A Harbinger of Spring
Fine offerings warm the heart at the winter antiques show
The 57th Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory
featured 74 world-renowned experts in American, English, European and Asian fine and decorative arts in a fully vetted show. With literally thousands of items on display, choosing a few to highlight proved a daunting task.
And yet I was drawn to several pieces because they seemed to herald the coming of a much-anticipated spring. As an example, a weathervane of molded copper from Fred Giampietro (153 Bradley St., New Haven, 203-787-3851, fredgiampietro.com) welcomed visitors to the show. Made in 1872 in Franklin, Ohio, the angel atop the vane retains a patina of verdigris with gold leaf. I imagined this seven-foot beauty proudly gracing a church steeple.
A Viennese cabinet on stand in the booth of Hostler Burrows (104 Franklin St., NYC, 212-343-0471, hostlerburrows.com) displayed sprigs of greenery on hand-colored bookplates. The circa-1940 piece is the work of Josef Frank. Kim Hostler described this “very Viennese” cabinet: “[Frank] was inspired by nature. It’s a study in bringing nature into the home, a necessity when living in northern climates.” I loved the lightness of the piece matched with the delicately rendered botanical prints and birch interior.
A fascinating grouping of oil paintings by Lockwood deForest was displayed by David Parker of Associated Artists, LLC (170 Pequot Ave., Southport, 203-255-2281, associatedartists.net, by appointment only). With Frederick Church as his mentor, deForest’s plein air sketches document his travels in Greece, Egypt and in India, where he found master woodcarvers whose work he later imported. In addition to his paintings, deForest provided the homes of America’s elite with intricately carved furniture made by members of the Mistri caste, master builders from Punjab, India. This display included many of deForest’s intimate oil sketches, as well as furniture of his design.
Cora Ginsburg, LLC (19 E. 74th St., NYC, 212-744-1352, coraginsburg.com) exhibited an exuberant textile by famed Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. This pristine velveteen print would have accessorized an Art Nouveau interior of the 1890s, on a pillow or a screen panel. The playful figure typifies the period’s aesthetic, with flowing vegetation and orientalist patterns.
The booth of Robert Young Antiques (London, England, robertyoungantiques.com) was particularly colorful. A hand-painted wall had pieces of wallpaper peeking through layers of blue wash as if to suggest one had just walked into an English cottage. A small-domed cabinet from Wales, circa 1650, hung on the wall; on its surface was a randomly carved pattern of bull’s-eye markings punctuated with hand-wrought butterfly hinges.
Last but not least, I spotted a wonderful bowl hand-carved in the shape of a seal, made in Haida, in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. At only 11 inches, this diminutive sculpture portraying a human figure surmounted by sealskin and head is a triumph in form and function. This extraordinary piece was offered by the Donald Ellis Gallery (Ontario, Canada, donaldellisgallery.com), which is renowned in the field of North American Indian art.
And so I left the Winter Antiques Show unfazed by the January air, my head filled with visions of spring and my heart warmed by beauty.