Reflecting on 106 Years

Ralph M. Chait  in 1970 (photo by Karsh)

Reflecting on 106 Years

The Ralph M. Chait Galleries is the oldest specialist gallery in the United States in the field of fine antique Chinese porcelain works of art.  When Ralph M. Chait entered this field in 1910 he was a young man of 18 years, new to this country from London, and new to the field of Chinese art.  Undaunted and with a remarkable intellect and innate sense of taste and quality, he taught himself and quickly became a knowledgeable, respected, and trusted dealer and authority in the field.

With an impeccable eye for quality and connoisseurship, Ralph soon counted among his clients some of the most important collectors of the day including John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Edward Sonnenschein, and Yale Kneeland.  Over time, his clientele expanded to include many other major collectors including President Herbert Hoover, Sen. Theodore Francis Green (Rhode Island), Sen. Hugh Scott (Pennsylvania), Rep. Clark W. Thompson (Texas), Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Sir Percival David, Avery Brundage, Winston Guest, Robert and Beatrice Mayer, and Ira Koger.. The gallery’s clientele today continues to include some of the most prominent collectors worldwide.

This history is also apparent on the wall of photographs in our Library of some of our clients (including some well known collectors) mostly from the 1950’s and 60’s- and at the table in the center of the room.  This table is where we sit with clients to examine and discuss pieces.  It has been with is from our early days.  It is remarkable to consider the variety of collectors- from artists, political figures, executives, scholars, and connoisseurs- who have sat there.   While many of these collectors represented a variety of backgrounds and callings, it is interesting to see their convergence in this one place, drawn by their appreciation and interest in antique Chinese art.

Over the years, the gallery has sold pieces to many major museums including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Freer Gallery; the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; the Los Angeles Country Museum; the St. Louis Art Museum; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Norton Museum of Art; the Sackler Gallery; and the Peabody Essex Museum.

The gallery has also worked with many major architects, decorators, and designers including Frank Lloyd Wright, Jay Spectre, Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, Ted Graber, Mark Hampton, Mario Buatta, Peter Marino, Elissa Cullman, and Parkin Saunders.

The gallery has for decades many prestigious antiques fairs in the United States, including today the Winter Antiques Show, the Philadelphia Antiques and Art  Show, the Delaware Antiques Show, and the Nantucket Summer Antiques Show..

The gallery was also a founding member of the National Antiques and Art Dealers Association of America (member of CINOA), and members of the firm have serves as Officers and President of the organization.

One hundred six years in business is an extraordinary accomplishment for a firm, particularly remaining within one family.  As a three-generation family business we are cognizant of and steeped in its past but always are looking ahead.  The gallery has witnessed a tremendous amount of history in its field.  It has also weathered a remarkable variety of world and economic conditions.  Throughout this time, it has maintained and enhanced its reputation as experts in the field and as an extraordinary purveyor of fine antique Chinese art to private and museum collectors throughout the world.  The gallery today is owned and run by Steven and Andrew Chait.  We are profoundly grateful to our grandfather and founder Ralph M. Chait and our father Allan Chait and aunt Marion Chait Howe, in whose footsteps we now walk as we continue forward to the illustrious years ahead.

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