I'll be traveling down to NYC to review the Winter Antiques Show, but first I'm doing some reviews of the major auctions, from the cozy comfort of my antique velvet sofa. Sotheby's Americana sale is TO DIE FOR. It's so good I had to call my mom so we could gush over the needlework together. You can (and should!) view the entire catalog online here http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2016/important-americana-n09456.html
And here some of the objects that caught my eye!! I've included the catalog description as well as a few of my thoughts on each piece.
A set of six American silver beakers, Samuel Edwards, Boston, dated 1753. Three with sides engraved "The Gift of Deacon Josiah Waterman to the First Church of Christ in Weymouth / 1753," the other three engraved "The Gift of Deacon Thomas White to the First Church of Christ in Weymouth / 1753"
I can't imagine anything as elegant and superbly formed as these mid 18th century beakers. The balance of the gently flared lip and the base is absolutely stunning.
John James Audubon (After)
HOOPING CRANE (PLATE CCLXI)
Hand-colored aquatint, engraving and etching, 1835, by R. Havell,
John James Audubon
1785 - 1851
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (PLATE CCCXI)
Hand-colored aquatint, engraving and etching, 1836, by R. Havell
These two Audubon engravings are being sold separately, but I wanted to show them to you together. I can just imagine them in a coastal home side by side over a sideboard or sofa. I have a special fondness for John James Audubon as I had the privilege to do quite a bit of research on him in my previous position for an antiques firm when we handled an original complete set of his royal octavo edition of Birds of America. He's a fascinating fellow who was both brilliant and devoted to his work.
THE AUGUR-DURYEE QUEEN ANNE HIGH CHEST OF DRAWERS, PROBABLY BY AARON BOOTH, WINDSOR OR EAST WINDSOR, CIRCA 1775
Back of top inscribed in chalk Aaron Booth. Appears to retain its original cast brass hardware and turned and carved finials. Retains a dark early possibly original finish.
When I saw this highboy I moaned out loud, like a weirdo. This is so so beautiful that I'm not sure where to start. It has an incredible provenance, and is signed by the maker (wow!!). It's local to Connecticut, and has all the things that make Connecticut 18th century furniture so unique and special. The form is stunning, the apron delightfully playful, as are the finials,
and the surface is delicious.
RARE SILK EMBROIDERED PICTURE, ELECTA HALE (1783-1840) OF GLASTONBURY, CONNECTICUT, SARAH PIERCE'S LITCHFIELD ACADEMY,
LITCHFIELD, CONNECTICUT, DATED 1798
There is so much breathtaking needlework in this sale, it's hard to stand. I stared at this lovely piece on my laptop screen for a good half an hour. You can zoom in so so close on Sotheby's site (nice job guys!) and examine all the minute detail work that makes this piece a stunner. Look at the ships in the bay, and the sawtooth border that almost looks like cresting waves. The thick chunky chenille work on the bottom of the scene and the delicate floral swag at the top are both classic Connecticut details. The colors are still so bold and strong after more than two hundred years. It's enough to make a gal's knees weak. I bet Ms. Hale would be pleased as punch that her work has held up so nicely, and stands as such a shining example of her excellent skill and vibrant creativity.
RARE MOLDED AND GILDED COPPER MAN WITH A CIGAR RIDING A 'BONESHAKER' BICYCLE, ATTRIBUTED TO V. BALDWIN, NEW YORK, CIRCA 1890
Oh weathervanes, how I love thee. It just makes me happy to know I live in a world where this exists. A form I've never seen, and the attention to detail is incredible. Just look- he's smoking a cigar, while riding an absurd bicycle. What a dandy!! Can't you just imagine this over a mantel, the crowning jewel to a sculptural folk art collection. It's easily one of my favorite vanes ever.
RARE CARVED AND PAINTED PINE LOCOMOTIVE TRADE SIGN,
PROBABLY NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT, CIRCA 1880
If there's one thing I love as much as weathervanes, it's trade signs. This figural pine locomotive sign is the cat's pajamas and the bee's knees. It's everything, EVERYTHING. All the wee small parts, for a trade sign! An excellent example of what makes folk art so very special- a need existed, but it was not just filled with a mundane and serviceable object,
it was conquered in an opus of playful ingenuity.
RARE SILK EMBROIDERED MOURNING PICTURE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON, ANONYMOUS, ATTRIBUTED TO LYDIA ROYCE'S SCHOOL,
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT, CIRCA 1800
And last but certainly not least, this triumph of early 19th century needlework, a memorial to President George Washington. Now at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century these memorials were vogue for young ladies to create at school, to the degree that it spurned a whole fad of mourning art, that lasted well into the 1820s. This one is quite special, however. First the condition is stunning, bright and bold and clean. The female figure wears a wonderful vertically striped gown, with her hair worn in curls about her almost bare shoulders. She's holding a sword, so she may represent Liberty. She faces a man in uniform, and there is a rifle, cast aside in front of the massive step pyramid shaped urn topped memorial. The memorial has an inscription that appears to be written in ink. The sawtooth graduation of green foreground is beautiful,
as is the flawless weeping willow that perfectly frames the scene.