THE NEOCLASSICIST: NIALL SMITH
Stair Galleries is pleased the present a single-owner sale “The Neoclassicist: Niall Smith” on May 6th 2021. Legendary for his gimlet eye, Smith has been a fixture in New York City’s antiques trade for nearly five decades. For many years in the 1990s, he traded from three locations simultaneously including his original Greenwich Village premises on Bleecker Street, a larger showroom in Soho on Grand Street, and a vast warehouse in Long Island City. Admission to the latter was by invitation and strictly to the trade, creating a coveted source for designers and decorators who flocked from far afield.
Irish by birth, Smith has always been loyal to his heritage and stocked fine examples of 18thand 19th century Irish furniture and decorative arts. He has close ties to the Irish Antiques Dealers Association, The Irish Georgian Society and has long been an avid international auction house sleuth. For decades, buying trips to England and Ireland typically occurred several times a year, with less frequent forays to Germany, Italy and France. At the start of his career in the 1970s, Smith’s name became synonymous with Biedermeier furniture. In 1979, following the successful exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum “Vienna in the Age of Schubert” Niall Smith Antiques kindled a taste for Neoclassical interiors filled with pedimented fruitwood secretaires, armoires with ebonized columns, and the architectural order and restraint of a classically inspired interior. His distinct style caught eye of what he calls, “The Carriage Trade” and he has enjoyed a certain notoriety with tremendously loyal patrons, as well as leading decorators and collectors for over forty years.
Stair’s sale is reminiscent of an aristocratic Englishman’s penchant for Grand Tour souvenirs, and is brimful of obelisks, columns, architectural ruins and busts made from porphyry, marble, bronze and blue john. There are gouaches of The Bay of Naples and Vesuvius, 18thcentury colored engravings based on archaeological excavations in Egypt, as well as at Herculaneum and Pompeii, including dozens of framed colored engravings by Sir William Hamilton. Wedgwood black basalt busts and porcelain, Giustiani terracotta, creamware by Creil and Spode, colorful French blue opaline glass, Italian pietra dure and micromosaic panels, and multiple volumes of 19th century dummy books containing plaster intaglios are among the many varied, coveted objects which characterize Smith’s singularly assured taste.
His choice in furniture is equally gutsy, often sculptural, and also widely chosen to include 19th century Anglo-Indian ebony pieces; 18th and 19th century English and Irish mahogany and carved giltwood; French, German and Italian Neoclassical fruitwood furniture alongside other iron, cast bronze, marble and granite pieces. Highlights include an impressively scaled mid-19th century English carved mahogany armoire in the Gothic taste ($4,000 – $6,000); a set of 14 English Regency brass inlaid rosewood dining chairs with tufted blue leather seats ($10,000 – $15,000); a mid-19th century Irish carved mahogany console table with marble top with the Provenance of Westport House, County Mayo ($5,000 – $7,000); and a William IV carved mahogany library table in the manner of Marsh and Tatham ($4,000 – $6,000).
A magnetic mosaic worthy of the modern world, “Niall Smith: The Neoclassicist” is a sale grounded in history, authenticity and individual style.
BIDDING IN THIS SALE
We accept phone bids, absentee bids and live online bidding for this sale. To register for bidding by phone or absentee click here. Register for live online bidding via Bidsquare.com, Invaluable.com or LiveAuctioneers.com. For inquiries regarding the items in this sale please contact us at 518.751.1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.