Oil/wood with sparkles surface application, 12:” dia
Verso, supplier’s label, Annesley & Co, Albany, NY
3/14/2001 Sotheby’s 3-5k estimate, oil on paper, 12” dia
Last October, I did a quick spin through Barnstar’s terrific show Antiques at Rhinebeck, the last couple of hours on Sunday before it closed. I had a meeting with a dealer in the parking lot to make a purchase; wasn’t really looking to buy anything. It usually takes me an entire day to make it through the whole show systematically, since there is a glorious cornucopia of objects from different epochs and countries, but I only had a couple of hours. Since I had paid to get in the grounds, I thought I might as well get my money’s worth and run through as much as I could. Literally in the last few minutes before I had to leave, I entered the booth of a charming dealer in old signs, Victor Weinblatt, and on one wall these three wonderful tondo bird paintings were lined up. As soon as i spotted the painting of the two doves I said to myself: “Holy s—-!” Elihu Vedder”!!! I had seen that same composition twice before, both times signed. I asked the dealer what he knew about the paintings and he said “nothing,” that he had bought them from a dealer in Maine because he liked them. One of them, he said, had an old art supply house label on it. The back of the plate with doves bears an Annesley & Co. Albany label. Annesley was not only an art supply house but the leading art gallery in Albany for many years. Vedder, a brilliant, prolific expatriate American artist living in Italy, spent a number of years in the Albany area before he settled more or less permanently in Italy. Annesley showed the work of many Americans, perhaps most notably promoting the career of Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer. Since all three plates are on identical supports: curved wood disks resembling chargers, and each is 12 inches in diameter, showing a pair of birds in an environment, it is safe to assume that all 3 are by the same artist, namely Elihu Vedder. Images of birds (and for that matter, winged beings) are common in Vedder’s body of work, he liked the circular format, and he did a lot of decorative work including stained glass, picture frames, and decorative paneling. I asked Weinblatt if he knew of Elihu Vedder but the name meant nothing to him. I purchased the paintings and then did some on-line research. I quickly found the listing on AskArt.com for the almost identical Vedder doves painting, signed, with the same 12” diameter, but oil on paper, which had crossed the block at Sotheby’s some years earlier. Eagles also turn up in Vedder’s work, including in at least one of the page illustrations he did for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The combination of the repeated, yet slightly different, image of doves, the identical 12” diameters, the decorative nature of the work, and the Annesley label, firmly affix these charming tondo paintings with a Vedder authorship. Score! another antique show discovery.