A Gaggle of Interests – Nov 1, 2009 NYC Marathon Day!

A Sideboard Attributed to Anthony Quervelle
A Sideboard Attributed to Anthony Quervelle

In this series, UAA team will list some of the interesting items that we have found in auctions, antique shops or eBay. Neither do we own the items nor we have the capability of examining the items in person in most cases. It mainly serves as an inventory record of what interests 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. eBay item: A sideboard attributed to Anthony Quervelle, item number: 220460749123

There are sideboards and then there are sideboards. The same is true on ebay where the fruit seems to be ripe for the picking right now. The price on this one at almost $10,000 is probably on the high side given there’s no label tying it to Quervelle. The seller states only that “This magnificent unlabeled sideboard has all the characteristics of an Anthony Gabriel Quervelle masterpiece including the central beveled mirror flanked by full flame mahogany columns, the luxuriously appointed cornucopias, the drop center marble top work surface.” Magnificent, I agree with. Quervelle, maybe or maybe not (See How do we know a Pittsburgh Sideboard when we see one? The seller references the book Philadelphia Empire Furniture where a “very similar” sideboard is found. Indeed it’s true; in fact there appear to be three similar sideboards, none with a Quervelle label, only attributions. I took a look at auction results for attributed Quervelle sideboards which appear to be in the $2500-$7500 range.   Here’s a rather plain looking one, but labeled, for $6500 that went through New Orleans Auction.  There is an example of a Quervelle attributed sideboard, this one with some gilding for more than $10,000, however. This one went through Neal Auction in 2004.  A conclusion: yes, it might be and you could say there’s a good chance it is a Quervelle sideboard, and even if it isn’t there are worse ways to spend $10,000.

An Art-Nouveau Gas Oven
An Art-Nouveau Gas Oven

2. Auction Team Breker, Germany, Nov 21, 2009. Lot 215: Art-Nouveau Gas Oven, c. 1900

In fact, the looking of heaters may play a role in buyer’s decision. “Ugly heaters” was one of the first few comments from Geo when he browsed pictures of houses for sell. This one, a portable heater, cast in iron and tin, looks very attractive to me. I would like to send this pictures to all oil heater and portable AC unit manufacturers. Just because they are small and portable does not mean consumers do not care about their looks. When Geo decided to buy a portable AC unit last year, he chose “the least ugly one”.  This is a century when cost-cutting comes first in consumer product design, it is no wonder that a heater of utilitarian purpose from the beginning of the last century strikes such a nostalgia tone on me.

3.  Swann Galleries, Nov 18, 2009. Lot 43: Alfred Crocker Leighton, Accross Canada by Canadian Pacific poster.

Across Canada by Canadian Pacific, poster by A. C. Leighton offered at Swann
Across Canada by Canadian Pacific, poster by A. C. Leighton offered at Swann

From the auction house catalog:

London-born Leighton began working for the Canadian Pacific before he even left Britain. A painter and an art teacher, he settled in Calgary in 1930. This dramatic nighttime scene captures the twilight hues of the Rockies and emphasizes the strength of the locomotive whose headlamp is cutting through the impending darkness.

In fact, Leighton’s first job at Canadian Pacific was public relations.  Leighton took advantage of the train and often jumped on and off to paint the scenery.  Of all the paintings produced at this period (1024-1027), the Canadian Pacific had first choice of any paintings and then the painter could have the remainder for himself. Around this lithograph was made, Leighton founded the Alberta Society of Artists and served as its first president.

Thus this poster strikes me that the so-called low-art by some people is one of the finest artwork I have seen.  The emerging locomotive is painted in perspective against towing mountains.  Both the train and mountain steepness have been exaggerated to create an impression of fleeting speed as well as dizzying height. It should be noted that Leighton essentially is a painter of Rockies, he was sensitive to noise and speed and preferred grandeur yet quiet landscape. But here in this poster, when he was a young and full-fledged artist, his artistic talent made a commercial advertisement a true work of art.

A Mahogany Corner Chair from Winter Associates
A Mahogany Corner Chair from Winter Associates

4.  Winter Associates, Nov 9, 2009. Lot 64: Late 19th C. mahogany corner chair

If you have read Geo’s previous post about the tip of antiques shopping (see “Turn Left, What’s Hot and More on Buying Antiques“), you will know one of the tips is to buy single chairs as they are more affordable. In fact, most houses probably don’t have room for two corner chairs, thus this one, with elegant pierced back rest can be both useful and decorative.  (Of course, I need more, since I imagine my cats will fight for a chair which provides an extra side to embrace their bodies.) Chairs of Aesthetics Movement from the Victorian time are less curvy and feminine compared to those of other styles, and the oriental motifs within them are no stranger to someone who grew up in Asia. The next question is: Do I have such an corner?

Railroad Suspension Bridge OVER Niagara Falls (even though it is actually half mile away)
Railroad Suspension Bridge OVER Niagara Falls (even though it is actually half mile away)

5. Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Nov 8, 2009.  Lot 937: Currier & Ives Lithograph, Rail Bridge Niagara Falls

It is interesting to read at the bottom of this Currier & Ives lithograph, the inscription says “The Railroad Suspension Bridge, Near Niagara Falls; Length of Bridge 822 Feet, Height Above Water 240 Feet’, 1856.”

From the Wikipedia:

The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge was the world’s first working railway suspension bridge. It spanned 825 feet (251 m) and stood 2.5 miles (4.0 km) downstream of Niagara Falls from 1855 to 1897. Connecting Niagara Falls, Ontario to Niagara Falls, New York (the two cities assimilated the towns at the ends of the bridge by 1892), the bridge carried mixed traffic on its two decks across the Niagara River; trains crossed over the river by way of the bridge’s upper deck while pedestrians and carriages used the lower. As the bridge was the result of a collaboration of two companies from two countries, it was also known by its American name, the International Suspension Bridge.

What really interests me in this print is how small the actual falls are depicted. In fact, the cataract is visible only under the bridge. This is a print not about the natural wonder as what Frederich Edwin Church painted in his magnificent canvas, what Charles Parson (the artist who painted the picture and was featured on his print) painted is a symbol of technology, progress and patriotism in the national consciousness.  If Church, by minimizing evidence of human habitation to minimum, still promoted the notion that God is the nature, then the stately structure in the print attracted onlookers at the lower left corners who marveled instead at a new utilitarian moment.

Read more from the book “The New Niagara: Tourism, Technology, and the Landscape of Niagara Falls, 1776-1917” about the bridge.

Celebreate New York Marathon
Celebreate New York Marathon

6. eBay, New York City Marathon Running Poster, item number: 310139071734

As I am typing this words now, 40,000 runners are pounding the roads of five boroughs of New York City. (Most by this time will be in Brooklyn.) Nothing is more rewarding than just simply saying “great job” to whoever finishes it, but a souvenir poster will not disappoint a participant. The view from Verrazano Bridge is stunning, as every NYC marathon runner will tell you. And their memory of the bridge is usually sweet because that is in mile 1 and their body is fresh and full of energy. Or if you know who is pondering of running the next year’s marathon, this can be really motivational.

OK, now I am heading to cheer on the runners.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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