January 26, 2013

The 59th Annual Winter Antiques Show

After the long winter's nap that follows the frenetic holiday season, it's traditionally the Winter Antiques Show that starts the ball rolling again.  This year was no exception as, despite bitter cold temperatures, New Yorkers turned out in droves to celebrate the start of the 2013 art fair season.

Naturally I joined the queue and headed to the Park Avenue Armory the day after the opening gala where ticket prices ranged from $500-$2,500 per person, depending on time of entry.  Not being a serious collector, my Friday afternoon admission was a perfect opportunity to peruse this year's offerings and I daresay the exhibitors had a little more time to humor mere spectators.

Always elegant, the 59th Annual Winter Antiques Show has revamped its décor to present a more uniform look that implied fancy shops with columns and pediments separating the booths.  There was also a noticeable re-shuffling of locations as several traditional exhibitors were replaced with new vendors.

Fortunately some of my old favorites were there and it was with great pleasure that I browsed the stands of Macklowe Gallery, New York with their marvelous combination of magnificent jewelry and beautiful colored glass objects (see right); Elle Shushan, Philadelphia, in yet another fancifully designed booth, this time an artist's atelier, to display her exquisite portrait miniatures;  Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery, New York, showed an impressive collection of historic autographs and manuscripts; and A La Vieille Russie, New York, never fail to present extraordinary jewels and objects from the Fabergé workshops.

Particularly eye catching was John Singer Sargent's "Portrait of Miss Dorothy Vickers", 1885-6, on the stand of Adelson Galleries, New York (see left).  Also a set of eight Federal mahogany dining chairs made in New York circa 1815, each with an eagle as the lower back cross bar, or "splat", at Carswell Rush Berlin Inc., New York.  But the item that I most wanted to own was a Victorian oak humidor that was carved in the form of a beehive with a lid that sprung open to present a dozen Panatella cigars!  Decorated with little brass bees near the entrance of the hive, this object was the perfect combination of whimsy and practicality.  It was part of the choice collection of English antiques presented by Philip Colleck, Ltd., New York.

The Winter Antiques Show has a tradition of presenting a special loan exhibition in the prime booth of the fair.  This year it was The Preservation Society of Newport County who received the honor and their presentation "Newport:  The Glamour of Ornament" was outstanding.  I had visited some of the Newport mansions a few summers ago (see my blog "A Weekend in Newport, RI", August 2007) and thoroughly enjoyed viewing the selection of furniture, exquisite objects, art, dresses and photographs to put it all into perspective.  It made me want to go back and visit again.

I spent a lovely afternoon at the Winter Antiques Show, but it was time to go.  As I stepped into the cold night air I was surprised to see tiny, sparkling snowflakes tumbling from the sky!  The first snowfall of the season was upon us!  What a perfect end to a brilliant day!

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