In this series, Geo and I will list some of the interesting items that we have found in auctions, antique shops or eBay. We neither own the items and in most cases don’t have the capability of examining the items in person. It mainly serves as an inventory record of what interest us (not necessarily in terms of value or investment opportunities) and possibly how much it fetches (if the result can be obtained). If you are serious about some lots, please contact the auction houses, dealers or eBay sellers directly.
1. Leland Little Auction, Sept 19, Lot 169 American Empire Marble Top Dressing Table
My friend David Sokosh said yesterday “Modernism is dead, this stuff is coming back in a big way.” I hope he’s right, but let’s not hope he’s right before we’re able to snatch up a few more bargains like this American Empire Marble Top Dressing Table offered through LeLand Little. Even within the empire furniture, scroll designs like this one seem less sought than the carved pieces, yet this one seems to be an exceptional example. The starting price is only $250—an amount you can “donate” to Ikea or invest in an antique.
Note: It was sold for $800 plus premium.
2. Treadway Gallery, Sept 13, Lot 102 Rookwood plaque, Vellum glaze, Carl Schmidt
Carl Schmidt is one of the best artists at Rookwood. In general plaques are more appreciated for the artistic merit than vases whose faint utilitarian purposes may distract eyes from the vellum landscape. By 1915, tonalism style has been firmly accepted in the nation. Cincinnati has produced many important painters of this school such as Alexander Wyant or John Henry Twachtman although it was actually the Rookwood artists who absorbed the style from the East Coast and innovated the techniques in pottery making. Hardly can any pottery object match the subtlety and richenss of oil paint, but here in tonalism style the goal was to reveal, not to record. By reducing the color and value range, Carl Schmidt achieved an off-focus softness that shroud a scene of greenery. It may be not suitable to display such a delicate work at a prominant place under bright light, yet it is a work of soothing effect, prompting viewers into contemplation and day-dream.
3. Brunk Auction, Sept 12, Lot 323 Fine set six Baltimore fancy chairs
This lot is deaccessioned from MESDA (The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) and attributed to attributed to John Barnhart, Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1805-1825. Therefore it is not surprising that the lot came with some scholarly research findings: John Barnhart is listed in Baltimore city directories between 1799 and 1829 as a house and sign painter, letterer and ornamental painter. A settee in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art couples Barnhart with cabinet maker Thomas Renshaw. The landscape scenes that embellish the tablet backs may have been painted by Cornelius DeBeet or Francis Guy, both of whom painted such scenes on other examples of Baltimore furniture. Painted chairs are more or less precious species and collectors are less inclined to use them in order to avoid any abrasion. But how many times can you find furniture with such pedigree?
4. Bonhams, Sale 16919 – Exploration & Travel, 16 Sep 2009, Lot80 Studio of Lamqua (Chinese, active 1805-1830),Portrait of a hong merchant