Christie’s recently unveiled its highly anticipated annual event, the “Exquisite Americana Live Auction,” scheduled for 18 and 19 January 2024 at the prestigious Christie’s Rockefeller Center.
This esteemed sale is a highlight of Americana Week, a celebration of American heritage, featuring an array of live auctions.
The Americana Week commences with the Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana auction on 17 January, followed by the sale of 19th Century American & Western Art on the morning of 18 January.
The “Exquisite Americana” auction, renowned for its diverse collection, will showcase an array of American fine art, including furniture, folk art, and silver.
Additionally, it will feature Chinese Export Porcelain and American ceramics, highlighting the cross-cultural influences in American art history.
Christie’s Important Americana Auction Highlights
The Founding Fathers Collection: A Tribute to George Washington and More
Central to the sale is an extraordinary lifetime portrait of George Washington, crafted by Gilbert Stuart, recognized as the first President’s most accomplished portraitist.
This iconic piece, originally part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, stands out for its historical significance and artistic merit.
The portrait, known as the “Vaughan-type,” depicts Washington in a right-facing pose, and is one of only fourteen known to exist, with a mere four held privately.
This particular portrait, previously owned by the Philips family of Manchester, who were notable supporters of the American Revolution, is a masterpiece of historical importance.
Accompanying this iconic portrait is an impressive collection of artworks depicting other Founding Fathers, including pieces linked to Benjamin Franklin and mesmerizing portraits of Washington by Rembrandt Peale.
Folk Paintings: Capturing the Essence of American Life
The auction boasts significant works by preeminent artists in the realm of folk painting.
A highlight is a touching portrait of a mother and child by Joshua Johnson, celebrated as the first known Black American professional portraitist. This piece, which has remained within the family of the sitters, embodies the intimate essence of American family life.
The collection of Mr. and Mrs. Martin S. Himeles, Sr., from Maryland, contributes to this category with works such as an Ammi Phillips portrait and a William Prior portrait of siblings.
Additionally, a landscape overmantel painting by Winthrop Chandler, which adorned a Massachusetts tavern until the 1980s, represents an early form of American landscape art.
Folk Sculpture: Unique and Intricate Art Forms
Leading the folk sculpture section are pieces in remarkable condition from a private collection.
Noteworthy among these is a rare Figure of a Racetrack Tout, still boasting much of its original painted surface. Another highlight is a large, stylistic peacock feather church banner weathervane, originally found on a church in Orono, Maine.
The collection also includes an impressive “Index” horse weathervane, notable for its scale and condition, showcasing the diverse range of American folk sculpture.
Furniture: Craftsmanship and Elegance
The furniture segment of the auction includes exceptional pieces that showcase the skill of American artisans.
Notable are two chairs carved by master craftsman John Pollard – the Deshler side chair and the Dickinson side chair, both from the Wunsch Collection.
Other significant pieces include a rare “Lighthouse” shelf clock, also from the Wunsch Collection, and a Paint-Grained Chest-of-Drawers, remarkable for its intricate grain painting and excellent preservation.
Silver: A Diverse and Rich Collection
The auction presents a robust selection of silver items, approximately 100 lots, sourced from four significant private collections.
Highlights include Colonial silver from the Wunsch family and small gold items such as mourning jewellery from the Manney family.
The Orange Blossom Collection offers around 40 lots of exquisite pieces, including works by Tiffany and Whiting.
The collection also features colonial tankards from the late Mr. and Mrs. Bowen Blair of Lake Forest, IL.
Chinese Export Porcelain and American Ceramics: A Fusion of Cultures
This category is led by a collection of 40 items from the Estate of Marvin Davidson.
It features exceptionally rare dragon-carp tureens and stands, a European figure group formerly part of the Mottahedeh collection, an intriguing ‘erotic’ pedicure group, and various armorial wares, including a plate from the Okeover service.
The selection also encompasses enamelled court ladies and European subject wares, with items ranging from plates depicting scenes from Don Quixote to barber’s basins and ‘hunting’ punchbowls, illustrating the rich cultural interplay in American ceramics.
Conclusion: A Reflection of American Artistry and History
The “Exquisite Americana Live Auction” at Christie’s is more than just an auction; it’s a celebration of American art and history, reflecting the country’s diverse cultural heritage.
From the rare portraits of founding fathers to the intricate folk sculptures and fine furniture, this event is set to be a landmark in the world of art auctions.
Collectors and art enthusiasts alike are invited to witness this spectacular showcase of American artistry and historical treasures.