A Newly Discovered John Townsend Bureau Table
An Exceptional Silver Teapot by Paul Revere
A Bartlam Teabowl, the Earliest Porcelain Made in Colonial America
An Extremely Rare Dish from the ‘Lady Martha Washington States China’ Tea Service
New York - Christie's is delighted to announce Americana Week 2013, a series of public viewings and sales devoted to fine and rare examples of American artistry and craftsmanship. Included in the week are sales of Important American Silver (January 24), Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints (January 25), English Pottery (January 28) and Chinese Export Art (January 28). The Americana series of sales will offer over 400 lots, including a number of rare survivals from the 18th and 19th century and many works never before offered at auction.
IMPORTANT AMERICAN SILVER - January 24, 10am
Christie’s is pleased to announce the sale of Important American Silver as the first auction in the Americana Week series. Leading the sale is an extraordinary and rare silver tea pot by patriot and silversmith Paul Revere, Boston, circa 1782 (illustrated left, estimate: $150,000-250,000). This drum-form teapot is fashioned in a classical style, typical of the early Federal period and one of the examples of Revere's work after his return from the Revolution. There are only four other known drum-form teapots by Revere, with three in public collections− the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Yale University Art Gallery.
Since its founding in 1837, Tiffany & Co. has set the standard for American silver designs and has been credited with some of the most important innovations in the field. A superb selection of rare and important pieces include an important silver-mounted and stone-set ebony “Viking” bowl, designed by Paulding Farnham, New York, 1902 (illustrated right, estimate: $100,000-150,000); a silver, mixed-metal and hardstone three-piece tea service, New York, circa 1880, which is one of Tiffany & Co.’s most successful creations in the Japanesque style (estimate: $100,000-150,000); and an important silver and stone-set “Aztec” paper knife, designed by Paulding Farnham, New York, circa 1902, which once belonged by Albert C. Burrage, a mining engineer and owner of a the 256-foot steam yacht Aztec (estimate: $60,000-90,000).
Additional highlights include a rare set of three silver casters, mark of Simeon Soumaine, New York, circa 1740, virtually unknown in American colonial silver with only two other complete sets recorded (detailed image on page 1, estimate: $100,000-150,000); and a rare set of six silver cans with heraldic engraving, mark of Daniel Boyer, Boston, circa 1750, which was originally owned by the Kitchen family, one of the most prominent merchant families in the Salem at the turn of the 18th century (estimate: $50,000-80,000).
IMPORTANT AMERICAN FURNITURE, FOLK ART & PRINTS - January 25, 10am
One of the lead highlights of the Americana Week sales is an important Chippendale carved mahogany block-and-shell bureau table signed by John Townsend (1733-1809), Newport, circa 1770 (detailed image on page 1 and illustrated left, estimate: $700,000-900,000). The iconic four-shell form displays the height of John Townsend’s talents and the renowned block-and-shell design of 18th-century Newport. One of less than ten known to survive, this newly discovered piece is an exceedingly rare example of the form bearing the signature of arguably colonial America’s greatest cabinetmaker. Written with a flourish in the cabinetmaker’s distinctive hand, Townsend’s signature appears on the underside of the top drawer and demonstrates the pride taken by the cabinetmaker in his most exceptional pieces. The rococo brasses are also a rarity as they retain much of their original coating, which was baked onto the plates at the time of their manufacture in England. The table was likely acquired in the 19th century by the prominent Pell family of New York during their sojourns in Newport, the summer destination for elite society of the period. The bureau table is known to have furnished the Pell House in New York State’s Tuxedo Park, the exclusive enclave founded by Pierre Lorillard IV in 1885 and home to prominent New York collecting families as that of Mr. and Mrs. J. Insley Blair. Property of direct descendants of the Pell and Coster families, the bureau table was recently discovered in New York City and has never before been offered at auction. Several comparable bureau tables attributed to Townsend are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago Winterthur Museum, Yale University Art Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
A Queen Anne carved maple armchair attributed to John Gaines III of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1735-1743 (illustrated left, $200,000–300,000), offered by WEA Enterprises, will also lead Americana week. The chair has been praised extensively by experts in American furniture and was described by legendary dealer Albert Sack in 1950 as “A great masterpiece of pure Colonial design... No price is too great for a chair of this quality.” One of only two armchairs assuredly attributed to Gaines, this example is extraordinarily well preserved and serves not only as an icon of early American regional design but also as a critical evidence of the practices of the Gaines shop. The chair is distinctive in its large, outsweeping ram’s-horn arms that are beautifully complemented and balanced by an archetypal crest and pronounced Spanish feet. Its closest counterpart housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this “robust and gusty” piece has not appeared on the open market since 1974.
The remarkable painting of Penn’s Treaty by Edward Hicks’ (1780-1849) depicts the iconic American legend of William Penn’s treaty with Delaware tribal chiefs (illustrated right, estimate: $600,000-900,000). A Bucks County Pennsylvania native, Hicks worked as a sign painter and coach maker early in life, later becoming a well renowned Quaker minister and painter, who it is said, taught the gospel with his paintbrush. Penn’s Treaty was incorporated as a staple scene for Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom series, which is a painted sermon depicting the prophecy of Isaiah preaching the theme of peace that still has meaning for us today. Representing in equal measure the artist’s Quaker conviction and his patriotic fervor, Penn’s Treaty is modeled on John Boudell’s 1775 print image of the painting by Benjamin West. The humble craftsman origins visible in Hicks’ painting style are hallmarks of the American folk vernacular painting style that is at once valued for its aesthetic singularity as well as its narrative richness.
The sale also features a superb group of early American needlework samplers from The Stonington Collection. These needleworks were amassed by Dolf Fuchs, a textiles commodities entrepreneur who was born in Switzerland, immigrated to the United States in 1953 and settled in Stonington, Connecticut where he lived in a late 18th century home. A textile and early American history enthusiast, Fuchs cherished his collection of 18th/19th century needlework samplers for their beauty, rarity, and unique history. Primarily worked by young women as instructive exercises, early American needleworks such as 25 works being offered illustrate the skills of these young women through their technical mastery and whimsical designs. Highlights include an exquisitely crafted needlework pictorial of a prominent ship worked by Nancy Winsor (1778-1850), Providence, Rhode Island, dated December 4, 1786 (illustrated left, estimate: $80,000-120,000) and a wool and silk needlework pictorial of a courting couple famously part of the “Fishing Lady” pictures, Boston, 1750-1760 (estimate: $30,000-50,000).
One of the rarest works at auction is an American (John Bartlam) soft paste porcelain teabowl, circa 1765-1770, (detailed image on page 1 and illustrated left, estimate: $30,000-50,000). This tiny teabowl has only recently been identified as an example of the earliest porcelain made in Colonial America. Printed with Chinoiserie vignettes that mysteriously include palmetto trees, it is confirmed through archeological evidence and scientific analysis of the clay to have been made at the factory operated by the Staffordshire potter John Bartlam at Cain Hoy, outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Three other such teabowls are known, two in public collections, the decorations on all four corresponding exactly to sherds found at Cain Hoy in what has now been identified as the kiln site of Bartlam’s short-lived production.
ENGLISH POTTERY - January 28, 10am
On January 28, Christie's will offer over 50 lots of English Pottery, including a selection of early English saltglazed stoneware, redware and creamware formed by William Burton Goodwin. Collected mainly in the 1920s and 30s, these rare works were on loan to the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine from 1983 to 2012. Highlights include a Staffordshire saltglazed seated camel teapot and cover, circa 1750 (illustrated above left, estimate: $5,000-7,000); and a wonderfully amusing comparison of a Staffordshire glazed redware teapot and cover, circa 1745 (illustrated above right, estimate: $6,000-8,000). A rare survival is a Staffordshire saltglazed stoneware enameled ‘Littler’s’ blue puzzle-jug, circa 1755-1760 (estimate: $10,000-15,000). This ‘Littler’s’ blue puzzle-jug is the only example of this form and type extant. Marked with an ‘L’, it is also potentially documentary.
Other highlights include a unique London delft polychrome dish, circa 1660, which is painted with the story of Abraham and Isaac (estimate: $50,000-70,000); and a pair of English delft dated models of shoes dated 1727, London or Bristol (illustrated right, estimate: $15,000-20,000). These two shoes are molded with a left and right buckle indicating that they were intended as a true pair. As shoes were considered symbols of good luck and often given as a token of affection, the initials and date inscribed on the soles of the present pair indicate that it may have been commissioned as a betrothal or wedding gift.
CHINESE EXPORT ART- January 28, 2pm
As the grand finale of Americana Week, the sale of Chinese Export Art on January 28 will feature 110 works, a striking selection of Chinese porcelain and works of art made to order for American and European traders in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. A particularly strong group of American market pieces is led by a very rare Chinese export ‘Lady Washington States China’ dish, circa 1795 (illustrated left, estimate: $20,000-40,000), which was presented to Martha Washington by Andreas van Braam Houckgeest in 1796. Van Braam (1739-1801), was a successful director of the Dutch East India Company, and designed the ‘States China’ himself, as an appropriate introductory gift for the First Lady.
The sale also features a rare Chinese export ‘Philadelphia’ punchbowl, circa 1815 (detailed image on page 1, estimate: $20,000-30,000). This apparently unique and unrecorded punchbowl has strong Philadelphia associations and must have been commissioned by a member of one of the leading China Trade families of that city. The finely painted bowl depicts Centre Square, Philadelphia and the sides showing two views of the War of 1812 engagement between the U.S.S. Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) and the HMS Guerriere. The interior has three delicately rendered grisaille fish, exact duplicates of those on the famed Schuylkill Fishing Company bowl.
Additional highlights include a Chinese export ‘orange Fitzhugh’ armorial dinner service, circa 1805-1810 (illustrated right, estimate: $70,000-100,000); a very rare Chinese export blue and white ‘Mr. No-body’, late 17th century, inspired by the woodcut frontispiece of the 1606 popular play by Thomas Heywood, No-body and Some-body, (estimate: $40,000-60,000); a rare pair of Chinese export famille rose ‘porcelain production’ fishbowls, mid-18th century, which displays very rare decoration of highly romanticized views of different stages of manufacturing Chinese porcelain (estimate: $100,000-150,000).