A Gaggle of Interests – Oct 18, 2009

Waiting Room by Clyde Singer offered at Rachael Davis Fine Arts
Waiting Room by Clyde Singer offered at Rachael Davis Fine Arts, sold for $1000

In this series, the UAA team will list some of the interesting items that we have found in auctions, antique shops, or eBay. Neither do we own the items nor do we have the capability of examining the items in person in most cases. It mainly serves as an inventory record of what interests us (not necessarily in terms of value or investment opportunities) and possibly how much it fetches (if the result can be obtained). If you are serious about some lots, please contact the auction houses, dealers, or eBay sellers directly.

1. Rachel Davis Fine Arts, Oct 24, 2009. Lot 210 “Waiting Room” by Clyde Singer

Even after Clyde Singer took the position as the director at the Butler Institute of American Art in 1940, he still kept painting. A lot of them, like this one, is what he called his daily bread and butter. Singer was a social realism painter, following John Sloan and  George Luks. In his pursuit of the “juice of life”, his vivid brushstrokes captured everyday incidents, often with a satirical undertone. “Waiting Room”  is a revelation of rich meaning in body language and spacial relationship with each other. In an unusual horizontal format, he depicted what we might have seen and ignored today in a waiting room. The boredom and sleepiness resulted from endless waiting, the spicy encounter of someone unknown sitting next to you, the desire to communicate or the desire to avoid any possible interaction. Yes, we have all been there. The man sitting in the middle looks restless with his legs crossed and body leaning toward his left. Is he trying to pick up the woman or are they actually a couple yet physically and mentally apart? I don’t know, but it is a small gem that invites thinking and discussion.

Sculptor's Model Head of A Ptolemy King from Bonhams
Sculptor’s Model Head of A Ptolemy King from Bonhams

2. Bonhams Oct 28, 2009. Sale 16853 Lot 98, An Egyptian limestone sculptor’s model, Ptolemaic Period, circa 3rd Century B.C.

The hybrid style of this Egyptian King Statue is evident in the names headdress of the king sculpted as a Greek bust since a shoulderless bust was not an indigenous Egyptian design. The pursed mouth and serene and calm-looking face indicate a strong influence from the previous Persian period when the royal craftsman revived the style of the Middle Kingdom. This one is special because it is a sculptor’s model, which would never be used in official temples or tombs. The usual fleshy, plump face of the Ptolemy family was NOT obvious in this statue, (except the chin which is slightly fleshy) instead, he looks just like another classic indigenous Egyptian king. Because it is a model, the sculptor did leave the stripped texture of nemes and the Uraeus out, but the essence of divine kingship is all there, which was described by Walt Whitman: “The eyes are almond-shaped, and have a calm expression – the whole face evidently of some great ruling person.

Note: This sale happens in London, UK.

A Classical Solar Lamp
A Classical Solar Lamp

3. A Classical Solar Lamp

While it’s my inclination that antique table lamps are not as popular as they once were, it may be that they aren’t available enough to know. A solar lamp with the facial figure of George Washington on the base is the variation of this lamp I’ve seen. Offered on the website of Clark Classical, this version has a black marble base (the other has white). They guessed it as being a Boston lamp, but it could also have come from Cornelius in Philadelphia. It’s an attractive addition to the right setting, but it won’t work everywhere. The asking price for this one is $7,500.

4. Antiques Writing Desk (eBay item)

The eBay number is 270472115371. The auction will be ended on ct 23, 2009.

Antique Writing Desk at eBay

The history of the laptop extends back farther than you may suspect. These writing desks for travelers were used throughout Victorian times. I’m not sure how useful they are today as few write letters anymore, but I had the notion to use one for addressing holiday cards. The cards could be kept inside and opened once a year ceremoniously. I also like to make personalized cards with stamps and photos attached and a portable writing desk would provide a great place to keep the stamps. Because they are not terribly useful, you can often find a really good one for not too much money. There are plenty on eBay, but don’t jump on a damaged one, wait for one in good condition with all the accessories including the ink bottles (and caps). Most have a place for a monogram, but some have never been engraved.


A painting attributed to Thomas Chambers from Kaminski Auctions
A painting attributed to Thomas Chambers from Kaminski Auctions

5. Kaminski Auctions, Oct 24, 2009. Lot 286, Thomas Chambers, NE Coastal Scene

This painting came to my search result right after we returned from the American Folk Art Museum which features a spectacular show of Thomas Chambers. Chambers didn’t sign nor date the works in general and this one is no exception. Thus I would be more precarious about the attribution. Simply put, just because there is an exhibition of the artist and it comes with a current catalog (which costs 40 dollars) does not mean this one IS by the artist unless there are other supporting documents from experts.

5. Catalog books

Catalog books are hard to find once the exhibitions are over. If you search online such as Alibris or Amazon, those out-of-print catalogs command such sums that you wish you had bought them earlier. Some of the catalog books are marvelous scholarly works and are also great to read. Of course, if one can make the trip to the exhibitions, these catalogs may become more tangible personally. But one can only attend so many exhibitions, there will always be some exhibitions that you wish you were there for. But at least with catalogs, you can read what is there.

In the future of this series, we will begin to list some catalog books that we have bought and may have visited the corresponding exhibitions. They are not antiques, nor perhaps even collectible, but truly interesting to read.

Dutch New York Between East & West from New York Historical Society and Bard Graduate Center


 Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick
Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick

There are a few excellent exhibitions going on in New York City right now, but the exhibition  Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick at Bard Graduate Center has the most curatorial efforts and new scholarly findings. Thus the catalog with additional six essays by the best scholars in the field is the best book on the New York Dutch heritage, an academic gift to celebrate Hudson 400.  From the website: The book “presented in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage of discovery and celebrating the lasting legacy of Dutch culture in New York, this book explores the world of a fascinating woman, her family, and the possessions she accumulated over an eventful lifetime. Margrieta van Varick was born in 1649 in the Netherlands, but she spent many years at the extremes of the Dutch world-in Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and in Flatbush, now part of Brooklyn. She arrived in New York in 1686 with her husband, a Dutch Reformed minister, and set up a textile shop, bringing with her an astonishing array of objects from the Far East and Europe. Her shop goods, along with her household furnishings, were meticulously recorded in an estate inventory made after her death in 1695.

The inventory of Varick is just a list, but curators have brought rich material and stories to tell how the world of culture and materials was interlinked by a Dutch woman (whom we even don’t have a portrait to admire)  and how New York City was closely influenced by her family. The six essays explore certain aspects of Dutch New York to help readers understand the background of the exhibition. The catalog itself, with so many items loaned from different museums, features stunning objects of both East and West, among which one for sure will find something interesting. For me, it is a surprise to know that the Brooklyn kas (or kast), now placed in the famous Schenck house, may once belong to Margrieta Van Varick.  And the amazing kids in the show, once treasured furniture of the Beekman family whose portraiture is now shown at the New York Historical Society, is commented by Geo as the only one that he did not mind having, even with its monumental size.

You can find the book from Amazon.

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