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Private Collection: Estate of Martin Field

Known as a bon vivant who loved beautiful art, good food, fabulous parties and traveling the world, Martin Field made his mark in the worlds of real estate development, sailing and fine art. Those who knew him say he had a zest for life and did it all with a playful twinkle in his eye. For decades, he and his wife, Kathleen, were well-known socialites and patrons of the arts in the elite Main Line Philadelphia social scene.

Born in the depths of the Great Depression, Martin grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School in 1951. His career would be filled with successful ventures in real estate development. Early on, he became the initiator and driving force behind several housing developments near King of Prussia, Penn., as well as condominiums and a hotel in Clearwater, Fla. He operated several hotels in both Palm Beach and New York City.

An avid sailing enthusiast, Martin raced his yacht, The Magic Twanger, in several high-profile events in the 1970s. His adventurous and competitive yachting spirit took him to England, Florida, the northeast coast of the U.S. and many other places.

Martin’s first wife died of cancer in 1971, and three years later he married Kathleen Pregenzer, a New York City native who had begun modeling while still a teenager; at just 17, she was named the city’s “Miss Subways.” Kathleen worked as a fashion model in the 1960s.

Martin and Kathleen were a good match, as they shared a genuine passion for decorative arts. They were true Francophiles and together began collecting 18th- and 19th-century French antiques, furnishings and artwork. Over four decades, the husband-and-wife team amassed one of the finest private collections of French furniture in North America. Much of what they acquired was used to decorate their own home in Villanova, Penn., which they named Stoke Poges after a village in Buckinghamshire, England. The spectacular home and gardens were a testament to Kathleen’s flawless taste and elegant style. The couple made many collecting trips to Paris, and Kathleen’s keen and discerning eye enabled her to build an impressive collection of rare and exquisite jewelry as well.

But Kathleen’s accomplishments reached far beyond collecting beautiful things. Her refined taste and immaculate sense of style led naturally to her founding her own design firm, which she named Stoke Poges, Ltd. Interiors and Antiques. She had always been interested in drawing as well — her mother was a pen-and-ink portrait artist — so she invested some time in art classes, studying drawing, portraits, oils and pastels. Kathleen became quite an accomplished artist, and her landscapes and botanicals rendered in pastels and oils won wide acclaim and garnered several prestigious awards. Her paintings have been featured in exhibits and art books, and quite a few are on display among private and corporate collections both at home and abroad. Her work is characterized by an impressionistic style punctuated by broad strokes and vibrant colors.

Kathleen passed away in 2013 at 71, and Martin in 2018 at 87. The couple left behind an impressive collection of hundreds of items that includes furniture, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, mirrors, candelabra, consoles, figurines, carpets, clocks, candlesticks, paintings, plates, flatware, table service items and more.

Sotheby’s Home is selling several pieces from the Kathleen and Martin Field collection. Included are:

-Louis XV vanity table from the mid-18th century. The gorgeous fruitwood table features inlaid floral details. The center panel is lined with embossed caramel leather and can be lifted to create a vanity, while the two side panels fold out for additional surface space. The three drawers have brass knobs and keyholes and are lined with pink silk fabric. The piece is a fine example of the Rococo style, which flourished in France from about 1723 to 1759.  

-Baroque-style drop-leaf dining table from the 19th century. The dramatic walnut table features drop leaves on all four sides, easily converting a small square table into a round one with a diameter of nearly five feet.

-Louis XVI style desk lamp. The gilt and patinated two-light lamp sits on a rich green-and-black marble base. Standing on the base is a bronze cherub grasping a brass rod, and the rod holds a lovely olive pleated silk shade that diffuses the light from the candelabra. The clean and classical designs and motifs of the Louis XVI style, popular in the late 18th century, were a response to the extravagant and sometimes garish aesthetic of the preceding Rococo period. This lamp was made in the late 19th century in the Louis XVI style.

-Louis XV style two-door buffet. The large oak piece features a striking beveled burgundy-and-white marble slab and two-door front. Each door has a brass keyhole, and the keys are adorned with elaborate fringe tassels. The spacious interior provides ample storage space.

-Louis XV petit side table. Made of fruitwood, this piece dates to the mid-18th century. It features a stunning inlaid floral design on the top surface, and three drawers — each with a large brass keyhole — comprise the front. An open lower shelf provides both aesthetic balance and extra storage space, and brass ferrules accent the bottom of each leg.

-Late-20th century Heriz Persian rug. Woven by hand, the large, rectangular area rug features deep reds and blues, and the ornate border contains various geometric shapes and patterns in several shades of blue, red, brown and yellow.

-Late-18th century Louis XVI mirror. The hand-carved giltwood frame is painted black and gold and features ornate floral and botanical designs.

-Pair of late-18th century Chinese fretwork consoles. The tables have intricately painted floral designs amidst a red and polychrome lacquered background, and the detailed fretwork on the legs is characteristic of Chinese pieces of this period.

Almost all of the pieces offered by Sotheby’s Home from the Kathleen and Martin Field collection are considered antiques. What qualifies an item as an antique? Quite simply, if an item is 100 years old or older, it’s an antique. In contrast, if an item is between 80 and 100 years old, it is considered vintage.  The term “vintage” also implies that an item is clearly representative of a certain style that was popular at a specific time period in the past, and the item must have actually been made during that time.