The Philadelphia Show Gets a Boost with its New Home

From yesteryear’s Navajo Rugs to the more modern Banksy, The Philadelphia Show takes you on a cultural, historical journey through America.

By: Isabelle Kellogg

Posted on: April 18, 2023

As soon as this annual antiques, art and design fair secured its new location on the grounds of the world-famous Philadelphia Art Museum in 2022, its stature on the international collectors’ circuit went up a few notches. Typically viewed as a locally oriented fair focusing on a treasure trove of Americana art and antiques, mixed in with period furniture, folk and decorative art and jewelry, this year’s edition of The Philadelphia Show includes more than 40 prominent dealers and fine art galleries from Northeastern states, including New York City. 

Jamie Wyeth Gulls of Inferno 

Jamie Wyeth, Gulls of the Inferno, 2007, Somerville Manning Gallery.

Even with the waning interest amid collectors in the category of “old” items, fairs like The Philadelphia Show should be viewed as valuable resources of historical objects, art and antiques. Attending fairs like these reinforces history and cultural habits, all great lessons in humanity, and generally are more fun than visiting a museum because of the array of items on display in the booths. For newcomers to the fair, there’s an added value of a self-guided treasure hunt and dealer lectures. Highlights of this year’s edition, which takes place April 28-30th, are below.

Dana H. Bittel Naming tray

Dana H. Bittel Adam Naming Tray.  

The term Americana, often grouped together under the term Folk Art, is best described as a unique slice of the American history that reflects the charm and nostalgia of America’s past culture and daily life. Many of us are familiar with the family portraits and landscapes by self-taught artists, but there’s also hand-crafted furniture, some of which became famous, like the Quaker style, that is abundant at this show. In addition, some dealers specialize in American Indian arts, such as Marcy Burns American Indian Art. Her Navajo rugs, many from early trading posts in the America West, are artistic and creative. The Navajo were often influenced by designs used by others, taking those designs and reworking them to be consistent with the Navajo aesthetic. Dana H. Bittel Art and Antiques offers this endearing 19th century oil painting on a tin tray by Adam Naming depicting the Garden of Eden’s “Peaceable Kingdom”.  

Navajo Rug
Navajo Rug ca. 1910, from Marcy Burns Native American Art Gallery.  

S.J. Shrubsole is notable at many fairs for its outstanding array of antique silverware, encompassing flatware and service pieces like soup tureens and other grandiose items used for serious dinner parties. The soup tureen, ca. 1752, was made by London’s leading woman silversmith Elizabeth Godfrey, who owned one of the most prolific Huguenot shops in 18th century London. She produced some fantastic pieces and also dabbled in jewelry.

Elle Shushan, based in Philadelphia, offers a magnificent collection of enchanting, cameo-like miniature portraits from America, Britain and Europe, which were cherished by the upper classes and nobility.

Soup Tureen Philadelphia Art Show

George II Tureen from S.J. Shrubsole, made by Elizabeth Godfrey c. 1752.

For anyone interested in acquiring paintings associated with the Wyeth family, often referred to as America’s first family of artists, visit Somerville Manning Gallery’s booth. This dealer not only sells art but also curates collections for private collectors and museums. Jamie Wyeth’s watercolors of animal life are both vibrant and rugged.

Trinity House from London will be showing a range of works, from Old Masters to Contemporary. Modernists will be interested in the Banksy work, Pulp Fiction (2004). Banksy, highly popular among the modern art diaspora, combines graffiti art with stenciling to showcase satirical sides of modern life, politics and consumerism. 

Banksy Pulp Fiction

Banksy 'Pulp Fiction', 2004, Trinity House.

Within a few hours, visitors to this art fair will be able to see examples of art and furniture, mostly representing America, that spans a few 100 years, and gain some insight into different cultures and their history.   

Isabelle KelloggIn addition to a career in communications and marketing focused on the luxury lifestyle sector, including co-authoring and lecturing a case study on French heritage jeweler Mauboussin with Harvard Business School, Isabelle continues to share her experiences about fine art, wine, travel, jewelry and culture as a freelance writer for internationally based digital publications.

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