If you’re a lover of fine art, antiques and design, and you happen to be near Philadelphia this weekend, set your coordinates for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or, more accurately, for the East Terrace at the top of the famous Rocky Steps. That’s where you’ll find a 26,000-square-foot tent housing the Philadelphia Show, which runs from April 29 to May 1 with a select group of the country’s finest dealers exhibiting pieces from the 17th century to present day.
The show, which was founded in 1962 as a benefit for the University Hospital, “certainly started as an antiques show,” says show manager Huntley Platt. “Even today, you’ll see the heart and soul of this show is antiques. However, there have been numerous wonderful additions of fine art and design dealers to the show. It has traditionally been an American show, but there are also some dealers who deal in European furniture and Asian ceramics, and, of course, jewelry.”
Jewelry lovers are likely to recognize the cohort of well-regarded dealers of estate and vintage jewelry exhibiting at this year’s event, including Kentshire, S.J. Shrubsole and James Robinson. Platt notes that the show will be an especially good place to find jewelry with an Americana flair, as well as pieces celebrating the City of Brotherly Love. She referred to an 18-karat gold and diamond brooch centered on an exquisite aquamarine, made in Philadelphia in 1910 by J.E. Caldwell and now offered by James Robinson.
The items on display even include art pieces that celebrate the jewelry form. The Philadelphia-based gallery Dolan/Maxwell, for example, is showing a piece called “Jewelled Eyes” by Rachel Selekman, a Philly native who lives in Brooklyn creating 3-D sculptures and collages featuring an intriguing use of materials and technique.
Should you attend the show, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, don’t miss the loan exhibition of 14 works displayed on a special platform built atop the terrace’s famous fountain. Called “Zero to Sixty,” it honors the show’s history of featuring loan exhibits every year.
The signature piece is “a portrait miniature of an unknown gentleman from 1807,” says Platt. “He’s got these blue sunglasses on and his hair is all crazy and he looks like he just stepped out from a convertible.”