Vintage finds for the holiday season

Editorial Staff Opinion

Who can forget the excitement of seeing Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker as a child? The magical “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in Act II left an indelible mark on me that still stirs up fond memories from my childhood. First performed in 1892 in St. Petersburg (illustrated above), the ballet’s popularity did not spread to the United States until …

Editor’s letter, December 2009

Editorial Staff Opinion

There is a great deal of fretting these days about the future of collecting and the dearth of young collectors. Were there ever many young collectors? Probably not. It takes the perspective of age (as well as the accumulation of capital) to do what the best antiques collectors do: value a folk art painting or a tall-case clock for the …

Editor’s letter, November 2009

Editorial Staff Opinion

Here is a point that had somehow eluded me until now: eighteenth-century American furniture—a John Townsend chest-on-chest, a Philadelphia tea table—was already bold, original, and world class while American painting was still struggling for stature and its own voice. This discrepancy dawned on me while reading Carrie Rebora Barratt and Barbara Weinberg’s article in this issue about the stories American …

Editor’s letter, October 2009

Editorial Staff Opinion

A few months ago Eleanor Gustafson and I spent a day as guests of Historic New England. We had wanted to see what I like to think of as the bookends of that organization’s historic houses­—the 1938 Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with its spare, modernist decor and bracing use of industrial materials, and the rambling, mysterious Beauport in Gloucester, …

Editor’s letter, September 2009

Editorial Staff Opinion

One of the things I admire about Electra Havemeyer Webb was her instinctive sense that the cultural designations of high-, low-, and middlebrow were silly.  I do not mean to suggest that Webb was a prophet of late twentieth-century multiculturalism or that she could have argued for the relative merits of a beautifully carved duck decoy vis à vis a …

Asia Week Highlight: A conversation with Joan B. Mirviss

Editorial Staff Opinion

As a highlight of Asia Week in New York, we spoke with Joan B. Mirviss, a veteran dealer who specializes in Japanese painting, woodblock prints, and contemporary ceramics. Mirviss discusses the market, the Haughtons, and Kawase Shinobu, the ceramics artist whose work is currently on view at her gallery. Can you explain some of the differences between selling Japanese antiques …

The Way We See Things Now: The Times, the National Gallery, and the new orthodoxy

Editorial Staff Opinion

On Friday March 6 Roberta Smith of the New York Times delivered a spirited and largely negative review of the recent reopening of the American painting galleries at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Held fast in the grip of what she describes as the “strictly orthodox” arrangement of periods and schools, the rooms bored her and, she …

Instant Symposium: Eileen Gray’s Dragons chair, a new design icon?

Editorial Staff Opinion

With the extraordinary sale of the Eileen Gray Dragons chair for $28.3 million at the YSL-Bergé auctions last week, we asked a group of dealers, curators, and other 20th century design experts for their reactions. Here are some of their comments: Liz O’Brien/ Liz O’Brien, New York City I was thrilled with the result. Everyone expected the Gray pieces to …

The Rabbit and the Rat: Who owns Chinese Antiquities? An interview with Kate Fitz Gibbon

Editorial Staff Opinion

Among the notable objects at the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé sale were a pair of bronze heads, a rabbit and a rat, that were two of twelve zodiacal forms that originally decorated an elaborate clepsydra, or water clock, in the Yuanming Yuan garden of the Old Summer Palace under Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795). In 1860, during the Second Opium …

Thrilling Results at YSL-Bergé Sale

Editorial Staff Opinion

Attending the historic three-day series of sales of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé was always going to be an extraordinary experience.  And it was. Imagine queues lasting five hours for the public preview, which saw over 30,000 people waiting to get in.  In the rain.  Imagine holding a huge sale with an audience of 1500 under …