Old Masters Week featuring Renaissance - New York, January 2014


The ivory figures of European sculptor Simon Troger (1683-1768) are more traditionally found in the great castles of Central Europe, not in the City of Brotherly Love. However, this season Christie’s will offer The Resting Travelers, a rare group of six figures by Troger that have been part of a celebrated Philadelphia "Robber Baron" collection since the mid-19th century and remain in the collection of his direct descendants today.

Henry C. Gibson (1830-1891), a merchant-prince who had made his fortune in whiskey and tobacco production, commissioned Frank Furness, the celebrated Philadelphia architect, to build a town house at 1612 Walnut Street in 1870, where the Troger figures were displayed in the Moorish Salon. A decade later, Gibson built Maybrook, a fantastic amalgam of four centuries of English architecture, as his country seat out on the Main Line. The Troger figures were exhibited in vitrines in the vast ballroom, along with other superb ivories. Now surrounded by dense suburban sprawl, Maybrook, amazingly, still stands in all its Gothic glory, or gloom, its park overgrown and the house now emptied of its treasures. It is the last reminder of Henry Gibson’s New World Kunstkammer.

Troger had many imitators throughout the 18th and especially the 19th centuries, so to find figures entirely by the hand of the master is exciting. But to have an entire group by Troger still together is extraordinary. There is an identical set of figures by Troger, the only other known group, in the Danish Royal Collections at Rosenberg Castle.

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