• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1959

    Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Prints And Decoys

    17 - 18 January 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 377



    Price Realised  

    A Courting Couple
    silk, felt, graphite and ink on paper
    6 x 6¾ in.
    Inscribed on verso: From Tiverton, Rhode Island, circa 1790

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    Pre-Lot Text

    The Charles H. Carpenter Jr. and Mary Grace Carpenter Collection: The Decorative Arts and Crafts of Nantucket (lots 377-443)

    Authorities in the study of American decorative arts, Charles H. Carpenter Jr. and his wife Mary Grace Carpenter published extensively in the field: Tiffany Silver (Dodd, Mead, New York, 1978) and Gorham Silver 1831-1981 (Dodd, Mead, New York, 1982), and a the seminal publication, The Decorative Arts and Crafts of Nantucket (Dodd, Mead, New York, 1987). These three books, in addition to their numerous articles in The Magazine Antiques, established the Carpenters as leading scholars in the study of American Decorative Arts.

    As a chemical engineer, Charles approached the study of decorative arts with a focus on the fabrication technology of each object. Mary Grace, with a background in education, collaborated with her husband in both the research and writing. The Carpenters were drawn to collect within the field of the objects that they researched, and their interests extended from American silver and Nantucket decorative arts to postwar and contemporary paintings.

    In 1963, the couple became summer residents of Nantucket, and soon began collecting local artifacts related to the 19th century whaling industry of the island. Their ardent pursuit of information on Nantucket led them to Town Hall, where they diligently conducted research of Nantucket wills, birth records and marriage certificates.

    Their beautifully restored 1837 Greek Revival home was the perfect setting for their collection of scrimshaw, China trade porcelain and other objects related to the whaling industry. Serene and uncluttered, their home reflected a sense of simplicity that stemmed in part from the couple's Quaker heritage. Known for their frequent trading of lesser pieces and their constant pursuit of the finest examples of their kind, the Carpenters sought to "end up with a carefully hewn collection". As evidenced by the objects on offer here, the Carpenters achieved this goal.