From the Archives | By Archived articles

Skippets

July 1, 1978  |  By J. S. BROWN; From The Magazine ANTIQUES, July 1978.

Skippets are small boxes made to hold and protect pendent wax seals attached to important documents. Silver, silver-gilt, and gold examples were used by the United States government between 1815 and 1871, primarily on treaties with other countries that had been ratified by Congress. The skippet was suspended from the treaty by woven strands of gold or silver, often entwined with strands of silk, which had been threaded through the box before the hot wax was poured in. The wax was impressed with the great seal of the United States, and the cover of the box was hand chased with a design based on the seal.

The first skippet made for the United States government was for the Treaty of Ghent, which settled the War of 1812 with England. Now in the Hall of Records in London, it is marked by the Georgetown silversmith Charles A. Burnett. His shop on Bridge Street was not far from the bookshop and bindery of Joseph Milligan, to who…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

A desk associated with George Washington

May 1, 1978  |  By JOAN SAYERS BROW; from The Magazine ANTIQUES May 1978.

The  handsome slant-front desk illustrated here was originally owned by Colonel George William Fairfax (1724-1787), whose estate, Bevoir, was near Mount Vernon on the Potomac River in Virginia. In April 1773 Fairfax took his wife, sally Cary, to England, after asking his neighbor George Washington to watch over Belvoir while they were away. Washington wrote to Fairfax from Mount Vernon on January 19,1773, "As you only require that I should have an eye to the conduct of your Steward or manager, and to remit his Collections, I can do it with very little difficulty." According to Fairfax family tradition, the desk was moved from Belvoir to Mount Vernon at this time to hold the plantation's papers.

 Slant-front desk, American, 1769-1772. Mahogany, with pine and poplar the secondary woods; height 48, width 36, depth 34 inches. The brasses are old replacements. The slides tha tpull out to support the top are long narrow draw…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

Japanese screens

January 1, 1971  |  

 By Ruth Davidson; Originally published in January 1971

For the enchantment of visitors to Asia House Gallery this month and next there will be on view byōbu, or Japanese painted screens, from twelve museums and private collections in New York. Arranged so as to suggest their appearance in a Japanese house, the twenty six screens will be shown in two groups, the first from January 14 through February 14 and the second from February 16 through March 14. (The address of Asia House is 112 East 64th street, New York, 10021).

Byōbu, decorative and useful pieces of household equipment that are at once art objects, like the framed pictures that hang on the walls of fine houses here, and architectural components that serve as temporary walls or partitions, make a direct appeal to Western eyes. Their clear and compelling design, their brilliant or, again, subtle and low keyed color schemes, and the poetry of thei…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

George IV and the arts of France

May 1, 1966  |  By Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Deputy surveyor of the Queen's Works of Art

Originally published by The Magazine ANTIQUES in May 1966.

From the day that George IV, as Prince of Wales, first took up residence at Carlton House when he came of age in 1782, to his death in 1830, he collected French works of art on a scale previously unknown to English monarchs. Though his interest never wavered, his taste in art, and in the arts of France in particular, did undergo some change as he grew older.

Two commentaries on the furnishings at Carlton House serve to illustrate this shift in emphasis. In 1785 Horace Walpole wrote: "There is an august simplicity that astonished me. You cannot call it magnificent; it is the taste and propriety that strike. Every ornament is at a proper distance, and not one too large, but all delicate and new..." Twenty-seven years later Lady Beaumont, as reported by Joseph Farington, was equally enthusiastic but for a different reason: "... the splendour of the fu…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

Philadelphia Empire furniture by Antoine Gabriel Quervelle

September 1, 1964  |  By ROBERT C. SMITH; from The Magazine ANTIQUES, September 1964.

French architects, painters, and craftsmen in the decorative arts played an important role in the development of the classical style in America during the second and third decodes of the nineteenth century. This is particularly true of a group of cabinetmakers who settled in New York and Philadelphia and included, among others, Michel Bouvier, Joseph Brauwers, Charles Honore Lanuier and his successor John Gruez, and Antoine Gabriel Quervelle. The last of these men has been mentioned on a number of occasions in ANTIQUES and elsewhere but no attempt has been made to reconstruct his career in this country or to assemble a representative group of his furniture. This can now be done, at least in part, thanks to recently found documents and to several hitherto unknown pieces bearing his label, on the basis of which other furniture can be attributed.

Fig  1 Labeled mahogany pier table with white marble top. Typical of…» More

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NYG 2013

[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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