By Susan and Al Bagdade
CHICAGO, ILL. – Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc, and Sanford L. Smith and Associates Ltd presented the 4th annual Chicago International Antiques and Fine Art Fair on April 27 to 29 at the Merchandise Mart. Seventy-six prestigious dealers showed at this vetted fair which incorporated the Antiquarian Book Fair and Prints/Chicago.
Festivities began with an elegant preview on April 26 benefiting the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The preview provides collectors the opportunity to consider the fair’s offerings before it opens to the general public the next day. Proceeds from the evening hosted by the Women’s Board benefit the Institute.
Each afternoon selected exhibitors shared their wealth of knowledge while describing a few of their “Favorite Things” during complimentary booth talks. Diverse subjects included vintage posters, English Aesthetic furniture and objects, antique Oriental rugs, Asian antique furniture, paintings, tea caddies and English furniture design, suffragette jewelry, and Georg Jensen silver design.
A lecture series sponsored by Art and Antiques included “The Eye of the Collector” with Peter Shemonsky, director of fine jewelry and timepieces, Butterfields, “The Debate in Traditional Contemporary Art” with Barbara Tapp, editor-in-chief of Arts and Antiques magazine, and “The World of Art and Antiques” with George Read, creator of georgeread.com.
eAppraisals provided complimentary verbal appraisals during all three days of the show. Butterfields and Graphic Conservation Company also showcased important services for collectors. A new feature this year was the participation of Artisan Cellar presenting international and domestic wines for tasting and discussion.
A sea of red “sold” tags greeted us a Golden Triangle of Chicago. Owner Douglas Van Tress sold chests, lamps, urns, bookcases, coffers, and several pairs of chairs, along with lots of smaller rdf_Descriptions. In addition to seeing some of his regular clientele, Douglas “was pleased to meet some new customers not seen in his shop.” He continued, “attendance was better than last year and he was pleased with the increased advertising. This show provides a passport to learning.
Buzz Norton of The Country House of Lake Forest, Ill., also has a showroom in the Merchandise Mart. Sales included a set of doors, a rug, and a pair of chairs. Richard Norton Gallery was participating in his first show as a gallery. Richard was pleased to see old customers as well as new people and felt that attendance was strong. During the preview he sold an important winter landscape scene by Albert Krehbiel.
This gallery specializes in Impressionist and Modern paintings, drawings, and sculpture from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Richard represents the estate of Albert Krehbiel who was a teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago and also was a founder of the Saugatuck Institute. He also sold three drawings by Carl Robert Holty. Sales included both expensive and mid-level works.
Chicago’s Trowbridge Gallery specializes in Sixteenth through Nineteenth Century antique botanical, architectural, natural history, and whims of fancy prints. Cecily McAfee was pleased with “the continual flow of traffic and a lot of medium sales.” There was a large collection of Besler botanicals from 1613. There are 367 plates in the book that represent the four seasons. Prices range from $1,500 to $17,000 since some are more desirable than others. Tulips, irises, and peonies are more sought after colored engravings than some of the other plates.
Quittenbaum, NY, is the North American gallery and representative office of the Munich auction gallery specializing in Twentieth Century and contemporary decorative and fine arts. Representative Philip J. Smith was making his first appearance in Chicago. Sales included numerous rdf_Descriptions under $4,000 price range. Smith feels that he now has a better idea of what to show in Chicago next year. He pointed out some rare amphora, Loetz and Italian glass, a Bauhaus mask, and a fantastic ring by Braque.
Another first timer was Billiard Room Antiques from Bath, England. They featured exceptional period billiard/snooker tables and associated furnishings including marking boards, cue carousels, billiard lamps, prints, and playing accessories. They did sell one billiard table.
“Big crowds and terrific advertising this year” were reported by John Alexander, Ltd, from Philadelphia, Penn. Sales included an important Edwin Pugin dining table, some small tables, and a coal scuttle. They featured English and Scottish Arts and Crafts furnishings.
Chicago’s Betsy Nathan of Pagoda Red “created a real environment of an Eighteenth Century Chinese garden setting” in her exhibit. It was complete with stone hitching posts, bridge anchors, entrance lions, unusual foo dogs, cast-iron urns with blossoming branches, and a blue stone and gravel floor. While we visited with Betsy, she sold three double sided Nineteenth Century lattice screens which had been generating a lot of interest.
Showing in Chicago for her fourth year, Kathryn Berenson from Washington, D.C., was very pleased to sell some French quilts and almost all of her smalls. She enjoyed a great reception in Chicago.
In addition to showing illuminated manuscripts, Les Enluminures from Paris, France, sold some of her miniatures. Works of art and rings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance were also available.
Leonard Fox, Ltd, from New York City specializes in French studio ceramics from 1880-1930, by artists such as Delaherche, Lenoble, Serre, Pointu, Massier, Chaplet, and Zsolnay. They also brought illustrated books including works by Picasso, Warhol, Mucha, Kandinsky, Barbier, Dali and Braque.
Barbara A. Bako from Akron, Ohio, sold a signed American reclining chair, a Regency window bench, three English ship engravings, jewelry, and Chinese export porcelain. She also had a fine selection of early Staffordshire figures and cottages.
Gallery 406 from Chicago was making its first show appearance. The specialties here were British Colonial, Dutch Colonial, Portuguese Colonial, and ethnic furniture. All examples came from Indian palaces and estates.
Lyons, Ltd Antique Prints from Menlo Park, Calif., sold a lot of botanicals, a couple of Beslers, early Chicago, American Indian, and manuscripts. Leila was pleased to sell examples in a range of prices from inexpensive to serious pieces. She felt that the fair was “rejuvenated this year. The Mart was reaching out to the community with television spots, advertising at other shows, and welcoming people into the Mart.”
Akanthus Gallery from Ocklawaha, Fla., sold a clock, three paintings, a chest, and a fine set of chairs. Ted Nicolini indicated that Americana was not selling at all at this fair.
At Three Friends Studio, Ltd, from Niles, Ill., sales included an alter coffer, a number of screens, jades, a large horse, a scholar’s scroll painting holder, and the best sellers were small chairs used by Chinese Ladies to adjust the bindings of their bound feet. This year they were also featuring Chinese Art Deco pieces and sold to a lot of their out-of-town customers.
The major piece sold at Hallidays, Ltd, from Oxfordshire, England, was a 1690 oyster veneered chest of drawers. They also sold Louis XIV hand stitched silk panels, and a fine chair. They had an excellent selection of Seventeenth, Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century English furniture and decorative accessories.
Chicago’s Silver Treasures sold sugar boxes, Austrian silver trays, a Sheffield urn, and had a lot of interest in their Art Deco tea set. Century Guild Decorative Arts from Evanston, Ill., sold a fine Ruskin porcelain vase and an amphora footed compote.
Glen Jaffe of Primitive Art Works from Chicago, sold large-scale furniture and small and large objects in a very broad price range. They had brought a cross section of their gallery and sold in every category. Most of the objects sold came out of big collections.
At The Nemati Collection from New York City, they sold a large Nineteenth Century French Aubusson tapestry. Darius Nemati was also showcasing his book The Splendor of Antique Rugs and Tapestries.