Published: August 6, 2019
Review and Photos by Laura Beach
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – The Newport Show, which convened at St George’s School just across the causeway from Newport proper on July 26-28, always brings to mind something Childe Hassam wrote to J. Alden Weir about Old Lyme: “it is just the place for high thinking and low living.”
While the parallel is not exact, the point is that the summer colony of Newport, much like Old Lyme, is a place where the well-heeled and high-minded kick back and relax. With no shortage of great, old houses, Newport’s approach to living ranges from the grand and formal to the playful and unassuming. Sometimes it is all of the above.
Such contradictions contribute to the Newport Show’s variety and charm but also present challenges for organizers and exhibitors. Founded in 2007 and benefiting the Newport Historical Society and the Boys and Girls Club of Newport County, the fair chaired by Anne Hamilton and managed by Diana Bittel with Ralph DiSaia tends, like many a resort show, to have high dealer turnover. Through it all, the Newport Show, helped along by a core group of superb exhibitors and a powerhouse committee, retains a winning joie de vivre and a distinctive character owing much to Newport’s nautical heritage and social stature.
Philadelphia dealer Francis Purcell told us that this says much about opportunities for dealers here. Purcell mounts a beautiful booth filled with Nineteenth Century garden ornament, much of it signed and documented, and architectural elements, such as mantels. The heavy lifting paid off for Purcell when the owners of an important Nineteenth Century Newport mansion asked him to help furnish the grounds of the estate with appropriate garden furniture. The project is ongoing for the dealer, who this year brought to the show a compelling pair of signed William Adams of Philadelphia cast iron urns exhibited at the 1876 Centennial, pairing them with a tiered J.W. Fiske fountain.
“Newport was America’s first summer playground. This is where objects like this would have been found,” Purcell explained.
“Beautiful show, beautiful weather. My thanks go mainly to our dealers,” said Bittel, whose splendid stand was chock full of sailors’ valentines and woolworks, China trade paintings and ships portraits. The Pennsylvania dealer’s sales included a tall chest and a group of floral watercolors.
Across the aisle from Bittel, Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge enjoyed opening night sales of an important pair of Ralph Wood pottery figures, a large Minton porcelain dessert service, a stumpwork flower design picture mounted as a table and a pair of First Period Worcester porcelain Kakiemon beakers, among other items. The Downingtown, Penn., dealer closed the weekend with sales of woolworks.
English pottery maven A.J. Warren of Maria and Peter Warren Antiques presented a green-edged creamware grand platt menage, tiered and surmounted by a figure of Plenty, circa 1770-80, flanked by a pair of Wedgwood creamware candlesticks, circa 1780-90. On an outside wall, the Connecticut dealer offered copperplate printed historical textiles, including a circa 1880 print of the Declaration of Independence.
Americana specialists Hanes and Ruskin Antiques of Old Lyme, Conn., surrounded a Queen Anne mahogany porringer-top tea table with Windsor chairs from Philadelphia and New York. A nearby hanging shelf supported English pottery figural creamers and ABC cups and plates.
Ricky Goytizolo of Georgian Manor Antiques said accessories and smaller pieces plumped his bottom line. “Keeping in mind that people are buying for summer houses, I brought smaller items and a more eclectic variety of them. It is a beautiful show, consistent for me, and I met quite a few new and younger people,” the Fairhaven, Mass., dealer said.
Jayne Thompson Antiques led with a monumental padouk-veneered bureau bookcase of circa 1830. The Dutch piece with a curvy bombe base and carved paw feet was one of about a dozen items from the booth illustrated in a handsome catalog produced by the Kentucky dealer.
Across from Thompson, Old Master pictures expert Lawrence Steigrad of New York City emphasized Dutch and Flemish portraits and floral still lifes. His catalog piece was a portrait of a young boy by Ludolf de Jongh (Dutch, 1616-1679), an artist represented in the collection of the Getty Museum, among other institutions.
Carole Pinto featured “New York from the Ferry,” a watercolor on paper dated 1914 by John Marin.
Roberto Freitas hung “Lobsterman’s Cove, 1948” by Edward Redfield over a Nineteenth Century bentwood pantry box with contemporary inlay by Jim Vaccarino of Nantucket, Mass. Nearby were four 1775 silver candlesticks by John Carter of London.
“We sold across the board, from maps to natural history. The show ran so smoothly under the management of Diana Bittel and Ralph DiSaia, coupled with the support, guidance and enthusiasm of the Newport Historical Society and the amazing Anne Hamilton! We look forward to next year,” Lori Cohen of Arader Galleries wrote in a post-show email. In a nod to the aquatic, the Philadelphia dealer offered watercolor and gouache ship portraits by Roux the Younger and Pellegrin, plus six Japanese paintings of whales, ink on mulberry paper, all circa 1750.
Rehs Galleries of New York City doubled its exposure by taking two booths, the traditional Ridgway Knight, Berthelsen and Wiggins squaring off against contemporary painters Ben Bauer, Todd M. Casey and Stuart Dunkel, among others.
Around the corner at the Cooley Gallery, classic landscapes by Old Lyme school favorites Irvine, Wiggins and Robinson contrasted with vibrant, marine-themed abstractions by George Vranesh (1926-2014), who completed them during time spent in Newport. Cooley also hung several works on paper by Christian Brechneff. A solo show of Brechneff’s work is on view at the Cooley Gallery through August 11.
“We had a very good show,” said Bob Haneberg, ticking off sales of a pair of Queen Anne chairs, a Salem sewing stand, an Antonio Jacobsen ship portrait, a carved eagle, miniature furniture and tea caddies. The Hanebergs’ eye-catching displays mix high-style American furniture with marine and China trade paintings and accessories. Highlights this round included an Anthony Thieme (1888-1954) painting of Gott Street in Rockport, Mass. – “so New England and all shadows and light,” said Claudia Haneberg – and a China trade view of the hongs of Canton.
Port N’ Starboard Gallery of Durham, Maine, sold four framed America’s Cup yacht prints and a bronze seal fountain. Dealer Michael Leslie built his stand around an 1860 Liverpool marine painting by William Gay Yorke (1817-1892) depicting the ship Spiridion, built in Thomaston, Maine, in 1859. Adjacent was “Coney Island Bathers” by Dennis Malone Carter (1827-1881).
Maine dealers James and Nancy Glazer sold fish decoys, paintings and a great sign. Their stand featured Pennsylvania wall boxes and shelves shaped and decorated like houses, plus paintings by the Grenada folk artist Emmanuel Canute Caliste (1914-2005).
Selected in part for his “Mid Mod” cred, new exhibitor Glen Leroux of Westport, Conn., said he was pleased with results. “I had a wonderful response. People were very nice and friendly. I sold vintage McGuire rattan and wicker furniture, a Robert Indiana “Love” silkscreen print and quite a few pieces of wearable, buyable jewelry.”
Executive director of the Newport Historical Society Ruth S. Taylor, who calls herself her organization’s “chief problem-solver,” said the Newport Show continues to be an important fundraiser for her organization, which recently completed a capital campaign and is embarking on new ways to share history. She added, “Antiques shows all over the country are in flux, with interests and buying patterns changing. Given that, we are really excited to have had a fully subscribed opening night attended by approximately 500 guests. While the financial and regular attendance numbers are still being calculated, we think we have a good weekend.”
This year’s Newport Show included programs with authors and interior designers Meg Braff and Marshall Watson. Organizers also experimented with a six-page color show section inserted in the July 26 edition of the Newport Daily News. Fourteen exhibitors advertised in the flyer. Dealers we queried said the advertising did not appear to turn out more local buyers, as was hoped. Management and exhibitors continue to explore ways to increase attendance and sales at the Newport Show, a belle of the summer circuit.
For additional information, www.thenewportshow.com.
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