Only two days remain to the latest arts fair on view, the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show. A vibrant display of the most exquisite works of art and décor, IFAADS’s more than seventy dealers offer everything from museum-worthy oil paintings to ancient Greek artifacts.
Visiting the show is an art-lover’s dream. Beautiful –and expensive- artworks line the walls, jewelry glitters in display cases, and home furnishings and décor made by master craftsmen decorate many booths. Find something you like? Want a closer look at that African mask? Or see if that diamond ring will fit your finger? Gallery owners are only too happy to show you their wares. Even better than a museum – yes, here, touching is often allowed.
Taking place at the elegant Park Avenue Armory, on the heels of the AVENUE Antiques Art and Design Show, the IFAADS kicked off their 25th edition on Thursday night with a benefit party for the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The rich and fashionable mingled within the Armory’s vast hall, happily chatting over wine about this chair or that lamp.
Every gallery boasted worthy pieces that would certainly find happy homes in a museum – or Italian palace.
One of the last booths at the show, Enrico Galerie d’Arte had the belle of the ball, Princess Cecile. Beautifully painted with fluent and fast brushstrokes, the Portrait of Princess Cécile Murat Ney d’Elchingen was created in 1910 by Giovanni Boldini. Standing a whopping 7.8 feet tall and dressed in an elaborate gilded frame, the princess wears a sweeping black gown with a pink sash and matching black heels. Her pale complexion is tempered by the rouge in her cheeks and the cluster of roses that she clutches to her bosom. The princess’s patrician features are evident through her full arched eyebrows, pointed nose, and upswept hair. This beauty was previously owned by a single family, taking pride of place at the Murat’s Hotel Murat in Paris, a grand palace that once represented the aristocratic class of the 20th century. Boldini’s portrait hung alongside the artistry of other notable artists of the time – until, according to Enrico Galerie’s owners, the structure was destroyed and any family ties to the painting was severed. At 1.8 million dollars, Boldini’s masterpiece belongs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art or a similar institution.
The Hartmann exhibition clock takes pride of place at the Richard Redding Antiques booth. A brilliantly golden timepiece with a staggering eight clock faces, this piece was created by Francois-Joseph Hartmann and enameled by Joseph Coteau in 1800. There is so much to this single object that it is difficult to describe. According to the gallery’s highlight brochure, the clock has a “main dial with five hands comprising a blued steel calendar hand with an eccentric moon tip denoting the date, a blued steel centre seconds hand, a gilt and engraved brass hour hand, a gilt and engraved brass minute hand for solar time and a pierced blued steel hand for mean time, with an open centre showing the wheels of five-star crossings.” The clock tells the seasons, the day of the week, the calendar month, the numbered day of the month, sunrise and sunset, the lunar calendar, latitude and longitude, places around the globe, and –oh yes, of course- the actual time. This intricate piece stands two and a half feet tall, clock faces stacked atop one another, gears hidden yet open in back. The clock has been owned by the same family for the past two centuries and “is of supreme historical importance combining scientific complexity and aesthetic beauty.”
Another fascinating find at the show is the oversized “Map of the British Empire in America” created by Henry Popple and on display at Daniel Crouch Rare Books. Created in 1746, only three decades before America declared its independence, this map was “the first English map to name all the original thirteen colonies and one of the first maps to show Georgia.” It was produced in such a large size to give a better impression of England’s holdings of foreign lands. This piece has a price tag of $250,000, while a pair of globes in the same gallery space is offered for almost ten times that, at two million dollars. The globes are a marvel to behold, titled “The Apotheosis of the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography” and depicting both terrestrial and celestial spheres. Each globe stretches to a 26 inch diameter and is “composed of 36 hand-coloured engraved half gores and two polar calottes pasted on to a plaster sphere rotating on brass pinions within brass meridian ring with graduated scale.” These globes were crafted by Willem Janszoon Blaeu from 1645-1648, and are the “largest globes ever made in Amsterdam, and even the world’s largest up to that time.” The terrestrial globe depicts the world as cartographers and navigators knew it, including updated information on Tierra del Fuego; the celestial globe includes astronomical items like the Milky Way Galaxy, constellations and star groups.
What splendor, at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show this fall. Tiffany lamps, Henry Moore sculpture, porcupine-quill African costume, Louis XV gilt palace armchairs, and Cartier ruby jewelry are all displayed prominently in the Amory’s massive drill hall. Each item is a masterpiece – take some time to wander to each gallery and revel in the beauty of fine craftsmanship. Admission is $20 per person. Unlike most fairs, this one lasts an entire week, but hurry – the last day is this Thursday, October 31.