The Winter Antiques Show, which features seventy renowned experts in fine and decorative arts from around the world, is celebrating its sixty-third year as America’s leading antiques and design fair. The Show runs from January 20-29 at the Park Avenue Armory to benefit the East Side House Settlement, a nationally recognized community-based organization located in the South Bronx which reaches 10,000 residents across the Bronx and Northern Manhattan in some of America’s poorest neighborhoods. East Side House works with schools and community centers to bring quality education and resources to needy people.
The Show presents a cornucopia of myriad decorative objects. Upon entering the Armory, I felt like Lady Mary embarking on a shopping spree to furnish Downton Abbey. Since the Show was still being built when I attended, I was very careful not to trip over any construction site material in order to avoid becoming a bull in a china shop. Lady Mary would not be caught dead falling and careening into a jardinière.
The strangest display items were on offer at A La Vieille Russie: potatoes. I’m talkin’ real potatoes. I was told that the potatoes were surrounding a Fabergé potato. Although I am quite cognizant of the fact that Fabergé eggs exist, Fabergé potatoes are new to me. A $350,000 potato is not on my usual menu radar screen.
I honed in on the suit of armor at Peter Finer. No way could I fit into this “Complete German Maximillian Field Armor” made in 1520 and presently costing $195,000. My head would not even fit within the helmet. Knowing that I am not thin, I consoled myself with the thought that people were smaller in 1520. The Scottish Highland Claymore Sword made circa 1574 looked exactly like the one I imagine King Arthur pulled out of the stone. In case you were wondering, “claymore” is the anglicized version of the Gaelic term “claidheamh-mor,” which means “great sword.” This great sword costs $500,000. Well, it is a really great sword.
I loved a beautiful glass sculpture at Michele Beiny made by Dale Chihuly. Its green, yellow, pink and orange vivid colors crowned by an irregular circular edge resembled a Lily Pulitzer ensemble experiencing a LSD trip.
The Chinese figurines and dishes on display at Cohen & Cohen rocked my Show world. “A remarkable pair of huge Chinese punch bowls, finely enameled with Chinese literary and philosophical scenes ordered in Canton in 1826” were awesome. Kept in the basement in the Masonic Lodge in London since 1827, they are the only known bowls of their kind still stored in their original crate.
Because I did not trip over anything, the Chinese bowls and their crate survived my visit to the Cohen & Cohen booth. Ditto for all the beautiful objects on display at this enjoyable Show. If I return next year, I hope that I will be able to envision myself wearing an armor suit made for a more zaftig knight.
– Marleen Barr
Photos by BFA/Angela Pham and Rommel Demano