A Release Party and a Dealer’s Story

questroyalWe hadn’t replied by the requested RSVP date, but with a quick call to Questroyal Fine Art I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem to stop by for the Volume X Release Party. “It’s going on now,” the voice emanating from Park Avenue through the telephone line said. The galleries last night were filled with important works by Wyeth, O’Keeffe, Moran, Cropsey, Blakelock and Bierstadt. Everyone seemed to have a drink in-hand, so we headed to the bar room first. Not wanting to appear too anxious, we circled the paintings before we asked for a drink. Halfway around the room, a Carleton Wiggins caught my eye. I commented that it was more detailed than most of his works. Hui shot back “Wiggins is not detailed!” But I didn’t say it was detailed, I said it was “more detailed.” These are some of the conversations we have in galleries! My second favorite was a work by Thomas Hart I had seen before. Small and colorful, the work conveys the essence of Hart with landscape and cattle in perfect proportion. It was perhaps the train ride back that provided the best treat, the stories told by Louis M. Salerno in the catalog introduction “A Well-dressed Hunter: A Dealer’s Story.” From Duveen to Gimpel, sometimes the stories told by or about dealers are the most interesting, and Salerno is no exception. I’ve always thought the best antiques (and art) are the ones that have stories to tell. They all have stories, of course, but we know too few of them. In these galleries, there are many stories, stories that may be passed along, or soon lost. Thanks to Salerno, some are preserved. I won’t repeat the stories here, but in addition to being filled with great pictures, the Important American Paintings catalog goes beyond what you usually get from this kind of material and provides a record of sorts, and a great read.

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