Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Auction Highlight Tour: Sotheby's Important Americana

Do you know what week it is? It's Antiques Week! Every year in the very bitterest stretch of winter, all the top shows, auctions, and dealers come together in glitzy New York style to celebrate the very best the world of antiques has to offer. And the offerings are breathtaking. If you're not far from the city- GO! You can preview the auctions, attend the shows, and see things you'll never ever see elsewhere, and maybe even find a treasure of your own!

        Sotheby's upcoming sale is rife with treasures. Thick with treasures. I imagine they can hardly walk for all the treasures stuffed in showroom awaiting Sunday's Sale. Truly, pour yourself a hot cup of tea and enjoy page after page of amazing antiques. You can view the entire catalog of lots online here.  You can thank me later ;-)

        Erik Gronning, Senior Specialist and Head of the American Furniture Department at Sotheby's, was kind enough to spend a little time sharing the absolutely astounding history on several particularly special objects that will be featured in the upcoming auction. I've also picked out a few other lovely pieces that caught my eye. 

We start with Lot 839 a rare and important four gallon stoneware crock. The exuberant lively cobalt blue decoration of standing and seated deer make this a particularly enchanting piece.  
It is stamped J. & E. NORTON / BENNINGTON VT and was made in Vermont around 1855. There are only four known examples that exist with this beautiful motif. 

Lot 832: There are not words to adequately describe the pure brilliance of this pieced and appliqu├ęd quilt. I've been collecting 19th century textiles since I was ten. This is one of the most amazing pieces I've seen in twenty years of collecting. This exceptionally innovative and vibrant piece was completed in 1855 by Martha Hewitt of Michigan. And bless Martha's heart, she knew it was a triumph, as she boldly signed it across the top, clearly proud of her fine work. 

Lot 836 is a set of three watercolor on paper botanical theorems. The center is roses and tulips in a vase, the other two feature various flowers and fruit in stylized baskets. This group of three stunning works may very well be my favorite thing in the sale. They were worked by Huldah Hudson c.1816, as is noted by a later 19th century inscription on the reverse of the center painting. 
Theorems of this style were a popular artistic pursuit for young ladies at any number of the academies that dotted the countrysides of America in the first quarter of the 19th century. In 1816 Ms. Hudson would have been 15, precisely the age a lady might have worked such advanced pieces. The bold colors and strength of form set these apart from many other variations on the style. 

Next is lot 947. I have a special place in my heart for sculptural trade signs. I only have one in my ever growing sign collection - a giant pocket watch form. This fish form trade sign dating to the late 19th or early 20th century takes the cake, though. Made of carved pine and still retaining traces of an early paint surface, 
this piece is charming and cheeky.
It would be the perfect folk art addition to any coastal home! 

Masterpiece is the only acceptable term for this enchanting portrait of a little girl in blue, lot 892. Based on the unique style of the girl's dress- with wide low neckline, balloon puffed sleeves, a waistline hitting just above the natural waist, and bell shaped skirt terminating at the mid shin to reveal long, lacy pantaloons, this portrait can be dated to right around 1830. The young lady is Caroline Smith, daughter of Nathaniel Pierce Smith. Her likeness, with mischievous smirk as she snacks on a bunch of grapes, was captured by folk art painting duo Ruth Whittier Shute (1803-1882), and her husband, Dr. Addison Shute (1803-1836). I must confess, I've often found Shute portraits to be a little anemic and unappealing. This one however, could not be more delightful. It is truly one of, if not the masterpiece of the entire Shute body of work. 

Last but certainly not least is lot 893, the Hoyt-Hitchcock Family Chippendale Carved Cherrywood chest of drawers. With a uniquely scalloped top and reverse ogee feet, this piece has a graceful energy that sets it well apart from a typical chest of the late 18th century. The chest was made c. 1775 likely in the shop of Benjamin Munn (1738-1824) of Deerfield, Massachusetts. The chest is one of three  likely made in the Munn shop, and all commissioned by David Hoyt. This one was a wedding gift for his daughter, Mercy Hoyt on the occasion of her marriage to Justin Hitchcock in 1779. The other two chests of the set still reside in Deerfield, nearly 250 years later. 




1 comment:

  1. I love the pine fish carving and the crock is beautiful, love the deer. I have a large wood trade sign in the shape of a fish hanging in my den. It has a burned in logo from a rod and reel company on the back. It is weathered perfectly from hanging outdoors, never been painted. It is truly my favorite "find" ! I have tried researching it with no luck.