger with deer decoration, $2,800. Dealer Connie Aranosian commented that it was the only example that she had ever seen.
One of the highlights from the stand of The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn., was “Washington’s Birthday, Wall Street,” $125,000, an oil on canvas by Guy C. Wiggins depicting a snowy day in lower Manhattan with flags flying, people bustling and cabs making their way up Wall Street. A charming portrait of a young girl in front of a mirror by Robert William Vonnoh titled “Sweet Peas” was $75,000, and a colorful pastel on paper, “Roses and Catnip,” by Laura Combs Hill was $22,000. Somewhat of a departure from the classic art offered by the dealer, a selection of Sol LeWitt Modernist works were displayed, including “Multiple Colored Lines,” 1984, and “Wavy Vertical Lines,” both marked $17,500.
A stunning example of N.C. Wyeth’s art was displayed at Somerville Manning Gallery, Greenville, Del., where the oil on canvas “Sir Nat and the Horse,” circa 1928, $450,000, was hung alongside “Lawn Party” by Francis Luis Mora, the first Hispanic artist to be elected to the National Academy of Design. Among the other works by the Wyeth family, a standout was “Gull Study #3,” a vibrant watercolor on paperboard by Jamie Wyeth from 1976, $85,000.
“I think this is a model for a much larger fountain that would have been made for the center of a town square,” commented dealer Bruce Emond, in regards to a bronze and lead garden size example replete with allegorical figures and web-hoofed horses. Prominently displayed at The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., the piece was one of many garden elements attracting attention. A wonderful pair of early cast stone urns with laurel leaf decoration had been removed from a home that was being demolished in the late 1940s and had remained in a garden ever since. The dealer commented that they were fresh to the market. He also offered a neat pair of classical English cupboards in a nice small size with arched panel and glass doors.
An eclectic mixture of antiques was displayed by Brennan and Mouilleseaux Antiques, Northfield, Conn., with items ranging from an early terracotta sculpture of a reclining spaniel and a pair of cast iron light posts from the exterior of a New York City residence to midcentury items that included a Saarinen designed “tulip” dining table and a long and flowing capiz shell chandelier in an unusual pale green color. The dealers also offered an unusual Adirondack twig decorated corner cupboard, circa 1950, with inlaid “baskets” on the lower doors, $4,400. Adding to the diversity was an attractive pair of large English Arts and Crafts jardinières in the manner of Archibald Knox and believed by the dealers to have been produced at Liberty & Co., London.
The Old Dartmouth Historical Society †New Bedford Whaling Museum presented a loan exhibit that occupied most of the back wall of the exhibition area. Icons from their collection on display included William Bradford’s Artic sunset oil titled “The Ice Dwellers Watching the Invaders,” circa 1870‷9, gifted to the New Bedford Whaling Museum by William F. Havemeyer in 1910. Also displayed was one of America’s most famous folk carvings, “The Little Navigator,” by Samuel King, circa 1810, depicting a stout suited and tophatted gent with a transit. Wonderful scrimshaw and a fantastic carving of two fish in swirls of water by Leander Allen Plummer, circa 1907, a gift of Miss Marianne Plummer, rounded out the selection.
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