Posts tagged ‘Minneapolis Institute of Art’

April 17, 2015

Gill and Reigate in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The museum archives at Minneapolis Institute of Arts are a fantastic resource for researching the synergies between the development of museum collections and the history of the antique trade. Thanks again for all their help with the Antique Dealers research project to Jennifer Olivarez and Dawn Fahlstrom in the curatorial offices at MIA!  As I discovered, the ‘object files’ at MIA record scores of transactions with antique dealers, both in the USA (as you would expect), and via the British trade (as you would expect!).

This accession record card (ref 23.55) for a ‘XVIth Century table’, which entered the collections at MIA in 1923 (facilitated by the Washburn Fund), records just one of those transactions, and also highlights the relationships between the museum and the market. The accession record card describes a ‘table: with carved bulbous legs and inlaid side rails and stretchers, 1580-1620’ – ‘from Over Court Manor, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire’ – with a ‘Note: repaired below legs and stretchers’. The table was purchased from the British based antique dealers Gill& Reigate (who also had a branch in New York in the 1920s – hence, I expect, the sale direct to MIA).

gill and reigate 1923

Museum Accession Record Card, 23.55. ‘Furniture, English XVI Century’. Showing accession of a XVIth century table, supplied by Gill & Reigate in 1923 (purchase price redacted). Courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The archive file also contains a copy of the black & white photograph of the table (which is the vertically displayed photocopy image in the accession record card above) – and which appears to be original Gill & Reigate dealer record photograph –

gill and reigate 1923 3

Museum object file 23.55. Photograph of XVIth century table. Courtesy of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The antique dealers, decorators, and furniture manufacturers and retailers, Gill & Reigate Limited were trading at 73-77 Oxford Street and at 7 Soho Square, London when they supplied the table to The Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The firm were established in the 1890s, and by the 1920s were already well-patronised enough to have been granted a Royal Warrant.  These advertisements from the 1920s illustrate the changing locations of the firm, as they moved from Oxford Street and Soho Square in the 1910s and 1920s (also trading as ‘The Soho Galleries’)……

G and R 1921

Advertisement for Gill & Reigate, 1921.

G and R 1927

Advertisement for Gill & Reigate, 1927.


…………to these very elegant premises in George Street, London W1 in the early 1930s (see below).

Gill and Reigate 25 26 George Street London June 1937 Conn

Gill & Reigate, 25-26 George Street, London W1, c.1930.

The archive at MIA also contains a letter from Gill & Reigate, from their Oxford Street address, dated 17th August 1923, addressed to Russell A. Plimpton Esq., who had only a couple of years earlier (1921) taken up the post of Director of Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


gill and reigate 1923 1

Letter from Gill & Reigate Limited, to Russell Plimpton, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 17th August 1923. Museum object file 23.55. Courtesy of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The letter is essentially part of an exchange between Gill & Reigate and the Director at MIA focused on establishing the provenance, and by extension of course the authenticity, of the table – and this (authenticity) was something that was becoming ever more important in the period – if you are interested do look up Stefan Muthesius’s important and groundbreaking essay on this subject, ‘Why do we buy Old Furniture? aspects on the authentic antique in Britain, 1870-1910’ (Art History, vol. 11, No.2, pp. 231-254, June 1988).

Anyway, the letter states that the table ‘originally stood in Overcourt Manor, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire’, and continues, ‘Overcourt is an old Elizabethan Manor, and the table was in the possession of the Cann-Lippincott’s who were Lords of the Manor. The table had only lately been moved from there to Whitechurch, Salop, where Mr Gill procured it.’ What the writer of the letter  omits to say is the link between Over Court and Whitechurch… would be interesting to know how and why the table ended up in Whitechurch where Mr Gill ‘procured it’….but maybe I fall into the trap of rehearsing the trope of the dealer as ‘problem’…and the history of antique dealers is much more complex, and richly patterned, that that old chestnut!

Incidentally, Over Court Manor unfortunately no longer exists, it was destroyed by fire in 1977.  Apparently only the gate arch to the Manor remains….

Overcourt Manor

Over Court, Almondsbury, undated, but maybe early c.1970s?. Photo Paul B. Townsend – wikicommons.

There’s much more to say about the fabulous archives at Minneapolis Institute of Arts……so do keep your eye on the Antique Dealer Project Blog.


April 13, 2015

Antique Dealers, ‘Period Rooms’ and Museums

Following my short and pithy Tweet re the dealer Seligmann and the maquette for a period room, now on display at Minneapolis Institute of Art we have, thanks to Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Curator of Decorative Art, Textiles and Sculpture at MIA, discovered more about the maquette.  And it’s an unexpected, and fascinating history, and one that draws further attention to the significance of social and cultural networks in the circulation and consumption of ‘antiques’ – something that the ‘Antique Dealers’ research project is keen to explore.

seligmann model MIA

Maquette of the Grand Salon of the Hotel de la Bouexiere. Minneapolis Institute of Art. Photo MW 2015.

The maquette itself, (13in x 23in x 16 ins high) was a model for the Grand Salon of the Hotel de la Bouexiere, from Paris, which was designed 1731-1733, for Jean Gaillard de la Bouexiere (1676-1759), who grew wealthy as a tax collector for the Royal Crown in the 1st half of the 18th century. Here’s one end of the room as you see it at MIA –

hotel bouexiere

Grand Salon, Hotel de la Bouexiere, (c.1731-33). Minneapolis Institute of Art. Photo Wikicommons.

What is interesting about the room (for us), and the maquette specifically, is the ‘trade’ history of it. It seems that the maquette was made by the antique architectural salvage dealer and interior decorator and furniture manufacturer, Robert Carlhian, sometime in the early 1920s.

I was interested to note that the business records of Carlhian (est 1867, and closed c.1988) had been acquired by The Getty (ref 930092 if you’re interested). Carlhian were mainly based in Paris, but had branches in New York, Buenos Aires and Cannes; and during the period 1945-1966 they had a branch in London, in conjunction with the art dealer Wildenstein….so I guess they qualify to be included in the current ‘Antique Dealer’ research project (if we accept the broad definition of ‘antique dealer’ – you’ll need to re=read some of the earlier blog posts to follow the umbra and penumbra of what constitutes ‘antique dealers’ to follow this line of thought).

It seems that the room was sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, before being purchased by Minneapolis Institute of Art in 1983.  John Harris, in his excellent survey of the trade in architectural elements – Moving Rooms: the trade in architectural Salvage (Yale, 2007), suggests that the room was acquired by the dealers Dalva Brothers and sold to MIA in 1978 (see Harris, (2007), p.169). Dalva Brothers traded in New York and were established by 1933, but, as far as I know did not have a branch in Britain? The maquette was a gift to MIA from Leon and David Dalva – I guess as part of the purchase.

I also understand that at some stage Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co also had some dealings with the circulation of the Grand Salon from Hotel de la Bouexiere. What is interesting (to us, as investigators of the history of the Antique Trade) is the networks and connections in these transactions – it’s not so surprising I guess, but no less significant, that the ‘antique trade’ play such a key role in the eventual presentation of this historical object in the public domain.



March 22, 2015

Project Research in the USA

Just arrived in New York, for the first leg of a mammoth research field trip to the USA, as part of the AHRC Antique Dealer project. We’ll be investigating museum archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, here in New York, before heading up to Boston Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday 28th March for similar research. From there I head to Philadelphia, then Wilmington, to The Winterthur on 31st March to look at the dealer archives held at The Winterthur (Vernay, Needham and Koopman – all British-related antique dealers of course). Then on Saturday 4th April off to Chicago, to look at the Chicago Institute of Art archives; then on Wednesday 8th April I’m heading across to Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Institute of Art for a few days to investigate their archives. And finally, on this exhausting tour, ending up in Los Angeles at the Getty Research Institute during 11th-18th April to consult the dealer archives there (French & Co and Durlacher…as well as Duveen of course).

The rationale for this extensive research trip to USA is to investigate the relationships between the British Antique trade and the development of public museums in America – the connections are considerable. We’re also planning do undertake some oral history interviews whilst we’re here in USA, and have some very significant figures in the history of the antique trade lined up for interview!

I’ll be posting updates on the blog on the discoveries (research-wise), so do keep an eye on the Blog!

Home Subjects

a working group dedicated to the display of art in the private interior, c. 1715-1914

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 19th & 20th centuries

Museum Studies Now?

'Museum Studies Now?' is an event which aims to discuss and debate museum and heritage studies education provision.

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 19th & 20th centuries