Read and rights

A con­tro­ver­sial ac­count of early Jewish settlement in Amer­ica and pho­to­graphs of Na­tive Amer­i­cans do bet­ter than ex­pected

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

THE first Jew known to have set­tled in North Amer­ica was Elias Le­garde, ser­vant to An­thonie Bon­all, a Huguenot vi­gneron sent to Vir­ginia in 1621 to in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­bil­i­ties of New World wine-mak­ing. The next ar­rived in Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts, in 1649, but was re­turned to Hol­land al­most im­me­di­ately. Thus the ref­er­ences to Jews in Amer­ica in John Sadler’s Rights of the King­dom: or, Cus­toms of our Ances­tours (Fig 1), pub­lished in 1649, are likely to be largely the­o­ret­i­cal.

Like modern Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cals, Sadler (1615–74), mil­lenar­ian, lawyer, politi­cian, He­brew scholar and aca­demic, was prin­ci­pally in­ter­ested in the Jews as har­bin­gers of the Sec­ond Com­ing of Christ and he be­lieved the same of the Bri­tish Civil Wars and the rule of Cromwell.

He was partly re­spon­si­ble for the grant­ing of civil rights to the Jews, and, although in this book he ad­vo­cated regi­cide, he also pro­moted prison re­form.

At the Restora­tion, he lost his post as Pres­i­dent of Mag­da­lene Col­lege, Cam­bridge, and although, in 1662, he had proph­e­sied a great fire of Lon­don, he lost much of his prop­erty there when the Great Fire ac­tu­ally broke out four years later. At Mag­da­lene, they ‘ac­counted him not only a gen­eral scholar, and an ac­com­plished gen­tle­man, but also a per­son of great piety; though it must be owned he was not al­ways right in his head’.

A copy of the book, es­ti­mated to just £300 at Blooms­bury in mid De­cem­ber, sold for £10,540. First edi­tions are rare, but the dis­crep­ancy was per­haps due to

an in­scrip­tion and own­er­ship sig­na­ture that the cat­a­loguer read as ‘This Book is worth its weight in Gold, Yea, in Dy­monds says J.P.’ and ‘J.S.M.P ENN’. To my eye, the ini­tials in both cases ap­pear to be ‘Wm’ and the elab­o­rately scrolling cap­i­tal Ps are typ­i­cal of the founder of Penn­syl­va­nia (1644–1718).

A fur­ther in­scrip­tion says that it was the gift of Penn’s ‘kins­man Sir John Fagg of Wis­ton’, who had been nom­i­nated to the com­mis­sion that tried Charles I, but re­fused to sign the war­rant, thus earn­ing a baronetcy from Charles II.

A cou­ple of lots later, a war­rant signed by Penn, us­ing a slightly less elab­o­rate P, along with Sa­muel Pepys and Vis­count Brouncker, sold for £868 (Fig 2). It is an or­der for the crew­ing of the yacht

Lenox, which was bor­rowed by the Royal Navy dur­ing the 1660s and 1670s from the Duke of Rich­mond and Len­nox. He used it of­fi­cially when he was am­bas­sador to Den­mark, thus neatly get­ting the state to pay him for the use of his own boat.

The ven­dor of the Sadler was prob­a­bly lucky that this book and man­u­script sale was fol­lowed im­me­di­ately by the sale of a col­lec­tion of more than 300 large­for­mat pho­togravure plates pub­lished to ac­com­pany Ed­ward S. Cur­tis’s

The North Amer- ican In­dian (1907–30), which may have alerted Transatlantic bid­ders to it. The ses­sion be­gan with the first 13 vol­umes of 20 of the pub­lished edi­tion, which sold for £86,800, and the most ex­pen­sive pho­togravure was Cañon de Chelly—navaho at £17,360 against a £2,000 es­ti­mate. An im­pres­sion of per­haps the most fa­mous im­age of all, The Van­ish­ing Race—

Navaho (Fig 3), made £1,488. Thoughts of van­ish­ing and neat money-mak­ing wheezes bring me to Min­i­mal­ism. When Peter Man­del­son was be­ing cas­ti­gated for his dodgy prop­erty ar­range­ments, I was much more shocked by the pho­tos of the evis­cer­ated in­te­rior of his Not­ting Hill house. It is nat­u­ral enough for peo­ple who are un­cer­tain of their own tastes to buy a ‘look’ from an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor and, if the dec­o­ra­tor can la­bel a ‘look’ that has cost him very lit­tle ‘Min­i­mal­ism’ and sell it very ex­pen­sively, that is some­times to be ex­pected.

How­ever, it does seem as if the fash­ion for ster­ile in­te­ri­ors has run its course. Our minds and senses need all the fun they can find at the mo­ment and sight and touch are much bet­ter served by va­ri­ety, colour and con­trast than by white walls. Which leads us to the win­ter Dec­o­ra­tive An­tiques and Tex­tiles Fair in the Bat­tersea Park mar­quee from Jan­uary 24 to 29. Here, the idea that pe­ri­ods, styles and gen­res can be mixed to ad­van­tage is well ac­cepted and there are no real bound­aries be­tween an­tique deal­ers and dec­o­ra­tors.

The en­trance area at th­ese events is now used for themed dis­plays drawn from a num­ber of ex­hibitors, and this time the theme is Gothic, as rein­ter­preted for the 21st cen­tury. In fact, I think that should per­haps be ‘Goth­ick’ as it seems to be in­spired by Straw­berry Hill rather than the Mid­dle Ages. Within, there will be more tex­tiles than pre­vi­ously, as the Lon­don An­tique Rug & Tex­tile Fair has merged with the Dec­o­ra­tive event.

Among th­ese ex­hibits, I look for­ward to see­ing two in par­tic­u­lar. C. John of May­fair has a colour­ful oval carpet (Fig 4), mea­sur­ing nearly 10ft at the long­est, de­signed by the Bel­gian Art Deco ar­chi­tect Al­bert Van Huf­fel (1877–1935), and Stothert and Trice of­fer a Fin­nish-style rya (rug) (Fig 6) de­signed in 1962 by Jean Cocteau for a Mal­tese com­pany called Mediter­ranean In­dus­tries. Only about five of the pro­posed 50 were made be­fore Cocteau’s death, so this rar­ity is priced at £6,500.

An­other cu­rios­ity, with Kate Thur­low, is a 12½in-high 18th­cen­tury north Italian wooden model of a bap­tistry (Fig 5), topped by a bell and pre­sum­ably in­tended to carry a chal­ice (£2,200).

Next week The sea­son for works on pa­per

Fig 1 left: John Sadler’s Rights of the King­dom: or, Cus­toms of Our Ances­tours. £10,540. Fig 2 right: A war­rant signed by Wil­liam Penn. £868. Fig 3 be­low: Print of Ed­ward S. Cur­tis’s The Van­ish­ing Race— Navajo. £1,488

Fig 4 left: Bel­gian 10ft oval carpet. With C. John of May­fair. Fig 5 right: Model bap­tistry. With Kate Thur­low

Fig 6: Cocteau rya or rug. With Stothert & Trice

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