New Jersey Remembered: A Seventy-fifth Anniversary; Philadelphia Collection 75; October 2005
Schwarz Gallery - Catalog 75 - New Jersery Remembered: Seventy-fifth Anniversary Exhibition - Introduction

Schwarz Antiques Interior, Atlantic City (1930s)
Schwarz Antiques Interior, Atlantic City (1930s)
The gallery’s subsequent development in Philadelphia was related in The Schwarz Gallery: Fifty Years on Chestnut Street (1993). Marie became an active presence in the firm in 1961. Noting that her husband “loved the hunt and buying,” she encouraged a new emphasis on retail sales and renovated the gallery accordingly. This was an opportune year to make the transition, because American antiques became extremely popular after the new First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy began her extensive program to remodel and redecorate the White House. The store was incorporated as the Philadelphia Antique Shop in 1968. Over the years the Schwarzes sold many rare examples of silver, china, and furniture to prestigious museums and private collections.

Frank’s son Robert D. Schwarz, Sr. (familiarly known as “Robbie”), joined the firm in 1964 after graduating from Dickinson College. He also developed the retail side of the business, and took a special interest in nineteenth-century American and European paintings. Frank had purchased a large collection of such paintings and sculpture from the Ridgway Branch of the Library Company of Philadelphia during the late 1950s, when the group left its historic Greek Revival building on South Broad Street and relocated to their present site on Locust Street. Although nineteenth-century art was out of fashion at the time, Robert became fascinated with the collection and had the paintings cleaned, restored, and framed. His decision to focus on American fine art was an opportune one, as the market demand increased greatly during the years leading up to the Bicentennial in 1976. Robert gained additional knowledge when he worked as the curator of the Stephen Girard College and wrote a catalogue of its collection in the 1980s.

Robert took over the gallery after Frank’s death in 1985. Under his leadership it achieved recognition as one of the nation’s foremost specialists in American and particularly Philadelphian artists from the colonial through the early modernist periods. It was Robert, with his genuine love and enthusiasm for scholarship, who initiated the gallery’s tradition of publishing carefully researched sales catalogues, among which the most notable are A Gallery Collects Peales (1987), with entries on paintings by sixteen members of the Peale family, and 150 Years of Philadelphia Still-Life Painting (1997), consisting of essays by twenty renowned art experts. Gallery catalogues have done much to revive interest in Philadelphia artists such as Paul Weber, Herman Herzog, Anna Richards Brewster, Franklin Watkins, Russell Smith and his son Xanthus Smith, James Reid Lambdin and his son George Cochran Lambdin, and Benjamin Ferris Gilman and his wife Claudine Scott Gilman.


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