Whitehall Blog

Archive for January, 2012

Tribute to Mary D.B.T. Semans

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

This week North Carolina lost it’s true “First Lady” and we are all deeply saddened.  Mary Semans graciously supported the arts, stalwartly built the health of Duke University, and was a true and caring friend to all who had the joy of knowing her.  She had the innate grace that made all feel comfortable with her, cherished by her.  No conversation ever occurred without Mary inquiring about health, good works in progress, the importance of the person with whom she was speaking.  For over 60 years she defined grace and character, from serving on Durham’s town council as a young widow with four little girls to founding The North Carolina School of the Arts with her second husband (the beloved Dr. James Semans) to guiding the Duke Endowment for generations (for the benefit of past and future generations).  These accomplishments were only a few of her lifetime of amazing accomplishments.  But above all she loved all those on whom she lavished her care, support and praise–pushing others to do the things she knew needed doing, realizing she could not do it all!

Summer Seminar Plans

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Elizabeth and I are pleased to say the 6 day Whitehall Summer Antiques Seminar is coming along, planned for July 22-27 and again held in the wonderful, gracious and affordable Siena Hotel, thanks to their exceptional rate for our courses.  One course has been confirmed, although precise scope and outline will not be released until the entire program is set.  We are excited to offer a two day course on American Federal Furniture and its links to English design and English training.  The second day of the course will be held at Richard Jenrette’s magnificent Ayr Mount Plantation, perhaps the finest period Federal house in North Carolina, certainly the gem of the Piedmont Region!  We will lead an examination of the collection, affording us the opportunity to turn pieces upside down and inside out, as appropriate to our exploration of style and construction techniques.  The house is one of the famous collection of Federal houses owned by Mr. Jenrette.  His glorious Edgewater is on the cover of this issue of Antiques (The Magazine Antiques).  We are exploring several other intriguing courses and lecturers and will release all in a few weeks!  Elizabeth and I are truly excited about leading you through this great collection.

Painted Italian Commode

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

This exquisite little 18th century Italian commode has just arrived in the shop.


c. 1770-90 Commode

While the actual color is a bit darker, the colors are truly amazing–all original paint reminiscent of the walls of the newly discovered Pompeii of the mid-18th century, a discovery that led to the rise of neo-classicism throughout the Western World.  Those traveling on the Grand Tour to see the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum were astonished by the graceful trailing vines, flowers, repetitive delicate motifs, oval medallions, circular motifs, etc.  Artists flocked to these sights to paint them and show these marvels to all the cities of the world.

Side View

Note the details of such enormous delicacy!

Of course, this is exactly what the crooks of modern Italy paint, age and ship to Atlanta, Texas and other centers for the introduction of fakes into the American market.  This is the real thing–take a look at the next photo of the back of this lovely piece.

Single Board Back

This marvelous shot shows the huge dovetails that set the back directly into the rear legs–about as solid as construction ever gets!  Note the broad swipes of the planing and the dark undisturbed oxidation, hallmarks of an 18th century piece.

Top Surface

Finally examine this photo of the top surface.  Of course there are signs of use, some discoloration possibly from old water stains, lines from movement of the wooden surface below the gesso base for the paint.  There is flaking and crackling of the surface.  And anyone who loves rare surviving 18th century painted surfaces must love a piece like this.

New Shipment

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Tomorrow a new shipment of beautiful antiques opens for exploration at 11:00 am.  Please come enjoy exploring these wonderful pieces from small Georgian chests to graceful little French tables!

Vero Beach Show

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The fine Vero Beach Museum of Art Antiques Show and Sale opens next Thursday evening and runs daily through Sunday, January 15th.  We are pleased to once again offer an exciting 56′ long booth filled with 18th century country French, Italian and English furniture and accessories, as well as an array of antique bamboo, pub signs and other “light hearted” pieces.  The show has fine art dealers, oriental rug dealers, print specialists, rare book dealers and clock specialists, and of course dealers offering a full range of antique furniture.  The show benefits the Museum of Art and should not be missed if you are within reach of Vero!  Details at   www.verobeachmuseum.org

More Ice!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

A Cold New Year in the Sunny South

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

French Fountain in Fisk Basin, both c. 1870

This great fountain and basin are from a southern estate and were acquired from Barbara Israel, America’s finest antique garden dealer, about 10 years ago–truly fabulous any season but amazing this morning with our first cold snap of the season!  Details on website in the Garden section.  We will happily arrange delivery to your garden but we will not do it ourselves–a few tons of cast iron!

Happy New Year

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

We at Whitehall wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!