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Bonhams Sold on Georgetown

February 8, 2012

Perhaps best known as an 18th century British auction house and for their recent acquisition of Butterfield’s, Bonhams, which was founded in 1793, is now in Georgetown. Of the three most prominent international auction houses (the other two, of course being Christie's and Sotheby’s) only Bonhams has a D.C. office.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

The Georgetown Dish caught up with Dr. Martin Gammon, managing director of the D.C. office, in his new second floor suite on M Street. Coming from New York, and San Francisco, I asked what most surprised him about Washington. “Outside of government and business, while they’re huge, there’s a subterranean world of art here. Washington is one the greatest cultural capitals in the U.S.” He continued, “When you have the combination of great museums like The Freer and Sackler, The Phillips Collection, and The National Museum of African Art … that brings a depth to the art collecting community.”

As an expert in rare books and 13th century illuminated manuscripts, Gammon was quick to add, “In fact, the greatest illuminated manuscript collection is locally owned.”

Prior to joining Bonhams, Dr. Gammon was a research fellow in the philosophy department at Yale University and a lecturer in the history of philosophy at Stanford University. He is widely published in academic journals on the philosophy of art, and appears frequently as an appraiser of rare books and manuscripts on the PBS series, "Antiques Roadshow.®"

Gammon, who moved to Georgetown late last year with his wife and children has found the transition easy. "I was overwhelmed with the openness and generosity of the welcome."

With specialties beyond fine art and furniture, Bonhams also has ”the world record for sales of Porsche and Rolls Royce.”

As an international resource to the Mid-Atlantic, the D.C. office is planning (in addition to appraisals) small exhibitions including upcoming Asia Week in March. China’s prosperity has caused a “massive repatriation of art,” Gammon noted, often with objects impossible to appraise. A similar phenomenon is happening with Russian art. “If you have an old insurance policy, update it.”

Hounds in a kennel by William Henry Hamilton Trood (Photo by: Bonhams) Hounds in a kennel by William Henry Hamilton Trood

His personal collecting extends to photography and prints, and to my question on what’s trending now, “contemporary African art and mid-century modern (but only the best and rarest pieces).”

If you happen to be in New York next week, you'll want to stop by for the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) and Bonhams Auction House annual charity brunch, Barkfest at Bonhams on Sunday, February 12, 2012 from 10:00 am to noon, benefiting the AKC Humane Fund, Inc.

Dog lovers and art aficionados are encouraged to bring their dogs, enjoy a light brunch and preview the highly prized dog art and collectibles at Bonhams (580 Madison Avenue, between East 56th and 57th Streets) as well as meet some canine celebrities.

One of two works by canine artist William Henry Hamilton Trood, Hounds in a kennel (shown above) is part of “Dogs in Show & Field: The Fine Art Sale,” viewable then and on February 15th at Bonhams in New York.

Bonhams is at 2902 M Street. Tel: 202.333.1696

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Made in Sicily

February 7, 2012

"... like the ancient Saracen olive trees that have stood resolutely on the island for thousands of years, the people have remained resilient in the face of any influences that feel false to the flavors they love." Giorgio Locatelli on Sicily in his luscious new cookbook, Made in Sicily available February 7th.

Eggplant Rolls (Photo by: Lisa Linder) Eggplant Rolls

Equal parts travel adventure through an island rich with Greek, Arab and Spanish influences and guide to traditional Sicilian recipes.

The proportions and combinations vary from village to village, but the ingredients are the same: fish, pasta, eggplant, anchovies, capers, golden raisins, pine nuts, figs, olives,lemons, oranges, almonds, pistachios and wild fennel ... and for dessert: fresh ricotta, candied fruit and peel, and chocolate.

With groves of centuries-old trees ripe with oranges, figs and olives, and fish caught fresh a few steps away, every meal is a sensory feast.

As any good chef will tell you, always buy fresh and only use what's in season locally. 

While you're packing, try this recipe for eggplant rolls:

Involtini de melanzane

(Eggplant rolls, page 138)

Serves 4

2 medium eggplants

sae salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons golden raisins

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 ounce pecorino cheese (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated)

bay leaves

6 tablespoons bread crumbs (see page 45)

juice of 1 lemon

Cut the eggplants into slices lengthwise (about 1/8 inch thick), sprinkle with salt and  leave to drain in a colander for at least 2 hours. Squeeze lightly to get rid of the excess liquid, then bring a large pan of water to a boil, add the slices of eggplant, and blanch for a minute. drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degree F. Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic, and cook gently until soft, but not colored. Add the raisins and pine nuts and cook for a minute, then take off the heat, cool and then add pecorino, mixing well and adding a little more olive oil until you have a dense, moist mixture.

Lay the slices of eggplant out on a board. Spoon a little of the onion mixture onto each slice, then roll up. With wooden skewers, secure the rolls, four at a time, with a bay leaf in between each roll and at either end. Arrange the skewers in a baking dish, scatter with the bread crumbs and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top before serving.

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OGB Approves Jonathan Adler Furniture and Reviews Other Design Requests

February 2, 2012

A designer furniture store, renovations to a boutique hotel, roof repairs, signage and revisions to a new addition, were among the more than 20 items brought before the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) and The Commission of Fine Arts Thursday.

David Cox, Stephen Vanze, Anne Lewis, Eve Barsoum, Thomas Luebke and Jose Martinez (Photo by: Judith Beermann) David Cox, Stephen Vanze, Anne Lewis, Eve Barsoum, Thomas Luebke and Jose Martinez

The OGB, which meets monthly at the National Building Museum, conducts design reviews of semipublic and private structures within Georgetown's boundaries and their recommendations for concept and permit applications are compiled, and then forwarded to the Commission of Fine Arts for final approval.

BBG architects show the proposed new Monticello Hotel window (Photo by: Judith Beermann) BBG architects show the proposed new Monticello Hotel window

Brennan Beer Gorman architects presented plans for a rooftop addition and terrace for The Monticello Hotel on Thomas Jefferson Street. A proposal to change the original 1962 wood windows to aluminum and wood windows deemed more weather friendly was denied.

A concept application for Jonathan Adler furniture (formerly Gap Kids) at the corner of Wisconsin and N Streets was presented by Chris Gray of Cox, Graae and Spack architects on behalf of building owners, The Levy Group. Plans to modify the façade included an orange and grey color scheme, raising the canopy and a new awning with signage.  Most of the proposed plans were approved.

1900 photo and proposed Jonathon Adler concept (Photo by: Judith Beermann) 1900 photo and proposed Jonathon Adler concept

With the exception of a registration mark on the IMAX sign, a three-foot high signage scheme for the AMC (formerly Loew’s) movie theaters on K Street was approved “because the scale is different under Whitehurst Freeway, “said board member Anne Lewis.

Alterations to a previously approved rear addition at 1525 Wisconsin Avenue were explained by structural engineer, Chuck Gavin. The exterior rear wall had been removed, he said “because deterioration was so extensive that it was brick sections, not a wall, and would have had to have been needled to prevent collapsing.”

Approval for changes to the front and rear dormer and canopy were denied.  While the addition had been made smaller than in the original plans, the board approved the current addition size.  Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Tom Birch and Citizens Association of Georgetown, as represented by Overbridge Horsey agreed that the addition should revert back to the original plans.

Christine Brooks-Cropper speaks on behalf of owner Sara Mokhtari (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Christine Brooks-Cropper speaks on behalf of owner Sara Mokhtari

A public comment came from Christine Brooks-Cropper, Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce  president, supporting the efforts made by building owner, Sara Mokhtari to work with neighbors on proposed design changes.  While recognizing that some neighbors objected to the planned use of the new addition, board member Stephen Vanze said, “ We’re only approving aesthetics, not use. “ 


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