David Lindquist, co-owner of Whitehall Antiques in Chapel Hill has recently had an article published in the newly released book: Journal of Advanced Appraisal Studies–2012 (ISBN:978-1-105-57805-2). Edited by Todd W. Sigety for The Foundation for Appraisal Education of The International Society of Appraisers, the book encompasses a wide range of significant issues in the field of professional appraising and is the most important annual publication in the appraisal field. Mr. Lindquist’s article explores in depth the authentication and valuation of multi-part antiques. While specifically intended for America’s leading antiques and art appraisers, this compendium of articles newly prepared for this book is quite approachable and fascinating for anyone interested in art and antiques, especially those who are desirous of collecting and authenticating the best in every field.
Archive for April, 2012
We are thrilled that the Sigourney Cheek Collection to go on sale this Friday (your lucky Friday The Thirteenth!) includes a highly important bulb pot in the manner of Old Paris Porcelains of 18th century France. This might have slipped through as authentic had not some old tags including the original Christie’s London sale tag still been present! It is really really good fake!
Artfully painted and gilded, notice that there are kiln fault lines on each side of the panel against the pilasters–who would expect a faker to deliberately create imperfect pieces, but that was the art of Samson! Also note the rubbed areas of gilding. This rubbing might seem natural, but as those who know my monograph on Samson, based on the 19th century report on the factory by Sarah Cooper Hewitt, are aware, the factory workers could “add a hundred years of wear in a thrice”! This is pumice induced wear.
This close up really displays the kiln induced imperfection.
This photo really shows both the wonderful and rarely found bulb insert (rarely found on 1770′s pieces!) for seven tulip or other bulbs and ten stems together with the Christie’s label. Think what it tells you!
Ready for the answer? It must be a London Sale because the dating system follows English/European style, not American style, in that the date is first, then the month and finally the year. So I picked up the phone and called Christie’s since these old catalogues are not on line and within a couple of hours I received an excited call that the piece was sold at one of, for porcelain students, the most important sales of the 20th century: on June 16, 1980 in London the entire “Original Factory Models from the Showroom of Establissement Edme Samson” was sold. This item was lot 79 and it was one of the most expensive lots sold.
Perhaps the only solidly researched book on Samson was published in 2002 by the fabulously reliable French publisher of all sorts of decorative arts books, Editions Charles Massin: “Samson Genie de L’imitation” by Florence Slitine with a preface by Tamara Preaud, director of archives at Sevres. On page 127 is this exact piece in full color, a piece now in the collection of Monique Rowand. It also displays more minor kiln faults in the same locations, but no wear to the gilding. It has no mark–one of the truly naughty pieces produced by Samson to be sold by important and thoroughly dishonest English, European and American dealers in the 19th century and early 20th century.
Our piece is also unmarked–clearly indicating that Samson intended these pieces to be foolers!
Here we see the other kiln faults at each of the front feet–again faults designed to make one believe the piece authentic. Also it is clearly unmarked although the first thing that caught my attention and made me think about this piece was the slightly rubbed area–often seen on antiques of questionable age which have had undesirable marks removed.
Wonderfully because of the provenance of this piece the paper labels of the Samson atelier have been preserved!
Inside the pot is the paper label which has left only a trace on the back–retained on the back is the factory model # and another label.
What might we add to our mental notes for examining porcelain–and what should we know from our porcelain studies? The most important facts to consider are: who would have made the original, for whom would they have made it, and what standard would be expected?
Slitine believes this particular model’s original was produced either in the Paris factory under the patronage of the Queen or of the Comte d’Artois–very likely correct. From Sevres to Vincennes to Paris production, these factories were under the patronage of the Royal families of France (as were the German factories under the great Germanic princes’ patronage). They were producing pieces for the most fabulously wealthy families of the 18th centuries (only England produced for the middle class–the brilliance and innovation of Wedgwood and his contemporaries).
What does this mean? No great porcelain factory of France (or Germany, Russia, Italy, etc.) would have even considered selling a defective, kiln flawed piece such as this bulb pot. Their products were flawless (although eventually seconds were sold to English, Bohemian and other small factories to decorate and sell, rather than destroying the imperfect pieces). So the presence of such obvious flaws should have been a clanging alarm bell. However, the buyers of these fakes often swirling through Europe on The Grand Tour or avidly collecting from the antiques dealers of the great cities of America and Europe were basically ignorant of the true history of porcelain manufacture. It was easy for a dealer to point to these flaws and say: “My dear, can’t you just imagine the enormous difficulties faced by 18th century porcelain makers. We always find such flaws sooooo reassuring because we all know how flawed true antiques are.”
Kiln flaws are indeed constantly found in the field of ceramics–all on products quickly produced for the middle class in the late 18th and all of the 19th centuries–think Staffordshire District figures.
For all ceramics there are clues to the right and the wrong–and most fascinating, what is right for one type of ceramic may be totally wrong for another type.
Come see this exquisite piece this Friday!
We have begun to prepare the descriptions of the wonderful estate of Sigourney Cheek of Nashville, Tennessee–exceptional silver, intriguing copper, gorgeous armorial English ceramics (Flight Barr and Barr, etc). But today I want to give you a preview of the unveiling of these items next Friday, the 13th, and also a taste of the extent to which we go to properly research, authenticate and guarantee every item we sell.
Sigourney was a fanatical collector of Staffordshire figures, ranging from the 18th century through the Victorian era. Of the Victorian pieces, most are dogs (and one terrific fox!), but the most wonderful pieces are the early works of John Walton, Enoch Wood, and Ralph Wood, Jr. as well as the many groups categorized by scholars over the years but not specifically attributed. This is a rarified area of expertise and happily over the years both Pat Halfpenny and Myrna Schkolne have become friends. Pat, long of Winterthur, is the author of “English Earthenware Figures, 1740-1840″ and Myrna Schkolne, is the author of “People, Passions, Pastimes and Pleasures, Staffordshire Figures, 1810-1835″ as well as a massive four volume set to be published by Schiffer. Both of their books are readily available on all internet book sites and both are simply invaluable resources. Myrna’s blog is also a continual parade of fascinating information with lots of fakes revealed and auction house and ebay shenanigans exposed! Delicious fun. (Simply google Myrna Schkolne and sign in to her blog–you will be greatly rewarded!)
Most happily Myrna lives a bit over an hour away and she graciously took three hours last week to share her knowledge of each piece with Elizabeth and me. Here are a few photos of the three of us exploring the collection–the early pieces only. All have now been described and priced, the tags are being prepared and on April 13th they will be available for sale (with a few exceptions of pieces spoken for by FOS–friends of Sigourney).
Even the miniscule ring is intact and perfect on this Persuasion (a proposal of marriage).
For those of you who are blowing up or magnifying these photos, the four pieces not available are the little dog, Persuasion, Performing Bear and The Dandies.
Available items will include: a Pratt Autumn, The Scottsman, The Fawn, Baby in Cradle, John Walton signed Ewe and Lamb spill, The Hunter, The Gardner (additional provenance of Fred S. Johnston Collection, Kingston, NY, and Winterthur Board Member), The Tithe (Tythe) Pig of Enoch Wood, Boy With Bird’s Nest (additional provenance of Jonathan Horne) made and marked by Ralph Wood, Jr., a charming Ewe and Lamb, Bag Piper with Dog and Swan spill (a bit later at c. 1830), Jobson the Cobbler, also c. 1830, and many more. Come visit us on Friday the 13th!