The Alexandria Association is the city’s oldest organization devoted to the preservation of Alexandria’s historic buildings, landscapes, records, and antiquities; and to education in the decorative, fine, and building arts.
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The Story of the Legendary Reifsnyder Sale of 1929”
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Fee for guests attending a one-time lecture is $15.
In the spring of 1929, just a few months before the stock market crash that would plunge the country into depression, the American antiques market experienced a pivotal moment with the sale of the Howard Reifsnyder collection. Comprising an unusually fine and extensive group of Philadelphia furniture, the sale would become an instant legend, realizing a then-staggering total of almost $600,000. What conditions made the success of the Reifsnyder sale possible? How did the critical authority develop, over a relatively short period, to sanction such high prices for Americana? Who were the players willing to participate in this potentially risky endeavor? And how did the management and packaging of the sale contribute to its phenomenal success? This talk will explore these questions in turn by looking at the various elements of the Reifsnyder sale, including not only the high quality of the collection itself, but the evolving tastes, social dynamics, auction house branding, and journalistic reception that each gave shape to this watershed moment in the history of American antiques.
Emelie Gevalt is the newly appointed Curator of Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. She is also a PhD student in the art history department at the University of Delaware, where she is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Curatorial Track PhD Fellow. In 2017 she received her MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, with a thesis on the early 18th-century painted chests of Taunton, Massachusetts. Prior to graduate school, Emelie was a Vice President and Senior Account Manager in Christie’s Estates, Appraisals, and Valuations department in New York. In addition, she has held graduate internships at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She received her BA in art history and theater studies from Yale.