20 Reasons To Love Americana, Day 9

Today’s blog showcasing standout examples of Americana that will be offered at the Winter Antiques Show January 19–29 at New York City’s Park Avenue Armory examines a rare artifact from the first Worlds’ Fairs held in America and created by master craftsmen.

Among fine works of art, furniture and decorative arts from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, Associated Artists, Southport, Conn., will feature in its booth a carved allegorical figure of “The Harvest,” one of a pair that was created for an installation at the 1853 Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York City.

This exposition has the distinction of being the first World’s Fair in the United States and its theme centered on showcasing “industry of all nations.” Farming was well represented, so this installation would have been quite apropos. Cyrus McCormick famously displayed his revolutionary reaping machine at the fair for harvesting wheat, and master carver Alexander Roux displayed a prototype of his étagère-style sideboard with carvings related to a harvest theme here as well.

The figure was part of a monumental cabinet and was an early collaboration between two talented artisans: designer and furniture maker Gustave Herter and German-born sculptor Ernst Plassmann, who taught in New York at Cooper Union Academy. Both would both go on to become renowned in their respective fields.

It has long been thought that all traces of this Herter/Plassmann collaboration were lost to time, and thus emergence of these important American works is enlightening. Like the New York Crystal Palace exhibit itself where the piece earned accolades and honors, the piece symbolizes “the aspirations of a nation seeking its place on the international stage of art and culture.”

For more information, www.associatedartists.net or 203-255-2281. Make sure to visit the dealer’s booth at the Winter Antiques Show to see this and historic pieces. For show information, www.winterantiquesshow.com or 212-987-0446.

–Andrea Valluzzo


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