The collection of Anne H. and Frederick Vogel III is one of the best collections of early Americana to appear in a generation. The collection encompasses furniture and decorative arts from early American colonial life and includes exemplary examples of Pilgrim Century and William and Mary furniture, as well as one of the best collections ever assembled of early English delftware. The Vogels also acquired exceptional examples of 17th-century English silver, 16th- and 17th-century brass lighting, English and American needlework, French and Indian powder horns, and early colonial American maps.
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I think that, as life is action and passion, it is
required of a man that he should share the
passion and action of his time at peril of
being judged not to have lived.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)
Memorial Day Address-1884
No one can say that Fred and Anne Vogel have not lived an action and passion-filled collector’s life. The Vogels were both raised by collectors and came by it naturally. The collecting ‘gene’ is stronger in some individuals than others. While not the interest of their respective parents, the Vogels were drawn to the aesthetic and history of early Colonial American furniture. Initially they began collecting Queen Anne furniture, but as time progressed and their knowledge grew, they gravitated towards the material culture of the earliest European settlers. Their remarkable Queen Anne armchair by John Gaines III was one of their first acquisitions (lot 1098). Owned previously by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Harkness, this chair is one of the boldest interpretations of the early Baroque style in America. Building off this pillar, the Vogels methodically added to their collection. All the while they kept learning.
Educational advancement is essential for the continued development and honing of the all-important collector’s eye. I am certain that no collectors have had a more advanced eye toward early American material culture than Fred and Anne. They made a point to never limit their education. While living in Milwaukee, the Vogels made time to travel east and visit not only large public collections as well as small historic homes, and community historical societies. They enjoyed sharing their passion with others, and regularly frequented the establishments of notable dealers such as Lillian Blankley Cogan, Roger Bacon, John Walton, Roger Gonzales, Ginsberg and Levy, Joe Kindig, Jr. and Joe Kindig III. As their knowledge grew, their interests expanded. They began collecting exceptional examples of early English delftware and frequented the shops of Alistair Sampson, Garry Atkins and Jonathan Horne. They also obtained wonderful examples of seventeenth and early eighteenth century English silver from S.J. Phillips, James Robinson and S.J. Shrubsole. The chinoiserie monteith, purchased from How of Edinburgh, now residing in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is a masterpiece of seventeenth century English silversmithing. Roderic Blackburn became a trusted guide, and advised the Vogels on furniture and exceptional French and Indian War powderhorns. All of these categories coalesced into one of the most vibrant and complete collections of early American material culture ever assembled.
Fred and Anne’s tremendous generosity is their greatest legacy. Their doors have always been open to scholars or curators anxious to learn from the treasures they collected. Many years ago I called the Vogels inquiring about an early New York spindle-back side chair I was researching, as I had heard there was one was in their collection. From the first phone call, Fred was exceedingly kind and generous with his time. He explained everything he knew about his chair, and promptly invited me to visit and examine it firsthand. I quickly jumped at the opportunity, and was immediately astonished by what I saw. There before me was a collection I could only dream of. Objects, that I had previously only seen in books or behind velvet ropes in a museum were right before my eyes. I will never forget that momentous day comparing the turning on chairs; looking at the drawer construction of a seventeenth century chest; examining the differences in various pieces of delftware. Others that were fortunate enough to come to the Vogels home I am sure have similar stories to tell. Since the Vogels began collecting, their enthusiasm to learn is exceeded only by their passion to share.
They have and continue to be on numerous boards and committees. Fred has served on the Textiles Committee of the Art Institute of Chicago; Overseer and Chair of the Nominations Committee of Strawbery Banke Museum; American Art Committee and the Visiting Committee of the Fogg Museum; Board of Directors and Acquisitions & Collections Committee of the Milwaukee Art Museum; Director and Chair of the Collections Committee of the Terra Foundation for American Art; Trustee, President, and Chair of the Works of Art Committee for the Layton Art Collection, Inc.; and President and Life Member of the Friends’ of the Museum of the Milwaukee Public Museum. Anne has served on the Friends Board at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College; the Decorative Arts Committee at the Art Institute of Chicago; and she was the founder of the American Arts Society at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Together they were members of the American Collections Committee at the Peabody Essex Museum; and the Sculpture & Decorative Arts Committee at the Fogg Museum; and they served on the American Collections Committee at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
One of Fred and Anne’s greatest lasting legacies most certainly will be their generous donations of American and European decorative arts to various American museums. The last several pages of the Volume Two catalogue list many of the works the Vogels gave to the Fogg Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Yale University Art Gallery, Milwaukee Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the aim of advancing the understanding and appreciation of American decorative arts. Rarely today do collectors choose to donate some of their most important works. Such generosity should be cheered and championed by students, scholars, curators, and by all of those who love these objects and desire to see the passion embodied by the Vogels passed on to future generations. With that we all live better, fuller lives.
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