Sunday, January 27, 2013

Astor's Animals

When we first posted about acquiring a dog portrait from Brooke Astor’s famous collection we hinted it wasn’t the only one of her animal treasures to find a home with us.

Among our favorite acquisitions from the Stair Galleries sale was a charming collection of frog figures including these carved malachite, jade, and cloisonné enamel pieces happily clustered here atop a green marble topped table between a pair of nautilus shells, one clad in sterling silver by legendary jeweler Verdura. The vintage green and white porcelain vase turned table lamp makes for a nice alternative to the traditional blue and white china while lending the green themed vignette a dose of Chinoiserie.

Birds were another animal beloved by Mrs. Astor, and we were pleased to procure a number of her bird figures in porcelain and stone, especially a beautiful carved pair of lapis lazuli bluebirds perched atop pertrified wood, which are now the centerpiece of the mineral collection in our eclectic cabinet of curiosities. On the shelf above between a collection of Asian ceramics and carved wooden folk art figures sit two of Mrs. Astor’s Vista Allegra porcelain bird figures flanking the laughing Buddha statue, before which sits an antique Royal Vienna tea bowl also from the Astor estate.

Here in a shot from the Sotheby’s auction catalogue is the same Vista Allegra owl pair seen on Mrs. Astor’s red lacquer table next to a gilt-metal Tiffany & Co. tortoise clock.

We also acquired a large lot of small English and Continental European porcelain articles including the lovely antique Meissen bird dish seen keeping company with our floral Chinese famille rose vase and a turquoise bird on a giltwood base also from Astor’s bird collection.

The main reason we purchased this lot was the four, though the catalogue only claimed two, leaf dishes by Herend. Included among them was the one seen here in the intricately hand painted Rothschild Bird pattern, first created in the 1860’s for a Rothschild Baroness after she lost her pearls in the garden only to have the gardener discover birds playing with them in a tree.

Here the same Rothschild Bird dish can be seen in another shot from the Sotheby’s catalogue, atop Astor’s Louis XV bureau plat, along with a smaller Herend leaf dish we displayed among the frogs in the first image. Brooke Astor truly was a great animal lover as evidenced not only by the things she chose to collect but also by her Statement of Faith,
“I want the creatures, the animals, and the birds to be a little less afraid of human beings because I have blessed them and loved them, and far from doing them any harm, I have done them good.”

*While the Astor estate pieces are not currently for sale much of the surrounding decor and accessories are available for purchase HERE in our online shop.

Photos 1, 2, 4, & 5 by KS&D.

Photos 3 & 6 via Sotheby's.
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