November 24, 2009 | This Canada goose clearly lost its bearings, migrating all the way to South America in the twentieth century before returning to the United States this past August. A routine e-mail inquiry to Christie's in New York resulted in the exciting realization that it was only the fourth decoy of its type to come to light. What makes it so special is the dovetailed, or slot-neck, construction for attaching the head and neck to the body. The four known geese from the rig each bear a number painted on both parts; here it is 6, indicating that there may well be at least two more of these beautifully sculpted birds out there for the hunting.
That is good news, because recently decoys have been attracting hunters of many sorts—not only fowlers themselves, but also bird lovers, folk art collectors, environmentalists, and even celebrities. Their sculptural beauty appeals across boundaries of taste, price, and personal philosophy, notes Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. of Copley Fine Art Auctions …» More
August 3, 2009 | "Amy is a treasure," Linda Eaton, curator of textiles at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, said to me referring to Amy Finkel, the Philadelphia needlework dealer, who recently brought a rare Berlin work picture stitched by a black American schoolgirl to her attention. Knowing that Eaton has long felt that Winterthur's collection does not adequately represent the cultural diversity that existed in this country in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, she was the first person Finkel approached with the needlework, stitched by Olevia Rebecca Parker in Philadelphia. "I was thrilled," says Eaton, "and the entire acquisitions committee was behind it 100 per cent." Doubling her delight, at the same time Bill and Joyce Subjack of Neverbird Antiques in Surry, Virginia, needlework specialists and collectors themselves, offered her a Berlin work picture stitched by Rachel Ann Lee at the Oblate Sisters of Providence School for Colored Girls in Baltimore in 1846, and Winterthur acquired it as well.
May 13, 2009 | One morning in 1983 Sumpter Priddy III woke to Peggy Lee singing "Is That All There Is?" on the radio and knew she was singing to him. Although he had achieved his goal of becoming a curator at an important American museum, there had to be more. He resigned from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia, and "took a flying leap," as he puts it, into a career as an antiques dealer.
The second of five children of a successful businessman and an English teacher, both with long Virginia pedigrees, Priddy grew up on a farm near Ashland, where, he says, "I fed a hundred head of cattle and did chores every day from the time I could walk until I left for college." But an interest in antiques and history was instilled in him from childhood. "My parents and grandparents were inveterate auction-goers, and took me to country sales and antique shops from my youth," he recalls, "and two of my older cousins and a neighbor were obsessed with Civil War battlefields and campsites, so we were always digging in refuse pits."
When he was fourteen, a teacher told Priddy about Winterthur—Henry Francis du Pont's grand house museum in Delaware—and he begged his parents to take him to see it. At that time you had to be sixteen to tour the house, so his sixteenth birthday present was the much-anticipated trip. "Even before that I knew I wanted to be a curator," he recalls, but the visit clinched it. He began to educate himself in earnest about American furniture. "The honest truth is," he says, "I learned the most from studying the pages of The Magazine Antiques—I would cover up the captions and quiz myself endlessly about what was in the pictures."
April 14, 2009 | Readers who enjoyed William Nathaniel Banks's article about Madison, Georgia, in our April issue now have another reason to visit that historic and beautiful town, which is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is presenting an exhibition entitled The Many Faces of Madison: A History of Portrait Painting in the Piedmont, which includes thirty-five likenesses dating from the late eighteenth century to 1985, with most from the nineteenth century.
Among them are portraits of some of the inhabitants that people Banks's story. John Byne Walker and his wife Eliza Saffold Fannin, for example, whose marriage, Banks reported, Walker recorded in his plantation book in the same breath with his account of his corn, wheat, and oat crops, are represented in portraits of about 1840 that are traditionally attributed to Thomas Sully.
April 7, 2009 | In New York in the 1880s—the gilded age when the likes of the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Goulds were building their mansions along and near Fifth Avenue—the new aesthetic style often reigned supreme as the choice for their grand interiors. Herter Brothers, Kimbel and Cabus, Pottier and Stymus, Leon Marcotte are just a few of the firms that catered to the city's wealthy, creating rooms in which the furniture, woodwork, textiles, and other decorative objects all bespoke a coherent whole, even if each reflected a different influence.
Last Friday two exemplary rooms from the period were given to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and the Metropolitan Museum of Art—respectively, the master bedroom and the dressing room from a townhouse at 4 West Fifty-fourth Street that was redecorated in 1881 for Richmond native Arabella Duval Worsham. After she married Collis P. Huntington in 1884, she sold the house, fully furnished, to John D. Rockefeller, who evidently made few changes to the décor over the years. After his father's death in 1937 John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave the Moorish style smoking room from the house to the Brooklyn Museum and the bedroom and dressing room to the Museum of the City of New York, which, when it became clear that they would not fit in its current renovation plans, decided to give them to institutions where they would be widely accessible. Neither room will be immediately accessible, however: at the Virginia Museum the bedroom will be installed in the new McGlothlin Wing, scheduled to open next year; the dressing room will probably not be unveiled at the Metropolitan Museum for a few years.
[Compiled by Darrin Alfred, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture, Design and Graphics at the Denver Art Museum. Originally published in "Cur» View All