American Modern and Federal Flare: Collection of Jean and Jim Barrow | May 20, 2023

ASHEVILLE, March 13, 2023 – American Modern and Federal Flare: Barrow Collection

While lately it has been all the rage to talk about mixing it up when collecting and decorating with modern art and antiques, Jim and Jean Barrow have been doing it for decades. Their coastal South Carolina home was filled with what is arguably the best collection of American Federal furniture to come to market in years, with masterpieces from Boston, Portsmouth, New York, Baltimore, Virginia, and Charleston among the offerings. The simple elegance and perfection of the furnishings perfectly complemented the modern masterpieces on the walls. The art collection includes some of the most recognizable imagery and names of the 20th century, featuring significant works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Kenneth Noland, Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana, Joseph Albers, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, and Damien Hirst. In their home, a masterful carved Salem side chair shared space with the elegant simplicity of a Donald Judd. The iconic Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe hung over a fine Boston Federal sofa, and the exquisite Charleston mantel was graced by a Damien Hirst oil and a rare George Washington figural bronze clock. A Jeff Koons balloon dog had a Baltimore inlaid pembroke table for a pedestal, and works by Dale Chihuly and Toots Zynsky made their home on the sideboard.

Always with an eye toward the highest quality, the Barrows pursued the very finest in American federal furniture, acquiring many well documented and published masterworks. The furniture collection was assembled over decades, under the careful guidance of advisor Milly McGehee, with additional research and expertise supplied by John Bivins, Deanne Levison, Sumpter Priddy, Albert Sack, and Robert Mussey. The fine art was purchased through various galleries and New York and London auctions, much of it with the guidance of Kristy Stubbs Gallery in the couple’s home town of Dallas. But ultimately, across categories it was the couple’s own keen sense of quality and form that built the collection.

The extensive map collection begins in the 15th century and continues through the 18th century, with a focus on Southern rarities such as Horne’s Carolina Described of 1666. Southern decoys are also featured, including rare examples by South Carolina makers. Folk art stand outs include a rare painted chest from the Mahantango Valley of Pennsylvania, a dramatic carved and gilt sunburst, and a very large painted pig trade sign. Other unusual items that struck the couple’s fancy include Katherine Hepburn’s carved and painted goose, known as “Spencer’s Goose” for Spencer Tracy, and a monumental three dimensional depiction of asparagus stalks by pop artist Marjorie Strider. This 10 course meal of a sale will be perfectly complemented by over 500 bottles of wine from the couple’s cellar.

The Barrows are known for their philanthropy and support of numerous charitable causes. This includes generous support of museums, especially in Jim’s native state of South Carolina. The couple have gifted quietly and extensively to the Nathaniel Russel House of the Historic Charleston Foundation, and the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, among others. Proceeds from the sale will go to further the couple’s many charitable initiatives through the James Purdy Barrow Foundation.


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