Date: Mon 01-Feb-1999

Date: Mon 01-Feb-1999

Publication: Ant

Author: LAURAB

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(with cuts)

By Laura Beach

NEW YORK CITY -- Perhaps it had to do with this year's loan show, a chocolate

box of artifacts from the varied collections of the New York State Historical

Association. Or maybe it's just the current zeitgeist. Whatever the reason,

the Winter Antiques Show unfolded as a historical tableaux of greater than

usual depth and complexity at the Seventh Regiment Armory from January 14 to


With 72 exhibitors from Europe and the United States offering paintings and

objects spanning hundreds of years and many societies, the Winter Antiques

Show can at times seem a glorious confusion of objects. Randomly presented,

they illustrate current taste and universal principles of design, but can

leave viewers wondering where antiquarianism has wandered off to.

This year, the heft was put back into history. For those who wished to learn,

the Winter Antiques Show was a place to study up. The loan show set the tone,

of course, but there were meaty presentations all over the floor. Groups of

like kind provided lessons on connoisseurship and assemblages documented

passages in national lore.

"This year's exhibit is beyond amazing. It is symbolic of the show," said

Winter Antiques Show chairman Arie Kopelman. American to the core, the NYSHA

exhibit celebrated the centennial of a major but under-recognized institution.

Joined in the display were blue-chip paintings and folk art gathered over the

last century, and American Indian art assembled and given to NYSHA by

Manhattan art dealer Eugene Thaw and his wife, Clare.

There was a time when WAS loan shows were underfunded and poorly organized. No

more. This year as last, the display was underwritten by the Chubb Group of

Insurance Companies and conceived by Stephen Saitas, the talented New York

designer who drew up plans for the American Indian Wing at the Fenimore Art

Museum at NYSHA in Cooperstown, N.Y. The responsibility for choosing objects

and preparing a catalogue for "A Centennial Celebration: Collections From The

New York State Historical Association" fell to Winter Antiques Show director

Catherine Sweeney Singer and NYSHA curator Paul D'Ambrosio.

"My understanding is that we were one of a number of institutions that sent a

proposal to Catherine," D'Ambrosio recalled. He said NYSHA was selected in

part because of its great strength in American painting, folk art and Indian

art, areas that show organizers consider important.

"I envisioned a wall of masks, which is exactly what we created," said Singer,

who visited the Cooperstown museum four times to select the works of art. In

the end, Saitas created a pavilion inspired by NYSHA's American Indian Wing,

which opened in 1995. Native American masks, mounted in a central case, were

the first things visitors saw as they came through the doors of the Armory's

great drill hall. Inside the pavilion were paintings, sculpture and folk art.

"Every piece was a masterpiece. We brought nothing remotely second tier,"

D'Ambrosio said.

The pageant continued in the booth of Peter Tillou, who returned to the Winter

Antiques Show after more than a decade's absence. The high-profile Litchfield

County, Conn., dealer, who recently opened a New York showplace, made a grand

entrance. He raised the ceiling of his salon-style stand in order to present

three oversized history paintings.

Most monumental was Alfred Jacob Miller's sweeping 1841 canvas, "The Crows

Attempting To Provoke An Attack From The Whites On The Big Horn River, East of

The Rocky Mountains." At $8.5 million, the western masterwork was the most

costly item in this year's fair. A smaller Miller, the circa 1852 "Sioux

Camp," was $650,000 at Gerald Peters Gallery of New York.

With Kopelman and Singer at its helm, the Winter Antiques Show has reached

deep into the ancient past and culled the best of proto-modern design to make

this favorite of New York fairs more adventurous and eclectic than it once

was. Native American art has grown in prestige, as, one by one, Joshua Baer,

W.E. Channing & Co., Donald Ellis, Morning Star Gallery and Throckmorton Fine

Art have been brought into the fold.

The West that is honored in displays of outstandingly beautiful Indian

artifacts was given historical dimension by William Guthman, the show's only

dealer in military Americana. This year, the Westport, Conn., dealer devoted a

wall to documents and artifacts, some grisly in their detail, outlining

actions of the 10th US Cavalry against hostile tribes. A map drawn on wax

linen by Captain Henry E. Alvord for General Philip H. Sheridan in 1869 is, in

Guthman's words, "one of the most important documents of the Indian War


The history of volunteer firefighters, who advanced themselves politically and

socially while serving the public good, was energetically retold at America

Hurrah. Joel and Kate Kopp arrayed colorfully painted 1840s parade hats from

the Northern Liberty Fire Company, $20,000, and the Franklin Fire Company,

Philadelphia, $18,500, along with a painted panel from a fire engine, $55,000.

Portraits on canvas included "Chief Engineer, Hoboken, N.J.," $75,000, and

"Young Fireman," $12,500.

A luxury of riches awaited lovers of Pennsylvania vernacular art at Olde Hope

Antiques. The New Hope, Penn., dealers showed painted blanket chests. The

Pennsylvania German status symbols dated from 1776 to 1820, and were made in

the counties of Dauphin, Northampton, Berks, Lehigh, Lancaster, Centre and

Bucks. Prices ranged up to $165,000.

Hyland Granby Antiques of Hyannis Port, Mass., consummated the sale of one of

only two known scrimshaw teeth carved aboard Charles Darwin's HMS Beagle .

Just prior to preview, Alan Granby said the $65,000 tooth was certain to sell,

but he couldn't predict to whom. Several interested parties braved opening day

snow, hoping to be the first in line.

Across many collecting categories, quality is the key note of the Winter

Antiques Show. Pristine objects turned up at Fred and Kathryn Giampietro. The

New Haven, Conn., dealers sold a uniquely expressive cigar store Indian

attributed to Julius Melchers of Detroit, circa 1870, for $85,000.

Best of kind at Suzanne Courcier and Robert Wilkins was an exuberantly painted

Vermont tall clock of circa 1820. "Both Hoadley and Whiting were peddling

faces and movements," Robert Wilkins said of the clock with face and works by

Winchester, Conn., maker Riley Whiting. Related to Matteson chests, the case

was clearly from Vermont. Anchorman Forest Sawyer was spied in conversation

with the Austerlitz, N.Y., dealers not long after a rare pair of circa 1820

Watervliet Shaker cupboards in red paint sold on opening night.

Courcier & Wilkins, which also sold Grenfell mats, was across the aisle from

needle arts experts Stephen and Carol Huber. The Old Saybrook, Conn., dealers

represented the breadth of English and American embroidery tradition but were

particularly flush in Eighteenth Century examples. Highlights included a

canvaswork picture attributed to Polly Burns of Medford, Mass., circa 1768,

$175,000, and a rare Philadelphia sconce dated 1748, $75,000.

American furniture is an area of significant depth at the Winter Antiques

Show. After exhibiting for two consecutive years at the International Fine Art

and Antique Dealers Show, Carswell Rush Berlin added the Winter Show to his

schedule. The Upper West Side dealer in Federal and Classical design said he

found the vetting process for American furniture vigorous but collegial, more

so than at any other fair. His rarest item was a paint decorated New York

recamier. "It relates closely to one that is an icon in the collection of the

Brooklyn Museum of Art." Robin's egg blue with gilt mounts, the recamier was


Lauded by The New York Times for "the beauty of the pieces and the clarity of

the installation," Marguerite Riordan of Stonington, Conn., upheld her

well-earned reputation for Connecticut Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture.

Her centerpiece was a New London County high chest of drawers of circa

1750-60, which sold in the neighborhood of $225,000. From a private

collection, the perfectly proportioned casepiece with dentil molding, reeded

pilasters and shell-carved drawers was included in a landmark exhibition of

Connecticut furniture at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1967.

Newport was in the news this January, what with Sotheby's selling a

Christopher Townsend desk and bookcase for $8.2 million and Christie's

countering with a $1.2 million block and shell carved chest. Washington, D.C.,

dealer Guy Bush made news of his own with a Goddard-Townsend dressing table of

circa 1760. The shell-carved piece on cabriole legs ended in pad feet.

Wayne Pratt built his own casepiece-laden display around a Queen Anne walnut

bonnet-top high chest of drawers attributed to noted Charlestown, Mass.,

cabinetmakers Benjamin Frothingham. The circa 1760 masterwork was $422,500.

Leigh Keno's small but perfect presentation balanced the furniture making

traditions of Boston, New York and Philadelphia from the Queen Anne through

the Federal period. "It's been a wonderful show for us," reported Keno, who

sold a New York sideboard, $145,000; a girandole mirror, $135,000; two

turret-top Boston card tables, $425,000 and $65,000; a gateleg table,

$115,000; and a painted fireboard, $45,800.

This year, the English furniture district pointed north from the center of the

floor, where Devenish & Company set up its spacious stand, to Georgian Manor

Antiques and Kentshire Galleries. Against the left wall with a George III

mahogany secretary bookcase was Alfred Bullard. At the back were Philip

Colleck, with a George III child's bed labeled by Morgan and Sanders, and Gary

E. Young, with a Dutch miniature bombe-front bureau bookcase, circa 1770.

Arts and Crafts furniture and decorations, both American and English, have

become a Winter Antiques Show staple in the few years since they were

introduced. This year, Cathers and Dembrosky were particularly well received.

The New York dealers sold their three rarest items: a Greene and Greene walnut

desk, commissioned for Charles Greene, circa 1903; and two light fixtures, one

by Dard Hunter, from the Roycroft Inn dining room, circa 1906; the other,

circa 1907, from the Greene and Greene-designed Blacker House in Pasadena.

The growing sophistication of New York audiences and the eclecticism of their

tastes are underscored by several cross-cultural displays. Chief among them is

Matz & Pribell, a Cambridge, Mass., dealer offering Asian goods made for the

Portuguese, Dutch, English and American markets. The artistic confluence was

best exemplified by Rembrandt Peale's "Portrait of Rajah Rammohun Roy," 1833,

the most significant work by an American artist of an Indian subject.

From its beginnings as a decorative arts showcase, the Winter Antiques Show

has evolved as a critical venue for painting and sculpture. In addition to

American paintings dealers such as Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Gerald Peters

Gallery, Schwarz Gallery and Thomas Colville Fine Art, there are now some top

European vendors, among them Richard Green and Peter Nahum.

Also of London is the Fine Art Society, a leading source of late Nineteenth

and early Twentieth Century British art and design. The Fine Art Society's

engrossing display mingled a William DeMorgan luster charger, $20,000, with a

series of large and evocative Tissot oil sketches, $1.1 million. The studies

were made for "The Prodigal Son In Modern Dress," "The Departure" and "The

Return," canvases exhibited at The Dudley Gallery in 1882.

A perennial favorite among silver dealers, James Robinson offered a crowd

pleasing selection of sterling toys for children. Jonathan Trace inaugurated

handsome new bottle-green cases, using one to his advantage to display a large

and rare Tudor candlestick of circa 1550, $42,000.

The multi-generational Ralph M. Chait Galleries has been in business long

enough to have developed one of the most illustrious clienteles in the field

of Chinese art. To this year's Winter Antiques Show, the specialists brought a

Kang Xi famille verte vase of impeccable lineage. The porcelain treasure that

had belonged to John D. Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller and noted dealer Otto

Fukashima sold early in the show.

Another Winter Antiques Show veteran, Joan B. Mirviss, has carved out a

distinctive niche for herself as the East Side's only specialist in Japanese

art. For the Winter Show, she concentrates on such antique rarities as an

early Seventeenth Century six-fold screen in the Momoyama style. That leaves

her free to show contemporary pottery and prints at the International Asian

Art Fair in March, where date restrictions are relaxed.

"The Winter Show has never looked better," Mirviss commented opening night.

Partially tented ceilings, carpeted floors and a heightened emphasis on

presentation have certainly improved its appearance.

One standard setter in the display department has always been Hirschl & Adler

Galleries, which ingeniously incorporated antique windows to suggest an

elegant Nineteenth Century interior, complete with bay window and transom

lights. Period lighting accented the New York dealer's unsurpassed collection

of painting, furniture and accessories to great advantage.

Highland Park, Ill., folk art dealers Frank and Barbara Pollock set off

vibrations among a still brilliant shirred rug, $43,000; an outsized painting

on canvas, $32,000, called "Portrait of The River Queen "; and a paint

decorated Amish secretary desk, circa 1870, $140,000.

Bolour, Inc., an antique carpets and tapestries dealer, created a snappy

vignette in the tradition of Doris Leslie Blau. The table set with fruit and

wine against a backdrop of exotically hued Persian rugs and embroideries

called to mind a Dutch still life.

With the economy strong and the stock market at record levels, New Yorkers and

others appeared to have money to spend this year. Sales were excellent across

the board. Canadian dealer Donald Ellis parted with a Sioux war shirt and

leggings, circa 1830, $450,000; a pair of wood and pigment dance masks from

the Koniag tribe, Kodiak Island, Alaska, late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth

Century, $225,000; and a Classic Second Phase Navajo chief's blanket, circa

1850, $185,000.

Documents dealer Kenneth Rendell sold a 1944 letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower

to his wife, Mamie, $250,000. "It is such an impassioned letter, a love note

and an anguished reflection on the soldiers he knows he is sending to certain

death," reported one reader, clearly moved. The New York dealer also sold an

Einstein letter on the formation of Israel, $25,000; and a Marie Antoinette

signed payment order of 1783, $17,500. At Bauman Rare Books, an American

collection of modern verse went for $185,000.

English furniture sales included a George II giltwood console, circa 1740, in

excess of $100,000, at Hyde Park Antiques of New York. Biedermeier dealer Karl

Kemp had success with an inlaid ashwood desk, circa 1825, $32,000; and an Art

Deco wrought iron and crystal chandelier attributed to S. Simonet Fereres,

circa 1920-25.

Paris dealer Philippe Perrin, known for Eighteenth Century French furniture,

sold a pair of sofas and several objets d'art. New to the show, Florian Papp

closed the deal on a Swedish chandelier, $22,000; a Viennese bench, $24,000; a

writing table, $140,000; a credenza, $68,000; and a pair of mirrors, $78,000.

Jewelry sales were robust. On opening night, Kentshire Galleries Ltd. of New

York sold an Art Deco citrine and diamond fan brooch, attributed to La Cloche

Fereres, for $32,500; and an Etruscan-style gold necklace of 1870 for $39,500.

A pair of candlesticks left the stand of English and American silver dealer

S.J. Shrubsole for $50,000. Peter Finer, an English expert in antique arts,

sold a wheel lock gun for $100,000. Carpet sales included a Serapi wedding

presentation piece, $85,000 at Peter Pap, and a Voysey carpet at English Art

Nouveau specialist Geoffrey Diner.

Vigorously reaching out to collectors, designers and high society, East Side

House Settlement increased receipts on opening night and at the Young

Collectors evening on January 21. Preview ticket sales increased by more than

$100,000, while the Young Collectors Evening was up by 33 percent. The later

raised $100,000 at a silent auction.