Published: January 31, 2012
On Thursday, January 19, toward the late afternoon as the Winter Antiques Show was nearing preview time, New York City police seemed to be stationed everywhere in the vicinity of the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street. Even with the richness of the objects on display in the armory, such protection seemed overkill. But, alas, the President was coming to town to have dinner at Daniel’s on East 65th and do a few other things, causing one breathless exhibitor rushing into the armory to question, “Why did he have to come tonight when we are having our show?” A good question, but answerless.
Yet the show did go on as scheduled, a few people were late, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but it seemed a good time was had by all. As usual, the champagne flowed, a couple of spots in the aisles became jammed around the food tables, and the eager collectors were making their way steadily through the show, looking at construction under tables and focusing closely on paintings and folk sculpture. A total of 2,000 attended the preview between 5 and 9 pm.
Six new exhibitors joined the show this year: Peter Eaton and Joan Brownstein, Jonathan Boos, Joe Kindig, Moderne Gallery, Peter Fetterman and Pace Primitives. They joined a number of dealers who have been associated with the show for many years, including The Old Print Shop, 54 years; Ralph M. Chait Galleries, 53 years; Alfred Bullard, 47 years; A La Vieille Russie, 45 years; L’Antiquaire & The Connoisseur, 42 years; Peter Tillou, 41 years; Hirschl & Adler, 38 years; James Robinson, 37 years; Arader Galleries, 37 years; Georgian Manor, 37 years; Philip Colleck, 36 years; and Jonathan Trace, 33 years.
This year, Historic Hudson Valley was selected for the loan exhibit to help celebrate its 60th birthday. Since its founding in 1951 by John D. Rockefeller Jr, the organization has grown to five national historic properties located in Westchester and Dutchess Counties. Treasures from the vast holdings were arranged for display at the show, and woodwork on the front of the booth borrowed its design from Sleepy Hollow. Paintings of Rip Van Winkle and Washington Irving were shown on the outside front panels. David Rockefeller, Mark F. Rockefeller and Charles Rockefeller served as honorary co-chairs of the show this year.
Arie L. Kopelman, chairman of the show, is a fixture on the floor from well before the show opens until the last dealer has moved out. Together with Catherine Sweeney Singer, executive director, the show moves smoothly, and each year they look for ways to make things better and keep the show on the top of the heap. “Things went very well this year; we feel we have taken in six good additions to the show, and Historic Hudson Valley did a fine job on the loan exhibit,” Catherine said.
Once again, the green-covered walls in the booth of Stephen and Carol Huber, Old Saybrook, Conn., were all but covered by a collection of early samplers, including one of the stars of the group, displayed front and center, a view of Mount Vernon by Charlotte Bruce, New York City, dating circa 1825. This silk embroidered piece was in the original frame, original glass, and was inscribed “Mt Vernon Residence of Washington †C.A. Bruce.” This sampler was worked by Bruce while in school, probably in New York City. Extra attention was paid to samplers this year due to Sotheby’s sale of the “Landmark Collection of Betty Ring, American Schoolgirl Embroideries,” on January 22. The Hubers, great friends of Ring, helped put that collection together, which sold for $4,389,503, including the buyer’s premium, and one lot set a record for a sampler sold at public auction, bringing $1,070,500.
A corner cupboard, Hackensack, N.J., origin, 1810‱825, was the standout piece in the booth of Christopher T. Rebollo Antiques, Mechanicsville, Penn. Of white pine, this cupboard retained the original cream color painted surface, was highly carved, and measured 87 inches tall. A Chester County, Penn., high chest of drawers was of walnut, circa 1760‱770, and a rococo carved side chair of Philadelphia origin dated 1765‱770. This chair, walnut, white oak and white cedar, was once owned by John Penn, the last colonial governor of Pennsylvania.
New England dealers Peter H. Eaton and Joan R. Brownstein, Newbury, Mass., were new to the show this year, offering a booth filled with early furniture, paintings and a collection of ceramic works by Edwin and Mary Scheier, bowls and other shapes, dating from 1940 through 1965. At the front of the booth was a scalloped top Queen Anne dressing table with fan carved center drawer and cabriole legs. This piece, in cherry with old surface, attributed to the Munn family of cabinetmakers, Deerfield, Mass., circa 1780‱785, was sold by Peter Eaton in 1990 and just repurchased.
An interesting fanback Windsor side chair with bulbous spindles, nearly round seat, painted crest with the dates 1787‱887, was inscribed under the seat reading, “From mother to Orvy Thayer, Mch 15, 1887” and “C.T. Palmer painter.” The chair was found in Vermont. During the first week the dealers sold 12 pieces of pottery, eight works of furniture, and a painting of the Delaware Water Gap attributed to Thomas Chambers.
A rare and important Angel Gabriel weathervane was mounted on the outside panel of the booth of Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn., a vane made by Mr Whelden of the Whelden & Fisher tin shop for the Wesleyan Seminary, formerly the First Methodist Church, Springfield, Vt., circa 1846. It is of sheet iron and copper, with iron bracing, and it retains some yellow sizing with faint traces of the original gold leaf. It is topped with the original lead-covered wooden ball and it measures 54 inches long, 28 inches high. The vane was removed from the belfry in 1896 and put into storage, then to a private collection.
An oval chair table of unusual large size, with three-board splined top, probably Canada, dated circa 1820‸40 and retained the original blue painted surface. It measures 29½ inches high, the top 61¾ by 52 inches, and the provenance lists the estate of Judith Rothschild. Among the wood carvings in the Olde Hope booth was an eagle with shield and cannon, New England, circa 1860, painted, gesso and glass eyes. The provenance lists Florene Maine, Ridgefield, Conn., and the piece measures 26¼ inches high and 34 inches wide.
The Fine Art Society, London, offered a large painting, oil on canvas, by Walter Sickert (1860‱942) of “The Facade of St Jacques,” signed lower left Sickert, 1902.
Arader Galleries, with galleries in New York City, Philadelphia, Houston and San Francisco, hung a collection of 12 Audubons, 11 of which are considered in the top 20 by John James Audubon. The collection was acquired one at a time over a period of a year.
A ghost dance skirt, Arapaho, Oklahoma, circa 1890, native tanned hide, pigment, stood out against the side wall in the booth of Donald Ellis gallery, Dundas, Ontario, Canada. Of interest was an articulated salmon, Tsimshian (?), Northern British Co., wood, pigment and string and dating from the late Nineteenth Century.
The two panels flanking the booth of Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery, New York City, showed some familiar faces, along with either signed letters or documents with signatures. On the right, Woody Guthrie, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Abraham Lincoln held forth, while on the left Nicholas II, Georgia O’Keeffe and J.D. Salinger were pictured. The six were typical of the great variety of famous people represented in the collection offered.
James and Nancy Glazer, Bailey Island, Maine, brought a collection of antiques to the show that celebrated occupational and ceremonial rituals that are distinct from the objects of everyday life. “We want people to enjoy a sampling of what men and women can accomplish when they are moved to create and craft objects to commemorate special moments,” Jim Glazer said. To this end, they offered a collection of fabric pen wipes, engraved fire badges, ornately carved armchair with birds and other creatures, and in the Occupation corner of the booth, showed a collection of shaving mugs, eye glass sign and an architecturally designed dental cabinet.
Dominating the front corner of the booth was a “winged wheel,” a zinc and steel trade sign for the Bartholomay Brewing Co., Rochester, N.Y., circa 1890. “I have an early advertisement folder for the company that shows the sign on top of the building,” Jim said. A shell model of a Whale’s Back Lighthouse, circa 1875‱890, was sold, along with an eye glass sign and an early double-sided game board, among other things.
“It is the best and truest one I have ever seen,” Fred Giampietro of New Haven, Conn., said regarding his steeplechase weathervane at the front of his booth. Of molded copper and mixed metals, with an old weathered surface but still retaining traces of the original gold leaf, the vane is attributed to A.L. Jewell of Waltham, Mass. A large carousel horse, outside row, by Gustav Dentzel, mostly white in old park paint, lit up the back wall of the booth and showed the figure to great advantage. The horse had a carved eagle saddle, dated circa 1890, and was from Philadelphia.
At the front corner of the booth, in complete view of everyone entering the show, was a tobacconist figure of an Indian maiden on the original base, Samuel Robb, with “Key West Imported” written on the front of the base, “cigars and tobacco” on both sides, and “news” across the bottom of the base on three sides. Among items sold was a pair of wrought iron andirons in the form of snakes, American, circa 1850, and a horse and sulky weathervane.
We like to think that it is the wonderful display of garden antiques in the middle of the show that draws a large crowd, not just the presence of the bar in the same area. And this year, as with most every year, Barbara Israel of Katonah, N.Y., seems to have outdone last year’s exhibit and put on an amazing show of what every garden needs. Center stage was a large marble urn, modeled after the antique Medici vase, Italian, circa 1900, measuring 80 inches tall and 53 inches wide. The immediate question is, “How do you get it in here, and in place?” “It’s easy with a tow motor and about four strong guys,” Barbara said, adding, “It weighs in at close to 4,000 pounds.”
Not far behind, in weight, was a monumental marble sarcophagus-form planter depicting the Fall of Phaeton, Italian, circa 1900, measuring 37 inches high, including supports, 88 inches wide and 32 inches deep. It came from an estate in Harding Township, N.J., designed by Sanford White in 1903 and believed to have been commissioned by him around 1900. At the show it was filled with water, sans fish. “If I had put fish in it, people would have spent time looking at them and not at the piece,” Barbara said. The sarcophagus sold, as did several whimsical stone pieces including a collection of English dwarfs from the 1930s and a pair of rabbits by Charles Rudy.
Other garden pieces included a pair of Seventeenth Century terracotta lions, seated on their haunches, fully maned head, circa 1890 and of English origin. Each measured 32¾ inches high. A terracotta figure of a young lady in the guise of the Winter Season, cloaked and carrying a flame-filled urn, measured 56½ inches high, French origin, and dated circa 1880.
Tillou Gallery, Litchfield, Conn., set up a booth to please many interests, such as brown furniture, folk art carvings and weathervanes, large and small paintings, including landscapes and portraits, and a rare and important Southern vernacular desk/secretary that was none of the above. The piece, attributed to William “Willie” Howard, a slave, Madison County, Miss., circa 1870, was of Southern pine with mixed woods for the interior. The piece had a drop front that was decorated with applied carved symbols, including forks, spoons, knives, pointing hands, a pistol, small carpenter tools and flasks. Similar pieces were carved and applied to both side and the single drawer. A later paint had been removed to reveal the original brown wash and finish and it measured 60¼ inches high, 30 inches wide and 23½ inches deep.
Tillou also showed a train model, inscribed “American Locomotive and U.S. Military, built by Jersey Locomotive and Machine Co., 1862, for Herman Haupt,” whose name appears on the locomotive. An eagle and shield decorates the coal car.
Three versions of “The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regt.” hung in a row in the booth of The Old Print Shop, New York City. The first engraving, 1770, signed within the image “Engrav’d Printed & Sold by Paul Revere Boston,” measures 715/16 by 83/8 inches. The second engraving, 1770, was printed on laid paper, no watermark, and signed within the image “Jona. Mulliken Newbury Port sc.” It measures 77/8 by 89/16 inches. The third engraving, 1770, was printed and sold by W. Bingley, in Newgate-Street.
A Hambletonian horse weathervane, possibly by J.W. Fiske Ironworks, stood proudly at the front of the booth of David Schorsch / Eileen M. Smiles, Woodbury, Conn. Dating 1875‱895, the vane had an old worn white painted surface over the original gilt and measured 27¾ by 33 by 2 inches. James Miner and Alma Wilmarth Miner of Milton, Vt., had their portraits done, oil on panel, by Sheldon Peck in 1830. Each portrait is inscribed with the artist’s initials, “SP,” and painted on the front of the portrait, beneath the sitter, is “J. Miner 1830” and “A. Miner 1830.” The portraits, measuring 25½ by 20½ inches, are the earliest known Pecks with the names of the sitters and date inscribed.
“We sold the Spitler chest,” David said, referring to the paint decorated, lift top chest, Shenandoah County, Va., circa 1800, of yellow pine and black walnut. Made by Johannes Spitler (1774‱831), the chest had the original iron strap hinges and measured 25½ inches high, 23-by-50-inch top, over a 48-by-22-inch case.
The booth of Frank & Barbara Pollack American Antiques & Art, Highland Park, Ill., was bright with paintings and painted objects, including a decorated one-drawer, lift top blanket chest of New England origin, pine, circa 1836‱850. It was made by G. Reed in 1836 and was sold in 1974 to a private collector by well-known antiques dealer John Walton. The chest was shown under the portrait of a young girl in a red dress, oil on canvas, artist unknown, measuring 34¼ by 29 inches, that sold. The portrait descended in a Charleston, S.C., family. Standing in one corner was a handsome handwrought iron floor lamp with vine and grape decoration. Barbara found a design for her booth “that really works for me, allowing me to hang objects or paintings on both sides, and I use it every year. It is stored in a New Jersey warehouse when not here in the armory,” she said.
Associated Artists of Southport, Conn., showed an octagonal, eight-legged center table, possibly by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848‱923), after a design by E.W. Godwin, New York. Of mahogany with satinwood inlay, the top was over spindle “mashrabiya” screens and a conforming panel construction tier, and “spider” stretchers arranged as spokes. The turned and delicately reeded legs terminated in outswept terminus feet. This table was part of a suite given as a wedding present in 1882 to Emily M. Whitney and Amory Leland, 692 Park Avenue, New York City. An oil on hardwood panel, “Lady Listening,” was in its original Sanford White raised grille gilt frame and was signed by the artist, Thomas Wilbur Dewing (American, 1851‱938), TW Dewing, lower left. A Jeckyll gilt chrysanthemum side chair, designed by Thomas Jeckyll (1827‱881), made by Barnard, Bishop & Barnard, Norwich, England, was displayed on a plinth on the right side of the booth.
A large, unglazed pottery figure of a dancer, the head modeled separately, Eastern Han dynasty, AD 25′20, Sichuan Province, stood at the front of the booth of Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York City. “She is an early Marilyn Monroe,” Allan Chait said, explaining that female figures of this period did not usually show any bosom.
“This is our Vermont display,” Arthur Liverant of Nathan Liverant and Son said, pointing out a plaster overmantel wall painting depicting a view of Londonderry from inside the Taylor house, looking through a draped window. It is plaster on wood lath, 52 inches square, and dates circa 1840‱860. “We went to Londonderry, stood on the hill where the house once stood, picked out two of the houses below, walked through the cemetery pictured, and noted the changes on the main road that ran through town. In one case, where there once was a large house, there is now a gas station,” Arthur said.
Below the painting was a Federal decorated chest of drawers, grain painted and attributed to the Matteson School, Shaftsbury, Vt. Of Eastern white pine, it dates circa 1790‱815. Shown at the front of the booth was a rare diminutive Queen Anne mahogany and maple dressing table, scrolled apron, cabriole legs, of Rhode Island origin and dating circa 1765‱799. Early sales included a pair of Peck portraits, two tall case clocks, one by Aaron Willard, Boston, and the other by Stephen Hasham, Charlestown, N.H., lots of smalls and a fine set of six New England Windsor armchairs, circa 1780‱805.
Across the aisle, Elliott and Grace Snyder, South Egremont, Mass., sold a Seventeenth Century needlework casket decorated with scenes from the Book of Esther, English, circa 1660, measuring 10¼ inches high, 9 inches deep, and 13½ inches wide. A beadwork dressing box also sold, as did three pieces of lighting: a brass and iron lighting stand, circa 1795‱820, 60 inches high; a double-arm lighting stand, circa 1760‱785; and a lighting standard, probably Dutch, circa 1680. Two highboys stood against the back wall, the left one a Queen Anne veneered example in burl walnut, Boston, circa 1720‱750, in maple and pine. To the right, a William and Mary highboy, New England, Boston area, circa 1720, in maple, maple burl and walnut veneer.
One set of shelves in the booth of Aronson of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, was devoted to a display of a dozen pairs of Delft cows, some with maidens milking, all dating circa 1760. A garniture of five blue and white vases, three with covers was marked for Pieter Kam of “3 Astonnekes,” Delft, circa 1700.
To the left of the main entrance, at the head of the show, C.L. Prickett of Yardley, Penn., offered a fine display of American antique furniture, including a Newport, R.I., chest on chest, circa 1760‱780, 7 feet 5 inches tall and from the Townsend-Goddard School. It was of figured mahogany with fluted ball and flame finials. An eagle inlaid card table, mahogany, swelled front with half-serpentine sides, was of Massachusetts origin, probably Boston, and dated circa 1790‱810. At the front of the booth was a Queen Anne walnut corner chair with solid splats, block and turned stretchers, cabriole legs, again from Boston and dating circa 1760.
Elle Shushan of Philadelphia sold a Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin miniature of Ferdinand of Orleans, the Duke of Chartres at age 5; Rupert Wace Ancient Art Ltd, London, sold a rare and early Greek geometric bronze horse dating from the Eighth Century BC; Les Enluminures, Chicago & Paris, reported the sales of 12 Renaissance posy rings and a rare illuminated manuscript made for a Dominican foundation in Bologna and attributed to the Master of 1446, an anonymous Bolognese illuminator.
Thomas Colville, Guilford, Conn., sold seven paintings during the early part of the show, while Alexander Gallery, New York City, reported nine sales.
Twentieth Century works of art that sold included a series of three untitled standing mobiles by Alexander Calder from Jonathan Boos, New York City, the trio going to a single collector on opening night, and Moderne Gallery, Philadelphia, sold a pair of Wharton Esherick wagon wheel chairs, a plate by Peter Voulkos and two vases by Picasso during the early part of the week.
As if the 75 dealers from around the world were not enough, the show was loaded with extras, including Young Collectors Night, a loan exhibition lecture series and expert eye lectures with book signings, a schedule that provided something for every day the show is open.
This year the show opened at 5 pm with the Philanthropists Reception, $2,500 per person, followed by the Benefactors Reception at 5:30 pm, $1,000 per person, and finally by the Collectors Reception at 6 pm, $500 per person. And the party is over, for everyone, at 9 pm.
And in the well-known and important words of Arie Kopelman, “It is important to point out that we are the only major show in New York where all profits from the event go directly to the charity [East Side House Settlement].” Well said.
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