Charles Hofmann and Ammi Phillips at Stair Galleries

Theophile DeBock, "Cattle by the Pool at Sunset", Deaccessioned from the Brooklyn Museum
Theophile DeBock, “Cattle by the Pool at Sunset”, Deaccessioned from the Brooklyn Museum

From the press release:

On the weekend of September 12 & 13, 2009, Stair Galleries will conduct a two-day auction of American, English and Continental furniture, decorations and fine art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, including property from the Childs Family Collection, the Collection of the Wanamaker-de Heeren Family, the Collection of Josephine and Walter Buhl Ford II, the estate of American artist Chester Beach and the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, being sold for the benefit of the Acquisitions fund.

A number of pieces from the Childs family, including a magnificent George III-style mahogany and marquetry breakfront bookcase, a Baroque-style figured walnut tester bed and a set of eight George III-style painted wheel-back armchairs, were once part of the original furnishings at Florham, the one-hundred room Georgian Revival country house built 1894-1897 in Madison, New Jersey, for heiress Florence Vanderbilt and her husband, financier Hamilton McKown Twombly. The mansion was designed by the prestigious architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White and the extensive grounds were laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted. Today the property is owned by Fairleigh Dickinson University. Other highlights from the Childs collection include a set of six Regency ebonized and parcel-gilt side chairs, a Queen Anne red japanned long-case clock signed by Robert Danson and a George III painted satinwood lady’s writing desk.

Additional offerings in the category of English furniture include a George II carved mahogany marble-top side table, a stunning pair of Regency mahogany cellarets, a George III inlaid mahogany and satinwood bookcase cabinet, six George III carved mahogany side chairs and two magnificent mid-19th-century Chippendale-style case pieces, a breakfront bookcase and cabinet on chest, deaccessioned from the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Included in the sale is a large selection of English and Continental silver, featuring a Queen Anne tankard, London, 1711, a George II bullet-form teapot, London, 1729 or 1731, a Charles II engraved silver box, a pair of George III armorial entrée dishes and an early-19th-century French hot-water urn bearing the mark of Charles-Antoine-Amand Lenglet, Paris.

The sale features a large selection of English and Continental pottery and porcelain from a number of estates, including Dutch delft, a broad variety of Staffordshire pottery and figures, Chelsea, Derby, Coalport and Minton porcelain, and Continental porcelain including Old Paris and Meissen. Also including a large assortment of Chinese Export porcelain tableware.

Important American furniture includes a Pennsylvania Chippendale figured walnut linen press, probably Lancaster or Montgomery County, three New York Late Federal mahogany side chairs in the manner of Duncan Phyfe, a New England Queen Anne inlaid walnut dressing table and a New England Federal inlaid mahogany and flame birch card table.

The category of art is headed by a large collection of plaster maquettes, bronzes and marbles from the New York studio of American sculptor Chester Beach (1881-1956). After studying sculpture in Paris from 1903 to 1906, Beach settled in New York City where he acquired the former home and studio of sculptor Thomas Ball. Beach was awarded numerous commissions for public sculptures and received many prizes throughout his career. Notable public works include “Sylvan,” installed in Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, the first outdoor sculpture garden in the United States, “Riders of the Elements,” executed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair to celebrate man’s conquest of the elements, and his 1928 “Service to the Nation,” a marble war memorial installed in the AT&T building at 195 Broadway. Beach was also a recognized designer of medals and coins. Significant commissions included the 1919 “Peace of Versailles” medal for the American Numismatic Society, the 1923 Monroe-Adams half dollar, the 1925 Lexington-Concord half dollar, and the 1935 City of Hudson half dollar.

The plaster maquettes and sculptures featured in the sale were transferred from Beach’s East 17th Street studio to his summer home, “Oldwalls,” in Brewster, New York, following his death in 1956 and his wife’s death in 1965. Among the models are those for “Sylvan,” “Riders of the Elements,” “Service to the Nation,” “War” and a portrait bust of Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn, noted American paleontologist and president of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City from 1908 to 1933. Complementing these works are several marble reliefs by Thomas Ball (1819-1911), also from the estate of Chester Beach and acquired by the artist when he purchased Ball’s studio.

The sale will feature works by several important American folk artists, including a pair of oil on canvas portraits of Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Reed by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865), and a rare oil on tin painting, “The Berks County Almshouse and Its Surroundings,” attributed to Charles C. Hofmann (1820-1882). A German immigrant who settled in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1860, Hofmann painted large landscapes with views of almshouses in Berks, Montgomery and Schuylkill Counties between 1865 and 1881. The painting offered for sale depicts in minute detail the buildings and grounds of the almshouse in Berks County, where Hofmann committed himself in 1872 for “intemperance” and periodically sought shelter throughout his remaining years.

Other important works of art in the auction include an oil on canvas portrait of a gentleman attributed to Rufus Hathaway (1770-1822), an oil on canvas landscape by Emilio Sanchez-Perrier (1855-1907), a pair of 15th-century Italian painted ceiling panels purchased by the consignor at the Winter Antiques Show, a collection of 18th- and 19th-century miniature portraits and a plaster study for a statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). The tenacious Sherman, who was repeatedly pestered by sculptors eager to create a likeness of the famous Civil War general, agreed in 1888 to sit for Saint-Gaudens, America’s pre-eminent sculptor of the late 19th century. The bust included in the sale took shape over the course of eighteen two-hour sittings, during which the artist developed a greater understanding of his subject. Saint-Gaudens’s gilt-bronze equestrian figure of Sherman was completed in 1903 and installed in Grand Army Plaza, across from the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The two-day sale will also include rare books, prints and fine bindings, highlights of which are a manuscript antiphonal on vellum, two volumes of John Abbot’s “The Natural History of Rare Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia”(1797), and forty volumes of Washington Irving’s “Works.”

According to Colin Stair, President of Stair Galleries, “The estimates are, as always, conservative in order to entice bidders’ interest. Our sales have held up nicely, plus we have added the feature of online bidding with Artfact Live.”

Previews run from August 28 to September 13. The auction is scheduled for September 12 & 13, starting at 11 AM each day. A fully illustrated online catalogue will be available ten days prior to the sale. For more information, please visit our website at

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