Published: February 9, 2021
MONTGOMERY, PENN. – American antiques dealer Chris Rebollo passed away February 3 following a long battle with cancer. He was 57 years old.
Chris was born in Chestnut Hill, Penn., and remained close to home as a life-long resident of Horsham and Montgomery townships.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in psychology, Chris decided to take a gap year before continuing on for his master’s degree. His search for employment led him to Phillip H. Bradley Antiques in Downingtown, Penn., where he was hired.
Audrey Rebollo, his mother and partner in business, recalled, “He started at the bottom, his first tasks were cleaning and polishing anything and everything. He was exposed to every facet of the business, including the steady stream of antiques dealers, collectors and museum curators. This included the now legendary names of Joe Kindig and Alan Miller, as well as many members of the DuPont family. These people were sources of information. That gave Chris the opportunity to absorb information from any and all gathered at the largest antiques business in the area.”
In 1996, Chris opened Christopher T. Rebollo Antiques, Inc., where he specialized in American antiques from the Eighteenth Century to the Neoclassical period. Offerings included silver, glass, metals, paintings, prints, porcelain, earthenware and furniture with an increasing focus on oil portraits in the last ten years.
Chris’ show schedule included some of the finest venues in the country, including the Winter Show, the Philadelphia Show and the Delaware Antiques Show.
From the outset, Chris prioritized historical investigation as a key aspect of his business. “He spent a huge amount of time on research,” Audrey said. His attention to detail was renowned.
“Chris Rebollo and I shared three important things: we were the same age; we grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and as youngsters we had a deep love for American antique furniture,” said American antiques dealer David Schorsch. “Some of my earliest memories of Chris go back to our early twenties during his ‘apprenticeship’ working with the late Philip Bradley Sr. Chris was one of a group of top notch dealers who began their careers working in Bradley’s shop in Downingtown, then a beehive of activity. My path with Chris crossed many times over the decades, most often at the Delaware, Philadelphia and Winter shows, where he always presented a memorable booth with a signature look, offering a carefully selected, varied, and distinctive selection that demonstrated his wide-ranging knowledge. For several years Chris was our neighbor at the Philadelphia show, where we enjoyed hours of sharing stories about our times in the business and arcane details of American furniture construction. Chris had a particular interest in and knowledge of upholstered seating, going so far as to undertake the very costly and time-consuming process of having an original woolen damask custom woven from fragments of material he had discovered on the frame of a Philadelphia camel-back sofa. When he later unveiled that glorious sofa, meticulously brought back to its original glowing appearance, it drew gasps and universal praise. Few dealers have ever gone to those extraordinary lengths in upholstery conservation. Recognizing the unseen potential of greatness in that sofa and applying his keen knowledge and imagination to bringing it back was a gutsy move that is pure Chris. It mirrored his love and scholarly approach of the material and his lifetime commitment to the field. More importantly, Chris was self-effacing, kind, amusing, laid back and smart. He was a genuinely well-liked member of the Americana family, and a friend to anyone who was fortunate enough to cross his path.”
Lisa Minardi, executive director of Historic Trappe, fondly recalls Rebollo donating a portrait of Dr. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to the museum. “Dr. Muhlenberg trained under Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia and we are thrilled to have this portrait in our collection,” she said. “Chris was so very kind and generous in donating this portrait to us when we could not afford to buy it at the time.” He had acquired it at a Freeman’s auction along with portraits of the Schaum family of Lancaster, now owned by Winterthur Museum.
Other dealers took to social media posting remembrances of Rebollo.
Chris was the son of E. William (deceased) and Audrey Rebollo of Spring House. He is survived by his sister and her husband, Lisa and John Bradshaw, and their children Sarah, Colin and Kate of Indiana, Penn.; his brother and his wife, Bill and Heidi Rebollo of Palmerton, Penn.; and his long-term partner, Scott.
Funeral services will be private.
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