Just in time for Americana Week and the Winter Antiques Show, Christie’s is displaying the unique mix of classical European furnishings, Southern art and depictions of American heroes and historic events collected by Jay and Nan Altmayer for Palmetto Hall, their historic 1846 mansion in Mobile, Alabama. Thomas meets up with Gemma Sudlow, head of the Private and Iconic Collections department, and Melissa Gagen, specialist in English furniture, to highlight a few pieces and explain how traditional forms such as these can work in modern spaces.
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Among the lots selected are a pair of Italian wall sconces on view in the hallway at Palmetto Hall (seen above). Thomas describes the effect of juxtaposing them with contemporary objects:
‘Antiques have novel shapes and surfaces which are unmatched by new pieces. I love the shape and form of these Italianate wall sconces. Like all neoclassical designs and those derived from the antique, they come from and are inspired by organic forms, so automatically have a softness and natural quality to them. In the interior at Palmetto Hall, they were used in a traditional context, lining a hallway, but the look could be updated by pairing them with modern or contemporary line drawings by the likes of Cy Twombly, either within a room setting or in an entry way. By contrasting them with modern or contemporary works these wall sconces can be reinvigorated and find new meaning.’