Published: February 3, 2004
Pottery is Hot, but Cold Temps and a Weak Dollar Slow Sales
– The New York Ceramics Fair expanded its fifth annual presentation to five days, opening a day earlier than in the past with a preview on Tuesday evening, January 13, so that collectors in town for Americana Week could more easily get around to all the shows and sales.
The 41-dealer fair managed by Caskey-Lees of Topanga, Calif., in association with Sha-Dor of Silver Spring, Md., continued at the National Academy of Design through Sunday, January 18. As in past years, pottery, both English and American, was a bestseller at this scholarly specialty event designed with collectors in mind.
Management said that a strong opening gate was offset by slightly lower attendance figures on Wednesday and Thursday, when bitter cold temperatures were a deterrent. Overall, the number of visitors was essentially unchanged from last year’s fair. A weaker dollar versus a year ago cut into profits for some overseas dealers.
“We had a huge crowd on preview night,” said Virginia dealer John Suval, who shared a room in the meandering, three-floor layout with top specialists Garry Atkins, Roderick Jellicoe, Leo Kaplan, Ltd, and Imperial Oriental Art, among others. Suval, a dealer in Chinese and China Trade porcelain, British pottery and porcelain, and Dutch Delft, featured a Chinese export charger decorated with a brilliant Dupacquier border. It was priced in the low five figures.
“It was one of our best openings, and it might have been our biggest crowd. A lot of people who buy American furniture at the other Americana Week shows buy English pottery here,” noted Alan Kaplan of Leo Kaplan, Ltd. The New York dealer reported robust sales of Eighteenth Century English pottery and Wedgwood, but sold no glass or paperweights, another specialty of the firm. Two Staffordshire figural groups, “The Grotto” and “The Folly,” each $29,500 and ex-collection of Faith Hope McCormick, were highlights.
An important first stop for many collectors is the booth of Diana and Gary Stradling, New Yorkers with a well-known expertise in American pottery, porcelain and glass.
“We did very well on opening night. We sold a great piece of glass, three pieces of redware and two Aesthetic rdf_Descriptions,” said Diana Stradling, holding up a Bennett of Baltimore pitcher encrusted with Chesapeake fish and crabs. Designed by Charles Coxen, an Englishman working in Baltimore, the vessel “is going to an institution,” said Stradling, who also sold a circa 1886 ewer by Faience Manufacturing Co. of Greenpoint, N.Y.
Aesthetic pottery and porcelain were hits for Stradling’s colleague Nicolaus Boston, as well. The London dealer’s stunning display of English wares included seven Kensington Gore art pottery plaques depicting “The Seven Ages of Man” by H. Stacey Marks, circa 1872, and an important Minton porcelain vase, $69,000, designed by Dr Christopher Dresser for the Paris Exposition of 1867. Inspired by Owen Jones’ Alhambra Court, the Dresser vase remained on view until the end of the show, when it sold.
Boston, who is also known for majolica, left that specialty to fellow exhibitor Charles Washburne. The Chappaqua, N.Y., dealer had an excellent show, parting with an English majolica stork fountain, marked $76,000, and another sculptural piece of about the same price.
Yorktown, Va., dealer Robert Hunter had his best opening night ever, selling Dutch Delft, American and German stoneware, and American face jugs. Three of the later, from the Brown Pottery in Georgia, circa 1920s and 1930s, are shown on these pages in prices ranging from $2,500 to $3,800.
“We’ve had a good crowd and considerable activity. Collectors have been genuinely interested,” said Peter Warren, known for Eighteenth Century creamware, salt glaze and other fine English ceramics. The Wilton, Conn., dealer displayed a creamware punch-bowl, $19,500, with mold-applied decoration in green and purple, similar to a bowl in Winterthur’s collection
A Staffordshire creamware tureen and cover decorated in luscious underglaze oxide colors flew out of Garry Atkins’ stand. The circa 1765 piece had been illustrated in the show catalog.
Other transactions included a pearlware punchbowl, a cauliflower teapot, salt glaze pottery, delft and a group of Eleventh to Twelfth Century tiles excavated near Fountains Abbey, Britain’s largest monastic ruin dating to 1132.
The London dealer was particularly proud of a delft Adam and Eve blue-dash charger of circa 1670, $17,500. As Atkins explained, “These chargers start at 1650 and go to 1740, so early ones like this are quite desirable.”
A rarity in Jonathan Horne’s case was a Staffordshire slip-decorated owl jug with a detachable head. Intended for use as a drinking cup, the circa 1700 piece is one of only about 20 known. Horne displayed the owl with a Staffordshire slip-decorated charger, a posset pot inscribed “The Best Is Not Too Good For You,” and a Seventeenth Century Staffordshire drinking cup.
“Best, ever, anywhere,” Horne said of his sales, which included the owl jug and a bust of King George III.
“I decided to bring less but better,” said Fenichell, who featured an experimental Wedgwood bone china dessert service with botanical decoration from 1878, $16,500, along with an earlier English earthenware platter illustrated with a named botanical specimen, $6,500.
“We have a handful of clients who always come and buy our best pieces on opening night,” explained Blake Kemper of Solomon Suchard Antiques. Shaker Heights, Ohio, dealers in antique French faience, the Kempers offered a handsome array of Quimper, Nevers, Desvres, Blois and Malicorne. Shown on these pages are pieces from the Porquier faiencerie designed by the noted Alfred Beau between 1870 and 1892. A sold tag hangs on a fan vase with dolphin feet, only the second one Kemper had seen in 20 years.
Paul Vandekar of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, Inc, featured English pottery and European and Chinese porcelains. One highlight was a large Leeds melon tureen, cover and stand of circa 1790. The serving piece bore the rare mark of Hartley, Greens & Co. In the porcelain category, a Chamberlain’s Worcester ice pail with cover and liner, all exquisitely decorated with shells, seaweed and birds, was $19,000.
A newcomer to the fair was Laurence Mitchell, a London dealer specializing in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Meissen. Mitchell’s book on the German porcelain will be published in March by Antique Collectors’ Club.
“I’m interested in the meaning of Meissen figures,” said Mitchell, who is shown here with an Art Nouveau era figure of a nymph.
“It’s from a service for first course and dessert for 24 people presented by France to Spain in 1796,” Charles Truman of C&L Burman said of a rare pair of Sevres ice cream buckets, $49,000, decorated with a brilliant bleu-celeste ground. The London dealer specializing in cut-glass and French porcelain also brought contemporary glass, including “Boxed XII” by Bruno Romanelli, $8,500, an abstract sculpture of 2002.
Eighteenth, Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century English and Continental table glass is the purview of Mark J. West. Displayed on the London dealer’s side wall was a pair of mirrored and frosted glass portrait medallions of Victoria and Albert, $4,700, and blue overlay glass frames with cut decoration, $1,595.
New to the show was Sylvia Powell. The London expert in late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century art pottery arrayed works by DeMorgan, Pilkington, Doulton, Moorcroft and even a little Zsolnay. Powell is pictured here with a charming Wally Bird by Martin Brothers. Comical Wally Birds are realistically modeled fowl with the faces of famous politicians of the day. The signed and dated 1899 Wally Bird illustrated here was $32,000.
The New York Ceramics Fair boasts Chinese porcelain of the highest quality. Mostafa Hassan of Imperial Oriental Art of New York featured two large Wucai baluster jars with covers. The Seventeenth Century vessels, measuring 201/2 inches tall, were formerly in the collection of Ambassador Laurence A. Steinhardt in Washington, D.C. They cost $65,000. Imperial’s sales included a several famille rose Qianlong period pieces: a large pair of figures, $60,000, and a smaller pair, $40,000.
While the high end of the Chinese porcelain market has not thrived at the New York Ceramics Fair in the last two years, Knapton Rasti Asian Art of London was pleased to report the sale of an unusual Tang terra-cotta sculpture of four tethered horses. Antoine Lebel of Paris arrayed Chinese export punch bowls. One rare example, decorated in grisaille with warriors on horseback, sold.
The opportunity to meet outstanding contemporary ceramists or view their work is one of the New York Ceramics Fair’s important innovations. Among them, Michelle Erickson is one of the most skillful and erudite artists working in clay today. Having mastered both historic styles and techniques, she assimilates them in original works meant to tease and provoke a clientele well-versed in antiques. Erickson’s piece de resistance this year was “Taste in High Life,” a masterwork teapot, $18,000, incorporating colored porcelains, agateware with gold enamel and transfer print designs. “A Taste in High Life” is a reference to Hogarth’s print caricaturing ceramics collectors.
James Singer, a dealer in Asian art from Tiburon, Calif., arrayed highly abstract and architectural Japanese ceramic sculptures by the contemporary artists Ken Mihara, Takahashi Kazuya and Kamei Yoichuro.
Organizers illustrated the 2004 show brochure with a luster encrusted vase by the talented contemporary artist Paul J. Katrich of Dearborn, Mich.
“I am one of the last studio artists working in luster,” said Katrich, who arrayed his gloriously iridescent vases on tiered shelves. The potter sold all but 12 of the 42 vessels he brought to the fair. Katrich will be the subject of a solo exhibition in New York in May.
North Andover, Mass., ceramic artist Katherine Houston works in Eighteenth Century techniques to create stunning fruit still life centerpieces reminiscent of great Dutch still lifes of the Seventeenth Century.
New to this year’s show was Iznik Classics of Istanbul. Dealer Tahir Eginci featured work by two prominent contemporary ceramists working with quartz to achieve brilliantly patterned tiles, plates and hollowware of extreme durability. Styles ranged from the traditional covered baluster vase, shown here, $3,800, by Adnan Hoca of Kutanya, Turkey, to innovative platters and chargers.
A scholarly lecture series is one of the New York Ceramics Fair’s greatest attractions. The largest to date, the 2004 series featured 16 talks by Bea Garvan, Ellen Denker, David McFadden, Jane Shadel Spillman, Arlene Palmer, Merry Outlaw and other noted experts on topics ranging from Nineteenth Century New Jersey terra-cotta to Art Nouveau glass and White House dining.
The New York Ceramics Fair will return to the National Academy of Design at Fifth Avenue and 89th Street during Americana Week 2005. Dates have not yet been confirmed.
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