S otheby’s is proud to present this year's Important Americana: Furniture and Folk Arts sale featuring unique pieces from a wide range of important collectors, including Margaret P. Gregory and a Founding Family from Connecticut. Highlights include an assortment of historical weathervanes, enchanting American paintings, and a lovely selection of Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York furniture including an important pier table stamped and labeled by Charles-Honoré Lannuier.
To have known the vivacious Margaret Gregory was a rare privilege, to experience the embodiment of her joie de vivre and respect for her family heritage reflected through her folk art and furniture collection is a true pleasure. Sotheby’s is delighted to present the Collection of the Estate of Margaret P. Gregory.
Margaret Gregory, a Southern-born, Juilliard-trained musician, married into one of the oldest families in Fairfield County, Connecticut. With an ancestral presence in Fairfield County dating back to 1655, the Gregorys honored their legacy nine generations later through their investment in the Wilton, Connecticut community. For 75 years, Margaret spearheaded the Wilton Candlelight Concert Series, while her husband, Julian A. Gregory, served as a Town Selectman, and her brother-in-law, Stewart Gregory, chaired the Wilton Historical Society Board of Trustees.
Stewart is the most well-known of the family for amassing one of the finest private collections of American folk art in history. Before museums considered folk art meritorious of collecting and scholars regarded it as a legitimate field for research, Stewart Gregory’s prescient eye discerned the imperative for antiques and folk art to be collected, preserved, and exhibited. The disposition of his collection of hooked rugs, whirligigs, ships' figureheads, weather vanes, and portraits by anonymous limners at Sotheby’s in 1979 constituted a watershed moment that galvanized an unprecedented fervor for folk art collecting. Stewart Gregory not only shared his collection with the public through loans to institutions, such as the 1972 American Folk Art Museum exhibition, "An Eye on America: Folk Art from the Stewart E. Gregory Collection,” but he also imparted his passion and stewardship for collecting folk art on his brother and sister-in-law.
The Collection of Margaret P. Gregory encompasses consummate examples of Queen Anne furniture, captivating American School landscapes and portraits, and duck decoys of the finest craftsmanship. While the frequent appearance of “The Stewart Gregory Collection” in the provenance line on a number of the currently offered works adds a layer of cachet, Margaret’s independent vision and discerning taste are clearly palpable in each object as well.
Sotheby’s is pleased to offer selections from the notable collection of a Founding Family of Connecticut. With ancestral roots in Connecticut since 1634, this collector descends from a Connecticut colonial family of firsts, among them: Connecticut's first Governor (1639), the first woman in present-day Connecticut to own real property in her own name (1639); the first officially recorded birth of a European child in the Connecticut Colony (1635); the oldest gravestone in Old Wethersfield’s Ancient Burying Ground (1648), being the second oldest surviving gravestone in the State of Connecticut; the first woman personally to host a strategic planning session in her parlor between Generals Washington and Rochambeau, the historic conference which led to the final victory at Yorktown (1781); and President Washington’s first appointment of a Supervisor of the Revenue for Connecticut, reporting directly to Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton (1791).
A keen appreciation and respect for the Family’s history in Colonial and Revolutionary Connecticut has been passed down through the generations, with an exceptional number of historic family documents and other artifacts remarkably having survived from that early period. As a collector of early American furniture, many of which were made in Connecticut, this collector’s quiet respect for his family’s heritage has both motivated and refined its formation over many years. Until recently the collection has been displayed within the walls of the 1750 Captain Francis Bulkeley House in the heart of historic Old Wethersfield, Connecticut’s largest historic district. Due to the necessities imposed by relocation, the collector hopes that these treasured objects will find new homes with appreciative owners.
The year's offerings are marked by a newly discovered work by the master cabinetmaker or ébéniste Charles-Honoré Lannuier. With flamboyant lyre ends joined by a medial stretcher ornamented with its original ruffled finial, this newly discovered masterpiece of Lannuier oeuvre demonstrates his desire to experiment with avant-garde designs. Also on offer is a side chair by another American master cabinetmaker, John Townsend. The sale has a strong selection of Connecticut furniture as well as a nice selection of Philadelphia furniture.
The diverse selection of folk art on offer this year is notable for its variety of weathervanes, portraits, and nautical paintings. Within this selection are two rare early landscape paintings of rural western Virginia. The first showcases the the Blue Ridge Mountains--Sandy Hook, Virginia and the scenic "Seven Bends" (now state park) of the Shenandoah River. The second, depicting the New River near Salem, Virginia, capturing the William Snidow Farm. The sale also includes a lovely pair of portraits by the celebrated folk artist Sheldon Peck.
The reproductions of the paintings are extraordinary productions in their own right, using as many as 56 layers from color lithographic stones to recreate the depth and grandeur of the American West. Given the beauty of the plates, complete sets are now very uncommon on the market. "The greatest American landscape book of the post-Civil War era." (Reese)
- Old South Congregational Church
- Hallowell Cotton Mill
- Town House
- St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
- First Baptist Church
- Cox United Methodist Church
- Hallowell House
- Row House
- Hallowell Chelsea Crib Bridge (destroyed 1870)
Visit the Exhibition
Following the guidelines for the Phase Four reopening of Manhattan, we are able to accommodate clients in our building by appointment only. The exhibition for this sale will open on 14 January at 10:00am and will close on 21 January at 5:00pm. To schedule an appointment please contact appointmentsNY@sothebys.com or +1 212 606 7171. You can read more about our safety requirements here.