Research on Antiques & Collectibles




JOHN JAMES AUDUBON:   The legend and the real person

John James Audubon has left this nation a rich and strangely mixed legacy. His name has been a household word for generations. For Boy Scouts it evokes visions of the resourceful backwoodsman who roamed the wilderness with the freedom and cunning of the wild creatures he discovered there. For earnest nature lovers and all manner of environmentalists it has served as a rallying cry for their different causes. To professional ornithologists it recalls work in the field, which in its day had no precedent and which gave impetus to new and important developments in the study of natural history. And art lovers and collectors, many with apparently no other interest in birds, look for the magic name in galleries or at auction, and are often ready to...    Read Full Story



The best trained painters working in the United States after the War of 1812, Washington Allston, John Vanderlyn, and Samuel F. B. Morse, subscribed to a modification of neo-classical theory then not uncommon in Europe. The doctrine that, because of the superiority of Greek classic society, only the ancients had perfect bodies, had been broadened to postulate that among ordinary men only European peasants were worth painting, because, as Vanderlyn explained, their lack of "fashion and frivolity" gave them a closeness to nature, a universality not found elsewhere. Differing widely from the European norm, Americans were clearly the least universal of Western men....    Read Full Story



A lovely miniature is ever a choice treasure, and particularly so when from the hand of that great master, Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807). The appearance of an unrecorded pair of Malbone miniatures is bound to create interest among admirers of his work. Until early 20thC, the existence of the miniatures was known to only a few, but such outstanding examples of Malbone's artistry could not long remain obscure. They came to light in the world of art in 1933, when photographs were furnished to the late Ruel P. Tolman, then acting director of the National Gallery of Art, for reproduction in the work about Malbone upon which he was ....    Read Full Story



I was once told by a picture dealer that he considered Stubbs, Marshall, I was once told by a picture dealer that he considered Stubbs, Marshall, and Ferneley the three best British sporting painters, and he placed them in that order. I do not suppose that many will find fault with this appreciation. A good idea of the rise in monetary value of sporting pictures during the present century may be gained from the prices paid for the famous portrait by George Stubbs of that unbeatable race horse ‘Eclipse’. At the Elsenham Hall sale in 1915 this painting realized 700 guineas; it was resold in 1929 for ten times that sum, and finally found a....    Read Full Story



Like the English and Dutch, nineteenth-century Americans were deeply concerned with the sea. It was a source of food, a broad highway for transportation of goods, and a means of access to the world outside. The art of ship painting, therefore, was a logical development of the time, and it met the needs of a people whose livelihood came from ships and salt water. After the turn of the century, the amount and variety of traffic at sea produced several regional styles of marine painting that reached high-water mark with the mid-century and the ....    Read Full Story


MARK CATESBY: Another Audubon?

A full century before John James Audubon published his ‘Birds of America’, an Englishman, Mark Catesby, brought out two folio volumes of what he grandly named ‘Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands’. This is probably the first history of any importance ever done of American flora and fauna; certainly it is the foremost on American birds, which comprise a great part of the work. Catesby came to Virginia in 1712 to collect plants. In 1722 he returned with the intention of compiling this major work on our natural history. When he took his material back to England in 1726, however, he was so appalled....    Read Full Story







On April 6, 1846, Henry Lewis, shipping a picture from St. Louis to the American Art Union, wrote on the bill of lading: "Should this picture please I should be happy to fill any order for you, in the way of views of Western Scenery." Lewis was then at the beginning of a career that might have developed into an important one as a recorder of Mississippi Valley scenes had he not been diverted presently to another field. But even in the few years he devoted to western landscapes he produced dozens of oils and also filled several sketchbooks with records of the river, which were to....    Read Full Story




Although George Washington Mark, Artisan, lived and worked most of his lifetime in his adopted town of Greenfield, Massachusetts, practically none of his authenticated paintings exist in that vicinity. His gallery collection of thirty-three paintings was purchased in 1935 by a New York department store, and today these paintings are in museums and notable private collections. Mark was born in Charlestown, New Hampshire, in 1795. Prior to his arrival in Greenfield in 1817, he was a sailor on a coasting schooner. He must have learned the rudiments of painting previously, for in 1818 he advertised in the Franklin Herald that he....    Read Full Story