|By Ginger Levit
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Philadelphia Antiques Show, April 12-15, was a place to see and be seen. It featured a bevy of prominent lecturers, show tours and gala events for both emerging and seasoned collectors.
The establishment crowd of Philadelphia made it happen; it is a major benefit supporting Penn Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the seven prestigious Ivy League colleges.
Seeing, though, was the important element. There was much to see, and friendly, knowledgeable dealers to meet. The Philadelphia Antiques Show is one of only a few annual events attracting top-notch dealers from all across the country; then throw in a few English dealers, as well.
Alfred Bullard specializes in 18th and 19th century English antiques. Georgian Manor offers fine English furniture porcelain and glass. Leo Kaplan focuses on 18th century English paperweights, pottery and porcelain. This New York dealer offered an unforgettable pair of first period Worcester porcelain frill vases made around 1770 and signed T.O. Examples of the highest quality antiques and art were everywhere. It is truly a learning experience to just browse the show.
The title of this year’s show, The Philadelphia Antiques Show: Antiques & Art, 17th through 20th Century, expressed the event’s desire to expand. More recent art was on view, such as Questroyal’s John Singer Sargent’s watercolor scene of Venice.
The Lady Witness by Guy Pène du Bois (1884-1958), depicting a lady dressed in red on the witness stand being harshly interrogated by a lawyer while a judge intervenes, was at the Park Avenue gallery.
Jim’s of Lambertville, N.J., just across the state line from artsy New Hope, Pa., offers Pennsylvania Impressionists such as Redfield and Baum.
The “browns” are always popular because of their pristine quality – many with Philadelphia provenance such as Kelly Kinzle’s 1770 Philadelphia carved chair and C.L. Prickett’s Chippendale Carved Mahogany Marble top Pier Table, made around 1755. The dealer called it the finest known example of a Philadelphia pier table with its original top.
Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz have recently donated a dazzling collection of 20th century American Outsider art to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it is on display. The collection consists of works by contemporary self-taught artists. Bonovitz calls the art “modern,” He spoke about art collecting during the show.
The loan exhibition this year was called Pewter: The Philadelphia Story.
Extremely popular in its heyday, the British colonies in North America were among the best customers of pewter; buying it as quickly as it could be imported. Philadelphia was actively bought imported, English pewter.
As early as 1736, merchant Aaron Smith of Arch Street, near the City of Brotherly Love’s Antiques Row, was advertising and selling all kinds of tankards, plates, teakettles and coffee pots and even stool pans and chamber pots.
Another new feature this year was the strategically placed Designers’ Circle. A group of interior designers was invited to choose an “inspiration” object from one of the booths to place in their designated spot with a written explanation of why they had chosen that particular piece. The idea was to suggest that contemporary art and objects mesh nicely with period antiques.
Peter Tillou received the Antique Dealers’ Assoc. of America 2013 Award of Merit. It was presented to him at the Award of Merit Dinner, recognizing his many contributions as a distinguished collector, scholar and dealer.
The show collaborated with nearby museums. The Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Winterthur participated in Museum Member Monday for the first time. It was a special day with museum lovers enjoying the 52nd Philadelphia Antiques Show.