Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top Picks: Garth's Thanksgiving Americana Auction

I follow a lot of auctions throughout the year, but there's one that I look forward to months in advance- Garth's Annual Thanksgiving Americana Sale. Ooooooo I don't know what witchcraft they employ, but by God they always have scores and scores of early american objects that make my knees weak. This year's sale might be the best one ever. I've gone through the catalog twice and picked out all my favorite things. There's lots of pictures because, well, most of the things in the sale are my favorite things. You can view everything in the auction here http://www.garths.com/#!55th-annual-thanksgiving-americana-aucti/cy09

Charming original Saturday Evening Post artwork
by George Hughes (Vermont/New York 1907-1990)
I love the body language of the poor guy in the foreground. 

And oil on canvas seascape by Robert Ryland (1873-1951)
So wonderfully serene and a nice large size. I'd love to see this over a mantel in a coastal cottage. 

 'Portrait of a Lady' by Frank Percy Wild (1861-1950)
She's so lovely. Everything in this piece is lovely and the composition is wonderful. There's something to the tilt of her head- there's a sassiness there. 
Lately us obnoxious antiques dealers
have been referring to these big blocky empire chests as "moose"
It's a disservice, though. They're bold and beautiful, and this Ohio Valley example c.1815-1825 is the king of them all. The big turned feet support a spectacularly ornate inlaid case. The vines that scroll up the sides and across the top are especially delicious. 

There's a lot of vanes out there for which we can only vaguely speculate on age (late 19th or early 20th century?), however this sweet and simple weathervane removes all question of its date of manufacture, 1906! It's almost certainly a homemade effort, which makes it all the more desirable and charming. It would be picture perfect in a farmhouse kitchen. 

 Equal parts humbly rustic and quietly handsome, this mid 19th century hanging plate rack sports an original well worn black paint surface. I love the escutcheon on the single locking drawer, and its nice long and lean dimensions. I'd balance its roughness with a display of immaculate flowery late 19th century plates. 

The color of this antique mid 19th century cupboard is faaaaaaabulous. Such a terrific deep hue worn to a state of absolute perfection. This would be so divine in a bathroom piled with soft white fluffy towels. 

A striking ship portrait of the Steamship Castlebar,
English or Irish School, late 19th or early 20th century.
This thing is practically sticky with deep saturated hues of blue, black, red, and green. The ship is amusingly naive in execution, but the rhythmic sea is spot on. Such a fun folky piece of art. 

At any good antique show each folk art dealer will have at least one dome top box in their booth. Every American household in the second quarter of the 19th century must have had one or several. They come in varying degrees of fabulosity, and this is a top shelf example. The deep bottle green against that hot spicy red, accented by geometric patterns of starbursts and leaves makes it ever so appealing. The construction is poplar and I'm pretty damn sure those are poplar leaves, a cheeky little detail. 

A mid 19th century wood bowl with burnt sienna colored sponge decoration on the exterior. It looks like the base from every 19th century theorem ever, and I didn't think they existed in real life but were rather a whimsical make-believe detail. I love this piece. Picture it as the centerpiece on a modern table; playing all that warmth against something stark-
it would be brilliant. 

Paint decorated Classical chest of drawers, Ohio c.1820-1845.

My top pick for the whole sale. This is the pinnacle of painted furniture- the tip top,
it gets no better in my humble opinion.
First, I love a big Empire chest. Early furniture gurus might squeal, but I'd take a well formed empire chest over a Chippendale one any day. And this chest takes well formed to a whole new level. Look at those whacky block over cylinder feet!! Then there's graceful turned columns terminating in the oversized top drawer, giving the piece an unwieldy top heaviness. The paint surface makes no apologies and takes no prisoners; a mad peacock blue grained in dots and swirls of a darker complimentary shade. Gold carriage striping and a massive black band playing up the scale of the top drawer (because why not?!!) finish the look. This is why I started collecting antiques years ago. The sheer uninhibited exuberance of this piece makes it a triumph of American furniture folk art.

Another excellent early 19th century piece of painted furniture, this one a corner cupboard.
A bright robin's egg blue worn and aged in all the right spots and juxtaposed with a bouncy candy apple red interior. 

Ok, I know I just yelled at you about how much I love that empire chest of drawers and that that was my favorite thing in the sale. Well this is also my favorite thing in the sale. I can have two because it's my blog post and the hell with the rules.
Here we have a late 19th century or early 20th century signboard. It's the epitome of folk art- there was a need, a want that could have been solved by the most utilitarian of objects, but some dear creative soul answered the cry instead with a masterpiece of color and construction. This deep blue is a theme today. I really do love it. It's sponged all over the handsome wood frame, surrounding a vibrant and energetic center lettered panel.
He was a clever craftsman, and he knew it. 

I don't know a great deal about redware but I find myself strangely attracted to it.
This is a Virginia redware pitcher impressed "S. Bell & Sons, Strasburg" (Shenandoah Valley, 1882-1900). Yellow glaze with green.
But I just think it's pretty. nice colors. 

A sweet stack of storage boxes in pale shades of peach, blue, and umber.

A very handsome early 19th century Chippendale lift top blanket chest with particularly fine corner bracket feet.

A delightfully folky rooster form weathervane in early, possibly original white paint.

An absolutely wonderful folk art drawing of a turkey surrounded by red flowering vines.
The inscription at the base reads:
Tom turkey "Finished Feb. 14th 1909 by HW Nuss, at the age of 88 yrs. Born June 29, 1820 in Berks Co."

A funky pumpkin orange mid 19th century mantel.

A beautiful mid 19th century sewing box, heavily and cunningly inlaid

How can you not love 'Champion Coxey'. What a handsome devil!

 A particularly exciting mid 19th century pieced quilt. The work is a bit sloppy but the colors are still strong and the chariot wheels pattern is so cheerful. 
 'Price Tells'. What does that even mean?! Great lettering on this late 19th century sign.
I think everyone should own at least one great sign. Or many. 

Another sweet late 19th century quilt. Wonderful precise construction on this one. 

A terrific 19th century farm table. Superb original warm surface.

A terrifically paint decorated lift top blanket chest dated 1816.

I love the simple restrained sensibility of this pair of dated storage boxes. 

And finally, this surprisingly tender unsigned mid 19th century portrait of a plowman.
He looks tired, but oh so determined. 

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