Sotheby’s to Sell Property of Rear Admiral Edward P. Moore

NEW YORK – This fall, Sotheby’s will offer Property of Rear Admiral Edward P. Moore and Barbara Bingham Moore, the esteemed, late Washington D.C. collectors, in a single-owner sale on September 26, 2008, as the centerpiece of its September 2008 Americana Week in New York. The sale, which is expected to bring in the region of $7 million*, will feature one of the most important groups of early American Furniture ever to appear at auction and an extraordinary early and vibrant example of Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom (est. $2/3 million).

Leslie Keno, Senior Vice President and Director of Sotheby’s American Furniture and Decorative Arts department, said: “Mr. and Mrs. Moore assembled, quite simply, one of the most important groups of furniture that we have ever seen. Many of the pieces retain a wonderful old patina. The quality of the collection attests to their discerning collecting eye and is a testament to their highly refined taste. The collection includes many masterpieces from the major colonial cabinetmaking centers, including Boston, Salem, Newport, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York.”

Certainly one of the stars of the collection is the Important Reginald Lewis Queen Anne Compass-Seat Stool, which is to our knowledge the only Queen Anne example of its type in the world (est. $200/500,000). Its strong yet delicate cabriole legs perfectly compliment the serpentine sides of the seat. The fact that this was offered in the prestigious Reginald M. Lewis Collection sale here at Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc. in 1961 adds desirable provenance that will draw collectors, dealers and museum representatives alike competing to own it. Certainly one of the greatest strengths of the Moore Collection of American furniture is the Philadelphia furniture, particularly the seating furniture.

A Very Fine and Rare Chippendale Carved Walnut Easy Chair, circa 1770, with scrolling arms and shell-carved cabriole legs ending in claw-and-ball feet (est. $300/800,000) will be offered. As with the Queen Anne Stool, this chair also retains its original finish. The Fine and Rare Chippendale Carved and Figured Marble-Top Console Table, circa 1770, is a magnificent example that has survived with its original top (est. $200/500,000).

The Rhode Island Block-and-Shell-Carved Desk and Bookcase is a tour de force of American design and cabinet work, and is of a rare diminutive size (est. $300/800,000). The artistic success of the desk and bookcase is the result of pure genius on the part of the designer and craftsman and its brilliant perfection has been achieved by the harmony between balanced architectonic composition and magnificent carving and construction. The delicate volute-carved ogee bracket feet effortlessly support the blocked case which is punctuated by original scrolled brass handles and escutcheons. The shell on the prospect door of the interior is of the highest quality in both detail and sculptural aspect. The vertically grained book matched doors above draws our eye upward to the panelled tympanum and serpentine molded pediment. Three original fluted urn and spirally-twisted finials cap the bonnet providing the perfect balance and echoing the carved elements on the writing interior. The desk has also survived in remarkable condition, still retaining its original brass hardware and interior red wash. This desk and bookcase was in the groundbreaking 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Exhibition, lent at that time by noted pioneer collector Charles A. Goodwin.

Furniture from New York is highlighted by an Extremely Rare and Important Queen Anne Mahogany Upholstered-Back Armchair (est. $200/500,000). The chair is a symphony of S-shaped curves: with its undulating legs and arms and arched crest and bowed seat, it epitomizes the Queen Anne style in New York. The New York Drop-Leaf Spider-Leg Table, in untouched condition, is also exceedingly rare and important (est. $100/200,000).

New England furniture, and in particular pieces from Massachusetts, forms a solid core of the collection. Boston is well represented by a number of block-front pieces including the Boston Bonnet-Top Chest-on-Chest, circa 1770 (est. $150/300,000). The John Chipman Chest of Drawers is a stellar example of this cabinetmaker’s oeuvre (est. $150/300,000). Other highlights include the Noteworthy Pair of Boston Queen Anne Compass-Seat Chairs with their original flame-stitched seat covers (est. $80/150,000) and the Governor Talcott
Chippendale Block-Front Cherrywood Chest of Drawers, probably Hartford, Connecticut, circa 1780 (est. $100/200,000). This Simon Willard Wall Clock, circa 1790, is one of the rarest clocks known by this genius clockmaker (est. $100/300,000).

The sale will also include a selection of works by American landscape and maritime painter Thomas Chambers, the highlight of which is Packet Ship “George Washington” Entering New York Harbour (est. $60/80,000). Depictions of Tarrytown (est. $30/50,000) and View of New York from Gowanus Heights, Brooklyn (est. $30/40,000) will also be included along with two works featuring the Delaware Water Gap, View Along the Delaware River with the Water Gap and View of Delaware Water Gap, both estimated at $20/30,000. Concurrently, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be mounting the first ever retrospective dedicated to Chambers’ bold work and his influential role in the development of landscape and maritime art in mid-nineteenth century America.

The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks, circa 1829-1830, is an extraordinary early and vibrant example of the subject that would continue to fascinate and engage Hicks for forty years of his professional life as a painter and as a Quaker clergyman (est. $2/3 million). Based on the biblical prophecy of Isaiah (11:6-9), the Peaceable Kingdoms became for Hicks his most potent and effective ‘sermon’ on the Quaker doctrines of peace, reconciliation and spiritual life and light. At this early point in Hicks’ career as a visual theologian and preacher, the subject had particular significance for him. It was painted at the time that his friend and mentor Elias Hicks of Long Island, New York (Hicksville, New York is named for him), had recently died initiating a period of transition within the Quaker clergy. To memorialize Elias and others of his group of founders, Hicks has positioned the group of elder statesmen wrapped within banners articulating the Quaker legacies of Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men. This is a rare formulation of this subject for Edward Hicks, but speaks to his sense of continuity within the Quaker movement and the durability of its values. It also forms a rare continuum with his earlier training as a coach and sign painter, since the inscription on the frame is written in his hand. The subject, depicting the lion and the lamb and the little child who led them, also spoke to the values of the young American republic as it became established under the new Jacksonian democracy.

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