august fair, where collectors can purchase all sorts of fine and decorative arts objects for their multiple homes. (The rest of us, primed by “The Heiress” and
“Downton Abbey,” can nurture fantasies.) But it’s especially so at this version of the show, which celebrates the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island and evokes that area’s landmark mansions.
Linda Rosier for The New York Times An Andy Warhol “Jackie” (1964), a work on canvas being shown
at the Geoffrey Diner Gallery booth.
Front and center is a loan exhibition, “Newport: The
Glamour of Ornament,” which consists of art from eight Newport homes; it has been installed in an elaborate pavilion modeled on the Breakers, a Vanderbilt residence. The design (by Jeff Daly, a former senior design adviser to the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) takes advantage of the Armory’s high ceilings by featuring a photographic backdrop of the mansion’s Great Hall that rises above the surrounding booths.
Among the imposing works inside is Giovanni Boldini’s
full-length portrait of Elizabeth Drexel Lehr (later Lady Decies), a gamin beauty ambushed later in life by Weegee in his notorious photograph “The Critic.” Here too are a silk brocade ball gown by Charles Frederick Worth and sculptures by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney,
founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
These items, and the others in the loan exhibition,
aren’t for sale. But those wishing to buy a piece of the Newport set’s lifestyle need only stroll across the aisle to the Associated Artists booth, where there
is a late-19th-century side chair made of gilded maple with pearl intarsia insets and upholstered in red silk embroidered with dragons. The work of Herter
Brothers, it once graced the William H. Vanderbilt mansion in New York.
Nearby at Elle Shushan’s booth, which is a kind of
period room with faux-stucco walls and a quaint wrought-iron gate, is a porcelain miniature of Consuelo Vanderbilt (the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius) at age 7. The Vanderbilts did not entrust this portrait of their
young heiress to just any artist; Alyn Williams, president of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, also painted King Edward VII and President William Howard Taft.
As usual, the 73 exhibitors offer much beyond the
gilded mirrors, grandfather clocks and crystal chandeliers favored by Newport’s “summer cottagers.” Here you can find Japanese scrolls, medieval French books of hours, Chinese porcelain, Roman mosaics, Scandinavian ceramics, Italian glassware and a surprising quantity of humble-looking folk art and Americana.
This being inauguration week, many dealers are devoting
special attention to presidential portraiture and ephemera. At Hirschl & Adler a porcelain vase bears a portrait of Thomas Jefferson. And among the
historic documents at Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery is a signed letter from Abraham Lincoln to Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, dated 1862 and concerning tactics for
the Peninsula Campaign of the Civil War.
The all-American booth of Adelson Galleries includes
the expatriate John Singer Sargent, whose unstarchy approach to the society portrait is fully apparent in the sparkling “Portrait of Dorothy Vickers.” Here
too is a visionary landscape by George Bellows, with white mannequinlike figures frolicking beneath a salmon-colored sunset.
For striking folk art, look to the fair’s northeast
corner. An unidentified artist’s 1830 painting of a girl in a red dress, at David A. Schorsch-Eileen M. Smiles, exudes the magnetism of an Alice Neel portrait. Across the aisle Frank & Barbara Pollack have a fascinating early-19th-century drawing by Hannah P. Badger, an instructor at one of the nation’s earliest coeducational schools; it shows female students poring over books and a globe in a tidy classroom with a colorful checkerboard floor.
Allan Katz Americana has a large selection of
sculptured trade signs, like the giant lace-up boot that once marked an Albany shoe store or the pinstripe-suited man advertising a tobacco shop. (Back in his day, around 1900, the shop owners pumped smoke through the man’s cigar.)
At this fair 20th-century furniture is outnumbered by
older pieces. But Lost City Arts has a real showstopper, a sinuous vermilion wood desk and matching tri-legged chair from 1965 by the furniture designer Wendell Castle of Rochester.
Most dealers advertise their specialties in focused
displays — see “Glass Past” for a clean and stunning example — but a few try to mix it up. At Jonathan Boos spiky Bertoia metal sculptures accompany postcard-sized paintings by Oscar Bluemner, Arthur Dove, George Tooker and others. At Geoffrey Diner, meanwhile, a Warhol “Jackie” has been cast adrift in a dark-walled booth of Tiffany glass — bait, perhaps, for a new generation of
The Winter Antiques Show continues through Feb. 3 at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue, at 67th Street; (718) 292-7392, winterantiquesshow.com.