On August 19th, 2021, Pook & Pook presents The Collection of Barbara A. & Fred Johnson, of Rockford, Illinois. Owners of Barbara A. Johnson Antiques, the couple spent decades traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe in search of antiques, specializing in Swedish and Scandinavian folk art and furniture. Their personal collection features a colorful polychrome painted mixture of American furniture from Southeastern Pennsylvania and many very special pieces of 18th and 19th century Swedish furniture.
Highlighting the sale are two iconic Swedish clocks. Lot 1018 is a traditional 19th century Mora clock with a signed dial and a rococo shaped, grain-painted case. Lot 1012 is another 19th century Mora clock with signed dial. This clock case is rectilinear, its clean lines enhanced by a panel of carved detailing and pale blue paint. The works are from family workshops in the clock making center of Mora, in Dalarna, Sweden, and the cases likely by local carpenters nearer the purchaser’s home.
Like a pair of sisters in starched cornettes, two Swedish painted pine cupboards exemplify period style. Lot 1044, dated 1796, has two paneled doors above a single door with canted corners. Every panel is festooned with original paint decoration of stylized flowers, the architectural pediment with flower chains. Lot 1016 is a grain-painted cupboard constructed with two paneled doors over two lower, the panels decorated with vases of stylized flowers. The pediment bears flower chains and a floral crest dated 1831.
Two 18th/19th century Swedish sofa beds were early space savers, serving as bench seats in the daytime and pulling out into beds at night. Lot 1034 retains its original salmon surface, the initials of its owner, and the date 1876, while an earlier example, lot 1040, retains traces of an old blue surface.
Offering many desirable Swedish features are lots 1024 and 1028, a painted pine table and armchair. The small table has graceful rococo curves and retains an old powder blue finish. The armchair has out swept arms, tapered legs, and an old blue surface with red accents.
No fewer than eight 18th and 19th century Swedish and Scandinavian hanging cupboards brighten the collection with a burst of folkloric floral paint decoration. The grouping of shapes is sculptural in fashion with a mixture of gracefully curved pediments, flat and straight lines, and carved details.
Smaller objects include desirable 18th century Scandinavian mangle boards, to include a herd of Swedish horses and a Norwegian lion. There are four lots of iron-bound Swedish lock boxes, numerous wooden lanterns, painted scutching knives, and kitchen woodenware.
Americana blends beautifully with the Swedish and Scandinavian décor. Lot 1159, a painted pine turkey breast corner cupboard, late 18th century, is dry scraped to an old blue surface, and lot 1367, a 19th century Pennsylvania painted pine drysink with an old red surface.
There is also a Great Lakes regional presence in the collection. There are paintings, decoys, wood carvings, and carved and painted folk art furniture by Lou Schifferl, a noted Wisconsin artist represented by Barbara. As described by daughter Ginny Eames, suspended in air from beams in their home’s lofty ceiling flew a magical flock geese, swans, ducks, and all manner of birds, many carved by Schifferl.
The item that connects all elements of the far-ranging Johnson Collection, providing a narrative for the whole, is lot 1083, a Swedish immigrant trunk. A pine trunk, strapped in iron, retaining its original blue ground and floral paint decoration, is inscribed with the names of its owners and the date 1866. This piece, its simplicity, solidity, and folk art decoration, speaks volumes about its immigrant owners and the determination, strength, and hope that helped build our nation.
The auction begins at 9AM on Thursday, August 19th, 2021. All bidding for this auction is online on Bidsquare and Invaluable. The gallery exhibition will run from 10AM to 4PM on Monday, August 16th and Tuesday, August 17th. For more information on this collection, please go to www.pookandpook.com or call (610) 269-4040.
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence