- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 March 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 02 March 2011 00:00
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A recent inquiry via e-mail concerns this neo-classical bench that the owner purchased in an antique shop many years ago. It is mahogany and has paw feet rising to winged phoenix-style capitals. The gold velvet upholstery is not original, but the finish of the mahogany frame is, retaining the patina of its age.
The bench is a fine example of the neo-classical revival that began in the eighteenth century and received new emphasis after Napoleon Bonaparte's conquest of Egypt in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Cabinetmakers, initially in Europe, and later in the United States, began producing furniture that they thought replicated that of ancient times.
That phase abated with the coming of the more elaborate Victorian Era that took its inspiration from the Middle Ages, particularly the Gothic period, but the neo-classical returned in the 1870s and 1880s, this time lasting down into the early twentieth century. This bench is a product of that era. The Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s was the bridge between the Victorian and the revived Neo-classical. In the twentieth century much of the rejuvenated interest in neo-classical furniture derived from Jacqueline Kennedy's emphasis on bringing original pieces of it back to The White House.
Neo-classical furniture of all periods remains quite popular, and commands good figures on the auction market. Although the first period pieces bring far more, those from this second phase, or revival, are not without their own following. This piece is worth $450. If it were from the stage of the early nineteenth century the figure would be many times that amount.
As to the gold velvet not being original, I suggest leaving it alone, but if the owner wishes to bring the fabric more into conformity with the style of the frame, I suggest using a striped pattern more in keeping with what would have been original to the piece.
A final word, in the photograph to the side of the bench is what appears to be the base of a fine late Victorian piano lamp, which probably would deserve an "Antiques Considered" in its own right.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00
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A gentleman from North Carolina purchased this Satsuma vase at an antique shop many years ago. It is brilliant green, with a great amount of highlighted gold leaf decoration, and shows a different motif on each side. On the one shown the design is floral, on the other overall geometric. The base bears no marking as to country of origin or manufacturer’s name. The piece is in perfect condition.
The absence of a country designation means that the piece dates from before 1890; from the design I should put on it a date of 1880.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 00:00
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A gentleman from Alabama, who now lives in the Northern Neck, bought this small pottery vase at an antique shop in Guntersville, Alabama for $3.00 nearly forty years ago. The flowers are hand-painted with no stenciling, but the vase bears no maker’s mark. It has no cracks or crazing, and the owner says he bought it because he liked its bright yellow color. The flower painting on the front side is more extensive than on the rear. The bases of the four feet are unglazed.
From the description a couple of conclusions are readily apparent.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:00
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The owner of this glass frog used to visit an antique mall a few miles north of Richmond, the most interesting booth of which was that of a lady named Luba Herold. He never spent much money there, but got to know her over the years. On one occasion he asked whether she might be related to the great writer, J. Christopher Herold, whose biography of the French woman of letters, Madame de Stael, which he entitled, MISTRESS TO AN AGE, won the National Book Award in 1959. She replied, “He was my husband.”
From that point on the two would meet at the mall and chat about far more than antiques. Luba had been born in Harkin in the Far East, and was of White Russian ancestry. She delighted in all things Russian, and gave him this frog as a token of their friendship. She liked it both because it imitated Russian malachite, the most precious stone of Imperial Russia, and because she liked frogs.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 00:00
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This year’s Saint Clement’s Island Museum’s Appraiser Fair was filled with so many treasures that I am devoting a second column to some of the outstanding pieces.
One lady came with two interesting silver items. One was a large clamshell set in a sterling holder. One slight chip on the upper shell was its only defect, otherwise it was in excellent condition, and one of the best examples of its kind that I have seen.
The same lady also brought a superb oriental sterling scalloped and footed bowl that had excellent design and was in mint condition. Both of her pieces were of exceptional quality.