Published: February 25, 2020
Review and Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
PALM BEACH, FLA. – For nearly 20 years, the Palm Beach show has been a staple on the midwinter calendar and a great way for Floridians to jump-start their President’s Day weekend. This is the latest show to drop the word “antique” from their official name. The show nonetheless offers a small but choice selection of antiques to tempt the taste of those so inclined, as well as fine art, jewelry and design. This edition differed from previous ones with an expanded lecture series featuring more diverse speakers and the presence – for the first time – of performance artists, like Robert Vargas – who were at the show throughout its run. The show welcomed a record number of attendees this year not only at the Vernissage Opening and VIP Preview Night, but throughout the entire run of the show.
“As predicted, 2020 was truly an exciting and transformative year for the Palm Beach Show. The improvements were apparent from the moment exhibitors and patrons arrived through enhanced entrances and ‘wow-factor’ backdrops. We promised our clients something fresh and we delivered. The Palm Beach Show added more diverse offerings, immersive installations and observational performance art leading to what we believe was one of the best shows we have produced in the last five or more years. The positive results and improved attendance reaffirms our prominent presence in the Palm Beach market as the most prestigious cultural event of the season,” commented Palm Beach Show Group president and chief executive officer, Scott Diament, who was in Naples, Fla., getting ready for another show when Antiques and The Arts Weekly caught up with him.
However, several exhibitors of traditional art and antiques, which are populating the floor in increasingly fewer numbers, were of the alternative opinion that the growing diversity of the show was not necessarily advantageous to their sales or their ability to attract a broad buying clientele.
Greg Pepin Silver, situated within feet of the main entrance, had a glittering display of Georg Jensen silver in all shapes and sizes. A Danish modern dining table was the best place to display some of Pepin’s most impressive pieces, and featured a monumental Georg Jensen “Kings” pattern bowl design by Johan Rohde; a pair of three-light candelabra; a pair of monumental five-light candelabra designed by Harald Nielsen; and an impressive eight-light chandelier, in addition to several smaller but equally fine pieces. A quick tally of prices suggested one would need more than $500,000 to take the entire set-up home…a well-spent amount. After the show, Pepin said they had sold a number of items, most importantly the five-light Harald Nielsen candelabra.
“People are willing to buy if there is quality and a reasonable price assessment. The public is savvy,” said Gary Sergeant, who successfully combined traditional American, English and Continental antiques with more modern and contemporary pieces. For a traditional look, it would be hard to beat George Bellows “The Tree” that Sergeant paired with an English Rococo marble top pier table. On opening night, the Woodbury, Conn., dealer was optimistic that fewer antique dealers would make his booth more of a destination for the show’s die-hard antiques collectors. After the show, Sergeant said he sold some furniture and art, with lots of last-minute selling on the final day and afterwards.
Roberto Freitas was the only exhibitor on the floor to specialize almost exclusively in early American furniture and folk art. The Stonington, Conn., dealer had just finished shows in Nashville and Atlanta, which he said were both great. “I sold brown furniture at Nashville, as well as some tea caddies and paintings,” he said, adding that sales in Atlanta included a Ralph Cahoon painting and some smalls. Highlights of his booth in Palm Beach included a Dunlap school chest on chest and a high chest of drawers from eastern Connecticut or Western Rhode Island that featured legs with carved boot feet. For fine art offerings, Frietas had works by such bold-name artists as Edward Redfield, Martin Johson Heade, Julian Alden Weir, James Buttersworth and Richard Hayley Lever.
Freitas was hoping to improve on his sales from the 2019 Palm Beach Show, which he did. “I did much better than last year. I sold lots of smalls – I wish I had had more – and some bronzes as well as a couple of paintings. A piece of furniture is in the works, as well as a major piece of art,” he said, en route to Thomasville, Ga., when Antiques & The Arts Weekly reached him after the show. He was particularly happy to have found a buyer of a small watercolor done by Boston sisters, saying the work resonated with the clients, who were residents of Boston and who recognized the scene.
One of the best sales made by Callaghan’s of Shrewsbury in the previous edition was a suite of five pieces by Carlo Bugatti to one buyer. This year, the firm brought three more pieces, all bespoke pieces and all made between 1900 and 1902. An octagonal table had been priced at $34,750, a walnut throne chair at $27,500 and a lady’s throne chair at $25,200. All three were recently acquired by the Shropshire, U.K., dealer and all were prominently displayed at the front of his booth. When he was reached after the show, a tired but happy Dan Callaghan said, “We had a strong show, we are pleased.” He reported that British paintings and two British sculptors – Tobias Martin and Richard Smith – sold very well. He also said that all of the Bugatti pieces sold.
Lillian Nassau’s booth in the corner of the show was warmly lit with the glow from several Tiffany lamps and on opening night, Arlie Sulka was busy writing receipts. The back wall of the New York City dealer’s booth featured two recent acquisitions: a pair of Tiffany gilt bronze with hanging glass prism two-arm wall lights, and a Venetian pattern Tiffany desk lamp. Also of note was a rather Shaker-esque stand with a top inset with Edward Wormley tiles.
If Lillian Nassau did not have the piece you were looking for, Macklowe Gallery might have. The outside walls of the booth were hung with framed Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec prints while the inside of the booth glowed with Tiffany lamps, Art Nouveau pottery and glass and jewelry.
While some dealers made do with the gray paper walls the show provided in the booth, other exhibitors brought their own fabric or wall treatments, which helped to distinguish their booths. For a spectacular presentation, Galerie Steinitz would be hard to top. Commanding one of the largest booths in the show, the Parisian dealer divided his booth into a front section lined with oak paneling that provided a wonderful backdrop to gilt mirrors, japanned chests and marble figures on marble columns. The larger section of the booth was lined with chinoiserie painted paper or canvas wall hangings that elegantly framed the dealer’s Chinese lacquer, hardstone panels, cloisonné and furniture.
“Attendance at the show has been very strong. Sales have been quite good and it seems they have crossed all categories,” was the comment of Ameritiques’ Mitch Weisz the day before the show closed. He reported some very happy buyers, adding that a few men purchased things that would be late Valentine’s Day gifts for their wives.
The show welcomed 18 new exhibitors. One of a few to specialize in decorative arts was Martell Gallery, of Coral Gables. The gallery specializes in Art Deco furniture, art and decorative works from the United States and Europe. A gleaming case is full of Le Verre Francais and Charles Schneider glass bowls and vases in distinctive colors and shapes, with prices ranging from $2,000 to $15,000.
Next door to Martell Gallery was Lost Art Gallery, another exhibitor making their Palm Beach Show debut. Owned by Victoria Golden, who has been an accredited appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers for more than 25 years, the gallery focuses on Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American and European Fine art. Works by Chuck Close and Rene Portocarrero were highlights of the booth, as was a Nineteenth Century nearly life-size Mandalay Burmese Buddha that they had acquired from a local estate. After the show, Golden said, “We were so delighted to sell a beautiful 1640 in period Rembrandt van Rijn etching to a wonderful client. We also sold a stunning contemporary surrealistic painting by an Italian Renaissance trained artist Anthony Ackrill. The show had expert dealers with high quality work and the show director and team were superb.”
Avi Luvaton is the only exhibitor to create contemporary Judaica, including menorah, candlesticks and candelabra, textiles such as challah covers, afikomen bags and torah mantles and small utilitarian objects such as dishes, boxes and cups. Luvaton not only uses cutting edge technology but incorporates Murano glass and semiprecious stones in his pieces, which he has been making for more than 25 years. It was the first year at the Palm Beach Show for the Jerusalem-based artisan.
Chinese export and Oriental art dealers Cohen & Cohen were quick to point out two Qianlong period Chinese export porcelain punchbowls painted with famille rose enamels depicting the Hongs of Canton. One could be dated exactly to 1787-88 based on the flags depicted on the bowl. Also of interest was a pair of Chinese export porcelain wall sconces with a ‘torchbearer’ design attributed to the Pronk workshop, circa 1740. According to Michael Cohen, the pair is one of only two pairs known to exist. After the show, gallery researcher Will Motley reported two sales: a large famille rose figure of a Chinese sage, and a Kangxi period Chinese armorial dish with arms of Prince Eugene of Savoy-Carignano (1663-1736). The prince was apparently an interesting and flamboyant character who is known to have attended court in women’s clothes. The gallery has two other dishes with the same armorial design, which was previously unrecorded.
Across the floor, there were more Asian works of art with TK Asian Antiquities. Of particular note was an Eastern Zhou Dynasty (circa 600-500 BCE) bronze ritual food vessel decorated with abstract dragons that was perched on a Twentieth Century burl pedestal. Around the corner, a framed Eurasian saddle blanket from the Tang dynasty, Sixth to Seventh Century CE, that Michael Teller said he had found all balled up and it had taken more than six months to conserve.
Edward & Deborah Pollack Fine Art, Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in tropical paintings of Florida and elsewhere executed between 1850-1950, most notably the works of Orville Bulman, Laura Woodward, Hermann Herzog and A.E. Backus. Deborah has written the monograph on Bulman and his “Entente Cordiale” was prominently displayed on the booth’s back wall. For clients wishing to look beyond Florida and the tropics, the Pollacks had “The Mountains” by Grandma Moses and a New York City storm landscape by Guy Wiggins, as well as works by Hudson River School artists, which the gallery also sells. Shortly before the show closed, Edward Pollack said “Traffic through the show has been great. We have had interest in all of the works and lots of positive comments. We typically have a lot of follow-up after the show, when we make a good amount of our sales.”
“Every year, the visitors greet our stand with great enthusiasm and this year was no different. We are following up with several leads,” said Lawrence Steigrad, whose gallery, Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, emphasizes Old Master and British portraiture in paintings, drawings and sculpture from the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries.
The Palm Beach Show welcomes an international contingent of exhibitors and this year added a few new ones to their roster. Among these was Anticuario R. Gualda, which has offices in Granada, Spain as well as Charlotte, N.C. Now overseen by Marta Castillo Gualda, the gallery continues to specialize in Spanish paintings, ceramics, iron, textiles and furniture. The back wall of the booth was dominated by Armando Miravalls Bove’s “Pedrucho of Eibar and his gang,” an 82½-by-108¼-inch painting of matadors, centering on one that Ernest Hemingway saw bullfighting in Barcelona in 1937.
Coming off a recent move to new quarters in New Orleans, M.S. Rau had a booth brimming with great things. Before the show closed, Rebecca Rau told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “we are pleased to report that traffic has been strong this year! We brought a Renoir that we just acquired, and it was sold very early in the show. There has been a lot of interest in collectible objets d’art, as well as jewelry and walking sticks.” She hinted that a sale of another important painting was in discussion.
Piers Davies made his inaugural show debut at the Palm Beach Show in 2019 and now also does the group’s Baltimore show in the early fall. The Brooklyn, N.Y., exhibitor, who has a specialist knowledge of Old Master and sporting art, has broadened his scope to include works by contemporary artists, which he has found useful in breaking the ice with potential collectors. In addition to works by William Marlow (British, 1740-1813) and Peter Monamy (British, 1681-1749), Davies offered works by William Wegman, Adam Parker Smith and Heather Morgan. ‘The fair this year seemed to be well attended with good foot traffic and I met some interesting potential clients,” Davies commented via email after the show.
Trinity House Paintings brought its usual complement of paintings to suit every taste. Highlights pointed out by New York City director, Zachary Hall, included Henri Le Sidaner’s “Le Chamber Bleu Villefranche Sur Mer” from 1927, “Les Collines Dominant le Port de Collioure” by Henry-Jean Guillaume Martin and Rudolf Bauer’s “Allegro.”
Situated in a prime location at the front of the show, Knightsbridge, London, painting dealer Gladwell & Patterson had brought an extensive selection of works by David Shepherd (1931-2017), who is regarded as one of the leading wildlife artists. For those who prefer marine pictures, landscapes, interiors or still lifes, the gallery had many options, including works by Alfred Sisley, Gustave Loiseau, Ronny Moortgat, Pierre Eugene Montezin, Stewart Lees, Paul S. Brown, Gaston La Touche, Raymond Wintz or Peter Van Breda, to name just a few. When he was reached for comment after the show, gallery director Glenn Fuller said, “We had a most enjoyable show with a superb attendance and there was a strong and positive feeling within the discerning visitors.”
“Crowds have been good, interest has been strong, and sales are steady,” said Howard Rehs. Before the show had even closed, the New York City dealer reported selling three works by Mark Lague (b 1964), one by Ben Bauer (b 1980), six by Stuart Dunkel (b 1952), one by William Davis (b 1952), two by Mark Daly (b 1956) and one by Gen Paul (1896-1975).
Provident Fine Art specializes in American and European fine art from the Seventeenth through the Twenty-First Centuries. The gallery had several works by Josh Leidolf, who is known as the “Transparent Artist” or the “Money Artist”; the booth displayed several works by Leon Kelly, whose estate the gallery owns.
The booth of Sultan Delon Fine Art had works by many blue-chip Latin American artists, including Fernando Botero, Manuel Carbonell, Wilfredo Lam, Rufino Tamayo, Manuel Mendive and Jorge Salas, to name a few. Based in Miami, the gallery also has a presence in Marco Island and handles emerging artists as well as Latin Old Masters.
Waterhouse & Dodd were returning to the show after a five-year hiatus and after the show, Ray Waterhouse said they were glad to be back, noting they liked the current format. He said all of their sales were to new clients and reported selling two Hyperphotos by Jean-Francois Rauzier that had an asking price of $27,500 each, two oils by British artist Martyn Brewster, each of which they were asking $15,000 for; a Jean Dufy oil priced at $19,000, and an Oscar Bluemner work on paper, for which they were asking $32,000. The gallery was in discussions with a client about a “major modern painting.”
Several large-scale works were scattered throughout the show floor, most being sold by Cavalier Ebanks Galleries. Of particular note was a 96-inch-tall copper and bronze “Hippo Ballerina” by Bjorn Skaarup and Frederico Uribe’s “Love,” an 82-inch-tall standing lion made from bullet shells. If you loved the hippo but space was an issue, the Greenwich, Conn., dealer had a smaller version that stood just short of 24 inches tall and was priced much more affordably, at $23,000.
One of the partners of the Palm Beach Show is Provident Jewelry, which is based in West Palm Beach, Fla., but has offices throughout Florida. Company chief executive officer, Rob Samuels, pulled out several recently acquired “show stoppers,” which were a Cartier boutique-only “Nail” bracelet with nearly 1,300 diamonds, a “ribbon bracelet” by Van Cleef & Arpels and a 37.5-carat natural no-oil emerald that was rare because it had not been enhanced. The asking price on the emerald was $1.2 million.
Litchfield, Conn., jeweler, Jeff Russack of Lawrence Jeffrey Estate Jewelers reported “particularly diverse and wonderful” dealer offerings and average sales before the show closed. On opening night, Russack pointed out some of his more unusual items, including a Brutalist gold necklace by Gay Fereres, a Nussberger gold dragon necklace that he said was a “one-off” and an abstract leaf pendant gold necklace by Kutchinsky. “All-gold is our hallmark,” he explained, though his booth had plenty of pieces with diamonds and other stones for buyers whose tastes were more expansive. He reported having a very good show in early January in Miami Beach and was looking forward to a new show in his annual calendar: a show for the Chester County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society March 14-15.
Kwiat, which owns the Fred Leighton brand, reported that both brands enjoyed a good show. “Our two beautiful brands offer an incredibly diverse range of stunning jewelry, allowing us to capture a tremendous amount of interest from all types of clients,” said a representative for Kwiat. “Sales were made in all Kwiat and Fred Leighton categories, and in a wide range of prices…from $1,000 to six figures. We established many new client relationships and met with many long-standing clients as well.”
“I felt that this year’s show was better attended, [I am] very pleased with the qualified buyers this year,” said Gus Davis of Camille Dietz Bergeron. “What I did find is that the buyers were focused; signed jewelry is still what seems to be selling, in particular David Webb and Van Cleef & Arpels. What was selling best in Palm Beach was bigger, bolder pieces; in the past it seemed to be that smaller pieces that could be layered were doing better than one statement item…that was not the case this year.”
One of the new exhibitors at the show was Balloonski, who creates “mashups of traditional, street and balloon art. Using real balloons that he treats with a special method, Balloonski has been making “forever balloons” for nearly ten years. His small booth was sparsely decorated with small balloons in frames, but a more impressive showing was a large installation he made in with black balloons that spelled out PB SHOW against a mass of gold balloon chains.
A collection of art or antiques will, over time, require the attention of conservators, shippers or people who can create an ideal long-term living environment. Many collectors establish relationships with such service providers over time but what do you do if you have just acquired your first work and need some advice, or if you already have a collection but have not formed that support network? The Palm Beach Show took an innovative step by having a few vendors who provide collection support in some of the booths throughout the show and giving many of them the opportunity to explain what they did in the lecture series. Stella Art Conservation from West Palm Beach was on hand with examples of what a painting looked like before and after conservation.
One of these was Sandra Liotus Lighting Design, LLC, from Newport, R.I., which creates “innovative lighting solutions” using some of the “art world’s most sophisticated eco-friendly custom lighting systems” to protect sensitive or fragile works of art from heat. Before the show closed, Liotus said, “We were very busy on opening night as well as over the weekend. We met so many wonderful new prospects and will be returning next month to meet and follow up and review the possible projects. We are happy so far with the quality of contacts we have made and how people have truly appreciated that we are at the show as proper and safe lighting is very important for art and interiors.”
The show also invited Cataldo Wealth Management Group, a division of Merrill Lynch based in Stuart, Fla. Arlette Cataldo explained that they do estate planning and lend on fine art collections as part of the wealth management services they provide. Cataldo was optimistic that the show offered a huge potential through the clientele it attracted.
The 18th Annual Palm Beach Show is scheduled for February 12-16. For more information, www.palmbeachshowgroup.com.
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