Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early 19th Century Sofas in the UK and the US

In 1811, King George the III of England was deemed unfit to rule and was replaced by his son who became the Prince Regent. Upon George III’s death in 1820, the Prince Regent was coronated as King George IV. The period directly preceding and following the Prince regent's rule has been dubbed the Regency Period. The Regency Period marked the peak of neoclassical design in home d├ęcor. Antique furniture from Greece, Rome, and Egypt were used as inspiration and very closely imitated. Ornate carvings, intricate gilding, and flora and fauna design elements were very popular. Anything reminiscent of the idealized Classical period was coveted.

This particular sofa features sleek and slender qualities while clearly displaying a taste for Neoclassical design. The feet splay outwards elegantly and the legs feature spiral fluting, picked out in water-gilding on an ebonized ground. The flowerhead design on the seat apron is also executed through gilding, a prominent motif of the Regency period.
The United States was undergoing its own fascination with the great ancient empires during this time as well. Early 19th century American furniture design was heavily influenced by the resurgence of opulent tastes in Europe. This mahogany couch exhibits characteristic splayed legs and lion paw feet.The mahogany is detailed with intricate fern carvings and cornucopiae design heavily influenced by Grecian models. This couch was recently reupholstered with a fabric that would have been very common in American homes.

Reliving the luxurious lifestyles of long-gone ancient civilizations led to changes in lifestyle, aesthetic preferences, and home decor in societies superseding country, culture, and continent.Here at Arader Galleries, these two couches are exemplary of the taste level in both England and the US throughout the Regency Period. Along with these two pieces, Arader is home to many extraordinary pieces of antique furniture. To learn more about the home decor pieces we have, please contact Arader Galleries.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guernsey's Auction, September 8, 2012

The recent Roger Tory Peterson and John James Audubon auction, as featured in the NY Times, conducted by Guernsey’s at Arader Galleries on Madison Ave., in New York this last Saturday, was an unmitigated success, and surely heralds a welcome return to a lively auction scene not often seen since the end of 2008.

Old friends and new packed the second floor at the Arader Galleries flagship store, which saw furious bidding for more than 400 lots of original gouache, watercolour and pencil drawings of birds that illustrate Peterson’s iconic Field Guides. With more than 90% sold by lot, Peterson’s place as the best known and best loved illustrator of birds in modern times is secured. “It is impossible to overestimate the role that Roger Tory Peterson played in 20th-century wildlife art and photography. Like the legendary John James Audubon before him, Peterson’s pioneering approach to the art of nature changed how everyday Americans interacted with the world around them, in particular with birds. The detailed paintings Peterson produced depicted birds in a realistic and easily recognisable way and in their natural habitat. That art, translated into his Field Guides to Birds, made modern bird-watching easily do-able by a regular person...” (Guernsey’s sale catalogue).

Audubon’s magnificent hand-coloured aquatints from the double elephant folio edition of  The Birds of America” (1827-1838), the single most important work on North American ornithology, were more than 80% sold by lot. Many, many lots by both artists achieved well over their high estimates; but by far and away the star of the auction was plate 431, Audubon’s life-size, vibrantly coloured American Flamingo at more than $125,000 inclusive. Other notable prices were achieved for Audubon’s Common American Swann at $97,600, and his Trumpeter Swann at $76,250.

Arader Galleries retains a comprehensive gallery of works of art by both Audubon and Roger Tory Peterson, and we welcome all visitors at our galleries in New York, Philadelphia, Houston and San Francisco, or to our website

The End of the Edo Period: Growing Curiosity in Japan

For roughly 250 years Japan was subject to one ruling family. The Tokugawa family was known for imposing rigid social orders and strict isolationism from foreign contact and trade. The little contact they had with Europeans from 1603-1868 came from Dejima, a small man-made island in Nagasaki's harbor. This island was home to the Dutch East India Company. Any other Europeans that docked in a Japanese port during the Edo period would be put to death without a trial. The complete isolationism nurtured a boom in Japanese culture. Art, entertainment, and fashion became points of interest among urban populations. Around the early 1800's European intrusions were on the rise. To understand these new "barbarians", Rangaku (Dutch studies) became important to the Japanese in understanding and defeating the foreign enemies. Growing interest in the west only increased after a peasant uprising in 1830 forced the Japanese to acknowledge the growing issues within their country. As more citizens looked to the West for answers, Japanese officials tightened their anti-foreigner policy once again. This only caused more unrest amongst the people and invited in more westerners trying to establish trade relations.
This map completed in 1850 is a prime example of the increasing interest the Japanese were developing in the West. This world map displays a fusion of the artistic culture that had blossomed in the Edo period and the desire to understand how the rest of the world functioned and interacted with each other. Instead of focusing solely on Japan's towns and provinces, the mapmaker indicates the value of trading internationally while stylistically holding on to Japanese traditions. Many maps made in this era disregard geographical accuracy, believing that this was inevitable. In comparison to European made maps from nearly a century prior, the level of accuracy is years advanced.
 Japan began reluctantly opening its borders to American traders. This hurt Japan's economy but opened up the country to Western culture. By 1859, western texts and literature were being translated by the government and western military schools led by the Dutch were allowed. Japan ushered in a new era in 1868 when the final Tokugawa resigned and all Japanese borders were opened. Maps from this point on take on a very distinctly European look and cartographers begin paying close attention to the accuracy of their pieces.

This map from 1850 is a rare piece representing a time in which Japan was on the brink of a major cultural change. It retains the Edo period's style and execution while acknowledging Japan's place in the booming world trade markets.

In addition to this historical map, Arader Galleries also offers a selection of Japanese works from this era on a variety of subjects including: whaling, botanicals, livestock, and commerce. For more information, please contact Arader Galleries.