Review And Photos By Andrea Valluzzo
BALTIMORE, MD. — The 35th annual Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, which was staged downtown at the convention center August 20–23, was a decorator’s dream with alluring antiques everywhere you looked. Sublime paintings and dazzling pieces of signed designer jewelry were plentiful throughout the show. Even furniture, sometimes a rare commodity, ranged from choice Midcentury Modern pieces at dealers such as Greg Nanamura and Bridges Over Time to a circa 1750 Regence rosewood desk on offer at Post Road Gallery that was literally dripping with gilt-bronze decoration.
Such stunning pieces were the rule of thumb as the 420-some dealers here consistently brought top-draw items, giving antiques collectors much to ooh and ahh over. The Palm Beach Show Group knows how to mount a beautiful show, and this edition did not disappoint.
The “wow” factor started as one walked in from the Pratt Street entrance. Among the first booths in sight was Rehs Galleries, New York City, which featured Maurice de Vlaminck’s “Bottes de Paille” and “Rue de Village,” and Jean Dufy’s “Quai de la Planchette a Honfleur,” while across the aisle, M.S. Rau, New Orleans, known for its booth showstoppers, offered President Lincoln’s dining room chairs used in the White House’s formal dining room, a German Enigma encryption machine used in World War II, when which its code was broken turned the tide in favor of Allied forces, and Winston Churchill’s painting of “A Distant View of a Town in the South of France.” Howard Rehs noted there was much interest in both Nineteenth Century and contemporary works. Two choice paintings depicting New York City winter scenes by contemporary American Impressionist artist Mark Daly were sold during the show.
Amping up the eye candy was Able Fine Art, New York City, which had people stopping in their tracks and doing a double take as they noticed the striking 3D effect of lenticular works by Korean artist Jeon Nak that the gallerist featured, while shoppers were literally running over to the booth of Guarisco Gallery, Washington, D.C., making its debut at this show, to check out light artist Douglas Durkee’s silvered bronze works using refracted mirrors and LED lights. Guarisco began with the Palm Beach Show Group when it did the February show in Palm Beach, where it sold a very nice Gauguin. Baltimore audiences seemed more in tune with contemporary works and a trio of artists seemed to curry the most interest here, including Durkee, Alain Gazier, known for his massive oils on canvas in the trompe l’oeil style, and Craig Alan, whose Marilyn Monroe series was both clever and playful.
Also new to this show was Asian art specialist Sinapango of Paris. “It was our first time in Baltimore and we have been very happy to discover this city and great show,” said gallerist Cristina Ortega, who noted she snuck in a visit to the Walters and Evergreen museums nearby “and we understand better why there was such interest in our choice. You can feel that collectors coming to the fair have a great knowledge and are happy to share it! I think that somebody asked about each of the objects that we selected for the fair.”
The show attracts a loyal following among dealers, and among the veterans was Ophir Gallery, Englewood, N.J., which has been showing here for two decades. The Tiffany lamps and Majorelle furniture were standouts, of course, with a large, five-piece Majorelle salon set being among the dealer’s most noteworthy sales.
Making a short commute to the show was Baltimore’s own Robert M. Quilter Fine Arts, which has been showing here for nearly a decade. “As an art dealer, I was struck by the increased presence of art on the floor this year. Friday was the busiest I have ever had — it’s usually the calm day,” Bob Quilter said. “The customers definitely recognized quality works and I am sure this venue has become known for its seductive ambiance and high standards. In the end, the results were better than last year and there also seemed to be a better attendance as well. PBSG did a excellent job, as they always have, keeping it an exciting event during the dog-days of August in Baltimore.”
Also hailing from nearby was The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., which reported having a good show, selling Nineteenth Century American folk art, led by an important millinery trade sign from a longtime private New York State collection, a fine copper-bodied and iron/zinc-headed running horse weathervane and a striking barber pole in dry surfaced red, white and blue paint.
Other fine art dealers included Saddle River Gallery, Upper Saddle River, N.J., which saw much attention paid to its beautiful Paul-Emile Pissarro and H. Claude Pissarro works, while David Brooker said he had a good show with sales every day to old and new customers from the trade and private collectors.
The item with the biggest punch at Post Road Gallery, Larchmont, N.Y., was the aforementioned French desk, priced at $75,000, which was eye-catching owing to its fantastic fire gilt doré bronze mounts that just didn’t quit, on both the front and back. The desk is signed by Guillaume Schwingkens (who had a shop in Paris from 1745 until his death in 1760). A rosewood pier table by Joseph Meeks & Sons, New York, circa 1833, also drew admiring glances from visitors. Both attractive and well proportioned, the table is also well documented, as this model appeared in a broadside advertisement that Meeks published in 1833. The Metropolitan Museum dubbed that advertisement “one of the rarest documents in the history of American furniture.” (Art and the Empire City, page 296.)
Roger D. Winter, Bucks County, Penn., wrote up sales of a Chinese Chippendale open armchair, circa 1780, and a fine kneehole desk in mahogany with marquetry inlay, circa 1790, England, while dining tables attracted a lot of interest.
Moving up two centuries, Greg Nanamura of New York City offered a striking pair of lime green leather chairs, while Bridges Over Time, Newburgh, N.Y., showcased an abstract George Dergalis painting from 1989. Fred T. Parks Art & Objects, Monkton, Md., found buyers were very interested. “The best aspect of the show for me was the sophisticated and intelligent shoppers from all over the globe. Germans asking about my Bauhaus and Wiener Werkstätte objects. Architects, drawn into my booth by my Frank Lloyd Wright sconce and Louis Sullivan objects, discussing art and antiques, along with many high-level decorators paying me much-appreciated compliments,” Parks said.
Another showstopping booth was that of House of Whitley, Dania Beach, Fla., which balanced a row of restored antique binoculars and optic viewers on tripod stands against a backdrop of patriotic 3D flag paintings by Spanish artist Antonio Perez-Melero. “The most talked-about pieces in the show were our WWII, perfectly restored naval binoculars, periscopes and monoculars. Patrons visiting the show stopped at our booth to look through the lens and appreciate the power of the optics. Baltimore is a very patriotic city and people were drawn to the iconic imagery depicted in the artwork. We sold two of the pieces in the collection during the show,” said Gregg Whittecar.
The show’s Antiquarian Book Fair is a fair within a fair and highlighted just over 30 dealers specializing in rare books, first editions, autographs, fine manuscripts, prints and unusual bibliographical material.
Rounding out this subjective list of noteworthy sales was Santos-London’s sale of three Chinese Export porcelain plates to a veteran collector and frequent Baltimore showgoer. The circa 1710 plates are decorated with a red seal, the sun, flowers in a fenced garden and a rooster in translucent enamels of the famille verte (wucai) palette. They are marked on back with a shop mark within an underglaze cobalt blue double circle and engraved with the Johanneum’s mark.
Choice pieces of jewelry were sprinkled throughout the show. Camilla Dietz Bergeron, New York City, found that buyers were especially drawn to signed designer pieces. Drucker Antiques, Mount Kisco, N.Y., featured a stunning Astrid Fog sterling silver and onyx ring, while Provident, Palm Beach, Fla., showcased an emerald and diamond necklace, signed “Cartier Paris,” circa 1970s.
For addition information, www.baltimoresummerantiques.com or 561-822-5440.