Of the Newest Fashion: Masterpieces of American Neo-Classical Decorative Arts Celebrate 50 Years at Hirschl & Adler
NEW YORK CITY – In honor of the 50th anniversary of Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Stuart P. Feld, president and director, is pleased to announce the opening of “Of the Newest Fashion: Masterpieces of American Neo-Classical Decorative Arts” on Saturday, November 24.
Included will be a significant number of objects that have not previously been exhibited or published.
“Of the Newest Fashion” takes its name from the text of a label used by Charles-Honore Lannuier (1779-1819), one of the most important cabinetmakers working in America in the early Nineteenth Century and the subject of a recent monographic exhibition held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Lannuier’s refined oeuvre is represented in the exhibition by five documented pieces – probably the largest public showing ever of Lannuier furniture outside of a museum. Included will be a well-known French bedstead with eagles’ heads, as well as a newly discovered center table or Gueridon and pier table, all of which bear the maker’s labels.
In addition masterpieces by Duncan Phyfe of New York, including a tambour-front satinwood work table and a secretary, and Joseph B. Barry of Philadelphia, represented by an elaborate rosewood secretaire a abattant and an important armchair made for a patron in Savannah, Ga., will be exhibited, along with other examples from the finest cabinetmaking shops of Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore.
Important examples of American silver will be prominently featured in “Of the Latest Fashion,” including a basket with cornucopia handles and an ewer by Fletcher & Gardiner of Philadelphia, as well as a tea or coffee urn and a matching covered vegetable dish with paw feet by Baldwin Gardiner of New York. The fascinating field of lighting is also comprehensively reviewed, with examples of both domestic production and pieces imported from England specifically for the American market.
Porcelain is represented by several examples produced in France for an American clientele, including a part dinner service with the American eagle and the initial “M” that may have been used by President James Monroe at The White House, as well as a pair of monumental “Old Paris” vases with scenes from the War of 1812. In addition, several pieces manufactured by the Tucker Factories of Philadelphia represent porcelain of the highest quality actually produced in America, including a very rare, epic vase with ormolu handles that closely relates to several at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A selection of the finest early Nineteenth Century American blown and pressed glass, by such noted manufactories as the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, will also be on view.
Background to the broad selection of decorative arts will be provided by a number of portraits of the period, including a monumental double portrait of Mary Montague and Robert Copley by John Singleton Copley, pairs of portraits by Edward Savage and Samuel Waldo, and likenesses by Charles-Balthazar-Julien-Febret de Saint-Memin, Thomas Sully and Samuel Neagle. The two most accomplished still-life painters of the era – Raphael and James Peale – will be represented by a total of four works, and painted views by Nicolino Calyo, Robert Salmon, William Russell Smith and Thomas Doughty will be complemented by a series of topographical depictions of New York.
“Of the Newest Fashion” has been organized by father-daughter team of Stuart P. Feld, one of the leading authorities on Neo-classicism in the United States, and Elizabeth Feld, who has developed considerable expertise in the English and Continental sources for Neo-classicism in America.
“Of the Newest Fashion” is Ms Feld’s first exhibition at Hirschl & Alder. Mr Feld, formerly associate curator in charge of the department of American paintings and sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a longtime collector and specialist in the field of Neo-classical decorative arts and has now been a partner at Hirschl & Adler Galleries for 34 years.
“Of the Newest Fashion” has been dedicated to Norman Hirschl, one of the gallery’s founders, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the gallery in 1952.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries began with modest quarters in the Marguery Hotel at 270 Park Avenue. From 1958 to 1977 it was located at 21 East 67th Street, and since then the gallery has occupied a landmark townhouse at 21 East 70th Street, a few doors from the legendary Frick Collection.
Hirschl & Adler has traditionally specialized in European and American paintings, watercolors, drawings, and sculpture from the Eighteenth Century to the present, as well as American prints, but since 1983 the gallery has also had an active interest in American decorative arts from the early Nineteenth Century to the early Twentieth Century, including the entire spectrum from Neo-classicism to Arts and Crafts.
In the last 18 years the gallery has organized five exhibitions primarily devoted to the decorative arts. “From Architecture to Object: Masterworks of the American Arts & Crafts Movement” (1989-90); “Neo-Classicism in America: Inspiration and Innovation, 1810-1840” (1991); “The Craftsman Table: Dining Rooms by Greene & Greene, Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright” (1992-93); “Boston in the Age of Neo-Classicism, 1810-1840” (1999-2000); and “Of the Newest Fashion: Masterpieces of American Neo-Classical Decorative Arts” (2001-02).
“Of Newest Fashion” will remain on view through Saturday, February 2, and is accompanied by an elaborate catalog in which many objects will be documented through individual essays and illustrations. A comprehensive introductory essay will deal with issues of rarity, attribution, condition and conservation.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:45 pm and Saturdays from 9:30 am to 4:45 pm, or by appointment; 212-535-8810.