Shows are where collectors meet. New York 20th-century silver collector Margot Grant Walsh talks with Philadelphia silver collector Robert Taylor in the booth of Massachusetts dealer Spencer Marks.
The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center stand offered a variety of material from ten dealers. In the case to the right is a large baluster-shaped tankard by New York silversmith Ephraim Brasher that was priced at $48,000 from Robert Lloyd, who also offered a collection of cowrie shell boxes (not shown), priced from $1500 to $8000. The highest price was for an English or Irish one with an elaborate rococo mount.
Photographer and American furniture collector Nathan Benn is shown with his color photograph of Beale Street in Memphis taken in 1983 when Benn was on assignment for the NationalGeographic Society. It is face-mounted, which makes the colors punchy. Nicholas Grindley of New York City asked $4600 for it.
Jon Eric Riis of Atlanta, Georgia, asked $22,500 for this tapestry coat that he made in 2010. It measures 40" x 20".
Richard Schillay of Schillay Fine Art, New York City, sold Little Italy, 1989, by Red Grooms. It was signed and numbered on the base and is 25½" x 35½" x 15".
Michael Pashby, a London dealer with a presence in New York City, offered a selection of miniature furniture and sold some of it. On Friday he still had a yew Windsor for $3500 and a full-size cottage chair for $4800. The larger of the stools sold, and the smaller one was $850. The George III armchair was $1800.
Douglas Dawson Gallery, Chicago, asked $10,500 for this felted wool textile made in Mongolia for the Japanese market and used in tea ceremonies. The wood and metal chairs from the Malinke culture in Mali and Senegal show a Portuguese influence. They were $7500.
Carlton Hobbs of New York City asked $145,000 for the pair of northern Italian pear wood and ebony cartographic tables, circa 1735, used in the center of a library to display maps. On the table to the left is the writing box of Warren Hastings, Anglo-Indian, ebony and ivory, inlaid with the arms of Warren Hastings. On the other map table is one of a pair of Mexican coffers, finished on all four sides, made in Villa Alta, Oaxaca, in the second half of the 17th century. It was $125,000. On the wall are 12 relief-carved anti-papal profiles, made after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which revoked rights for Protestants in France. The design source was a group of Huguenot engravings. Together they were $54,000. The Chinese chair in the center is one of a pair of elm chairs with meander pattern arms that was $22,000 for the pair. The table in the center is from Sri Lanka, made of solid ebony with an amboyna wood top, and was $98,000. The painting by Herman Mijnerts Doncker (Dutch, c. 1620-1652), Boy and His Horse, circa 1646, was $185,000.
New York City
“I would love to buy these two things,” were the first words overheard at a booth on opening night at the Spring Show NYC held at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, May 1-5, during one of the most glorious weeks of springtime weather. The show melded old master paintings, Art Deco and contemporary jewelry, American flags and furniture, pre-Columbian spirit figures, Chinese tapestries, Tiffany lamps, antique and 20th-century silver, and ancient art with works by Helen Frankenthaler, Marc Chagall, Roy Lichtenstein, Red Grooms, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso.
Hanging quietly at Gladwell & Patterson’s booth were Monet’s La Seine a Bougival and Picasso’s Guitare Accrochée au Mur. Both oils on canvas, they had price tags of $8.95 million and $8.5 million. Alas, these were not the “two things” that were bought.
The two items that sold as the gates opened were a Chinese carnelian necklace from the 1930’s and a pair of Georgian earrings from the 1800’s. The buyer appeared to be a returning customer of Sue Brown, a London dealer of “rare and quirky items of antique jewellery.”
However, there were many sales at the show, organized by the Art and Antique Dealers League of America. The opening night preview, a benefit for ASPCA, included sales of three old master paintings for Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, and a Federal sofa and an oil painting of dogs for Jeffrey Tillou Antiques.
Other notable sales included a marble head of Nero for Phoenix Ancient Art and a three-dimensional lithograph by Red Grooms of Little Italy at Schillay Fine Art.
Tillou sold an Ammi Phillips Portrait of a Child in a Pink Painted Dress Seated on a Red Cushion, with a Spaniel, priced at $225,000, to a New York dealer, who realized what an “extremely fair” price it was. The painting had been at the Philadelphia Antiques Show in April but didn’t sell. At the height of the market other Phillips paintings have sold for a million dollars.
“All markets now are in a certain amount of turmoil,” said Clinton Howell, a prominent New York City dealer and president of the Art and Antique Dealers League of America.
“It’s up and down and all around,” he said in a phone interview a couple of weeks after the show. “Some people are doing very good business, and some are not. This business is about working to make things happen. The nature of the market is that it’s cyclical,” he continued, but “it’s not easy at the moment.”
Nevertheless, Howell was pleased with this year’s show, especially because of its broader identity. “It’s a beautiful show, and it’s not being defined yet.” He went on to explain that since the auction houses have dubbed the end of January sales and shows “Americana Week,” many English and European dealers have had more difficulty selling during that time. After exhibiting for nine years, he no longer does the Winter Antiques Show, he said.
There was talk amongst some dealers about the price of exhibiting at the Spring Show, now in its third year. “We’re charged for every extra space,” said one. In addition to renting a booth, dealers must pay for lights, carpet, painting, and catalog advertising. Fifteen dealers from last year’s show did not return, and some of the new ones decided to show just six weeks before, according to one antiques dealer.
Another dealer explained that he has cut the number of shows he does from 40 to 12 a year. “He’s embraced the Internet,” exclaimed a neighboring dealer, “He’s young.”
When asked where the crowds were at noon on Friday, the response was, “Everyone knows people don’t go to shows on Thursdays and Fridays.” The gorgeous weather didn’t help build attendance, either. Regardless, the location of the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side, “where many of our customers live,” should have drawn more crowds, observed one dealer.
However, “sales weren’t bad at all relative to the market,” Howell stated. “Personally, I covered my costs and still have a few things pending.”
Marion Harris said she did very well with the walking sticks she showed. She sold a 59" mannequin, along with a “very interesting” snuffbox and some Scottish jewelry. “On the whole, we were happy.”
Other sales of note included a Georg Jensen water pitcher and ice bucket by Magnus Stephensen sold by Drucker Antiques, Mt. Kisco, New York; a large 18th-century printed map of Africa from Hyde Park Antiques; a Fabergé gold and opaque white enamel cigarette case by the work-master Henrik Wigström, St. Petersburg, 1908-17, sold by John Atzbach of Redmond, Washington; Andy Warhol’s Galapagos Tortoise, from Vanishing Animals, 1986; and Jim Dine’s Heart in a Landscape, 1968, sold by Michael Borghi Fine Art, Tenafly, New Jersey; and Rothschild’s Reprise, an oil on canvas by Guy Combes, as well as other oil paintings, offered by Rehs Galleries, New York City.
Old master paintings were a big thing at the show. One dealer said she’d like to see an old masters fair again, which hasn’t been done for ten or 15 years. “The collectors are here,” she noted, adding, “We could bring contemporary collectors to the ‘real side.’”
“It would help me,” explained Larry Steigrad, “to get good quality old master dealers here. A good core group helps us all.” Steigrad sold several paintings, three on opening night to one New York collector. “He was a brand new collector for me.” The sold paintings were soon replaced with new things. “It’s expensive to have a booth,” he stated, adding, “All of the works shown had been vetted prior to the opening of the show.”
“All I care about is that we offer good things,” said Howell. Looking ahead, he said the Spring Show was held at the right time of year, and he hopes it will return next year at the same time. “If the armory is amenable,” he said, “we’ll be at it again.”
For more information, check the Art and Antique Dealers League of America’s Web site (www.artantiquedealers league.org).
Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest