NEW YORK, NY.- An 18th century Chippendale plum-pudding mahogany bombé chest-of-drawers with a unique provenance is the leading lot in this seasons sale of Important American Furniture and Folk Art. The January 23 auction features over 200 items of furniture, historic paintings, folk art, and a special added selection of English and Dutch Delft.
The bombé chest-of-drawers is a masterpiece of colonial craftsmanship that descended in the Quincy family of Boston and was owned by a series of historical personages who played key roles in the political realm of 18th and 19th century Boston (estimate: $2,000,0004,000,000). The celebrated bombé form, of which only a few examples survive today, is typified by the pronounced swell of the chests sides beginning at the top of the third drawer. With the Quincy bombé, this curvilinear form is further enhanced by the attractive plum pudding color, as well as the impressive overhang on the top edge and vigorously carved ball-and-claw feet. The chest appears to retain its original brasses.
Notes affixed to the chest show the bombé was owned by Josiah Quincy III (1772 1864), the second mayor of the city of Boston and President of Harvard from 1829 to 1845. It was most likely made for either Josiah Quincy I (1710 1784) or William Phillips (1722 1804), both grandfathers of Josiah III and prominent figures in Revolutionary War-era Boston. The bombé appears to have been made in the same shop as very closely related examples now at Historic Deerfield and at the Henry Ford Museum. The feet on all the related pieces share a robust structure with well-defined knuckles and side talons that exhibit the distinctive rake associated with Boston craftsmanship.
Other highlights of the furniture section include an exceedingly rare survival of an early 18th century American easy chair that typifies the Boston William and Mary form. A well-preserved example, the chair is one of only 12 known with sawn cabriole legs, a design element that eventually replaced the block-and-turned leg of earlier William and Mary easy chairs (estimate: $100,000150,000).
A pair of Chippendale mahogany chairs attributed to the highlyinfluential Garvan carver of Philadelphia is also included in the sale (estimate: $50,000-80,000). Recent examples of the Garvan carvers work to appear on the marketplace include the Fisher-Fox family tea table, sold at Christies in October 2007 for $6.7 million, soaring well beyond its pre-sale low estimate of $2 million.
Christies is also presents an excellent selection of Shaker furniture, led by a yellow-stained pine cupboard-over-drawers crafted in New Lebanon or Watervliet, New York circa 1850 (estimate: 20,000-30,000). A Shaker red-stained cherrywood work stand also circa 1850 is offered from a private New York collection (estimate: $15,000-25,000).
In concurrence with the inaugural ceremonies, Christies offers an important group of historic paintings and sculptures of the first American President. George Washington at Princeton by Charles Peale Polk is a powerful and enduring portrait of the General at the site of his critical military victory in 1777. Painted during the first term of Washingtons presidency, Polk nephew of American portraitist Charles Willson Peale renders Washington in a bold, linear style and with an assured, steady gaze that yields an iconic image of composure and heroism (estimate: $300,000-500,000).
An 1854 painting by Tompkins Harrison Matteson, George Washington at Valley Forge, skillfully depicts a defining moment in Americas battle for Independence. Set against the bleakness of the soldiers winter encampment, General Washington appears to exude an inner light as he offers his hand to his ragged troops in a gesture that defines his commitment to both his men and the cause (estimate: $300,000-500,000).
The folk art section of the sale is highlighted by several rare items of exceptional provenance and design. A large Molded Copper Indian Weathervane is a stately and highly individualized example that has remained in the family of noted Canadian/American architect Ernest Barott for over 100 years (estimate: $60,00090,000). An unusual pine hanging box, likely from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, is embellished with distinctive geometric designs and paint-decorated forms shared by other known examples from this unidentified maker (estimate: $20,000-30,000). A lovely pair of portraits in profile of a Gentleman and a Lady is attributed to John S. Blunt, an early 19th century painter (estimate: $8,000-12,000). Portraits in profile by Blunt are extremely rare in the marketplace, as few examples by him are known to exist.
A special feature of this seasons sale is an added section of Dutch and English Delft dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. One of the earliest examples is a set of sixty-nine blue Dutch Delft tiles from circa 1620 1640 painted with fruit motifs (estimate: $10,000-15,000). A pair of Dutch tile picture columns or tegelpilasters from the late 18th century is also featured (estimate: $8,000-12,000), as well as a selection of late 17th and early 18th century English blue dash chargers from a Private American Collection including examples painted with tulips, with vine leaves, and with portraits of Kings William and George I, respectively (estimates ranging from $8,000-12,000 to $25,000-30,000).