Published: February 13, 2007
The Winter Antiques Show has long been the cornerstone of Americana Week in New York. Notwithstanding its well-deserved reputation for all things American, the fair, which wrapped up on January 28 after 11 days at New York’s Seventh Regiment Armory, is getting stronger in a host of other categories, from antiquities to jewelry.
Thanks to chairman Arie Kopelman and executive director Catherine Sweeney Singer, this delectable cornucopia of the best of the best has grown far beyond what its founders first imagined. It is a better show now, and — with greater emphasis on presentation — better looking. Eclecticism has made it more interesting.
Even the armory, now managed by the Seventh Regiment Conservancy, was spruced up for the January 18 preview party, which saw a one percent bump in attendance over last year’s record gate. Receipts were up three percent on opening night. Total attendance for the show was nearly 23,000. For next year’s show, which opens on January 17, 2008, management plans to revise Young Collectors Night and Museum Night, which were not as successful as hoped.
“Our shipper estimates that sales increased 25 percent,” Sweeney Singer said from the floor as the fair was being dismantled. Predictably, American furniture and folk art were stellar performers, but other categories thrived, as well.
Instituted 13 years ago by Sweeney and Kopelman, the loan show is a focal point. This year’s presentation, showcasing the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-Salem, N.C., impressed visitors with the genius and variety of Southern design. The museum skillfully marketed its participation, sending 170 paying guests, including North Carolina’s First Lady, to opening night.
The show’s roster grew by one dealer to 75 exhibitors this year. Partly to accommodate the newcomer, management revised the floor plan, refreshing the fair’s appearance. Instead of fronting the central court, Litchfield, Conn., dealers Peter and Jeffrey Tillou faced an aisle.
“We can’t complain. We had a terrific show,” said Jeffrey Tillou, whose sales included a full-length portrait of a boy by Ammi Phillips, marked in the seven figures and published in one of Peter Tillou’s early catalogs; a second Phillips; a Bard; a Seventeenth Century Flemish portrait of a child; a Philadelphia piecrust tea table; a Chippendale slab-top table; a White & Co., Utica, N.Y., decorated stoneware jug; and a merino-ram weathervane.
“I have seven pieces left,” garden antiques dealer Barbara Israel, who set up on the south side of the court, said barely a day into the fair. Her most beguiling piece was a 1952 gilded bronze plaque, $110,000, by Joseph Coletti (1898–1973). It depicted Orpheus playing a lyre for a audience of birds and animals. Carl Crossman of Northeast Auctions remembers meeting the artist at the Massachusetts home of Mrs John Morgan Bullard, in whose garden the sculpture was installed.
If MESDA’s display was for lusting over, the real thing could be bought across the aisle at Sumpter Priddy, who had a bang-up show. In the fair’s opening hours, the Virginia specialist in Southern antiques wrote up a Mid-Atlantic inlaid demilune card table, a Baltimore apothecary chest, a Virginia bow front serving table, a miniature chest of drawers attributed to Andre Joseph Villard (1749–1819), a Virginia “Elliptic” chest with mummy figures, a powder horn and a Thomas Sully portrait.
“It was a pleasure setting up across from MESDA,” said Leigh Keno, who sold a rare African American plantation desk from Mississippi. Keno recognized a 1750 Queen Anne tea table, $425,000, acquired by the New York dealer last year, as being from a small group of furniture made by an as-yet unidentified Philadelphia shop. Keno’s many sales included a Federal mahogany dwarf by clock by Joshua Wilder, a New York Federal eglomise looking glass, a Newport Townsend-Goddard Queen Anne roundabout chair, a decorated stoneware crock and a tavern sign.
“We’re keeping up with the times,” said Sweeney Singer, who added more Twentieth Century design to this year’s show.
New exhibitor Michael Playford of Two Zero C Applied Art, Ltd, in London sold an Art Deco marble and bronze fountain by Marcel Guillmand & C. Omin, circa 1925.
Filling in on short notice for Aronson Antiquairs was British Arts and Crafts authority John Alexander, Ltd, of Philadelphia, whose sales included a circa 1930 drop leaf center table by Sir Frank William Brangwyn.
A museum acquired a chromium-plated steel chair of 1934 by California architect Kem Weber from Historical Design of Manhattan.
Known for late Nineteenth Century American design, Associated Artists of Southport, Conn., featured a Herter Brothers side chair, priced in the seven figure range, from the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion.
Elle Shushan, the Philadelphia dealer in portrait miniatures, displayed her tiny treasures in a booth inspired by the James River, Va., plantation Westover and designed by Ralph Harvard. Shushan literally sold to the walls. Fellow exhibitor Alexander Acevedo asked to buy her charcoal, white and rose stand for his daughter.
“We wanted objects to float in space,” explained Bailey Island, Maine, dealer Nancy Glazer. Brilliantly lit shadow boxes contained colorful slip decorated Pennsylvania redware, all of which sold on opening night. The Glazers emphasized Philadelphia parade fire hats, fire buckets, drums, advertising trade signs and sculptural Windsor chairs.
American Classical furniture specialist Carswell Rush Berlin chose a contemporary backdrop for Restauration-style chairs attributed to Joseph Barry of Philadelphia and a Phyfe & Sons of New York sofa table.
Umber and chocolate color provided a warm foil for a Regency rosewood and parcel gilt breakfront sideboard, $370,000, at Mallett.
Rupert Wace’s persimmon and chocolate stand was a chic backdrop for ancient art. The London dealer sold a Late Dynastic Period Egyptian bronze head of a cat, a Roman bronze face mask dating to the First Century CE, and a Fourth to Third Century BCE Greek marble head of a prince.
Julius Lowy, a premier specialist in antique picture frames, invited visitors to step inside its dazzling gilt pavilion.
“They set a tone in any room,” antique wallpaper specialist Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz noted of two richly romantic Dufour paper panels depicting villas along the Bosphorus, $135,000.
Scenic views were also highlights at A La Vieille Russie, which showed nine Russian watercolors, including one of St Petersburg, and China Trade paintings specialist Martyn Gregory, who featured eight detailed gouaches on silk depicting Macau and the Pearl River.
Of great historical interest were 37 letters, manuscripts and photographs signed by Winston Churchill. Kenneth Rendell Gallery offered the archive as a group.
Continuing a trend, American folk art, especially sculpture, sold well.
“It’s been an excellent show for us,” said Pat Bell of Olde Hope Antiques, who sold a Sturtevant Hamblin painting, a decorated chest, a rig of shorebird decoys, a fraktur, stoneware, chalkware, silhouettes, a game board and a rooster weathervane.
Massachusetts dealer David Wheatcroft parted with two weathervanes, a still life painting, a cane, a paint decorated tall clock, redware and a collection of decorated canteens.
David Schorsch and Eileen Smiles sold painted boxes and furniture, a tavern sign, weathervanes, and George O. Donnell’s patent model for a New Lebanon Shaker tilter chair.
Fred and Kathryn Giampietro’s major sales included a circa 1865 life-sized cast iron stag made by the Robert Wood Foundry of Philadelphia and an Indian tobacconist trade figure.
“You buy what you love and hope others agree with your taste,” said Illinois dealer Barbara Pollack, who sold a vibrant York County, Penn., blanket chest on opening night.
Courcier & Wilkins wrote up a room-sized hooked rug, a green painted Hepplewhite drop leaf table and a double-sided game board.
“It’s a real find,” Janice Hyland of Hyland Granby Antiques said of a lavishly carved box, $175,000, signed and dated by its maker, J.H. Bellamy.
London dealer Robert Young found a receptive audience for English folk art and painted furniture, selling 17 pieces on opening night alone.
Jan Whitlock’s small stand attracted antique textiles enthusiasts. The Pennsylvania dealer featured a spectacular 1848–52 quilt, $150,000, prominently illustrated in her 2007 Baltimore Album Quilt Calendar.
Stephen and Carol Huber tailored their stand to pictorial silk embroideries. The Connecticut dealers sold well, quickly parting with their centerpiece, a Massachusetts memorial by Frances Owen, circa 1821.
A pristine weaver’s sample, the last surviving remnant of the luxurious silk brocade draperies from the Grand Salon of the Art Deco ocean liner Normandie, was $40,000 at Cora Ginsburg LLC.
Superb Native American and non-Western art is growing category, with pre-Columbian sculpture and textiles stirring interest at Throckmorton Fine Art of New York City.
“It’s the most important Eskimo mask to come on the market in three decades,” Canadian dealer Don Ellis said of his showpiece, a boldly abstract Yup’ik Eskimo mask. The masterpiece sold, along with an Ojibwa/Dakota beaded wool broadcloth woman’s cape of circa 1840–50. The Minneapolis Institute of Art acquired the latter.
“This is our best Zuni pot ever,” Vanessa Hernandez of Morning Star Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., remarked of a circa 1850 Zuni water jar, $350,000.
“Chests are us,” quipped American furniture dealer Wayne Pratt, who sold a landscape decorated overmantel, three chests, two desks, two paintings, a mirror and Nantucket baskets.
Clinton Howell’s drop-dead display revolved around a pair of 1785 English console tables with marquetry inlaid tops and gilded bases, $850,000.
“I’ve sold six items, all to British buyers,” Ricky Goytizolo of Georgian Manor Antiques said early on preview night.
Philip Colleck, Ltd got off to a good start, selling a red-painted English blanket chest, a George II mahogany tripod table, and an Adam period miniature tripod table. Colleck shared the booth with clock specialist Jonathan Snellenburg, whose pillar-shaped George III mahogany long case regulator clock by Josiah Emery, London, circa 1785, was contemporary in its appeal.
Two booths boasted John Singer Sargent portraits. The dark, mysterious “Spanish Woman,” circa 1879–80, held court at Adelson Galleries. Schwarz Gallery featured “Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell,” $850,000, Sargent’s 1903 oil on canvas of an eminent Philadelphia physician. Schwarz Gallery sold its Rembrandt Peale portrait of George Washington.
At London’s Fine Arts Society, Sir William Nicholson’s 1905 “The Jewelled Bandalore,” $750,000, depicting an affluent, exotic Englishwoman with a yoyo, joined three side chairs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
“I found it over a sofa 20 years ago,” Gerry Wunderlich of Gerald Peters Gallery said of “Oregon Trail,” an arresting nocturnal campfire scene by Albert Bierstadt, priced in the mid-seven figures.
“Sunset: A Scene in Brazil” by Martin Johnson Heade, $3.5 million, was a highlight at Arader Galleries.
Alexander Galleries unveiled Thomas Cole’s sublime “Elijah at the Mouth of the Cave,” an oil on canvas of circa 1830. Alexander Acevedo recently x-rayed the painting, discovering an earlier portrait of Hagar, subject of Cole’s lost painting “Hagar in The Wilderness.”
Sweeney Singer was helped by a phalanx of Sotheby’s Institute interns.
“They did a fantastic job,” said the executive director. “Five of them stayed very late at closing and two others even helped exhibitors pack out.”
For information, 718-292-7392 or www.winterantiquesshow.com.
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