Freeman's, America's oldest auction house (in its own words), will be offering the Estate of Joseph S. Sorger on October 5 in Philadelphia. The collection from his home at 2003 Delancey Place was amassed over 70 years and spans the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Among the more than 450 works of art to be auctioned are excellent examples of American Classical furniture, American portraits, and Chinese bronzes and porcelain. Like the opulence of the American Classical furniture he was known for, Sorger's taste for architecture, design and furnishings was bold and regal.
It was one of Sorger's last wishes that his large and impressive collection be sold by Freeman's, a place where he had purchased so many of his treasures over the years. Sorger's life ended in November 2008 where it started, in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, where he was a successful business man, respected dealer and passionate collector.
He was born in 1919 to German immigrant parents, served in World War II as a Master Sergeant in the 341st Medical Group receiving multiple medals and an honourable discharge, attended the Philadelphia Museum College of Industrial Arts (presently the University of the Arts) graduating with honours in interior and furniture design, then started a flourishing career as a successful interior designer under the tutelage of Elizabeth Bair.
His time spent at Sorger and Schwartz with business partner and lifetime acquaintance Morton Schwartz, often referred to as "Mutt" by those who knew him best, proved to be a successful collaboration. Beginning in the 341st Medical Regiment of World War II, where they stood in line alphabetically, Joe and Mutt cultivated a relationship that included nearly sixty years in business together.
Their friends, clients and associates included curators, professors, architects, and collectors from Edward V. Jones, Jed & Jay Johnson and Berry Tracy to Philadelphia's own Harry Burke, Henry McIlhenny and Dr. Robert Smith.
As an interior designer, Sorger decorated many high-profile residences in the prestigious Philadelphia neighborhoods of Society Hill and Rittenhouse Square and is included in the private collections of icons like Andy Warhol and Pearl S. Buck, including the museum dedicated to her life and work.
In the winter of 1976, Sorger moved to the prestigious address at 2003 Delancey Place in Philadelphia, purchasing the 1860's five-story home from friend and employer, Elizabeth Bair. The address came with a distinguished history, once being the home of the Patterson family, a prominent Philadelphia family, including Philadelphia Criminal Attorney Christopher "Chippy" Patterson (1875-1933).
Throughout the time which the Patterson family occupied the residence, the house was often used for hosting lavish parties and prestigious guests. Reportedly, Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president of the United States, was included among them.
Sorger loaned and sold objects from his collection to museums from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, the Yale University Art Gallery to the New Jersey gubernatorial mansion, Drumthwackett. He lived his life with the idea that "you don't own anything in this life, you are only a caretaker."
Sorger had an eye for period interiors and the objects that filled them. He spent thirty years decorating his Delancey Place home with antiques.
Some of the more notable pieces in Sorger's collection include alabaster figural groups After Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757-1822) and a pair of portraits by Lawrence Kilburn (British/American, 1720-1775), of one of America's earliest prominent Jewish couples, Mr. Manuel Josepheson and Mrs. Rachel Josepheson.
Also featured is a collection of impressive chandeliers, a pier table attributed to Anthony G. Quervelle (pictured in situ below) and a mahogany carved sofa, attributed to the shop of cabinetmaker Horace Pippitt all to be offered in the auction on October 5.
While a majority of the property will remain in situ at 2003 Delancey for the preview, a selection of Asian works of art, jewelry and coins will be displayed at Freeman's gallery in conjunction with the English and Continental Furniture and Decorative Arts exhibition.
The preview at 2003 Delancey Place is from October 1-5 and entrance will be permitted with a catalogue.
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