28 February 2015

a very good friend,

My recent profile on Walter's Story of A House is of my dear friend, Sterling. I've known him for about 25 years and every time I see him he is brimming with energy. It was a pleasure to visit with him and share his story. His eclectic collection is a mix of art and provenance, and in turn it tells the story of his métier. Read it in WALTER here, and I've added some of my own photographs of particulars not in the story for you here.

 photograph by Catherine Nguyen from WALTER

Over the many years I’ve known Sterling and spent afternoons in his company, I’m always the richer for it. His boundless energy is infectious and both his knowledge, and taste, impeccable. Many pieces in my collection were a once a part of his own. 

One wall in a small hall way is covered with works from the last days of the monarchy thru the reign of the Bonaparte family. Telling the story in engravings, and ephemera, Sterling's wall talks:A letter from a Voltaire relation, thanking its recipient for a basket of food while he was imprisoned during the Reign of Terror (not shown), Engravings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Marie, c. 1793 (not shown) , Engravings of Pauline Bonaparte lounging as Venus Victorious, and Daumier engravings from 1830.

Winged Victory on a console in the Entry, along with miniatures of Napoleon and his generals, and Josephine with her own intimates, signed DAVID, c 1810.

Years ago when Sterling was moving to a smaller digs, he had a private sale, and I like to think I got some of his best things-though it can’t be so-for Sterling every object-every work of art- is special-a particular favorite, evoking a memory, time, and place in his incredible life. 

On his many trips to Mexico City & Cuernavaca to visit his great aunt, he collected magnificent masks. One of these masks hangs in his living room- it's one I had purchased from him-years later, he insisted I sell it back to him. 
I did, and as a sort of student of the imminent Dr. Boyd, I sold it back at a tidy profit!
 “Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists…” so said Marcel Proust, in Remembrances of Things Past, doubtless Sterling would say the same.
My friendship with Sterling has yielded so many gifts.I hope you have been half as blessed!

the WALTER story here, and a more in depth look at Sterling's home in the WALTER issue April 2015.


  1. I well know the feeling of each piece being a particular favorite, whether it's a fossil found on a walk in the woods, or some major acquisition. It is obvious that a consistent high level of taste runs through and unifies Mr. Boyd's collections. I would love to hear his stories of what these pieces mean to him.

    The mask that he retrieved from you reminds me of those used by animator Jan Svankmajer. I can just imagine that mustache curling and growing in one of his films. Did he tell you why it was so special that he had to reclaim it?

  2. Oh my heavens...I have a Sterling too! His name is Arthur, THE dealers dealer of Antiques here in Los Angeles...the journey of many a Westside dealers inventory began in the humble shop of his years ago...slowly traversing the city, picker to dealer to collector. Many of my first treasures were called too my attention by this most demanding friend, demanding that I buy it! Of course where does one find today an 18ThC Venetian painted console with marbelized leather top, early 20thC Pietra Dura Inlaid table with beautiful gilt wrought iron that I swear I've seen at Kykuit in the Teahouse off the Pergola by Tiffany , 17thC Scagliola tabletop of putti, grapes and birds...or Old African effigies, swaddled in pieces of cloth ala mummy or ornamented with paint, shells, wax and seeds. I too sold him back a piece he hounded me for...a Chinese gilt and vermillion carved ceiling medallion of Swirling Cranes so that he could place it on the wall above a magnificent Chinese gilt carved altar table from a Temple...I do miss that medallion even still and I give him grief when he says I collect too much! I Even sold it back too him for what I originally paid. I love him so, even though he can be cantankerous and wicked now in has 80s, having survived Tongue Cancer now for 12 years his daily pleasure is the hunt of objects and his garden which overflows...I cannot imagine the silence when he is gone, for he's been my inspiration and my dear Arturo Verde! Did I say mention to you that I tell people we are twins? He's the beautiful one!

    1. yes how lucky we are! I've had 4 such people (always older) enrich my life immeasurably. Those friendships, it's how I found myself. As with Sterling's pieces, your treasures tell a story beyond provenance. And Yes to cantankerous and wicked-both Sterling and especially Sandford Peele! (the impetus for little augury.) I have written about Dorothy here too-such an incredible woman! (now 97 and going strong) I try when I can to give something back to others because of these special people that have entered my life.

    2. I read him your story and my response...and can you believe he said...'tell her to call when the sale is on!'...only a true addict of the hunt for objet d art would utter such a quote with glee! I tell you Sterling and Arthur may be worlds apart, but they are two peas in a pod...and yes, Arthur was just snapping back with his witty repartee all uttered within a bat of an eyelash of course

  3. A sumptuous collection! What an eye. Side note: I was raised in Cuernavaca. Have a super Sunday. xoxo Mary

    1. Cuernavaca is a special place. How interesting you were raised there, I will have to peruse your blog to see if you've shared some of those stories. pgt

  4. Gaye, what a wonderful, fascinating and educated friend to have for a lifetime of memories. Loved reading the story in the Walter and am always so amazed how many special finds can look fabulous in a small space!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Karena, this small space is wonderful! Having visited so many times it is transporting. Sterling's taste is spot on always, I am going to walk thru the house, and write about some of my pieces I've acquired from him. Altar candlesticks, 18th c Landscapes, architectural drawings, a Eudora Welty photo I've already written about-a real EClectic mix, much like SB's.



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