A Gaggle of Interest, Americana Week Edition

In this series, the UAA team will list some of the interesting items that we have found in auctions, antique shops, shows or eBay. We neither own the items or have the capability of examining the items in person in some 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.

Point the Way with Advertising Art

Christie's Hand Pointing SignAdvertising art is a hot commodity whether it be prints, hand-painted signs or carvings like this one. Offered by Christie’s at its Important American Furniture and Folk Art January 20, this sign seems to be the source of a number of clip art images, many of those originating in 1920s-era advertising. This is advertising art with emphasis on the art, it is skilfully carved after-all. 20th Century, estimate $3,000-$5,000. 19′ x 46″

Goes with: Just about anything- can be used with any decor. Place it on a mantle, in a bookcase, on a wall shelf pointing upstairs or towards the facilities.

Over the Top Belter Meridienne

Belter Meridienne ChristiesEarly American furniture can be traced to English origins and the work of Thomas Sheraton, Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite. When we reach the mid 19th Century we meet up with a German-born fellow named John Henry Belter. Although his work is described as Late Baroque or Rococo-revival (France), we might look at the carving and think about ornately carved Black Forest pieces. Belter opened his first cabinet shop in New York 1844 at 40-1/2 Chatham Street and would go on to create numerous parlor sets for wealthy New Yorkers. The concave shapes wee made using 6-8 layers of rosewood that was assembled and then intricately carved. His work can be seen in a number of museums including the Met, the Brooklyn Museum and Bayou Bend in Houston. This Meridienne is offered at Christie’s Important American Furniture and Folk Art sale January 20. Estimate $3,000-$5,000.

What is a Meridienne anyway? A short sofa of the French Empire period having one arm higher than the other.

Goes With: This one needs a special place. A talented interior designer might be able to work around it, but you may just find yourself considering a complete Rococo room.

Moravian Owl Bottle

Moravian Owl BottleA newly discovered and rare Moravian owl bottle from the Salem area of North Carolina is being offered in Bonhams Fine American & European Furniture and Decorative Arts auction during Americana Week. Moravian potters produced these press molded animal bottles in the early 19th century, many of which may have been used for dry spice storage. The Moravians settled in three states, Pennsylvania and Georgia, in addition to North Carolina which distinguished itself as one of the most important pottery centers in colonial America due to the talent and resourcefulness of its first potter, Gottfried Aust. Bonhams says two kinds of owl bottles where made but no known molds have been found making this a very rare example. Apparently there were only four known bottles in the owl form and this is the fifth example. Interest from museums is expected. (est. $60,000-80,000).

Goes with: Given the rarity, you probably won’t want to use it for spice storage. A nice display cabinet, secured if you live in an area prone to earthquakes. It will look great with antique or modern decor.

Levi Wells Prentice – Currants Growing On a Vine

Prentice Keno AuctionsLevi Wells Prentice only followed John Ruskin’s Pre-Raphaelite principles to certain extent. In this small work offered at Keno Auctions January 17, he used his own vocabulary to illustrate the true-to-nature doctrine. The clarity and precision rendered in the currants an exceptional quality of illusion. Not only are the colors are vibrant, as always in his other signature pieces, but also one can feel more currants under the shadow through his mastery in capturing red in subtle shades. Whether those fruits spreading on the ground is for the case of the composition or to attest natural bounty is up to debate, but it shows that the impression of the reality by a great artist can give one the truth that is greater than reality itself.

Goes with: A small still life adds a sense of serenity to any room. They are especially fond of dining rooms.

Ammi Phillips – Portrait of a Winsome Young Girl in Red with Green Slippers, Dog and Bird

ammi phillips sothebysWhat else is needed to make it more iconic Americana than this picture? A young girl with attentive eyes, a loyal dog, a well-trained bird with colors that steal the show, the red dress, the green shoes that echo with the table cloth and the seat cover. It is a beautiful design: curves and lines express a sense of fluidity. The colors are exceptional and vibrant. And the face is rendered with sensibility that is not common in other child portraits by Ammi Phillips. To some extent, she looks almost sensual, with an adolescent vulnerability. Offered at Sotheby’s Important Americana: Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Porcelain, Prints and Carpets January 20-21.

Goes with: This is a portrait that is of museum quality and would bring up attentions to any visitor if hung alone on a wall. The sitter has not been identified, but with more scholars working in the field, it would add additional fun to the future owner to get involved in the research of the provenance and the life story behind Ammi Phillips.

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