Published: November 14, 2000
NEW YORK CITY Each year since 1989 the London promoters have brought their International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show to New York, and each year their flagship fair has been both a glamorous theater and a launching pad for the latest trends in decorating and collecting.
When the influential fair opened on October 19 at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, it was replete with the kind of high style European furnishings on which it first staked its reputation. But there was more: more fine art, more Asian art, more Twentieth Century design.
The theater analogy suits Brian Haughton, who was an actor before becoming a specialist in English and continental ceramics. As a life-sized pair of Italian faience hounds kept watch, Haughton explained that he loves the mechanics of show management, right down to the brass tack details of stage direction and lighting. The fact that the dogs subsequently sold to an American collector for just over $50,000 must make show business all the more satisfying.
With a total of five specialty shows in New York and London, the Haughtons have at their direction several audiences and a fine and varied troupe of dealers. The core players – traditional standard bearers like Jeremy, Ariane Dandois, Blairman, Mallet, Luther, and Hirschl & Adler Galleries – deal in opulently high-style English, French and American furniture. The International Show remains a consistently good venue for them.
Mallett of London sold a key piece of furniture, the well-known Rosebery desk. Recently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it had acquired its name from a former owner, the 5th Duke of Rosebery (1847-1929), a British Prime Minister. The $800,000 desk is believed to have been made by the Royal cabinetmakers, Mayhew and Ince, circa 1775.
From Ariane Dandois to Clinton Howell, lacquered furniture made a big showing this year. The centerpiece of Mallett’s booth was an Eighteenth Century Queen Anne red lacquered bureau bookcase, priced $675,000 and dating to 1710. Paris dealer Ariane Dandois sold a pair of early Nineteenth Century red lacquer screens, two chandeliers, Chinese paintings, and several marquetry tables.
Clinton Howell offered a lacquered cabinet, the mate to which is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dating to circa 1690, both pieces were bought in London around the turn of the century. Howell recently had the opportunity to acquire one of the secretaries, which had been in an upstate New York collection. The asking price was $750,000
There was more chinoiserie at S.J. Shrubsole. The New York dealers featured a pair of James II silver tankards with a confection of Anglo-Chinese decorations for $2.5 million, one of the fair’s top prices. On loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1996 and 2000, the vessels were made by John Duck of London in 1686. They sold to a New York collector.
On one side of its two-part booth, Galerie Chevalier of Paris displayed an extraordinary quartet of chinoiserie tapestries made in Brussels between 1700-1725. Another textiles dealer, Cora Ginsburg of New York, dazzled shoppers with a set of late Renaissance needlework bed valances depicting the biblical story of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus.
To their traditional decorative arts dealers, the Haughtons have added fine arts specialists, and some of the very best. For those with ready cash, Agnews offered J.M.W. Turner’s watercolor from his England and Wales series, “Chatham Towards Fort P.H.,” 1830-32. The London dealers’ sales included a Henry Moore sculpture and a John Singer Sargent painting.
Browse & Darby, London dealers in late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century French and British pictures and sculptures, sold a Bonnard oil, Degas and Henry Moore drawings, and a Maillol sculpture. Paris dealers Galerie Hopkins-Thomas-Custot reported that they had sold 20 Impressionist and Modern works of art.
Over the years that they have participated in the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, David and Constance Yates have had a quietly dramatic impact on the market for European sculpture here in the United States. From year to year, their stand full of cabinet works virtually sells out. This year, the Manhattan dealers parted with 25 works of art and five medals. Among these sales were five Rodin plaster casts, one of which was acquired by the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco for around $45,000. A Midwestern museum had put a hold on a self-portrait plaster mask by Paul Gauguin.
It’s the Haughtons’ other fall fair, the International 20th Century Arts Fair, which returns to the Armory on Thanksgiving weekend, that is having the most palpable influence on the managers’ portfolio shows. The International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show’s relaxed dateline has made this a very welcoming spot for modern and contemporary material. Fortunately, only high quality material is being introduced, and only a little at a time.
London dealer Michael Goedhuis was one of the first Haughton dealers to mingle contemporary, classical and archaic art. As he has in recent seasons, the expert in Chinese works of art enjoyed good sales of both ancient bronzes and contemporary paintings, the later priced from $30,000 to $65,000. E & J Frankel unveiled a collection of contemporary Mongolian gouache paintings on cotton and paper. “They’re fascinating in that they reflect ancient trade influences,” observed Edith Frankel, a New York dealer. The affordable works, under $10,000, paired up nicely with classical Chinese jade, ceramics, scholars’ rdf_Descriptions and traditional paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
The millennial shift has brought a notable change in furniture and decorative arts at this fair, with at least one vendor, Ciancimino, abandoning Regency furniture in favor of French Art Deco design. The London dealer sold a desk by E. Printz, a console by Eric Bagges, and a candelabra by Poillerat. The Paris dealer Vallois, whose monochromatic booths set the standard for minimalist chic both here at the Bienale in Paris, said it had sold most of the Ruhlmann, Dunand, and Eileen Gray inventory that it brought to the fair.
With side by side stands, Maroun Salloum of Paris and H. Blairman and Sons of London deal in European Reform Movement decor of the late Nineteenth Century. The Parisian dealer featured an elaborate and unusual marquetry inlaid sideboard designed by George Jack for Morris & Company, around 1887. To go with it, Salloum had Viennese armchairs of laminated beechwood, circa 1910; three bronze hanging lamps with glass globes by Loetz, circa 1900; and Aurelio Bossi’s bronze of the Modernist dancer, Njinsky. Anchoring Blairman’s stand was a Bruce Talbert sideboard.
Very gradually, mid-century Modern design is being introduced into the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show. Philippe Denys, a Brussels dealer in Twentieth Century European decor, displayed a circa 1940 parchment-covered Italian commode produced at the Valzania cabinetmakers studio in Cesena, $75,000. Accompanying it were brass-topped stoneware vessels made by Royal Copenhagen, circa 1925-40, priced from $9,000 to $20,000.
Donald Ellis has become well known for his booth at New York’s Winter Antiques Show, where he shows dramatically lit sculpture against a midnight blue backdrop. The Ontario dealer in Native American art went blond for his first appearance at the International Show, showing sculpture atop slatted pedestals of pale wood. “I wanted to show people how well Native American art works in a contemporary environment,” said the dealer, whose showpiece was a Haisla portrait mask of circa 1840, $135,000.
Another Winter Antiques Show exhibitor, Carswell Rush Berlin, featured rarities in pairs. The New York dealer combined two New York Federal scroll-back, eight-leg sofas, $75,000 each; two mahogany sofa tables, one from New York, $115,000, one from Philadelphia, $95,000, and a New York sideboard, circa 1810, $165,000. Berlin topped the ensemble with two pier mirrors and two pier tables, one attributed to Emmons and Archibald of Boston, $60,000.
“It’s almost a complete Federal room,” Stuart Feld said of his high-ceilinged stand in rear of the Armory. The elegant arrangement included a pair of New York City sofa tables, a pair of astragal-end book tables signed by John Dolan, a Philadelphia center table by Quervelle, and a set of 14 French chairs. “Since they’re here, everyone assumes they are New York City,” said the amused dealer. The only New England dealers in the show, Boston’s Firestone and Parson, came loaded with English silver and a few American examples, including a Paul Revere porringer.
The opening night preview on Thursday, October 19, was attended by 1,500 people and raised over a million dollars for the show’s charity sponsor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The Haughtons, who assiduously court museum buyers, attracted 130 curators during the run of the fair. Celebrity spotters were rewarded with glimpses of Jessye Norman, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Ellen Barkin and Ron Perleman, Tom Ford, Adrienne Vittadini, Bill Blass, Carolyne Roehm, and Geoffrey Beene.
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