Friday, January 31, 2014

Antiques Week At Last! The 2014 Winter Antiques Show Opening Party

This past Thursday Boy and I attended the opening party for the Winter Antiques Show ("WAS"), held at New York's Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

A spectacular arrangement of roses
at the entry to the Winter Antiques Show

The WAS opening party is one of the highlights of the New York social season and attracts a large crowd of sleek and moneyed New Yorkers.  This year marked the show's sixtieth anniversary.  It's one of the longest running and most prestigious antiques show in the country, Dear Reader.

Fortunately a full bar was set up right at the entry
so Reggie didn't have to wait for a cocktail!

The WAS opening party is a lot of fun.  One can spend the entire evening boozing and schmoozing, as there are food and drink stations at every turn, and one runs into all sorts of people one knows—or would like to know better.

The crowd entering the show

Every year the WAS hosts a loan exhibition from a noteworthy cultural institution.  This year's show features one from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, also known as "the PEM."  The PEM's exhibition was designed by Mr. Jeff Daly, the former Chief of Design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who now has his own museum and design consulting company.  I was very pleased to meet and speak with Mr. Daly and his partner at the party, both of whom I learned are sometime readers of this blog!

The Peabody Essex Museum loan exhibition at the WAS

The PEM has a number of masterpieces from its collections on display.

The PEM's Derby Dressing Table, ca. 1800-1810

Prominently (and rightly) featured is this dressing table by the cabinet makers John and Thomas Seymour of Boston, made for Mrs. Elizabeth Derby West, the daughter of the immensely rich Mr. Elias Haskell Derby.  Boy and I attended the landmark Seymour exhibition that the PEM mounted ten years ago.  I shall never forget it.  It was spectacular.

The PEM's portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne, ca. 1840
Charles Osgood, artist

Also displayed is this portrait of a young and handsome Nathaniel Hawthorne in the PEM's collection.  I have a postcard of this portrait, bought at the PEM when we toured the Seymour exhibit, that I have slipped into the frame of a mirror hanging above my chest of drawers at Darlington.

Mr. David Patrick Columbia

One of the first people I ran into at the show was Mr. David Patrick Columbia, of New York Social Diary fame.  I am a devoted reader of and sometime contributor to NYSD, and I owe Mr. Columbia a story that I've been working on for him some time now.  We had a pleasant conversation, and the picture he took of us appeared in his next morning's post.  Thank you, sir!

Pork, vegetable, chicken or beef?

The food offered at the Winter Antiques Show this year was delicious and varied.  The dumpling station shown in the preceding photograph was very popular.

I stopped in my tracks when I turned around and noticed this exotic-looking mid-nineteenth-century marble bust of an American Indian.

And I was also quite taken by this full-length statue of a young Indian by the same sculptor, in the same booth.

The Peter Pap Oriental Rugs booth

My next stop was to say hello to Mr. Peter Pap, the San Francisco-based dealer of oriental rugs.  Mr. Pap's mother and mine were great pals when we were both lads, and we share a mutual friend in common today in Mr. Guy "Pickles" Gurquin, the noted San Francisco decorator.

Son and Father Pap

Mr. Pap was joined at the party by his son, Master Jared Pap, whom I enjoyed meeting.  I'm afraid the younger Pap may have thought me one of those "I knew your grandmother . . ." old fogey blowhards, but he seemed pretty game about it.

The Old Print Shop booth

We next peeked into the booth of the Old Print Shop, where we admired an early depiction of Alexander Hamilton . . .

. . . and then made a beeline to the booth of Stephen and Carol Huber, America's preeminent dealers in antique schoolgirl needleworks.

The Stephen & Carol Huber booth

I have a weakness for mourning pictures, Dear Reader.  Actually I need to clarify that: I have a weakness for almost anything made with a mourning theme in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in America or England.  I especially liked the mourning needlework picture on display in the Huber's booth, shown in the following photograph:

Who should I then run into next but Mr. Michael Henry Adams, man about town and bon vivant!

Mr. Michael Henry Adams

Mr. Adams has kindly invited me to spend a day with him taking in the noteworthy historical sites in Harlem, and I look forward to doing so soon.  Taking my leave of him, I briefly paused to admire this pulchritudinous ancient statue . . .

Hello gorgeous!

. . . on my way to the back bar to replenish my flute of champagne.  A number of my Dear Readers may remember another, also pulchritudinous ancient statue, that I featured in my last year's post on the WAS opening party, shot from the—ahem—rear.  It was also from the same dealer, Safani Gallery.

I needed a refreshment of champagne in order to bear the excitement of the prospect of next visiting the booth of Hirschl & Adler, where I found Boy shamelessly flirting with the lovely and fun Ms. Liz Feld.

Mr. Boy Fenwick and Ms. Liz Feld

And why not?  Ms. Feld is divine, and we like her and her family immensely.  The Felds have the most mouthwatering goods on display in the Hirschl & Adler booth at the WAS, including this spectacular desk attributed to Duncan Phyfe, shown in the following photograph.

The Hirschl & Adler Duncan Phyfe desk
with a George Washington gilt bronze clock

They also had—not one, but two—George Washington clocks on display.  It almost made me faint!

Another gilt bronze George Washington clock!

I immediately needed another glass of champagne in order to collect myself.  Fortunately there was a bar set up close at hand for just such an emergency.

Boy at the Bar

Our next stop was the booth of Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, of Litchfield, Connecticut.  We have been customers of Mr. Tillou, both at the WAS and his Litchfield shop, ever since we bought Darlington.

I was quite taken by this large, early-nineteenth-century still life painting in the Tillou booth.

"Let me tell you about where I found this painting . . . "

Boy briefly considered this small landscape.

I suspect that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth

And we both liked this Ammi Phillips portrait in the Tillou booth of a rather haughty young gentleman.  I thought it one of the better portraits by the artist that I've seen in recent years.  It was already—not surprisingly—sold.

Leaving the Tillou booth we stopped and chatted with Ms. Mary Dohne, seen on the right of the preceding photograph.  Ms. Dohne works at Liz O'Brien, a dealer in exquisite, sophisticated, bench-made mid-century furniture of the Maison Jansen/Samuel Marx/Francis Elkins school(s).  Ms. Dohne is really rather jolly.  I loved the outfit she was wearing at the party.

Ms. Liz O'Brien

We then made our way to the Liz O'Brien booth, where we stopped and chatted with the charming and gracious Ms. O'Brien.  I've admired Ms. O'Brien's eye for many years, starting from when she first had a shop in SoHo.  Ms. O'Brien is shown in the preceding photograph standing next to a commode made by Maison Jansen for the Duchess of Windsor.  It was exquisite.  I am tickled pink that Ms. O'Brien and I are now Facebook friends.

I'll have one of everything, please!

Taking a break from the visual overload, I fortified myself with several helpings of tasty Peking Duck rolls at the nearby food station.

Mr. Will Motley with the Dyckman punch bowl

I next stopped into the booth of Cohen and Cohen of Reigate, England, to admire their magnificent offerings of (positively) ducal Chinese export porcelain.  Mr. Will Motley was kind enough to show me the heart-stopping punch bowl Cohen and Cohen had on display that was (thought to be) commissioned by States Morris Dyckman (1755-1806), ca. 1805, for his house, Boscobel, in the Hudson River Valley.

Unlike the rather foul-humored dealer at the Ceramics Fair who wouldn't give Reggie the time of day, Mr. Motley was more than pleased to let me examine a truly superb Chinese export punch bowl, ca. 1800, decorated with Masonic emblems.  It was large enough to bathe an infant!

The Cove Landing booth

Our next stop was to visit the extremely popular Cove Landing booth.  I did a post about attending an exhibition sale at Cove Landing this past fall.  We've become rather addicted to Cove Landings' exquisite offerings, Dear Reader.

Across the aisle from Cove Landing, I was entranced by this impressive suite of watercolors of the stages of operations of a silk factory in China, from the early nineteenth century.

The Moderne Gallery booth

Not everything at the WAS dates from pre-1900.  The dealer's booth shown in the preceding photograph was positively brimming with the wildly collectible, wildly expensive mid-century furniture made by the Japanese-American cabinetmaker and architect George Nakashima (1905-1990).

Betty Grable, eat your heart out!

Not all the "nudies" at the WAS were from the Ancient era, Dear Reader.  I was quite taken by this early-nineteenth-century pinup in all her unclothed glory.

Which inspired Reggie with yet more of an appetite for the party's tasty finger food.

The Carlton Hobbs booth

I always make sure to stop at the Carlton Hobbs booth at the WAS.  He has magnificent things to ogle, including this show's truly fantastical pair of enormous Adam-style mirrors (although I suspect the English Mr. Hobbs prefers to call them "looking glasses").

"What are you looking at?"

Yet more food was to be had.

I believe the toothy fellow in the yellow tie was on a reality show

And yet another photograph of another beautiful booth at the show.

"Be it ever so humble . . . "

I thought the grisaille wallpaper at Kentshire Galleries, seen in the preceding photograph, was beyond sublime.

Another photograph snapped of yet more benefitters milling about the drinks station at the center of the Armory.

And another!

Is that Miss Miller Gaffney I see in the Maison Gerard booth?

The Maison Gerard booth was very chic, I thought.

The Carswell Rush Berlin booth

And the Carswell Rush Berlin booth of American Classical furniture was definitely worth a gander!

I wanted everything!

I particularly liked the bookcase along the wall.  I wish I had a place for it at Darlington House.

Elle Shushan's booth

Our final stop at the show was the always-marvelous booth of Elle Shushan, the best American dealer in fine antique miniature portraits.

Every year she and her friend, the designer Ralph Harvard, come up with a different inspiration for her booth's design.  I think this year it may have been the Egyptian-revival architecture of Henry Austin (1804-1891), but I could be mistaken.

With dinner plans beckoning us at the nearby L'Absinthe Brasserie, and the delightful company of Ms. Maureen Footer and Ms. Emily Evans Eerdmans to look forward to, Boy and I then retrieved our coats and made our way out the main door of the Armory and into the chilly January night.  And just like that, we were gone!

Next: Reggie goes shopping for Duncan Phyfe games tables at Sotheby's and Christie's

All photographs by Reggie Darling


  1. Hello Reggie, This is one of your best show reports ever. A personal favorite is the still life with fruit. I also would have found a way to make room for that bookcase--or almost anything else in that blue room.

    Happy Chinese New Year, Jim

    1. Hello Parnassas, I am glad you liked this post. Thank you! The bookcase in Carswell Rush Berlin's booth was priced at $150,000, so out of my league... RD

  2. I love the Indian bust- wouldn't it look perfect at Darlington? pgt

  3. The stuff that dreams are made of. BTW, you have inspired my son. He went to the show, and is anxiously awaiting your posts:).

    1. Hello LPC, I have been thinking of contacting the young fellow to take him to dinner again. You have inspired me to do so now, as we shall now have the WAS to discuss, in addition to other subjects. RD

  4. I am fatigued just from looking at all the pictures. You and Boy must have been exhausted after this event...even though fortified by Champagne and various buffet stations!
    Wonderful photos...

    1. Thanks MLS -- It was a bit fatiguing, and I think -- at 48 photos -- this was the post with the most images I have done, so must have been fatiguing to scroll through. Thanks for being patient. RD

  5. Had to open a bottle of champagne and do the tour again and again. It was fabulous. Thank you Reggie.

  6. Dear Reggie, so many superb pieces at the Winter Antiques Show. I love the "when can I get out of here" expression on Master Jared Pap's face!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Hello Karena -- you are very perceptive. Young Mr. Pap was clearly wishing he was elsewhere that evening. RD

  7. The Ammi Phillips portrait is my pick. Thanks for this great update on what is happening in the antiques scene in NY.

    1. Hello Mary, yes the Ammi Philips portrait was a real stunner. It makes one understand why he is so revered. RD

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and look forward to reading about shopping for Duncan Phyfe.

    1. Thanks Bitsy -- the Duncan Phyfe post(s) will be forthcoming shortly... RD

  9. Thank you! I was hoping to see an early picture of Elle Shushan's booth. And the picture of the Maison Jansen piece offered by Liz O'Brien was a bonus!

    1. Hello Beth -- the Shushan booth was -- yet again -- a triumph, and the Jansen commode at Liz O'Brien was jaw-dropping. I loved it. RD

  10. pulchritudinous? I alway thought that meant built along Marilyn lines.. but why quibble ?..I'll take him in all his muscled glory.

    1. Hello smr,
      Pulchritudinous is equally appropriate for describing male and femal figures, I believe. Do check out my posts on last year's WAS opening party if you haven't seen them. The same dealer displayed an ancient statue of a young man's posterior that stopped traffic! RD

  11. Ah, we share a common love of 19th century memorial pieces, and the one you feature is beautiful. I am planning a blog essay on the imagery of these sentimental reminders of the dearly departed, and hope you will read it in the not too distant future.

    Thank you for this wonderful post on what looks like a marvelous show.

    1. Hello CD: Thank you for your comment, and welcome. I have since looked at your blog, and find it delightful. I have added it to my blog-roll so my readers may enjoy it too. Many thanks, RD

  12. The Nakashima furniture was in the stand of Philadelphia's Moderne Gallery.

    1. Thank you, RA, I have since added a caption to the photograph identifying it as you have shared. Much appreciated, RD

  13. Thank you for the wonderful post, including all the fabulous pictures. I feel like I was there with you. I can't wait for the Duncan Phyfe post. Mother was a lover of most things Duncan Phyfe.



    1. Hello Bonnie -- I am actually working on TWO Duncan Phyfe posts. I hope you like them when published. RD

  14. I agree, the Ammi Phillips portrait is a "jaw dropper" for sure. The portrait would look right at home in a contemporary art gallery. And...OMG he is gorgeous :)

    And Liz O'Brien has wonderful taste and I have always appreciated her scholarly approach. Truly, if some of her treasures could talk.....

    Robby Comer

  15. As both a resident of historic Salem, MA and longtime reader of this blog, I'm thrilled to read of the PEM's contribution. It really is a remarkable museum and an underrated gem on Boston's North Shore.
    All the best,

  16. What a wonderful post on the WAS opening night party! I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the WAS the past couple weeks as a Sotheby's grad student, and you definitely picked out some of my favorite highlights of this year's show. I actually worked at Elle Shushan's booth, so I can tell you that it was inspired by Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. So nice to see your take on the evening!

  17. Great reporting, Reggie! With the PEM in my back yard, we are frequent visitors.


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