When developing the perfect antique collection, some collectors prefer to gather works on a theme or concept. A theme might be something as basic as an artistic era or style like 50s/60s Tiki or Hawaiian that connects the works collected, or it might be something much deeper and far more esoteric like the vignette pictured above. Entitled Darwin, David Smernoff of From Here To Antiquity developed the grouping from the company’s vast collection of art objects. It began with the idea of creating a stage for some of the items to sit on and what emerged was an interesting exploration of race, religion, and 1800s notions of Man.
The stage, a beautifully hand carved mahogany multi-leaf dining table encrusted with grotesques faces, scrolls, and shell shields, became a stand-in for a 1800s Vaudevillian stage. A stage metaphorically can represent “the world” and in the spotlight of four metal Aesthetic nickle silver sculptures acting as theatre stage lights, the vignette developed to represents attitudes of the 1800s towards African-Americans. At the center is an actual antique engraving of author Charles Dickens. We originally thought it was Charles Darwin when we designed the vignette, proving why constant research is important. We continued to develop the layout as if it was Charles Darwin, who hypothesized that the human race developed from monkeys into primitive man and then finally into today’s erect humans.
There are various portrayals of African-American’s represented, from the rusted tin 1910s depiction of a black man, Dapper Dan (marked Alabama Coon), created by the Marx toy company. When the tin toy is wound-up, Dapper Dan begins to tap dance, jumping around and swinging his arms. There is a Cleopatra figure holding a braizer from around the same time. A wood Amazonian warrior character stands tall and out of scale on the left representing the tribes of the Amazon forest, a form of dark Exotica of the 1800s-1950s. At the center sits a miniature Steiff monkey called Jocko, the smallest Jocko the company made, from around 1967 with articulated movable limbs. Placed at the apex of the composition is an Egyptian Revival bronze bust of Cleopatra from around 1910.
COLLECT FROM THIS VIGNETTE: