Estate Sale: Portraits on Russian Hill


It seems like a lot of estate sales these days are staged by the living. Perhaps it’s because of the economy, but it seems like people are paring down their possessions. Great news, because there’s more for the rest of us. In a sale on Russian Hill this weekend, a couple is divesting themselves of an interesting art collection and more.

The thing I found most appealing about this sale was the artwork. This couple (who, according to organizers, is scaling down and moving on), has a notable collection of portraits. It’s uncommon to see this, as most people don’t go for paintings of strangers. But add something like this portrait of Sir Guilford Molesworth K.C.I.E. (whatever that title means) to your interior and you will instantly acquire a bit of to-the-manor-born, even if you were raised in my hometown of Salem, Indiana, which has no manors to speak of.

Of course, before photography was widely in use, people who could afford it had their portraits painted as a means to record history. This couple has several that are interesting as art. I like the thought of adopting one and adding it to a modern interior. I think it would be a pleasant design surprise.

There’s more to this sale than portraits. The couple also has some nice examples of old armoires, always good for a storage-challenged apartment or Victorian. I love the side cabinets on this piece.

And I really like this antique dressing table and kitchen sideboard, both are pretty and offer practical storage, and could be a jolt in a modern interior (in a good way).

It’s almost spring, and nothing says Happy Easter like a set of blue willow plates on the table. This set is from Johnson Brothers.

Another noteworthy piece is this giant pitcher. It must have been on someone’s washstand.

There’s also a neat old dulcimer, a modern Corbu-style lounge and a pair of chairs that look something like thrones (fitting if you have a regal portrait on the wall). Reupholster the chairs and you’d have something interesting.

The sale, run by Quality First Estate Sales, is at 2444 Leavenworth and runs Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s near Fay Park, which is a sweet example of Thomas Church’s residential work and worth checking out.


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