Born in the USA
With TEFAF at the helm, this year’s autumn fair at New York’s Armory is larger and offers more treasures than ever
THERE were fewer American collectors at the TEFAF Maastricht Fair than usual this year and, although there was American buying at LAPADA, I suspect that the same may be true of the early-autumn fairs in London and Paris. European dealers heading for New York to exhibit at the new Tefaf-organised event at the Park Avenue Armory from October 22 to 26 are trusting that ‘not travelling’ will not equate to ‘not buying’.
As I have mentioned before, recessions and times of political turbulence are generally good for the traditional art and antiques trade and the USA is likely to be in a febrile condition even after November 8, so a certain degree of confidence is justified. In February, after 28 years, Anna and Brian Haughton, organisers of the autumn International Fairs at the Armory, transferred ownership to TEFAF, so this event is both a continuation and a new beginning.
With 94 exhibitors, it will be larger than for some time and many are Maastricht veterans, not all of whom have previously shown in New York. Others are returning after a time away. About two-thirds are European, including at least 25 from London.
Like its predecessor, but not Maastricht, which includes a sometimes variable contemporary element, this fair will range from antiquity to the early 20th century and a second new event organised by TEFAF and its partner Artvest, a New York investment advisory service, will be launched next May to offer Modern and contemporary art.
Koopman, the Chancery Lane silver dealer, is always able to find pieces that tickle the palates of particular audiences and, here, it does so with a tureen by Paul Storr (1771–1844), who is one of the company’s specialities. A group of pieces by him will include the oval tureen on a stand (Fig 1), which was presented in 1799 by shareholders to Thomas Willing (1731– 1821), the first president of the First National Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, then the infant country’s capital. Although Willing had voted against the Declaration of Independence, his partner Robert Morris was known as the ‘financier of the Revolution’. Sound banking practice, no doubt.
An item shown by the arms and armour specialist Peter Finer also has a tangential connection to Philadelphia. A buffe is a protector for the throat and lower face that fits between a helmet and cuirass. This one (Fig 2) was made in about 1586 as part of an armour garniture for the Elector Christian I of Saxony by the last of the great Augsburg armourers, Anton Peffenhauser (1525–1603). Most other elements of the garniture, including the helmet, are still in the Dresden Armoury (or, delightfully, in German, Rüstkammer) but one piece, a vamplate—the round plate that protects the hand holding a lance—is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A marble bust of Lt-gen Sir Herbert Taylor (1775–1839) (Fig 3), which will be with Tomasso Brothers, shows him, discreetly, in Roman armour, but he must have been as accomplished a diplomat as a soldier. He was aide-de-camp to the Duke of York, private secretary to George III and Queen Charlotte, military secretary to the Duke of Wellington, adjutantgeneral of the forces and private secretary to William IV and aide-de-camp to the young Victoria. Despite the notorious difficulties of George IV with the rest of the family, Taylor also remained on good terms with him.
The bust is by Samuel Joseph (1791–1850) and the choice of proud Roman attire was not only professionally appropriate and fashionable, but personally, too, as, on retirement, it was in Rome that he died.
The current 12th Earl of Shaftesbury could be excused a touch of immodesty about his achievement in bringing back from near death St Giles House, the family seat in Dorset. Virtually abandoned in 1954, it was on the register of Buildings at Risk in 2001, but, 10 years after the Earl’s accession in 2005, it won the Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s Restoration Award. Alas, over the decades of abandonment, much of the best furniture was sold off and, at today’s prices, there could be little chance of getting much of it back.
Fig 3: Bust of Lt-gen Sir Herbert Taylor. With Tomasso Brothers
Fig 1: Oval silver tureen (1799). With Koopman
Fig 2: Buffe (about 1586). With Peter Finer