Treadway Gallery Sells Rookwood Vase with Otherwordly Orchid Portrait by A. Valentien at Estate Sale Absolute Perfection: A stunning lady's slipper painted by the pottery firm's chief decorator showcases his exceptional talent and what sets Rookwood apart as America's most sought-after art pottery.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - CINCINNATI, OHIO – A mesmerizing, most ethereal lady’s slipper orchid portrait, which was painted in 1899 on a Rookwood vase by Albert Robert Valentien, sold for $3,080 at an estate auction Treadway Gallery held this winter in Cincinnati.
The piece is a perfect example of why Rookwood Pottery is considered the crème de la crème of American art pottery among serious collectors and why the lady’s slipper is regarded as the most extraordinary by orchid aficionados. It’s also a testament to Valentien’s remarkable way of seeing and his uncanny knack for capturing the essence of his floral subjects.
Lady’s slipper is the common name for the genus ‘Paphiopedilum,’ which is derived from the Greek for ‘Paphos,’ a city on Cyprus where a temple honoring Venus stands, and ‘pedilon,’ for ‘sandal’ or ‘slipper.’ What separates the Paphs from all other orchids is its slipper-like pouch that is designed to snare a bee for pollination. The slipper is formed by the fusion of two sepals into a ‘synsepal.’ Native to the Old World tropics, Paphs are terrestrial plants that thrive on shady forest floors. In the late 19th Century, orchids were highly coveted, especially in England, where they became symbols of affluence.
Valentien’s interpretation of this exotic Paph is so eerie that it seems to have its own personality. The dorsal sepal is a creamy, pale yellow-green with vertical lines of much darker green. The horizontal, slightly curved petals are a deeper yellow-green and spotted in mahogany with a cheetah-like pattern. The slipper is mottled shades of pale green and dark maroon. Covered in a Standard glaze, the overall effect is powerful and haunting.
Born in Cincinnati in 1862, Valentien was educated at the University of Cincinnati, where he studied painting under Thomas G. Noble and Frank Duveneck. In 1881, Rookwood Pottery hired him as their first salaried decorator, and he served as chief decorator there for 24 years. His ceramics are in the collections of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen and the National Museum in Sèvres.
The vase was a supplementary lot offered in conjunction with an auction for the Estate of Katherine Williams, which was Treadway Gallery’s first foray in estate sales. Building on the company’s strengths as auction leaders and experts in 20th Century art, design and collectibles, estate sales services were a natural extension for the business, according to Don Treadway, gallery owner.
An expert in American and European art pottery and glass, Treadway has built a niche over the past two decades as a specialist in Rookwood Pottery. Based in Cincinnati, where Rookwood was founded 126 years ago, Treadway Gallery has published ten book titles on art pottery and collectibles, including “Rookwood Pottery: Over Ten Years of Auction Results: 1990-2002.”
On June 3-4, Treadway Gallery will host its annual Decorative Arts Auction Featuring Rookwood at Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati.
Treadway Gallery is always seeking consignments. The gallery offers estate sale services, appraisal services, private consultations, as well