Published: January 30, 2018
NEW YORK CITY – “We’re in New York, anything goes,” said Doug Norwood, as we spoke at the outset of the opening to the third edition of Antiques, Art and Design at Wallace Hall, which ran January 19-21 in the lower level of St Ignatius Church on the Upper East Side. The comment seemed fitting for a show that spans the spectrum, with 35 dealers offering jewelry, Americana and folk art, examples of quality fine art, American and continental furniture, American Indian ceramics and textiles, Midcentury Modern, Art Deco collectibles, clocks, silver, Chinese ceramics, books and more. The show dug in with a balanced footing of dealers and a marked increase in those offering Americana, a welcome reversal to the increasingly international feel of Antiques Week.
“We’re gaining ground in terms of recognition,” said Brad Reh, who manages the show with his wife, Vandy. “I think dealers are seeing that there are other options and that we have something good going on. I started this from scratch with an idea, but it takes a while to build. We’re going in the right direction.”
It was a first at the show for Woodbury, Conn., dealer Gary Sergeant, who brought with him an exceptional collection of English furniture. “With the market the way it is, this is a great opportunity to try New York again,” he said. Sitting front and center in his booth was a pair of late Eighteenth Century English giltwood armchairs fit for a collector. Attributed to John Linnell, the pair was all original, from the surface down to the exposed stuffing, which Sergeant left uncovered so that keen eyes could get a chance to see them in their untouched glory. “Not a lot of chairs have the original stuffing,” he said. “If you’re a real collector, that’s what you’re looking for. There’s no replacements on them. The whole design is altered off the French style with an English vernacular.”
The dealer also featured a late Eighteenth Century satinwood Pembroke table with a quarter paneled top and inlaid shell medallion, a small circa 1904 Rockwell Kent landscape painting titled “Pasture” and an Eighteenth Century French Regence brass inlaid kingwood commode.
There was a mix of classicism through the ages in the booth of Essex, Mass., dealer Andrew Spindler. Sumptuous curves were found throughout his booth, from the upward swinging arms on a Lucite curule-form bench to a graphic Nineteenth Century carved armchair with scaled legs and fish-form armrests and crests, upholstered in eel skin. A pair of monumental baroque Flemish bronze pricket candlesticks from the Seventeenth Century stood 6 feet high in each corner of his booth. A buyer quipped that if Spindler had a larger size, they would be interested.
“I like the composition of the show this year,” said Spindler. “A collector commented that it looks more like a collector’s show than a decorator’s show. This is a good niche.”
It was “welcome back” for Judith and James Milne of At Home Antiques, Kingston, N.Y., who, after taking last year off, returned to the show with a nice selection of Americana, including weathervanes, apothecary drawers, carvings and trade signs. The dealers featured a double-sided touring car sign, about 3 feet long, with a man and woman in the back seat being chauffeured by their driver. It retained its original red, yellow and black paint and hung in the office of Bob Skinner for a number of years when the firm operated out of Bolton, Mass. This was the second time that the Milnes had handled the sign, having sold it once before and snatching up the opportunity to buy it back when it became available again.
Carvings were plentiful in the booth, as the dealers featured a finely carved wood horse sign with a deep relief that came from a farm near Saratoga, N.Y., a carved wood rooster weathervane with original paint, one of three known by the Milnes to have been done by the hand of an unknown carver in Maine, and a fashionable grouping of the three muses, each carved in the early Nineteenth Century and retaining its original paint and finish.
The booth of Village Braider Antiques, Plymouth, Mass., was home to an eclectic offering from its proprietor, Bruce Emond, and fine art supplied by Kevin Rita of Garvey Rita Art & Antiques, West Hartford, Conn. Emond featured a large, carved gilt eagle as the centerpiece of his colorful booth, which, when combined with the monumental bejeweled Uncle Sam hat, offered an energetic sense of Americana sprinkled in with examples of folk and Modern art. Rita was exhibiting early paintings by Robert Kulicke, which came from the estate of the artist. “I tried to bring art for domestic interiors, things that were intimate in scale,” said Rita. The dealer enjoyed the mix and balance of this year’s edition, commenting, “This is a textured show, from Old Masters to Modern. From all the dealers, there’s a level of quality.”
Paul Thien from Firehouse Antiques, Galena, Md., was amped to be offering what he considered one of the best collections he had exhibited in years. “I have stuff that I have never had in my life,” he said. “This collection was put together in the 30s, so I’m happy to be showing some very good, very early furniture.” Among the standouts was a pair of Salem, Mass., mahogany one-drawer stands with reeded and tapered legs, serpentine bodies and bookmatched veneer. Thien gushed at the lyrical nature of a fine Louis XV-style commode that ran the back wall, circa 1840-80, in a bombe serpentine form with Bois de Bout floral marquetry and retaining its original Ginsberg & Levy label. It stood below a George II rococo carved giltwood pier mirror with acanthus leaves, flowers, scrolls and open lattice work, featuring the original glass, backboard and brackets.
Thien also exhibited a mixed media oil on canvas by Pierre Joseph Redouté, which featured a rose bouquet and was dated 1839. Redouté was a powerhouse of botanical art in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries and was heavily patronized by European royalty. Among them was Marie Antoinette, who he tutored and whom appointed him “Draughtsman and Painter to the Queen’s Cabinet,” and also Empress Josephine Bonaparte, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, who offered him commissions.
Quality Americana was on display in the booth of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, home to Doug and Beverly Norwood, Timonium, Md. Their offerings included a folk art portrait of a young boy and his dog attributed to Ruth Whittier Shute. Shute and her husband, Samuel, traveled throughout New Hampshire, New York and other New England states in the Nineteenth Century advertising their painted portraits in local newspapers. When Samuel Shute became ill, Ruth continued painting portraits, earning contemporary acclaim along the way. Also on tap were a number of painted fire buckets, all from the Nineteenth Century, including one from Nantucket and another from The Energetic Fire Society.
As the doors swung open to the public, many dealers reported early sales, including Village Braider Antiques, Andrew Spindler, John Gallagher and A Bird In Hand Antiques.
A dealer himself, Brad Reh was excited to see the red dots. “When I see people selling, the action and the energy, that’s what gives me satisfaction.”
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