News-Antique.com - Sep 22,2008 - New York – On September 25, Christie's New York will hold the sale of Important American
Furniture, Folk Art, Maritime Art and Prints. A magnificent high chest that descended in Philadelphia's
Biddle-Drinker family and an exceptionally bold and dynamic example of Edward Hicks's renowned
Peaceable Kingdom series highlight the sale.
Two eighteenth-century high chests are magnificent survivals of eighteenth-century craftsmanship.
Made in Philadelphia and Newport, each is a powerful
representation of colonial America's distinct regional preferences
and each is a recent discovery in the field of American furniture.
With its bold and meticulously carved ornament, the Biddle-
Drinker family high chest illustrates the epitome Philadelphia
design and the masterful artistry of its makers, the carver Nicholas
Bernard and the cabinetmakers, Henry Cliffton and Thomas
Carteret. An important addition to the known oeuvre of this
triumvirate of woodworkers, this high chest also stands as a
critical document of the development of the form in Philadelphia
during the 1750s and early 1760s. Embellished with exquisitely
carved details, the high chest displays a rare combination of
artistic splendor, impeccable craftsmanship, pristine condition
and historical importance. Its eighteenth-century finish has been
left undisturbed and reveals the original full height and depth of
the bolding rendered carving on the shell drawers, cartouche,
rosettes and legs.
With an emphasis on curvilinear lines and restrained carving, a second
high chest embraces the Newport aesthetic and provides a dramatic
contrast to the Philadelphia example (estimate: $100,000-150,000). A
previously unknown work, the high chest displays construction details that
support an attribution to Christopher Townsend, one of the two founders
of the famous Townsend-Goddard dynasty of cabinetmakers that
dominated the Newport furniture trade during the eighteenth century.
Adorned with slender cabriole legs, pad feet and an innovative carved
shell, the high chest is an early manifestation of the celebrated shell-carved
furniture of Newport.
This masterful version of Peaceable Kingdom from the distinguished collection of J. Irwin and Xenia S.
Miller leads the folk art section of the sale
(estimate: $4-6 million). Hicks painted more than
sixty five versions of Peaceable Kingdom from about
1818 until his death in 1844. His desire to paint
as a vocation was shunned by the Quaker society,
and these paintings served as painted sermons-- a
reconciliation of his religious fervor and his
artistic talent. The paintings were often given as
gifts, if not expressly painted for friends,
neighbors and relatives. Executed at the height
of his career, this powerful composition embraces
the parable of Isaiah in a magnificent scale and
Descending directly through the family of the two sitters, the Portrait of
John and Hannah Maria Pickett is an exciting discovery and addition to
Ruth Whittier and Dr. Samuel Addison Shute’s body of work
(estimate: $120,000-180,000). This rare depiction is one of only three
double portraits of children by the Shutes known to exist. This
painting evokes a particular sensitivity characteristic of the Shutes’
portraits of children. Other highlights include The Paddle Steamboat Rip
Van Winkle by J. and J. Bard, The Steamboat