Historic lots based on epic poem lead Garth’s October auction


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One of three leather panels from the John Brown House of Providence, Rhode Island. This one is titled "The Golden Fleece is Won by Jason". 85 inches high by 84 1/2 inches wide (estimate $5,000-$7,000). Garth's Auctions, Oct. 30, 2010

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DELAWARE, Ohio — Are you attracted by the glamour of one of America’s earliest and grandest mansions, the acumen of pioneering businessmen, and the beauty of finely executed oil paintings? If yes, Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers of Delaware, Ohio, has the perfect items for you: Italian painted and Spanish tooled leather architectural panels depicting mythological scenes from Homer’s “Iliad,” to be sold during the Oct. 30 auction of Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts.

Comprised of three lots, including an arched panel titled “The Golden Fleece is Won by Jason” (85 inches high by 84 1/2 inches wide, estimated at $5,000-$7,000), an arched panel titled “Ulysses and His Friend Avoid the Sirens” (85 inches high by 84 1/2 inches wide, estimated at $5,000-$7,000), and a group of fragments, the largest being about 49 inches by 80 inches, depicting Castor and Pollux (estimate $800-$1,200), the provenance supporting the objects is substantial.

The panels were removed from the John Brown House in the 1940s after the death of then owner, financier, utilities and transportation magnate, and well known antiques collector, Marsden J. Perry. Prior to amassing his fortune, a young Perry grew up in Providence, R.I., was employed by the Brown family, and also lived down the street from what would later be known as the John Brown House, the first mansion built in Providence in 1786 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1968.

The original owner, John Brown (1736-1803), was a China Trade merchant, patriot and politician who participated in activities which shaped the new nation. As such it was not unusual that George Washington had tea in his home or that upon visiting the John Brown House after its completion in 1788, John Quincy Adams was noted to have pronounced it, the “most magnificent private mansion I have seen on the continent.”

John Brown was also younger brother to Nicholas Brown, another Colonial merchant, who like John often purchased furniture from now well-known cabinetmaker John Goddard. The Brown family is still recognized to this day as a preeminent name among antiques collectors as a rare bonnet-topped mahogany secretary desk carved by Goddard and commissioned by Nicholas Brown has held the world record of $12.1 million since 1989 for a piece of American furniture sold at auction.

Upon acquiring the John Brown House in 1901, Mr. Perry continued the high-style acquisitions his wealth allowed and filled it with 18th century furniture, Chinese porcelains and the finest and most complete collection of Shakespeareana in existence at that time. Perry commissioned the leather panels as part of the extensive redecoration he instigated. The center hallway of the mansion ran from the front door through to the rear of the home and all three stories of this center hallway were lined with the “leather wall coverings,” which included barreled alcoves at the end of each hallway. One of the lots to be sold by Garth’s is from an alcove and the others from the walls.

After Marsden’s death, his heirs were instructed to sell his collections. Everything was sold or donated except the leather wall coverings that remained in the home until the time when preservationists returned the John Brown House back to its original 18th century interior design. At that time, two sections of the leather wall coverings remained at the John Brown House (and do to this day), while the balance of the coverings went to a private collector on the East Coast where they were conserved.

Nearly 700 lots of furniture and decorative arts are to be sold in Garth’s Oct. 30 auction. A collection of more than 100 lots of Arts & Crafts furniture and accessories will be a highlight, including a Gustav Stickley inlaid rocking chair designed by Harvey Ellis (estimate $3,000-$5,000) and an oak L. & J.G. Stickley bookcase, circa 1907-1912 (estimate $10,000-$15,000).

Art pottery by Clewell, Rookwood, Weller, Van Briggle, Roseville, Ephraim, and others, lighting by makers such as Handel, Bradley & Hubbard, Aladdin, Roycroft, and Moe Bridges, and metalware by Roycroft and Heintz will all cross the block, too.

For additional details, visit www.garths.com to review the catalog or call 740-362-4771.


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More Images:

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Conjuring a bit of the Halloween weekend spirit, this American or European full-bodied copper gargoyle with bat wings holds a shield decorated with a fleur-de-lys, and sits on a separate base. Weathered verdigris patina. Imperfections. 59 inches high overall, 44-inch wing span. Estimate $800-$1,600
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Fine L. & J.G. Stickley bookcase to be sold at Garth's Auctions on October 30, 2010. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

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