Published: November 13, 2012
A reconfigured and revitalized Boston tradition, the Ellis Boston Antiques Show swept into town October 18′1, bringing with it energy, spice and sparkle. The show, now in its second year under the management of Fusco and Four, expanded its audience, raised the gate and widened its scope. Traditional Boston meets contemporary Boston in a sizzling blend.
Since its inception, the show has benefited the Ellis Memorial and Eldredge House, which was established by Ida Eldredge in 1885 as a settlement house for new immigrant families. Because the gate was up this year, the funds raised for the beneficiary also increased. Preservation, particularly in Boston, is an issue close to Tony Fusco’s heart and a large segment of that community supported the show in a big way.
While sales are sometimes soft prior to a general election, buying and selling here was brisk and dealers went home gratified.
The loan exhibit was from the collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which had staffers on hand to chat with the steady stream of visitors to its booth.
Post Road Gallery came from Larchmont, N.Y., with an impressive Herter Brothers display cabinet in cream color with giltwood that was made for J.P. Morgan around 1880. It was surrounded by paintings like Herbert Denman’s “The Pardon of St Anne, Concarneau, France,” Will H. Low’s “Dolce Far Niente,” “Off the Coast of Cornwall” by William Trost Richards and “The Renaissance” by Pinckney Marcuis-Simons. Among several clocks was a New York bracket clock by Pearsall and Embree, circa 1790, and a French skeleton clock from the same time.
Dealers John Fiske and Lisa Freeman of Fiske & Freeman, Ipswich, Mass., even bring along the timbers that make their booth a period-appropriate setting for the early furniture and accessories they show †none of which are later than 1750. An early Tudor oak coffer from about 1525 was made with six linen fold panels, and an Elizabethan coffer from the West Country dated to 1585. More recent pieces were the oak close stool from about 1710 and an English walnut dressing table or lowboy from about 1725. A featured piece was a flashy English oak and mixed wood cupboard from about 1670 with mother of pearl and etched bone inlay.
From Sudbury, Mass., dealer Keith Funston specializes in wunderkammer, and his booth was itself a cabinet of curiosities. A Seventeenth Century Flemish table cabinet with drawers behind doors within other compartments was made for use as a wunderkammer, and a Seventeenth Century Spanish walnut vargueno and a Venetian cabinet would afford storage for a multitude of small curiosities. The array was wide, but carefully edited and ranged from natural wonders like taxidermy birds, shells and minerals to ivory carvings and sailors’ valentines, paintings and sculpture.
Park Place Gallery Antiques came from Delton, Mich., with a dandy Noah’s Ark that was automated so the animals would move up and down the gangplank to the vessel. A diorama hung on the walls with some nice marine paintings. There was also a Seventeenth Century painting, “The Blessing of the King of Portugal upon Entering the Port of Japan,” by Spanish artist Juan del Castillo. The biggest surprise of all was the Sheraton mahogany bedstead attributed to Thomas Seymour. With bird’s-eye maple panels and mahogany central shields along the cornice, it drew a coterie of researchers and scholars to inspect it over the course of the show, but no takers appeared and it went back to Michigan.
Chinese porcelain dealer Polly Latham, whose Boston gallery is now in the very trendy South End, was busy making sales. She specializes in exceptional Chinese Export pieces, such as the plate in an allover Rose Mandarin pattern, unusual in that it had no border, but with a coat of arms. No surprise that the circa 1820 piece sold early.
Andrew Spindler of Essex is a reliable source of the eclectic at antiques shows and this trip was no exception. He was pleased to demonstrate an early Twentieth Century Everlast cast iron exercise bicycle. After a rigorous show, he dismounted. More restful was an English Arts and Crafts oak octagonal table with hand painted decoration on the edge and on the paneled pedestal. Spindler showed a selection of framed Folly Cove textiles, a vintage Hermes typewriter, Wedgwood ceramics decorated by Eric Ravilious, a vintage steel desk and lamps made from foundry parts.
Federation Antiques came from Cincinnati, Ohio, with furniture and accessories from 1650 to 1850. Among the appealing offerings was a pair of demilune carved consoles with pretty bellflower inlay dating from 1790‱810, a games table, an Anglo Caribbean Bermuda Regency mahogany serving board and a George II Cuban mahogany supper table.
While there are those of us who still think of New York dealer Robert Lloyd in connection with fine silver of the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Century, his booth at some shows elicits a double take. He brought the fine silver that one expects, and sales of some important pieces were strong, but some other objects were big draws, too. A pair of Fourteenth Century Japanese carved cypress Inu (lion dogs) held pride of place amid a selection of original oil paintings from which posters for Guinness were made, and all of which sold. Important Boston silver also sold.
Vose Galleries of Boston had lots of traffic through the booth to look at an enticing display of marine paintings such as James E. Buttersworth’s “Sambro Head †Entrance to Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia,” Alfred T Bricher’s “Seascape with Boats Offshore,” a view of a rocky coastline with sailboats in the distance, and William Trost Richards’ “Near Lands End.” One inland marine painting was Reynolds Beal’s view of the railroad bridge at Rondout, N.Y.; another was the Jasper Cropsey “Greenwood Lake, New Jersey.”
One woman whose husband wanted to honor her on the occasion of her 85th birthday selected a fine seascape that he purchased to donate to an unidentified museum in her name.
Wiscasset, Maine, dealer and artist John Sideli had a bifurcated booth: half was filled with his own folky artwork, now represented by Hirschl & Adler Galleries in New York. The other half was given to the Nineteenth Century folk art and painted furniture for which he is known. An 1872 ship’s portrait of the Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., clipper William L. Peck by Jurgen Frederick Huge was for sale along with an 1850 winter scene attributed to Fanny Palmer, a rig of five Yellowlegs, and a nest of near mint Nantucket baskets.
The seductive hues of fine antique Oriental rugs and carpets hung from the walls of Landry and Arcari of Boston and Salem to beckon buyers. Pride of place went to a Tabriz carpet, circa 1870, whose top half formed the back wall of the booth. Jerry Landry was busy greeting old friends and meeting new ones.
William Vareika Fine Arts of Newport brought some local views and some impressive marine paintings, in addition to Thomas Crawford’s marble of George Washington. William Bradford’s ” The Mary Jane of Eastport, Maine,” hung with William Trost Richards’ “Coastal View” and “Whaleback Lighthouse off Portsmouth, New Hampshire.” An Antonio Jacobsen ship’s painting sold during the preview party.
Bill Vareika pointed out the detail in an Eighteenth Century portrait by Joseph Blackburn of Colonel William Taylor of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company †so realistic that it depicts the colonel with flakes of dandruff on his shoulder. Another portrait was that of a woman by Massachusetts artist Edgar Parker. A number of paintings sold.
Charles Washburne’s Victorian majolica is always a big draw. His booth was colorfully sylvan, filled with choice ceramic flora and fauna. A tall swan among grasses anchored one side of the booth and a platter overflowing with seafood the other.
Bell-Time Clocks of Andover, Mass., saw a steady stream of visitors attracted by the clocks for sale. Dealer Bob Frishman sold two clocks during the preview, another six over the next three days and expects some residual sales. Among a selection of regulator clocks the face of one example revealed that it had been “Presented by the Lady Friends of the Young Men’s Union.” Another example, an Austrian clock, was set in a picture frame with a portrait of a woman. Frishman supplemented his clocks with several barometers and even a sundial.
Boston dealer Stephen Score’s booth was dominated by an arresting red, white and blue bedcover, “Star Spangled Summer Spread.” Made with 12 flags, it was created by a Virginia woman whose son was in combat in World War II and who felt that he would be safe as long as she worked on it. It was offset by a pair of red spine chairs by André Dubreuil and the 1899 oil on canvas The James Woolley by S.F.M. Badger.
A pair of 1950s Italianate whippets that guarded the entrance to the Knollwood Antiques booth were carved from wood and given a bronze overlay. Sales were so good, reported dealer Richard A. LaVigné, that the booth had to be restocked the morning after the preview party †as did the supply of business cards. One very pleased buyer took away a Peking glass bowl. Others took home a set of chairs, four pairs of lamps, a nice square New Hampshire basket and a 1960s table with horn veneer that looked like tortoiseshell was on reserve.
Framont Gallery showed a toothsome and colorful mix that ranged from a Gloucester view by William Meyerowitz and work by Fernand Leger to Andre Derain and John Marin, whose “Bridge on the Seine” attracted much attention. The Greenwich, Conn., dealers also had whaling pictures and New Bedford-related material, including a chart of the flags of the New Bedford fleet. Centering it all was the jawbone of a sperm whale.
For additional information, www.ellisboston.com or 617-363-0405.
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