Published: February 1, 2011
Take a look outside and it’s not called the Winter Antiques Show for nothing. For it has been a long time since this much snow was on the ground when the show opened the huge doors of the Park Avenue Armory, 67th Street, to welcome collectors, dealers and lookers to a grand display of fine antiques and works of art.
“We gave the entrance a light show,” Arie Kopelman, chairman of the show, said. And, in fact, it appeared as if the snow storm had moved inside, with light bouncing off large snowflakes hung from the ceiling of the entrance hall.
The weather might have gotten in the way when the show was setting up, but that was not a bit obvious when the preview opened to the first wave, the Philanthropists and Benefactors Reception, on Thursday, January 20, at 5 pm. That was followed by the Collectors Reception at 6 pm and the Patrons Reception at 7 pm, with it all ending at 9 pm. By that time lots of things had been sold and the floor was crowded. In fact, the gate was up 12 percent over last year at the preview alone, and the following ten days of the show were good, but a few suffered due to the snow.
“One measure of how things are going, in addition to talking to the dealers, is to check with the shippers,” Katherine Sweeney Singer, executive director said. At midweek, they reported more volume than last year and objects were being sent all over the country. She also noted that “the better pieces were selling and the quality of the buyers was higher.” Most of the dealers reported that they were either up to or above prerecession sales, and they still had a few days to go when this review was written.
It would have been surprising if reports had been anything different, for it was obvious from the front of the show to the back that every exhibitor had worked hard to make the Winter Show the top of the heap. Every detail was covered in the booth presentation and the objects offered were rare and wonderful. It was a treat, or as one person always says during the preview, “it is like walking into a museum.”
James and Nancy Glazer, Bailey’s Island, Maine, offered a miniature Mahantongo-style chest, dated 1842, maker unknown, Centre County, Penn., that measures 28 inches high, 19 inches wide and 11½ inches deep. “When I got the piece, it was covered with a thick coat of white paint,” Jim said, “but I knew there was something under the paint so I had it removed.” The chest is now green, with painted decorations on each drawer, and white paint still inside the drawers.
Listed as “the finest paint decorated cupboard to come on the market” was a corner cupboard, probably Lebanon County, Penn., 7 feet high, 36 inches deep and 41 inches wide and listed as ex-collection of Peter Tillou. It was filled with choice pieces of slip decorated redware. Three hose and ladder fire wagons, ex-collection of the Smithsonian, were on shelves at the back of the booth.
“Wonder what Elle Shushan will come up with this year?” has often been asked, for there is no chance that this Philadelphia dealer in miniatures will settle for a three-walled booth. Well, this year she is exhibiting from the porch of the Belvedere Plantation in Charleston, the home that Lieutenant John Templar Shubrick was born in and whose portrait miniature by Anson Dickinson was recorded in the artist’s account book in 1814. That miniature hangs in a shuttered enclosure on the porch, centered in a selection of other miniatures. For a bit of history, Shubrick joined the Navy at age 17 and served on the Chesapeake and the Constitution . The porch setting is an exact replica of the original, constructed of old salvage material consisting of pillars, shutters and railing, complete with a bird in a nest, fly paper with flies attached and hanging moss. “I mist the moss every day,” Elle said.
The booth walls of Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery, New York City, were just about completely covered with framed photographs, documents and letters, all of a historical nature and reflecting many of the great and popular figures of our past. On the outside wall, Benjamin Franklin was pictured along with a signed autographed letter Franklin had written on April 18, 1754. Among others, either just pictured with autograph or some with photograph and letter or document, were Rudolf Nureyev, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr, Paul Cezanne, Robert Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Sitting Bull, Georgia O’Keeffe, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
In addition to several cases of American silver, Jonathan Trace, Portsmouth, N.H., offered an American Queen Anne tea table of New England origin, probably eastern Massachusetts, circa 1756, in mahogany with cove molded tray, cabriole legs ending in pad feet. The provenance lists David Stockwell and Israel Sack. A rare pair of rural New England Queen Anne/Chippendale side chairs, circa 1750, flanked the table.
Viewed through the center opening in the booth of Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia, was a Rembrandt Peale (American, 1778‱860), portrait of George Washington, 1854. An oil on canvas, 30 by 25 inches, it was inscribed on reverse “from his original portrait of 1795.” A pleasant view, especially with the snow piled up outside the armory, was “A Flowery Path (Louise),” an 1895 oil on canvas by Daniel Ridgway Knight (American, 1840‱924). Measuring 32 by 25½ inches, it was signed Ridgway Knight/Paris, lower right.
With Suzanne Courcier and Robert W. Wilkins of Yarmouth Port, Mass., listed among the exhibitors, one automatically expects a fine display of Shaker furniture and accessories. That is just what you got at this show, and every year it seems to get better. A rare Shaker trestle table of cherry, circa 1840, Watervliet, N.Y., was at the front of the booth, measuring 28½ inches high, 60 inches long, 82½ inches with the leaves up and 41 inches wide. A tall case clock in pine, New Lebanon, N.Y., dating from the second quarter of the Nineteenth Century, 30-hour wood movement, was signed I.N.Y. (Isaac Newton Youngs), January 21, 1834. It measured 77½ inches tall, 13¾ inches wide and 83/8 inches deep. A rare American child’s chest in mahogany, probably Salem or Marblehead, Mass., circa 1770, 18 inches high, 17¾ inches wide and 11½ inches deep, was among the first things sold preview night.
Drawing lots of attention was a pair of portraits shown at the front of the booth of Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn. They pictured the McConnell children of Philadelphia, one standing with his dog, and in the other painting, two children and their pets. “The works are unsigned, but possibly by Charles Peale Polk (1762‱822),” said Pat Bell. The paintings, dated circa 1790, oils on canvas, measuring 52 by 40 inches and 50½ by 40 inches, appear to be in the original frames. On the floor in front of the paintings was a Pennsylvania dower chest, Centre County, Penn., circa 1810′0, pine with the original decorative polychrome finish. “We have had a good show and three of our weathervanes went very quickly on preview night,” Ed Hild said. He referred to the large sheet metal and painted figure of a fireman with trumpet, ex-collection of Bernard Barenholtz, a large fish vane with gilt surface and a horse jumping over a fence in a fine, weathered surface.
A very large and handsome portrait of Sir Edward Knatchbull, oil on canvas, measuring 95 by 58 inches, hung in the booth of Adelson Galleries, New York City. This work, circa 1800‰3, was by John Singleton Copley (1738‱815).
Elliott and Grace Snyder of Egremont, Mass., featured at the front of their booth a wonderful New England fanback Windsor high chair of great height, 37½ inches, exaggerated splayed legs, probably Massachusetts, Connecticut River Valley, circa 1780‱800, and in green paint. Before the preview evening was over, it had been sold. A New York State paint decorated blanket chest, circa 1830, was of white pine, and Elliott described the decoration as “almost childlike.” An American hooked rug, wool, silk and cotton on linen, circa 1845, was of good size and depicted a horse standing over a rooster, with facing dogs on either side, all in bright colors. A portrait by Ammi Phillips in the original frame, oil on canvas, circa 1840, hung over an American Federal mantelpiece from the mid-Atlantic states.
Joan B. Mirviss, New York City, showed a six-fold screen, ink and color on gold leaf, 771/8 by 1455/8 inches, 1804‱8 (Bunka era), featuring Mount Tsukuba and signed Buncho. This exceptionally tall screen by Tani Buncho is a powerful image illustrating this artist’s creative leadership in an artistic movement called the Yamato-e Revivalist School. “Chrysanthemums and Butterflies,” an ink and color on silk by Shima Gentan, dated circa 1830, measured 433/8 by 20 inches.
Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York City, has been a longtime exhibitor at the show, offering fine and rare Chinese works of art. “We are really proud of our figure of Manjusri,” Allan Chait said of the spot-lighted cast iron figure riding upon a lion and dating from the Ming dynasty, circa Fifteenth⁓ixteenth Century. “We found the figure in the Pacific area and she arrived at our gallery two weeks ago. It took months, however, to get her here and she has been traveling by plane for a long time,” Allan said.
Rupert Wace Ancient Art, London, displayed a fine pair of Roman bronze lion mask handles dating from the Second Century, and an Egyptian bronze and wood figure of a goose, circa 300 BC, was perfectly lighted on a pedestal.
Another London dealer, Martyn Gregory, hung a pair of large scale port scenes, oils on canvas, Chinese artist, late 1850s. On the left was depicted Canton (Guangzhou): The Hongs, and on the right Hong Kong from the harbor. Each measured 26 by 44 inches.
Cohen & Cohen, Reigate, United Kingdom, specialists in Chinese Export porcelain and Oriental art, showed a massive christening bowl, Qianlong/Jiaqing period, circa 1795, made for the American market and measuring 23 inches in diameter. Will Motley said that “this bowl is a potentially important discovery, possibly depicting the Farmers’ Free Bridge in Eighteenth Century New York.” The other sepia panel is also of a landscape and it had been suggested that they represent the “Old World” and the “New World.” A massive famille rose monteith, oval form, enameled in polychrome with peonies, lilies, precious objects and antiques, was displayed on another stand at the front of the booth. That piece was from the Qianlong period, circa 1745, and measured 20 inches in length.
Enrique “Ricky” Goytizolo of Georgian Manor Antiques, Fairhaven, Mass., is well known for using every inch of space in his booth, with pathways winding through his large selection of English, American and Continental furniture and accessories. He offers variety, such as an English maple wood hall armchair, circa 1810′0; a Spanish Colonial rosewood carved pier mirror and console, circa 1840‵0, measuring 42 inches high, 56 inches wide and 24 inches deep, found in Cuzco, Peru; and a very fine Regency drum table with revolving circular top, circa 1810, 28 inches high and 41 inches in diameter.
“That gaming wheel really brightens the aisle,” Peter Tillou said, speaking of the New England wheel with bright polychrome decoration that his son, Jeffrey, hung on the outside wall of his booth. In vibrant colors, red, yellow, green and black, it measured 49½ inches square and was originally found in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. A portrait of Emily Miner Fox of Connecticut, an oil on canvas, was by Ammi Phillips, circa 1836‴5, measuring 39¼ by 33¼ inches. The largest piece of American furniture offered was a Chippendale bonnet-top chest-on-chest attributed to Moses Hazen, Weare, N.H., circa late Eighteenth Century.
Three important chairs were displayed at the front of the booth of Associated Artists, Southport, Conn., including a rosewood and upholstered armchair designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848‱923), circa 1880, the fabrication attributed to Herter Bros., New York City. On the left side of the booth was an upholstered side chair with glass ball feet, attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany, Louis Comfort Tiffany & Co., New York City, circa 1881‸3. An upholstered roundabout chair with glass ball feet was also attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany and of the same period.
Objects are perfectly placed and perfectly lighted in the booth of Frank and Barbara Pollack of Highland Park, Ill., giving emphasis to each piece and at the same time bringing the booth together as one. Strong painted objects highlighted the booth, especially a painted fireboard that dominated the center of the back wall of the booth. This board, American, was constructed of three recessed panels decorated with stylized trees on the sides and an eagle-decorated vase of flowers in the center. Oil on pine, circa 1820, this fireboard was taken from the John Mosley House in Southbury, Conn. “I have quite a bit of information about the Mosley house and have been in contact with the present owners, filling them in on things they did not know,” Barbara Pollack said. For cast iron collectors, there was a well-painted gate weight in the form of a dachshund, late Nineteenth Century, Continental, measuring low to the ground at 26½ inches long, 9 inches wide. A painted braced fanback Windsor armchair, New York state, dated circa 1770‱800, had undisturbed yellow free-hand decoration over the original grey/green painted surface.
“It’s not easy finding enough high-powered material to fill a booth at this show, and I can tell you I have been saving things for a year now to bring,” David Schorsch said during the preview of the show. One such piece was his Chippendale triple serpentine-front chest of drawers, Connecticut Valley, circa 1790, with the original brass capitals on quarter columns, a provenance listing G.W. Samaha, and a red sold dot over the price. A paint decorated lift-top chest inscribed to Frederick Kleh, 1795, Bern Township, Berks County, Penn., had the original decoration, wrought iron hinges and iron lock. It measured 21 by 49½ by 23 inches. Portraits of a brother and a sister, framed together, William Matthew Prior, oil on artist board, were of New England origin, circa 1845, and measured 155/8 by 11 inches. Several pieces of sculpture offered included an American standing peacock, carved white pine with the original painted surface, possibly of Maine origin, circa 1920, that was found in Maine.
Stephen and Carol Huber, Old Saybrook, Conn., covered their green walls with samplers, including a fine silk and silk ribbon on linen, 25½ by 29 inches and in the original frame. It was worked by Deborah B. Cox, Chester County, Penn., dated 1828, and features parrots, stylized trees, flowering vines and fruited and flowering baskets. “This sampler, which we have sold, is new to the market and has never been seen or offered for sale before,” Stephen said. He added, “I call our very special things ‘juicy,’ and this sampler really more than fills the bill.” A pair of silk embroideries from the Derby School, Hingham, Mass., circa 1795, also sold on preview night. They were silk on silk, 11¼ by 13¼ inches each, and depicted courtship to marriage. These samplers exhibit characteristics unique to the tutelage of Lucy Lane who taught in the Derby School from May 1791 to May 1796.
Cora Ginsburg LLC, New York City, exhibiting from an end booth at the back of the show, hung a quilt top or wall hanging, dated and inscribed for Robert Streeten, that was visible from the middle of the show floor down an aisle. It was American or English, 1803, with hexagon mosaic patchwork pattern with an urn in the center. On a side wall was shown a crewel and silk bed hanging from the Lennoxlove set, Scottish, circa 1720.
New to the show this year was Christopher T. Rebollo of Mechanicsville, Penn., who set up an attractive booth filled with American paintings, some glass and works of art. A high chest from Chester County, Penn., walnut, circa 1770‹0, measured 67 inches high, and a games table with drawer, probably southern Vermont, 1800′0, measured 28½ inches high, 35 inches wide and 175/8 inches deep. A Philadelphia carved side chair, possibly by James Gillingham, circa 1760‸0, was in mahogany with the original finish.
Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., took full advantage of having an outside wall and made it attractive with a selection of tiger maple furniture shown against a large painted maple tree on the wall. Prior to the show, when Arthur Liverant was showing a snake leg candlestand, he noted that the tiger maple was stronger on the bottom than on the top. “Let’s show it that way,” he said, and placed the table down with its legs in the air. Positioned against the back wall was a Queen Anne flattop high chest of drawers, cabriole legs, complex scrolled apron and double fan-carved box drawer. It dated circa 1765‹0, measured 70 inches high, and was attributed to the Wilcox group of Middletown, Conn. “This piece is considered one of the finest Connecticut flattop highboys,” Arthur said. A lot of attention was shown on an overmantel depicting a landscape painting with two meeting houses, rolling hills and a number of houses, possibly by Winthrop Chandler (1747‱790) of Woodstock, Conn., or the Sturbridge artist. It is an oil on eastern white pine and came from an Eighteenth Century house in Grosvenor Dale, Windham County, Conn. “This overmantel was covered with white paint when we got it,” Arthur said, and when asked how he knew there was a painting underneath, Arthur just smiled.
A fine selection of chairs was offered by C.L. Prickett, Yardley, Penn., from booth No. 1 at the front of the show. A set of six Chippendale side chairs in walnut, serpentine crests with knuckled ears and central carved shell above pierced vise-form splat with heart, cabriole legs ending in ball and claw feet, was of Philadelphia origin, circa 1775. A rare pair of Chippendale carved mahogany side chairs, inspired by Robert Manwaring, with open-work splat, cabriole legs, acanthus carved knees, ending in ball and claw feet, was from Salem, Mass., circa 1767‹0.
An angel Gabriel weathervane, very large and with weathered surface, full-bodied molded copper, circa 1872, stopped folk art collectors dead in their tracks at the booth of Fred Giampietro, New Haven, Conn. “I am selling this vane for the Christian Chapel in Franklin, Ohio,” Fred said, “as they need the money to keep the church going.” The church was painted white, at one time, and “the painters went right to the top of the building, and did not stop. The Gabriel ended up with a coat of white paint and it took about six months to get it all off and down to the original surface,” Kathy Giampietro said.
The weathervane easily falls into the “show stopper” category. A Liberty weathervane, the figure holding a flag, has long been in Fred’s collection and found a willing buyer opening night. The vane, with perfect surface, was by Cushing and White, Waltham, Mass., 1867. One of the classic Morris Hirshfield paintings, “American Beauty †Seated Nude with Mirror,” an oil on canvas, 48 by 40 inches, signed and dated 1942, hung on an inside wall of the booth, and on the other side of the wall, a circa 1860 tobacco trade figure by Thomas Brooks, 57 inches high, and in the original painted surface, stood.
Alexander Gallery, New York City, is moving its gallery, but “we are not sure where at this time,” Alex Acevedo said. That did not seem to interfere with plans for the Winter Show, and, as usual, he filled his booth with fine and rare works of art. “Master of the Lille Adoration,” Flemish (active 1510‱530), “Saint Jerome in his Study and The Holy Trinity,” circa 1530, oil on panel, each measuring 16½ by 12½ inches, hung on a side wall, and in a case at the center of the booth was an ivory miniature of the Marquis de Lafayette’s personal portrait of Benjamin Franklin, French School, circa 1781.
A large painting of Mrs McEwen of Marchmont and Bardrochat, with her daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth, hung in the booth of The Fine Art Society, London. This oil on canvas, 87¼ by 48 inches, was by Sir John Lavery (1856‱941).
With limited space, Carswell Rush Berlin, New York City, always manages to exhibit a large set of chairs by hanging half of them on the wall. This was the case again this year, showing a set of ten carved mahogany dining chairs with flame walnut crest rails, Richard Parkin (circa 1787‱861; active 1819‱860), Philadelphia, circa 1833‴0. Each measured 32 inches high, 18 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
A carved and gold finished eagle, signed on the reverse of the body with deep etched lettering “W Seward” and dated behind the olive branch with incised numerals “1895,” measured 713/8 inches long, 29¼ inches high and 5 inches deep, and was high on the back wall in the booth of Hyland Granby, Hyannis Port, Mass.
The Winter Show not only had a fine list of 75 exhibitors, many from outside the United States, but was also busy with lecture schedules and a special loan exhibition. The loan lecture series featured five talks, architects and designers lectures with book signings, and the special guest lecturer, Vanessa Remington, assistant curator of paintings at the Royal Collection, spoke on “My Private Miniatures: Queen Victoria and the Nineteenth Century Portrait Miniature.” The loan exhibition was “Grandeur Preserved: Masterworks Presented by Historic Charleston Foundation.” “The lecture series proved to be very popular and every one was well attended,” Katherine Sweeney Singer said.
The Winter Antiques Show, a benefit for the East Side House Settlement, ran for ten days at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street.
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