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Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers Names George Lewis as Western Massachusetts Representative

BOSTON, MA – November 25, 2014  George Thomas Lewis will provide appraisal and consignment services to the Western Massachusetts region on behalf of New England’s foremost auction house Skinner, Inc. Lewis is a longtime resident of Northampton, MA, where he established and ran his business, George Thomas Lewis & Co., for over 35 years. The business specialized in estate liquidations and antiques, and Lewis built a strong reputation in the region for integrity, thoroughness, and professionalism. Karen Keane, Skinner CEO, said, “George has years of experience working with objects of value and is known for his courteous demeanor and personal service. We are delighted to have him represent Skinner in Western Massachusetts.”

George Lewis

George Lewis

In his new role, Lewis will provide Western Massachusetts with convenient access to the full range of Skinner consignment and appraisal services. He will work with estate personal representatives, estate settlement professionals, and individuals to bring antiques and fine art to a worldwide marketplace. Lewis graduated from Ohio University and went on to obtain his Ph.D. at Temple University in Pennsylvania. He makes frequent presentations to area historical societies and civic groups on the topics of antiques and their values. He also contributes his time and expertise to benefit auctions sponsored by religious and other nonprofit organizations. For over 20 years, he has served as auctioneer for “The Future Begins Here,” a major fundraising event which supports a consortium of youth organizations in Holyoke, MA. He draws on an extensive academic background and professional training, including USPAP certification in personal property appraisal. For more information, or to schedule an estate evaluation or appraisal, contact George Lewis at 413-727-2721 or

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in Coral Gables, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.



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The Mediterranean Revival Style of Quattro Venti

The interior design of‘ ‘Quattro Venti’ demonstrates the Mediterranean Revival style

Designed and furnished in the Mediterranean Revival Style, Quattro Venti is the last great private residence in Annisquam Village, a small fishing hamlet near Gloucester, Massachusetts. Quincy Bent, vice president in charge of production at Bethlehem Steel at the turn of the last century, built the summer retreat around 1912.  His forebears purchased quarries in West Gloucester in 1820 and originally used the property, situated on the tip of the Annisquam peninsula, to transfer stone from river barges to schooners for delivery to cities up and down the East Coast.

Quincy’s wife, Deborah Norris Bent, oversaw the design and construction of the house and decorated the interior.  She spent many summers in Europe with her mother, Deborah Norris Brock, and these travels undoubtedly influenced her aesthetic.  While the house was under construction, mother and daughter purchased most of the furnishings in Italy.  Family lore has it that they were shipped directly to Gloucester along with building materials such as marble and roofing tiles.

Another stunning interior scene from ‘Quattro Venti’

Mediterranean Revival, popular in the early 20th century with Grand Tour alumnae, combined elements of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque furniture and decorative arts from Northern Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and the Spanish colonies.  The décor from Quattro Venti, which translates from the Italian as “four winds,” epitomizes this eclectic style with its juxtaposition of verdure tapestries, heavy dark furniture, bright ceramics, and wrought iron accents.  The home’s sterling silver, including an extensive dining suite, illustrates the lavish lifestyle the Bent family maintained at Quattro Venti.

Items from the family’s collection will be offered on July 12th, 2013 in Session I of the European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction in Boston. We hope you will join us for the sale.

Fine Art Gallery Walk

Join us for a tour of auction highlights

Robin Starr, Director of American & European Works of Art, will present highlights from the May 17, 2013 Fine Art auction at the Skinner Boston gallery.

John Leslie Breck

John Leslie Breck (American, 1860-1899), The River Epte, Giverny, c. 1887 (Lot 386, Estimate $100,000-$150,000)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

5:30PM Reception
6PM Gallery Walk

63 Park PlazaBoston, MA

Auction Information

Contact Us:

March Appraisal Events

Skinner Appraisers Stuart Slavid & Kerry Shrives

A Skinner “What’s It Worth?” event is an entertaining and educational way for people interested in the history and value of antiques to come together. A Skinner expert appraiser discusses each item presented for appraisal in front of a seated audience.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What’s It Worth to benefit the Winchester Historical Society
with Skinner appraiser Stuart Slavid,
Director of European Furniture & Decorative Arts

7 – 9PM

Winchester Town Hall
71 Mt Vernon St
Winchester, MA

Ticket & Event Information

Please omit coins, stamps, jewelry, and musical instruments.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

What’s It Worth to benefit the Rotary Club of Brockton
with Skinner appraiser Stuart Slavid,
Director of European Furniture & Decorative Arts

6 – 8PM

Temple Beth Emunah
479 Torrey St.
Brockton, MA

Ticket & Event Information
508-631-2441 or

Please omit coins, stamps, jewelry, and musical instruments.

Remembering Bob Skinner

I met Bob Skinner in 1964 at one of his first auctions in Harvard, Massachusetts. He helped me load a Silas Hoadley tall case clock into my car. At $85, it was a big purchase for a 17-year-old! I worked for Bob Skinner that summer, and again after graduating from Wellesley High School. After I joined the Navy, Nancy Skinner wrote to me regularly with updates on Bob’s antique adventures. When I returned home, a job was waiting for me in Bolton, Massachusetts.

Bob Skinner

Bob Skinner on the podium

I have many fond memories of traveling throughout New England, and south to New York and Pennsylvania with Bob, visiting antique shops. I can see Bob now driving with the window open no matter what the temperature, cigarette in hand, singing pop songs (often improvising the lyrics!) in the manner of Nat King Cole and Vaughn Monroe.

Antique dealers scattered throughout the countryside played an important role in informing Bob’s aesthetic: Mary Allis, Pam Boynton, Robert Cleaves, Henry Coger, Billy Graham, Richard Mills, Horace Porter, Marguerite Riordan, Bill Samaha, Peggy Schorsch…legendary pickers including the McCaffreys and O’Donnells…I could never list them all.

As he did business with these men and women, he learned to love country furniture with great old paint and surface, early American wrought iron, folk art, wooden ware, painted tin, and children’s miniature furniture and objects. At the time, this material was plentiful and affordable to a man who was buying on a budget, necessitated by a frugal wife and young family. His love and keen eye for simple, beautiful country antiques brought him and Nancy great joy. Among the many things that they collected over the years, a few of the pieces that Nancy felt she could part with will be offered at our American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction on October 28, 2012.

We attended hundreds of country auctions in New England, and later in New York, where he honed his business sense, style of auctioneering, and auction philosophy, learning from his friends Bill Stahl and William Doyle. Bob was a straightforward, honest man with a fierce entrepreneurial spirit that led him to build from the ground up a city-style auction company in the country. Since the early 1960s, the company went from having one full-time employee (me) to over 100. And in 1984, the year of Bob’s passing, Skinner was on the cusp of tremendous growth. Years later, we continue to be inspired by his vision.

Blood, Gore, and Guts: The Bronzes of Antoine-Louis Barye

Antoine-Louis Barye | Bronze Sculpture

Antoine-Louis Barye, Hibou (Owl),  bronze. To be auctioned on September 7, 2012 in Boston
(Lot 370, Est. $1,500-2,000)

The violent, dramatic sculptures of Antoine-Louis Barye draw you in with their tense compositions and meticulous – some might say obsessive – attention to detail.  Barye had an innate ability to understand the behaviors and muscularity of all animals, and this served him especially well in his renderings of hunting cats, rearing bears, and stampeding elephants.

In Hibou (Owl), I can’t help but be drawn to the charm of this magnificent bird with its wings spread as though it will take flight in the next instance.  The small detail of the rat caught in the owl’s talons can easily by overlooked, and for a milk-toast like myself who has trouble watching the violence inherent in a hockey game (I prefer baseball), this is just as well.  Barye, however, reveled in the gore; in the destruction rendered by tooth and claw.

We all root for the underdog — I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan — but the fight for the underdog only draws us in if there’s at least a small chance of victory.  Such is the case in Barye’s Tiger Devouring a Gavial of 1830.

Antoine-Louis Barye | Bronze Sculpture

Antoine-Louis Barye, Tigre dévorant un gavial (Tiger Devouring a Gavial), 1831, bronze. To be auctioned on September 7, 2012 in Boston (Lot 363, Est. $3,000-5,000)

Considered one of his most successful compositions, he showed it in the Paris Salon, where it was purchased for the Luxembourg Gardens, and is now in the Louvre.  Although the gavial is clearly in an “underwater” position, the outcome of this tense and violent scene is not fully determined, making the composition all the more climactic and riveting.  The tiger’s grip with teeth and claws seems unassailable; the claws actually penetrate into the reptile’s flesh.  Yet the gavial swings his toothy maw around towards the cat’s leg, remaining vigorous and valiant up to the very end of the fight.

Barye’s Panther Seizing a Stag depicts a similar level of violence, but here, at least to me and other 21st century observers, the violence seems all the greater as the victim is no longer an unfriendly crocodile-like reptile.

Antoine-Louis Barye | Bronze Sculpture

Antoine-Louis Barye, Panthère saisissant un cerf (Panther Seizing a Stag), bronze. To be auctioned on September 7, 2012 in Boston.
(Lot 356, Est. $5,000-7,000)

All the stag can do is kick and collapse onto his attacker, as the panther pulls the muzzle of his victim to the ground with an enormous paw, while trying to break the stag’s neck with a vice-like bite directly behind the stag’s antlers.  The outcome in this battle is nearly certain, even if we do hope for a miraculous escape for the stag.

In spite of the horror of these violent bronze sculptures, they are still beautiful and riveting. We still stare. We still watch. I continue to watch baseball even now, when the Red Sox find themselves under 500. In baseball and in art, it’s hard to look away when the outcome is uncertain and possibly dire.

I am much more optimistic and excited about presenting these works at our next Paintings & Sculpture auction. On September 7th, this group of Barye bronze sculptures will be sold at auction in Boston. For that week, at least, I’ll take a break from baseball. Join us for the free public preview September 5th through 7th.

7 Fine Art & Antiques Websites Worth Visiting

When we started the Skinner Antiques & Fine Art Auctions blog in 2010, this was one of my very first posts. I continue to rely on the same excellent websites for art, antiques and collectibles news. Over the past two years, I’ve added several new sites to my retinue of regular morning reading about the antiques auction market. You can find links to all of these resources below.

Morning Reading: Finding Market Insight Online

online auction newsSteeped in an industry that covets the antiquated and obsolete, I’m fascinated with how new technologies and antiques not only coexist, but how auction houses, antiques dealers and museums can use 21st century innovation to validate & promote the products of the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries. In the 19th century the Industrial Revolution brought new technologies and a vast number of new consumers. What similarities are there in today’s world?

I try to keep an ear to the ground, whether that means chatting with local dealers at a preview or trolling online for web-based versions of familiar magazines and trade papers, or more and more newer resources with unique angles. Here are just a few of the sites that I frequent to gather varied views of the antiques trade, the changing landscape of collecting art & antiques, and market trends:

1) ARTFIX Daily — A good place to start for top stories spanning topics ranging from record-setting auction results, to upcoming exhibitions and reviews.

2) Rare Victorian — A blend of informative resources for Victorian furniture, furniture makers & forums.

3) The Young Antiques Collectors — Addressing an issue we’re all thinking about: there must be young collectors out there, whether they know it now or not.

4) Antiques Trade Gazette — International news on auctions, the art market, and trends.

5) The collecting section of the Financial Times — Insight into the economics and trends of the art market with in-depth reporting on select sectors.

6) Art Market Blog with Nic Forrest — Frequent and timely posts on the art market, cutting through the hype with clarity.

7) Anonymous Works — For a little diversion, a fascinating view of folk art, craft, quirky collecting and what America saves.

Learning the market from those with an insider’s perspective is your best bet for staying on top of auction trends and finding great values at auction. Then just follow your taste—let your eye and your heart be your guide.

Antiques Insurance Guide: How to Protect your Valuables

Guest post by Wayne Texeira, Murphy Insurance Agency

Skinner is pleased to join D.F. Murphy Insurance as co-presenting sponsor of the Wayside Inn Antiques Show. In the lead up to the show, we’ve invited Wayne Texeira, Marketing Director at Murphy Insurance to provide our readers with some insider insights on protecting antiques and collectibles.

Insuring Antiques and Fine Art

Do you know how much your antiques, fine arts, jewelry and other valuables are worth? You might be surprised at the value of what you’ve collected over the years. Whether you have an extensive collection or just a few high value pieces, it’s important to clearly understand how your valuables are protected by your insurance.

Coverage considerations

Antiques Insurance Guide | JewelryEven the most comprehensive home policy has limitations on how it protects your valuables in the event of damage, theft or loss. Your homeowner, condominium owner or renter’s policy has a specific coverage limit for your personal property, so you need to make sure that the value of your collection combined with all your other personal possessions does not exceed this limit. The big concern is that if you have a major fire that destroys everything, you need to have enough coverage to replace everything. Therefore, you need to think carefully about and determine if your personal property limit is sufficient.

Another consideration is that most policies have specified theft limits for jewelry, silverware and a few other types of items. Depending on your policy, theft limits often range from $1,000 to $5,000 after your policy deductible. If you have items of substantial value in these categories, you’ll need to assess carefully if your coverage offers the right protection.

Beyond having enough protection, you also need to understand what causes of loss are covered by your home policy.  Some policies only cover specified situations such as fire, lightning, windstorms, hailstorms, burst pipes, or theft, while other policies offer broader coverage for all situations other than those specifically excluded.  Also, most home policies exclude what is known as breakage coverage for fragile items such as glassware and porcelain, so if you have items for which you want breakage coverage, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve purchased this protection.

The physical location of your valuables can also affect coverage. If you have valuables in multiple locations such as a second home or office in addition to your primary residence, you’ll need to consider how your policy protects your personal property when it is not located in your primary residence. Some policies exclude coverage when your property is in transit and may not provide coverage if, for example, you loan items for an exhibition, so be sure that you are properly protected if your antique or fine art items are away from your home.

Coverage options for antiques, fine art, and collectibles

To have proper insurance protection for your antiques, fine arts and other valuables, there are several options for expanded coverage. A smaller collection can often be covered using a special floater endorsement on your home policy commonly referred to as scheduling. This method provides broader coverage for additional causes of loss and does not require a deductible for listed items. For larger collections or items that are extremely valuable, a separate policy may be required. If breakage coverage for fragile items is a concern, be sure to specifically request it whether you schedule an item on your home insurance or purchase a separate policy because insurance companies will differ in how they provide this coverage.  Some carriers automatically include breakage coverage with the special protection while others only provide breakage protection if you specifically request it.

Because there can be so many nuances to protecting antiques and fine arts, the key to getting the right coverage is choosing a knowledgeable insurance professional, who takes the time to understand your unique needs.  By working together with an insurer that understands antiques and fine arts, you can create a plan that protects your valuables for the broadest range of situations and ensures that you have sufficient coverage to protect your investment.

Murphy Insurance Agency is a full-service provider of insurance solutions for personal and business needs.

Should I Collect Prints or Paintings?

Edward Hopper | Night Shadows

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) Night Shadows, 1921, Auctioned for $27,255 in September, 2010

“Want to come up and see my etchings?”

The opportunity to throw out a line like this may be one motive to collect prints, but there are much better reasons. Collecting prints is the auction equivalent of “having your cake and eating it too.”

“Print” is a broad term that, in the context of fine art, refers to a work for which the artist creates the printing matrix, such as an etched plate, a lithographic stone, or a carved woodblock, and uses this to create multiple impressions of an image.

The artist may or may not be the actual printer, but generally approves of the quality and methodology of printing, and often signs his or her prints by hand.

Prints tend to be smaller in scale than paintings – unless you’re looking at Modern and Contemporary works – and generally invite the close, intimate scrutiny that a smaller space engenders. This intimacy lends itself extremely well to adorning the walls of a regular-sized home.

If you have a limited budget—who doesn’t these days?—you should consider prints.

Because of their very nature, prints are less expensive than paintings. Prints are multiples, rather than one-of-a-kind works of art, so clearly they are less rare. This also means that condition is extremely important. In buying a unique work, if you absolutely love the image you may be more accepting of some minor condition problems.

With prints, however, the rules change. Consider an iconic etching like Edward Hopper’s Night Shadows of 1921. If that is the work you want, then you have options. This work was printed in an edition of 500. The very next one to come up at auction might be laid down or have trimmed margins or staining — all negative condition issues. If you’re willing to overlook those problems, you could get one of those 500 etchings for around $25,000 or less. Or, you can hold out for a fantastic impression in pristine condition for $40,000.

Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889-1975), Threshing

The Hopper in poor condition may not be within your price range, but here’s another example: Let’s say you want to buy Thomas Hart Benton oil—just a minor one. Well, you need to be ready to spend $300,000 to $500,000. That’s the price of a house! It’s simply beyond most people’s budgets. And that doesn’t even address the cost of a prime example of his painting – his record for auction prices is just over $2.4 million.

But, you can get a great Thomas Hart Benton lithograph—a quintessential example of his work—for $3,000 to $5,000. That’s not cheap, but it’s only a mortgage payment or two, and if you’re in love, what are a few mortgage payments? And since you’re wondering; for a major Hopper painting, plan to spend the price of the house, two new cars, plus 4 years of college tuition… or over $1,000,000. Suddenly $25,000-40,000 seems like a bargain.

My advice to you is, “have your house and decorate it too.”

So, should you collect prints or paintings? It’s a few mortgage payments versus the whole house. You make the call!

View the Fine Paintings & Prints Auction Catalogue for our February 3, 2012 auction.

Originally published November 23, 2010. Revised and updated January 13, 2012.

Favorite Auction Highlights of 2011, Part II: From Dwarf Clocks to Diamonds

2011 was a great year for fine art & antiques. Here is the second round of picks, and the reasons why we feel these items are important and worthy of recognition.

Read Part I to learn about a record-breaking folk art portrait, a stunning Art Deco bracelet, and a bottle of 1961 Petrus wine.

Antique Dwarf Clock

Fine Art Auctions Highlights | Dwarf ClockThis remarkable family heirloom had been kept running for 80 years - Stephen Fletcher, Executive Vice President and Director of American Furniture & Decorative Arts

It’s always exciting to discover a beautiful object that is unknown to the collecting world. When I saw this perfectly proportioned dwarf clock on a house call in Beverly, Massachusetts, it was still running, and had been passed down in the same family for 80 years. At the moment we discussed the possibility of selling it, the clock struck twelve.

The clock was made by Joshua Wilder in Hingham, Massachusetts between 1821 and 1824, and is a true miniature of a tall case clock constructed in the same manner, and with a full striking movement. This places it in a category of being the most sought-after and desirable type of dwarf clock.


Mahogany and Mahogany Veneer Dwarf Clock, Joshua Wilder, Hingham, Massachusetts, Auctioned for $189,600 in the American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction on March 6, 2011

Rock Crystal Cup

Truly a royal item, this cup was probably made for the ruling court in the Mughal Empire in India – Kerry Shrives, Vice President, Director of Information & Technology

Fine Art Auction Highlights | Rock Crystal Cup

I love the exquisite carving on this Mughal rock crystal cup. It was most likely made in the 17th/18th century for the ruling court of the Mughal Empire in India, and then embellished in 1867 when the London jeweler Robert Phillips added a delicate gold, enamel and stone mounted foot-rim. The bowl reflects a mid-19th century fascination with Greek and Roman antiquity. Phillips is known to have visited Rome in the 1850s on a study trip where he viewed period Roman works of glass, gold, and lapidary. Phillips exhibited at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle, and it is quite possible that this bowl was exhibited there. My favorite museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum has a number of similar cups in their collections.

Fine Yellow Gold, Cloisonne Enamel, and Stone-mounted Carved Rock Crystal Bowl, Auctioned for $201,450 in the European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction on October 14, 2011

Rare Ornamental Turning Lathe

Fine Art Auction Highlights | Rare Turning LatheThis machine and collection of tools will provide a lifetime of discovery to a superb craftsman - Robert Cheney, Director of Science, Technology & Clocks

An ornamental turning lathe was primarily a “Gentleman’s” turning tool which could provide a lifetime education for the lucky owner. This remarkable early 19th century machine and its many accessories allowed an educated owner to perform complex tasks on exotic woods and materials like ebony, teak, rosewood and ivory. This is my 2011 favorite because it is such a rarity to find an ornamental turning lathe with all the numbered accessories and fitted two-part mahogany tall chest. More importantly however, this is my favorite because it was sold to a superb craftsman who will spend a lifetime rediscovering all the attributes that make this machine so special.

Holtzapffel & Deyerlein Ornamental Turning Lathe and Accessories, Auctioned for $65,175 on July 16, 2011

Antique Diamond Necklace

Favorite Auction Highlights | Antique Diamond NecklaceWho kept this in her jewelry box at the turn of the century? - Melissa Riebe, Specialist, Discovery auctions

It’s hard to pick just one, but thinking back on things that really struck me this past year, one is this antique silver and rose-cut diamond necklace. The piece was beautiful in the catalogue, but seeing the necklace in person, I was, in a word, dazzled.

The delicate construction and brilliant stones started me thinking about what sort of a high-society woman around the turn of the century would have had this piece in her jewelry box. Was it a gift from her husband? A fellow member of the elite? A self-indulgent purchase? We’ll never know, but it’s fun to wonder!

Antique Silver and Rose-cut Diamond Necklace, Auctioned for $30,810 on December 6, 2011