This Week’s Top Lots: April 6 – 10

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*  This week Sotheby’s hosted several important auctions in Hong Kong from Saturday to Wednesday.  Overall the sales were disappointing, totaling $89 million (reportedly less than half of last year’s figure), but with several bright spots. The auction house’s first single-owner wine sale in Asia, and its sale of “Eight Treasures from a European Collection” (which alone brought $12.2 million) …

IMA launches Artbabble

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A new website devoted to art-based video content, Artbabble.org, was launched yesterday by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Artbabble brings together unique videos ranging from 30-second clips to over one-hour documentaries and presentations, allows institutions to share their video resources. The IMA has partnered in this project with Art21, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, …

In conversation with…Rosemary Hill, Pugin biographer

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God’s Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill (Yale University Press, 2009), an extensive biography of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852), won the Wolfson Prize for History and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography in 2007, when it was published in England. The book is recently published in the U.S. by Yale University Press. …

Curator profile: Philip Zea

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“Although I have lived elsewhere,” Philip Zea says, “it looks like I’m contained by the Connecticut Valley.” More specifically, by the remarkable microcosm of Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he has served the unique living museum Historic Deerfield in one capacity or another, most recently as president, for more than twenty-three years. Sense of place, Zea says, is central to his interest …

This Week’s Top Lots: March 30 – April 3

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* Monday’s sale of photographs at Christie’s New York, which totaled over $1.5 million with 71% of the lots sold, brought few surprises—most works were sold within their estimates. The top lot was a Robert Mapplethorpe Cala Lily from 1988 that was sold to a European collector for $122,500 (estimate $100,000-150,000). Richard Avedon’s iconic Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by …

Fabergé at home and abroad

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In a recent interview Alexander Ivanov, the prominent Russian businessman, discussed his decision to open the world’s first Fabergé museum not in Russia, as he had originally planned, but in the German resort town of Baden-Baden. Ivanov, who in 2007 paid the world record price of $17.7 million for a Fabergé egg made for the engagement of Baron Edouard de …

Art Nouveau Jewelry

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July 2008 | The jewelry created in France, Belgium, and other parts of Europe by a select group of avant-garde artists at the close of the nineteenth century was revolutionary. It reinvigorated what had become a formulaic naturalism with new forms drawn from outside sources, including the arts and crafts movement in Great Britain and the arts of Japan. The …

What modern was: Mid Century masters of luxury

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May 2008 | Whatever is new, is bad,” Wallace Nutting wrote in 1925. A minister-turned-entrepreneur who almost single-handedly popularized the colonial revival style via the sale of period furniture reproductions, Nutting (1861–1941) was one of the most acerbic partisans in an aesthetic fight waged in the early decades of the twentieth century—a battle between modernism and tradition. In the 1920s …

Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is a city of great character and great contrasts: blue-blooded and blue collar; home of the beaux arts and the Broad Street Bullies; as steeped in history as it is in Tastee Cakes. In today’s Philadelphia, au courant fashion shops nestle next to dealers in exquisite art and antiques. In April the City of Brotherly Love celebrates its long …

Portrait miniatures in the New Republic

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April 2009 | The stunning events of July 1804 were almost unfathomable for the citizens of the new American republic. One Founding Father had fatally wounded another. Alexander Hamilton was dead and Aaron Burr  would be indicted for murder. The duel and its aftermath marked a turning point in American culture. Five days before the Burr-Hamilton duel, Edward Greene Malbone …