A Gaggle of Interests – Oct 25, 2009

Norman Rocwell's Four Freedoms
Norman Rocwell's Four Freedoms

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. PosterConnection Inc., Nov 7, 2009. Lot 313, Complete Set of 4 Freedoms Rockwell Posters

On January 16, 1941 Franklin Delano Roosevelt give the Four Freedoms speech given before Congress.

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

Knowing he was too old to serve in the military, Rockwell sought to do something to help his country during World War II. He labored on these paintings for 6 months in 1942 and lost 15 pounds and many nights sleep. When he was finished, he had created some of the greatest masterpieces of his entire career.

Roosevelt wrote, “I think you have done a superb job in bringing home to the plain, everyday citizen the plain, everyday truths behind the Four Freedoms… I congratulate you not alone on the execution but also for the spirit which impelled you to make this contribution to the common cause of a freer, happier world.”

After seeking unsuccessfully to find a United States government wartime agency to sponsor these works, he turned to his old friends, The Saturday Evening Post and Curtis Publishing. Seeing the huge success of The Post articles, the United States government changed its mind about Rockwell’s creations. Soon afterward, the Office of War Information later issued the series as posters as an incentive for War bond purchasers.

This lot was issued by U.S. Government Printing Office, not the original Curtis Publishing. Unlike some of the earlier posters, the offset lithograph enables mass production economically. How many of the 1943 prints survived today, no only knows exactly. But they are still inspiring as they were more than six decades ago.

A polaroid photo on eBay (item number 110449349836)
A polaroid photo on eBay (item number 110449349836)

The description incorporates text from the website “Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms Series“.

2. Polaroid Photo Girl Model A Ford 1962 Chevrolet Car 356, eBay. Item number 110449349836

The tagging of a Polaroid photo of Sally Schwartz of Randolph Street Markets in Chicago on Facebook gave me the idea to visit ebay and enter the search terms Polaroid Photo. Almost immediately I came across some impressive images, among them item number 110449349836, a photo of an old car (sorry, I’m not good enough with cars to even guess the model and make) parked in a gas station lot along a highway. A middle-aged man holds a small child for this fleeting moment of Americana. I think some great collections of these photos from the not-too-distant past are being assembled now.

3. PosterConnection Inc., Nov 7, 2009. Lot 119 , Original 1910s German Carnival Poster Hexen-Sabbat

From Swann Galleries, which sold a similar one in 2007 for $1800.

German Carnival Poster Hexen-Sabbat by Richard Knecht
German Carnival Poster Hexen-Sabbat by Richard Knecht

Knecht studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Art and his paintings were first shown at the Secession exhibition in 1914. The Hexen-Sabbat was a yearly ball held by Munich artists and bohemians. The event took its pagan name from the old German tale of the “Hexentanz auf dem Brocken,” in which on every Sabbath witches would dance around the devil who lived at the summit of a mountain. For this image Knecht playfully illustrates a ring of costumed revelers atop a peak, dancing around an apparition of the devil. Green wisps of sulfur and brimstone are rising, like the stamen from some hedonistic flower.

I was immediately attracted by the fluidity of the image, a powerful combination of the reminiscence of Art Nouveau with the prescience of roaring 20’s.  This one has a lower estimate compared to the one sold at Swann, but condition matters as for all artworks. According to the auction house, it was given a B+ because the poster “was folded, small tears, tape stains and minor staining at the edges, left edge reinforced with brown paper tape on the back, PS and browning from tape at the right edge.”

4. Showplace Antique + Design Center, Nov 1, 2009.Lot 369, Vintage Paramount Photo Betty Grable 1930s

That odd holiday known as Halloween is quickly approaching and we’re likely to celebrate it more than ever. The Showplace Antique + Design Center in New York is offering this vintage photo of Betty Grable reading a Halloween story at auction November 1. This is a Paramount Studio photo, gelatin silver print with mat, ca. 1935-1940. Bidding starts at $200 and its value is estimated at $300-$400. She sure is a contrast to that woman on the broom. I had not heard of the Showplace Antique + Design Center. Perhaps I have a new place in New York to haunt.

Vintage Paramount Photo Betty Grable, Perfect for Halloween
Vintage Paramount Photo Betty Grable, Perfect for Halloween

5. Cincinnati Art Galleries, Nov 7 2009. Lot 129, Newcomb high glaze floral, Littlejohn

Newcomb floral vase by LittleJohn
Newcomb floral vase by LittleJohn

Newcomb pottery vases are popular in both antiques shows and auction houses. It is probably slightly too late to beat the market trend when a new world record was just set for Newcomb this summer at Neal Auction, but as the sale title says buyers may be more willing to spend in holiday seasons. I have seen enough moon light oak trees with Spanish moss motif in Newcomb vases, as demonstrated in lot 133, this one is a cleaner representation of  Art Nouveau and bear a strong arts and crafts spirit.

According to Suzanne Ormond and Mary Irvine’s book “Lousiana’s Art Nouveau”:

There were eight young women receiving a Diploma in Art in 1906, among them were Sadie Irvine and Cynthia Littlejohn, who remained friends and neighbors throughout their lives. Miss Littlejoin was enrolled in graduate art in 1906-07, as art craftsman in 1909-10, in special art in 1910-11. She received a traveling scholarship for the year 1908-09 and studied at Columbia University during the summer of 191o. Exhibition include the Newcomb Art Alumnae Association show of December, 1910, where she exhibited tooled leather and leaded glass objects. She died July 1, 1959.

6. John McInnis Auctioneers, Nov 7, 2009. Lot 87, Carducius Plantagenet Ream, Raspberries in a glass bowl.

arducius Plantagenet Ream, Raspberries in a glass bowl
Carducius Plantagenet Ream, Raspberries in a glass bowl

In Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, I spotted a Ream’s still life in a natural setting, a Ruskinian gem. This one, a table top study, is more likely to be well received in Victorian dining rooms.  Still life painters of the mid-19th century could seldom escape the Harnett’s influence of the photographic deceptiveness. The precision of the brushstrokes and the crispness of the glass and silverware emphasized the trompe l’oeil effect. By darkening the table and rendering staged light, Ream created a balanced drama with illusionistic charm.

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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