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Asian Secrets

special treasures at vallin galleries



For more than half a century—since 1951 to be exact—this incomparable showplace of Oriental arts and antiquities has made its home in one of the oldest structures in Wilton, a white-painted saltbox style home dating to 1719. Located at 518 Danbury Rd., Vallin Galleries overlooks the Norwalk River just to the east. “Speaking of directions,” says the second-generation proprietor, Peter Rosenberg, “the gallery has ideal feng shui thanks to its south-facing red door.” The congenial connoisseur of Orientalia went on: “The 1719 origin of our locale is also of interest. That year was roughly the midpoint of China’s Qing dynasty, renowned for its porcelains, paintings, furniture, calligraphy and works of jade, bronze and ivory.” Rosenberg’s collection features treasured Qing artifacts, rarities from earlier dynasties, and remarkably, a “find” of Neolithic-era clay pots, at prices starting in the four figures and climbing to even more stratospheric levels. This explains why Vallin Galleries has long been a mecca for serious collectors, museum curators, and homeowners with a passion for the artistry of works from the once Inscrutable East. For Rosenberg, that territory includes mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, and even parts of Vietnam.

All this begs a question: How, and why, did this eclectic emporium come into being? According to Rosenberg, the answer has to do with an experience that changed his mother’s life. In the early 1940s, Josephine Vallin Rosenberg, then a designer of custom lampshades in New York City, became enchanted by the fine oriental porcelain bases upon which her creations were often perched. Inspired by opportunities she saw in chinoiserie, Mrs. R set up shop as a dealer of such items. Vallin (for her maiden name) Galleries made its debut in Manhattan, the epicenter of high-end antiques trading. From the start, it was heralded as a premier Oriental-arts establishment.

In 1951, seeking a quieter environment—an affluent area of families with sophisticated tastes—the Rosenbergs found their current home in Wilton for their age-old treasures. Peter grew up with a deep and abiding interest in his mother’s specialty, becoming a scholar of Oriental art and history. He acquired and took over the operation of the gallery from his mother in 1975. A member of the American Association of Antiques Dealers, he travels the Far East in search of items with impeccable provenances. In addition to running his gallery, he exhibits at juried shows. He also possesses a one-of-a-kind library of oriental antiques, advises museums on acquisitions in this genre, and keeps a close eye on U.S.-Chinese trade relations. And given his genes, he enjoys himself by personally attending to those who visit his two-story sanctuary of Oriental objet d’art. He might well say to you, in Mandarin, “wo men huan ying ni”… we gladly welcome you.

Vallin Galleries, 516 Danbury Rd., 203-762-7441, vallingalleries.com

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September 2018

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