Friday, March 30, 2012

More Herter Brothers

John Tackett over at The Devoted Classicist sent me this image of the Vanderbilt Drawing Room on 5th Avenue which shows the chairs from my previous post in situ. 

The garnet studded onyx columns seen above the chair are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Herter Brothers for the Vanderbilts

The auction house where I grew up offered these chairs for sale this morning. A pair of Herter Brothers chairs designed for the drawing room of the Vanderbilt Mansion on 5th Avenue, circa 1883-84. The upholstery is original and is described in accounts and period images of the house. 

Their provenance is as follows:

Provenance: William H. Vanderbilt, New York, 1881 
Cornelius Vanderbilt III, New York, 1885 
Private collection of a lady El Paso, Texas 
Bequeathed to the Centennial Museum at her death in 1969. 
Property deaccessioned from the Centennial Museum at the University of Texas at El Paso to benefit the Museum Collections Fund. (Accession #E69.26.347 and E69.26.348) 

The estimate, shockingly low in my opinion, was 10,000 - 20,000

The pair sold for 250,000. I really hope someone purchased these for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to ensure their conservation.

Also included in the sale were a pair of Herter Brothers ballroom chairs. Their provenance does not tie them back to the Vanderbilt Mansion, but they were purchased by the same woman who bought the above chairs and donated all of them to the museum in El Paso. 

They were estimated to sell for 2,000 - 3,000
Again, incredibly inexpensive for what these are...
They sold for 60,000.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As a general rule...

I really dislike Degas. What can I say, pastel Ballerinas just don't do it for me. However, mythological/biblical images of women with scarlet ibises really peak my interest. I vaguely remember reading some short story in middle school about a scarlet ibis, and ever since then I've always loved these bizarrely shaped red birds.

I stumbled upon this painting a few weeks ago at work while doing some research and have been fascinated since. It's in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dates from the early 1860s. Degas made sketches for this painting in Rome between 1857-58. Between 1860-62 he added the ibises. The Met's description mentions that he also added similar birds to his historical painting "Semiramis Building Babylon" around the same time (I don't see the birds, google it and check for yourself. However, be warned- the name is more impressive than the actual painting which leaves MUCH to be desired). 

I love the vague Oriental cityscape in the background...

This painting has singlehandedly reformed my opinion on Degas. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Something I saw...

When I was little we would visit my grandfather in rural upcountry Georgia. Nearby there was a relatively  impressive antebellum house that I loved not only because of its unique architectural features, but also because of the peacocks that lived on the property. So naturally, I'm completely in love with this circa 1830 workbox in the form of a peacock. 

Amazing, right? 
He can come live with me whenever he wants.