Lancashire collectors staying in New York over the Christmas period should find time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the attractions include a Christmas tree bedecked with 18th century ornaments, and an exhibition of antique marquetry furniture by the revolutionary Roentgen cabinetmaking firm.
The New York Met is once again celebrating Christmas in spectacular style, with the highlight being a towering blue spruce decorated with 18th century Neapolitan angels, cherubs and crèche (nativity) figures. The tradition was started by the late Loretta Hines Howard, a prolific collector of antique crèche ornaments. Her elaborate tree designs, featuring a crowded crib scene surmounted by angels rising to a crowning star, made their debut at the Met in 1957. Mrs Howard continued to decorate the museum’s Christmas tree each year, donating over 200 Neapolitan nativity figures until her death in 1982. Today, her daughter continues the tradition, each year becoming more elaborate as more antique decorations are added.
Neapolitan nativity ornaments reflect the high level of artistic creativity and excellence that defined Naples in the 18th century, with Roman ruins, fountains and exotic animals and people being added to the traditional crib scene. Equally elaborate are the antique desks and cabinets of the German cabinetmaking firm of Abraham and David Roentgen. Combining innovative mechanisms with exquisite marquetry work, their designs revolutionised 18th century English and European furniture. The exhibition, which has an entry fee, continues until January 27th, but there is a free tour on Sunday 30th December.
Those looking for a marquetry inlaid antique desk in Lancashire will find plenty of choice at their local antique dealers.
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