CINCINNATI – On Wednesday, September 14 and Thursday, September 15, Hindman will offer an array of furniture, paintings and decorative arts that reflect numerous critical figures and moments in American history. Highlighting this fall’s American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts auction will be two Andrew Clemens sand bottles, for which Hindman holds the world auction record. Also, a selection of portraiture and paintings will be offered, featuring a portrait of the African American actor and abolitionist Ira Aldridge. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
As the first African American Shakespearean actor to gain international recognition, Ira Aldridge was a pioneering figure in the theater and used his platform to advance the abolitionist cause in America. Born and educated in New York City, Aldridge gained early acting experience through the African Grove Theatre, the first African American theater company in the United States. Aldridge went on to achieve both critical and commercial success in the English provinces and throughout continental Europe and Russia. He performed more than 40 major roles and received international accolades during the course of his four-decade career.
This portrait, which appears in the auction as lot 1030, depicts Aldridge as Mungo in The Padlock, a farcical libretto loosely modeled after the short story El celoso extremeno by Miguel de Cervantes. The two-act performance premiered in 1768 at London’s Drury Lane Theatre, where a white Englishman in blackface performed the role of Mungo, a black servant from the West Indies. Aldridge transformed the role of Mungo, once a racist caricature, into a more dignified portrayal, meant to convey the character’s humanity. Aldridge was an outspoken abolitionist, and often capitalized on his platform to directly address his audience on the evils of slavery and other societal inequities.
A selection of maritime paintings and objects from the collection of legendary dealer Norm Flayderman is one of the most anticipated offerings in the auction. Flayderman was known for being a renowned antique arms dealer, prolific author and collector. These works reflect his passion for finding items rich with decorative history, as well as his impressive knowledge of nautical history.
Gangway boards identified to 19th-century ships, paintings of sailing vessels, nautical instruments and thematically-decorated American and English pottery will be presented. Highlighting this selection will be a pair of eagle, shield and seal of Cincinnati carved walnut ship’s gangway boards from 1892, estimated at $10,000-$15,000, which are likely from the USS Cincinnati (C-7), a protected cruiser for the United States Navy. A painting attributed to Charles Henry Seaforth is a striking work from the collection, and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000. Additional standout maritime paintings include Solon Francis Montecello Badger’s City of Georgetown, which is estimated at $4,000-$8,000.
Items that reflect early historical moments in the founding of the nation will be offered, and Henry Merwin Shrady’s Washington at Valley Forge, estimated at $40,000-$60,000, is among the most significant. Shrady was a mostly self-taught artist who came to prominence during the American sculptural renaissance of the Beaux-Arts period. Renowned for his early animal bronzes, he quickly became known as a monumental sculptor. In 1906, Shrady won a competition that led to his equestrian statue of George Washington at Valley Forge being placed near the entrance of the iconic Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, New York. This particular example, cast by the Roman Bronze Works, was once a part of the artist’s personal collection and is being offered by one of his great-grandchildren.
As usual, William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Federal and painted country furniture is expected to draw attention. An 18th-century William and Mary figured maple drop leaf dining table is an example of fine craftmanship. It carries an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
Other designs expected to see competitive bidding are a Classical-style tiger maple slant front desk of Minnesota origin, estimated at $6,000-$9,000, and a Chippendale walnut tall case clock attributed to Jacob Frye, estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
Also of note is a North or South Carolina Colored Republicing Club stoneware cooler that has a powerful history. After the Civil War, white Southerners aligned themselves with the Democratic party, while African Americans chose their liberators, the Republicans. Eventually in the years following the war in both the North and South, entities known as “Republican Clubs” or “Union Leagues” were formed, and with suffrage, African Americans began to take on larger roles in local, state and national politics. The cooler offered in the auction is symbolic of a period in Southern politics when African Americans became increasingly disenfranchised from the suffrage granted them by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in 1868. It is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.
A fine group of silver will also appear in the two-day sale. A coin silver presentation pitcher from the Kentucky State Agricultural Society is one notable item; it is estimated at $10,000-$20,000. The society was chartered by the legislature in 1856 and awarded cash premiums and silver cups for livestock, farm production, agricultural implements and machinery, as such “to arrouse a feeling of State pride” and to consistently showcase and improve the state’s most productive industry – agriculture.
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