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autumn at the armory
by Fred Stern

Lalique enameled
gold and cow's horn tiara
ca. 1900

Sandstone Aspara
11th century
at Dons Wiener

Jean Dunand
collector's cabinet
ca. 1935-37
at Philippe Denys

J. E. Puiforcat
silver and macassar
coffee and tea set
at Philippe Denys

Biedermeier sofa
circle of Josef Danhauser
ca. 1825
at Ritter Antik, Inc.

Greek column-krater
by the Painter of Bologna 228
460 BC
at Ward & Company
Works of Art, Inc.

Chinese lacquer
altar tables
ca. 1750
at Philip Colleck, Ltd.

G.I.C. Baur
silver and gilt-brass
at Galerie Neuse

Suzuki Kiitsu
Poppies and Puppy
19th century
at Leighton R. Longhi Inc.
   The glorious autumn colors -- reds, russets, dark green and gold -- are replayed brilliantly in the furniture, candelabras, paintings and decorative items in the International Art and Antique Dealers Show at the 67th Street Armory on Park Avenue, running from Oct. 16 to Oct. 22, 1998.

Fair organizers Anna and Brian Haughton have assembled 78 strictly vetted vendors. To celebrate the fair's 10th anniversary, they have also arranged a special loan exhibition, "Elegance Abandoned, the Tiara 1800-1990," curated by London jewelry specialist Geoffrey Munn. On view are 20 historically significant tiaras by such designers as Cartier, Lalique and Boucheron.

As for the vendors, there is the usual preponderance of foreign galleries -- more than half are from abroad. For many dealers, this is the only U.S. show they attend. Even then, participation is limited and access hard to come by.

The U.S. is a particularly important market this year because it was not as strongly affected by the Asian monetary malaise as the European markets. Galleries have thus geared themselves to appeal to many types of American collectors, bringing mid-priced items as well as stellar offerings.

Given the fact that Americans do not have the iron-bound loyalties to specific collectibles that some Europeans do, many galleries are introducing different types of treasures to our acquisitive eyes. Dipping prices may bring some new collectors, as items traditionally deemed out of bounds my now be accessible.

Oceanic Art is a relatively new area in which American collectors are becoming more active. Galerie Meyer-Oceanic Art from Paris is showing interesting 18th century carvings by the Maori people of New Zealand, as well as masks from New Zealand and canoe ornaments from the Solomon Islands. Instant conversation pieces, these items also add a distinctive ornamental touch to city and suburban homes.

Himalayan, Indian and Tibetan art is making dramatic inroads with American collectors (aided in part by the "Sacred Visions" exhibition of Tibetan paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, on view through Jan. 1999). Doris Wiener Gallery was the first New York dealer showing Tibetan art in the 1970s, and has thankas, mandalas and a rich array of gilded bronzes. At the Armory is an 11th century sandstone sculpture of an Apsara (a celestial being) washing her hair, set in part of a temple arc.

Another growing favorite among collectors is Art Deco furniture and sculpture. Both are well represented at Philippe Denys, a Parisian gallery. An exquisite Jean Dunand (1877-1942) collector's cabinet in blond tortoiseshell lacquer occupies the lion's share of the show space, but a patinated bronze monkey with its offspring creates a fabulous highlight. A five piece silver and macassar coffee and tea set by Jean-Emile Puiforcat (1897-1945) is another star attraction.

Pre-historic Near Eastern, European and Egyptian tools and ornaments are the mainstay of the Frederick Schultz Gallery from New York. A quartzite head of a scribe of the Middle Kingdom is an important feature of the exhibition, even though it's only a little over two inches high. Bronze-age axes of the l5th century BC and spearheads and swords of similar antiquity fascinate with their fierce beauty.

Italian painting and sculpture ranging from the Renaissance to the present is the forte of the Richard Philp from London. A red chalk drawing from the Circle of Francesco Solimena (1657-1747) in a fine Bolognese frame, titled Head of a Young Woman Looking Down, greets the visitor. Portrait of a Lady, attributed to the Bergamo master Carlo Ceresa (1609-1679), is another offering. Aside from the fine characterization of the sitter, the portrait includes exquisite jewelry decorated with rubies and sapphires.

The Mathaf Gallery of London, specialists in Orientalist art, features a wide selection of figurative paintings from the 1850's. Landscapes from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Turkey decorate the stand. Interiors with figures like the Two Women in an Interior by Charles Wilda and A Cairo Bazaar by John Frederick Lewis come alive in elegant color.

One of the largest dealers in Biedermeier furniture, the favored style of the early 19th century German/Austrian bourgeoisie, is Ritter Antik, Inc., in New York. Sofas, cabinets, desks and chairs in this unusually graceful style are steadily increasing in popularity and rising in price. On view is an important sofa veneered in mahogany and maple on pine from the Josef Danhauser Circle in Vienna, around 1825.

Pompeian frescoes in superb condition from the first century BC are the focal point of Ward & Company's showings. The New York gallery also features a Greek helmet from the 5th century BC, a Roman marble portrait from the 2nd century AD and a 460 BC Greek column-krater by the Painter of Bologna. The Ward gallery resides in a town house near the Metropolitan Museum.

Antique furniture in all its manifestations is the province of Philip Colleck, Ltd., New York. Among its showings at the Armory are a pair of fine Chinese polychrome and gilt brown lacquer altar tables from the Qianlong dynasty (ca. 1750). A gold lacquered eight panel screen in black, soft red and green shows hunters and fishermen in a watery landscape splashed with rocks, trees and pagodas. Colleck also has a pair of British Regency armchairs from around 1810; an American Girandole mirror from the same decade, and a very fine George III mahogany circular tilt-top table.

Objects in silver are the prime province of Galerie Neuse, Bremen, Germany. Many of the objects shown date from the 16th and 17th century, and are examples of exquisite German workmanship. A pair of silver and gilt brass candlesticks (1775) by Georg Ignatius Christoph Baur (1750- 1818) from Augsburg, Germany conveys a strong neo-classical feeling. Outstanding as well is a spice box from the early 1800's with a medieval tower design and an intriguing door opening. A dresser table with a porcelain top by Peter and Ernst Gambs of St. Petersburg was a wedding gift from Tsar Nicholas I to his second daughter, Olga upon her marriage to the Crown Prince of Wuerttemberg in 1846.

A Korean tiger screen, one of the most outstanding at the show, is the star of New York dealer Leighton R. Longhi's booth. Hanging scrolls by Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858) in ink and color on silk provide an attractive background to the Asian objects in the booth.

FRED STERN writes on art and antiques.