Published: October 18, 2011
No sooner had the show opened, then so did the skies.
The Washington Connecticut Antiques Show, a benefit for the Gunn Memorial Library & Museum, was elegantly dressed to mark its 25th anniversary on September 30 with a gala preview. Outside, dozens of Japanese lanterns flanked the walkway leading up to Bryan Memorial Town Hall, augmented by decorative torches in order to create a sparkling entrance for arriving patrons.
Inside, a monumental arrangement of white flowers had been artfully assembled by “Master of the Met” floral designer Chris Giftos, and the décor, combined with tinkling notes of the pianist’s arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” served to create a sumptuous atmosphere.
Instead of a rainbow, however, arriving limos would have disgorged their passengers into cold sheets of rain had it not been for umbrella-wielding youths who escorted the arrivals from car to canopy. In other words, the event did not miss a beat, and visitors †at least 300 by most accounts †soon filled the town hall to chat, sample hors d’oeuvres and imbibe amid a glittering showcase of antiques and fine art. There were 24 dealers set up within the town hall’s main floor and the upstairs balcony, about 50 percent new to the show.
It was a diverse grouping of exhibitors set up for the two-day run of the show, October 1′, augmented by some local firms that offered merchandise and services ranging from historic lighting to floral design.
Pergola Home, a New Preston, Conn., business operated by Peter Stiglin and David Whitman, created a peaceful retreat in a small space upstairs, displaying uncommon plants, aged terracotta planters, vases, sculpture and weathered antiques. Stiglin said they sold two Edo period tansu (chests), and a few other of the ancient treasures they had brought back from Kyoto this summer, including some beautiful Shigaraki pottery.
Stiglin explained that the Edo period (1615‱868) is when Japan was ruled by a shogun (military ruler) and the capital was moved from Kyoto, north to Edo. When the emperor was restored to the throne in 1868, he kept Edo as his capital and renamed it Tokyo. “The most interest was generated by the two-panel hawk screen sumi-e †brush-and-ink †painting mounted on silver leaf, also dating from the 1600s,” said Stiglin. “Being a very particular piece and quite expensive, it didn’t sell; but I’m sure we’ll find a good home for it before long.”
Among the dealers exhibiting at the show for the first time was New York City-based poster specialist the Ross Art Group. A business founded by Mickey Ross more than 12 years ago, the firm’s inventory consists of more than 2,500 original vintage posters. They brought a diverse sampling of posters in categories ranging from liquor, food, entertainment, travel, products, transportation, war and sports, and reported an active and interesting weekend.
“The venue was great and the organizers were so very helpful,” said Mickey Ross. “We received a lot of interest from visitors to the show and did rather well in sales. There was buyer interest in our American original vintage posters for historical reasons as well as good interest in our European posters. There was a pleasant mix of buyers of various age categories and they appreciated what we were showing.”
There was a reunion of sorts on the show’s main floor. In the back of the hall near the stage, Glenn Randall, a New York City dealer who longtime antiques enthusiasts will remember from venues like the Winter Antiques Show, set up a tasteful display of fine art by American masters, such as Joseph Henry Sharp and Frederic Remington. Just next door, Glenn’s son, Greg Randall, exhibited his usual whimsical assortment of garden antiques and architectural/industrial items, such as a massive whale vertebrae mounted on a blackened steel stand and a bundt pan mirror made from vintage baker’s trays.
During preview, the elder Randall praised the younger dealer’s successful business, R.T. Facts of Kent, Conn., recounting how Greg had earned his chops early on helping to set up at the Winter Antiques Show. Randall Sr said, for his part, business these days is mostly consignment, and he is currently offering for sale his magnificent Newport, R.I., home †the storied Clarendon Court †”one of the three best houses in Newport,” in his words.
Nemati Collection, New York City, was again featured upstairs displaying its fine carpets and providing a live tutorial on the painstaking process of rug restoration. Ahmed Sani was reweaving a portion of an Anatolian prayer rug that was about 130‱40 years old. The vegetable-dyed wool in this example had experienced wear and the new owner decided that he would like to replace the original black color with blue, so Ahmed was reweaving that portion, a process he said would take about a week.
Just a few examples from her vast collection in Goodwood, Ontario, Canada, came down with owner Elleke Claasen van Steen †an Eighteenth Century bureau-bookcase in beautiful heart burl was one standout, original with all the right hardware and mirror, with only the leather writing surface inside it having been replaced. Van Steen, who calls her business Period-Antiques, also featured an Antwerp tapestry, 8 by 8 feet, from the Sixteenth Century portraying the biblical story of Queen Esther and a Louis XVI period chaise longue that had been tastefully reupholstered in French antique linen. “We sold quite a few small items and in the furniture department only chairs, some high-priced ones,” said the dealer after the show.
Roberto Freitas American Antiques & Decorative Arts, Stonington, Conn., exhibited furniture and fine art, including a painting by William Trost Richards (American, 1833‱905) “Rockaway Beach,” signed and dated 1894 lower right and measuring 19½ by 32 inches. Another painting was by Connecticut artist Wilson H. Irvine (1869‱929). The framed oil on canvas titled “Autumn in Lyme,” was signed lower right and measured 27 by 30 inches. Among the furniture gems shown was an American Chippendale carved maple and tiger maple chest, mid- to late Eighteenth Century, attributed to John Cogswell, who worked in the Salem, Mass., or Boston area from 1769 to 1789.
Taking a page from his popular annual holiday exhibition, “All Paintings Great & Small,” fine art dealer Jeff Cooley of Old Lyme, Conn., brought a selection of about 40 small paintings. His booth was a jewel box, with such gems as Antoinetta Brandeis’s (1849‱920) “Palazzo Abrizzi,” an oil on panel Venetian canal scene measuring just 83/8 by 4¾ inches, about the dimensions of a reporter’s notebook. That painting, stickered at $18,000, sold on Saturday, along with four others, leading Cooley to expect a similarly good result on Sunday. That was not to be, said the dealer after the show. “I ended up selling seven works over the weekend, five of them on Saturday. Sunday was very light attendance.”
Estate jewelry is always a must-have category at a show like this, and there were two well-known dealers participating †Brad Reh of Southampton, N.Y., and Anita S. Taub, New York City. From his glittering showcase, Reh brought out a handmade 18K gold and diamond lion bracelet, featuring a fully articulated spine, maker unknown, from the mid-Twentieth Century.
A Cartier, Paris, platinum, diamond and onyx Art Deco pin, exhibited the longest baguettes the dealer said he has ever seen. There was something for both him and her at Taub’s stand, including a man’s David Webb ring with lots of diamonds from the 1960s‱970s, a Sterle ring with a rectangular emerald in the center surrounded by diamonds from about 1940 and a midcentury Tiffany vintage brooch.
Commanding double space close to the show’s entrance was Cliff Leonard of South Salem, N.Y., an antiques show veteran selling a diverse collection. A charming painting by George Paice (1854‱925), an English artist known for his dog and horse portraits, was titled “A favorite pet” and depicted a black and tan short-haired Chihuahua. Signed and dated 1881, the 9-by-7½-inch portrait came from a private collection in London. Among the furniture pieces at C.M. Leonard was a French walnut chest, circa 1900‱920, with great, crisp carving, 33¼ by 51½ by 27½ inches, and a large octagonal Deco German table, circa 1930 and probably walnut, surrounded by a set of four Stewart MacDougal “Klismos” chairs, circa 1950s-1970.
“I had an excellent show, one of the best I have had in years,” said Leonard afterwards, adding that he had had two follow-up sales since the show. “Except for early morning Saturday and a spot here and there, there seemed to be a big, steady flow of people. I spoke with one of the committee chairs and they said the attendance for the preview was way up and attendance throughout the weekend. People seemed to be very upbeat, and when I spoke to the dealers around me, which is pretty much the whole show, everyone seemed to be selling. I spoke with all my neighbors and they all said they would come back next year.”
For information, 860-868-7586 or www.gunnlibrary.org .
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