Published: May 7, 2013
By: R. Scudder Smith
BRONX, N.Y. — The Antiques Garden Furniture Show and Sale at The New York Botanical Garden celebrated its 21st birthday with a number of changes, including its name, its time frame for objects, some new faces, floor plan and some participating artists.
First of all, the show must now be called the Garden Sculpture and Antiques Fair: 1750–2013. Quite a mouthful, but it does tell you what the show, or rather, the fair, is all about, even taking note that the antiques cutoff date has been changed from 1950 to the present. This expanded scope is intended to allow modern and contemporary sculpture into the show, not the stuff that turns up in every nursery and garden shop.
The floor plan did not make a radical change, but as Judy Milne, exhibiting in one of the booths bordering the center exhibition area, tried to point out, “The L-shaped part of our booth used to run that way, the direction of the width of the tent, and now it runs this way,” she said, pointing in the opposite direction. The same configuration was true of the facing booth, inhabited by Debbie and Bob Withington.
An award-winning selection of six artists made up the new Participating Artists feature, each showing one or two pieces either outside the tent or in the center exhibition area. The sculpture shown at the center of the tent was well spaced, with ample room for visitors to walk around each piece, and was attractively done. However, it would have looked far better on real turf, and not on the bright green artificial lawn.
“We had the best weather ever for the show, and it did not seem to keep people at home in their gardens,” Catherine Sweeney Singer, director of the fair, said, adding, “The botanical gardens were at their height or just about ready to pop, due to the cooler weather we have been having, and that brought out many who enjoyed both the fair and the gardens.” Over the four-day run of the show, including the preview on Thursday, April 25, just over 5,000 attended the event.
While the majority of the exhibitors agree that buying was not at the scale of years ago, which is true for any antiques show, “most everyone told me that they did well and were satisfied on Sunday when the show closed at 5 pm,” Catherine said. She noted that one indication that things sold is evident on Sunday at pack-out time. “This is the first time since I have been manager of the show that every exhibitor was packed and on the road by 9 pm,” Catherine said.
Some of the regulars did not return this year, but the committee filled the slots with interesting new people with an eye to add some more variation to the look of the fair. In addition to the six participating artists, eight new exhibitors included Arader Galleries, New York and Philadelphia, and Susan Frei Nathan, with antique botanical prints and watercolors; Colette Donovan of Merrimacport, Mass., garden furnishing for the home; Scott Estepp, Cincinnati, Ohio, midcentury design; Pagoda Red, Chicago, Chinese garden ornament; Telescopes of Vermont, Norwich, Vt., garden telescopes; Anthony Kavanaugh Period Garden Ornaments, Salley, S.C.; and Virginia Korteweg, owner of Edgecroft in River Edge, N.J.
A tall galvanized metal palm tree, dating from the mid-Twentieth Century, stood in the booth of Linda and Howard Stein of Solebury, Penn., along with other garden and home pieces that included a lead birdbath in the form of a shell, Nineteenth Century, and a fish sculpture of patinated metal, circa 1956, showing five swimming fish. The Steins maintain a presence in Bridgehampton Antiques.
The Village Braider of Plymouth, Mass., always seems to come to this show with an unusual piece. This time it was a large cast iron turtle, once a fountain, dating from the late Twentieth Century. “It has attracted a lot of interest and weighs in at about 1,000 pounds,” Bruce Emond said. Even Catherine Sweeney Singer not only took a liking to it, but took it for a ride when her picture was taken. An early trade sign read “Squash 1½ cents per pound – Cheaper By The Ton.” A set of four American cast iron urns, dating from the late Nineteenth Century, were in several coats of old white paint, and a polar bear sculpture in wrought steel, painted black, 1950–1960, was labeled “Ice Maiden.”
Many garden pieces filled the booth of Schorr & Dobinsky, Bridgehampton, N.Y., including a large carved limestone basin, about 3 feet high with the same diameter, French and dating from the early Eighteenth Century, and a faux bois garden bench with planter ends, early Twentieth Century, good patina, and also from France.
Colette Donovan of Merrimacport, Mass., introduced a dose of Americana into the show, offering a “Country garden with no moss,” according to Colette. A twig table that “I took from my own patio” was among the offerings, along with a blue painted wheelbarrow in excellent condition, late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. A bench table, 9 feet 1 inch long, with a top that flips to become a canted back, dated from the early Nineteenth Century and was of Maine origin, while an American chopping block, mid Nineteenth Century, was of a thick cut of wood measuring 35 inches in diameter.
Aileen Minor Antiques, Centreville, Md., showed two lead statues, a shepherd and a shepherdess, on stone pedestals and after John Cheere (1709–1787), an Eighteenth Century English lead figure-maker. The pieces came from the estate of interior designer Keith Irvine. A three-piece Gothic/Rococo cast iron garden furniture set included a pair of armchairs with wood slat seats and a matching center table with a top measuring 36 by 22 inches. They were English, dating from the Nineteenth Century. One shelf was filled with a set of 12 carved wood and colorful painted tulips, all of the same size except one a bit larger in bright yellow. “I think they are really fun and will brighten a room,” Aileen said.
An excellent pair of iron sculpted urns and a three-piece, ironwork garden arch, English, circa 1930, were in the booth of The Red Horse Antiques, Bridgewater, Vt. Against the back wall was a large two-piece cupboard with two doors on the top and two short drawers over two long drawers in the lower section. It dated circa 1820 and had the original putty painted surface with a blue-green interior.
Finnegan Gallery of Chicago brought an interesting English stone dovecote, early Twentieth Century, measuring 39 inches high and 27 inches at the base, and late Nineteenth Century carved marble statues of Spring and Fall, shown on tall plinths. The figures came from a Crystal Lake, Ill., estate.
A set of four stone garden seats with crouching figural supports was shown in the booth of Jeffrey Henkel of Pennington, N.J. Also offered was a turn-of-the-century English cast iron figure of a seated dog on a plinth base, and a late Nineteenth Century carved marble fragment of a torso with crumpled gown, Italian.
Barbara Israel Garden Antiques, Katonah, N.Y., offered a composition stone birdbath with mossy stepped base, English, circa 1930, measuring 37 inches high and 18 inches in diameter, and a whimsical faux bois tree trunk with a bird perched on top, 72 inches high, French, dating circa 1940. From Italy was a carved marble seat, arms with volute scrolls, back with ivy frieze, circa 1900, and a composition stone figure of a female in peasant dress, holding a basket of grapes, shown on stone pedestal, was of French origin, circa 1970, the figure 59 inches high.
One of the largest pieces of sculpture in the show was a bloodhound with large ears, a product of the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Co., circa 1890s. The piece was by Edward Kemeys, who has a piece of sculpture in Central Park. A very large and impressive zinc fountain, Nineteenth Century, French, depicted a boy on a swan, and a lead figure of Cupid, English, Nineteenth Century, was either a piece of garden sculpture or a roof finial.
Francis J. Purcell, Philadelphia, had a working fountain in his booth featuring a white-painted heron standing in a large basin, Fiske. An American cast iron bench, circa 1890, was by McLean, while another cast iron bench in white, circa 1890, was named “White House, Rose Garden” bench. A circa 1890 cast iron finial, 27 inches high, lidded urn form, had a well-modeled flame on top.
“After the Chicago Show, we got close to 40 emails offering us pieces of wicker, and all turned out to be in terrible condition, nothing that we would add to our inventory,” James Butterworth of Antique American Wicker, Nashua, N.H., said, adding that “only pieces that are going to last a long, long time are we interested in.” A circa 1920 collection of Heywood-Wakefield wicker in natural finish with colored trim, Bar Harbor style, included a curved sofa, a pair of triple wing chairs and a rocker, and by the same firm was a pair of rattan wing chairs, natural finish, colored trim, of the same period. A rare pair of Arts and Crafts-era four-drawer wicker chests was American, circa 1915.
“These are the best of Salterini,” Joan Bogart of Oceanside, N.Y., said of her pair of Southern wrought iron peacock chairs, circa 1930, that came out of the collection of Enid Haupt, benefactress of the New York Botanical Garden. A three-piece cast iron garden set in the fern pattern, Twentieth Century, included two benches and one armchair, and a Southern wrought iron fountain tree, circa 1930, was in the original paint, about 8 feet tall, and held a number of potted plants. “A hose is connected to the bottom of the piece and the water runs up the trunk and comes out the top, watering the plants as it falls towards the ground,” she explained. And, as usual, she offered a selection of doorstops, including a parrot, house, two ducks, elephant, horse, sailboat and peacock.
Arader Galleries, New York and Philadelphia, offered a mix of works of art, including images from The Birds of America, John James Audubon (1785–1851), “Summer of Wood Duck,” measuring 38¼ by 25 inches. A set of four framed pictures by an unknown German artist, dating from the early Nineteenth Century, were of feathered birds, watercolors and feathers on the page, measuring 14¼ by 17 inches each.
Bob and Debbie Withington of York, Maine, longtime dealers at this show, brought a variety of things that ranged from a carved limestone mourning figure after the Greek original in the Metropolitan, signed “TH,” to a large collection of flower frogs in all kinds of form, including crabs, starfish, turtles, swans, butterflies and even frogs. When asked for a count, Bob said, “We have 104 this time, 70 of them shown for the first time, including a large bronze turtle, which I have never seen before.” He also noted that “we sold 58 of them at one show.” Of interest was a copper roof-top finial, circa 1880, of a standing sword with leaf surround.
James and Judith Milne At Home Antiques, New York City, hung a large Nineteenth Century architectural barn star, circa 1880, from Lancaster, Penn., and a monumental cast stone swan, also from Pennsylvania, was in the original white painted surface. A set of nine steps ran up the side wall of the booth, providing show-shelves for a number of creatures, including frogs, dogs, cats and owls, all in stone.
Dawn Hill Antiques of New Preston, Conn., had a pair of composition stone horses in old white paint, Belgium, circa 1900, measuring only 26 inches high and 32 inches from nose to tail. In the center of the booth was a wrought iron table with green painted base and circular marble top measuring 59 inches in diameter. The intricate base was of flower and scroll design, French, and dating from the late Nineteenth Century. “The size and thickness of the marble top, along with the large base, make it a very solid and heavy piece,” Paulette Peden said.
For those who plan ahead, the fair is scheduled for the same time slot next year.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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