DOWNINGTOWN, PA. - The collection of a couple who spent decades traveling throughout the United States and Europe in search of antiques, particularly Swedish and Scandinavian folk art and furniture, will be offered by Pook & Pook on August 19.
The Collection of Barbara A. and Fred Johnson of Rockford, Illinois, owners of Barbara A. Johnson Antiques, features a colorful polychrome painted mixture of American furniture from Southeastern Pennsylvania and many special pieces of 18th and 19th century Swedish furniture.
Highlighting the collection of more than 400 lots are two iconic Swedish clocks: a traditional 19th century Mora clock with a signed dial and a rococo shaped, grain-painted case, and another 19th century Mora clock with signed dial and a rectilinear clock case, its clean lines enhanced by a panel of carved detailing and pale blue paint. The works are from family workshops in the clock making center of Mora, in Dalarna, Sweden, and the cases likely by local carpenters nearer the purchaser's home.
Like a pair of sisters in starched cornettes, two Swedish painted pine cupboards exemplify period style. Lot 1044, dated 1796, has two paneled doors above a single door with canted corners, and every panel is festooned with original paint decoration of stylized flowers, the architectural pediment with flower chains. Lot 1016 is a grain-painted cupboard constructed with two paneled doors over two lower, the panels decorated with vases of stylized flowers. The pediment bears flower chains and a floral crest dated 1831.
Two 18th-19th century Swedish sofa beds were early space savers, serving as bench seats in the daytime and pulling out into beds at night. Lot 1034 retains its original salmon surface, the initials of its owner, and the date 1876, while an earlier example, lot 1040, retains traces of an old blue surface.
No fewer than eight 18th and 19th century Swedish and Scandinavian hanging cupboards brighten the collection with a burst of folkloric floral paint decoration. The grouping of shapes is sculptural in fashion with a mixture of gracefully curved pediments, flat and straight lines, and carved details. Smaller objects include desirable 18th century Scandinavian mangle boards, which include a herd of Swedish horses and a Norwegian lion. There are four lots of iron-bound Swedish lock boxes, numerous wooden lanterns, painted scutching knives, and kitchen woodenware.
Americana blends beautifully with the Swedish and Scandinavian décor. Lot 1159, a painted pine turkey breast corner cupboard, late 18th century, is dry scraped to an old blue surface, and lot 1367, a 19th century Pennsylvania painted pine drysink with an old red surface.
There is also a Great Lakes regional presence in the collection. There are paintings, decoys, wood carvings, and carved and painted folk art furniture by Lou Schifferl, a noted Wisconsin artist represented by Barbara. As described by daughter Ginny Eames, suspended in air from beams in their home’s lofty ceiling flew a magical flock geese, swans, ducks, and all manner of birds, many carved by Schifferl.
The item that connects all elements of the far-ranging Johnson Collection, providing a narrative for the whole, is lot 1083, a Swedish immigrant trunk. A pine trunk, strapped in iron, retaining its original blue ground and floral paint decoration, is inscribed with the names of its owners and the date 1866. This piece, its simplicity, solidity, and folk art decoration, speaks volumes about its immigrant owners and the determination, strength, and hope that helped build our nation.
The auction begins at 9 a.m. EST on Thursday, August 19. All bidding for this auction is online on Bidsquare and Invaluable. The gallery exhibition will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, August 16, and Tuesday, August 17. For more information, visit www.pookandpook.com or call (610) 269-4040.