Helaine Fendelman | Helaine Fendelman & Associates

Napoleon portrait atypical for artist Rudolf Hille

This painting depicts the youthful, romantic, but doomed Napoleon II.

 

Dear Helaine and Joe:

I think I inherited an interesting item for which I would appreciate any professional advice you are able to provide. The item is a portrait of Napoleon’s son, Napoleon II. The painting is dated 1831 and is signed by Rudolf Hille of Vienna. My father purchased this 12-by-14-inch piece in New York City in 1960.

Thank you for any information you can provide,

R. W., Minneapolis

Dear R. W.:

He was born Napoleon Francois Joseph Charles Bonaparte on March 20, 1811, in Paris’ Tuileries Palace. His mother was the Archduchess Marie Louise, and he was the only legitimate son of France’s Emperor Napoleon I.

He came to be known as “Franz” and was born prince imperial and king of Rome. He was heir apparent to the French throne and for a brief 17 days in June and July of 1815, he was titular emperor of France. With the end of the first French Empire, Franz Bonaparte became the Duke of Reichstadt. But to his adherents (and perhaps in his own mind) he continued to be “His Imperial Majesty Emperor Napoleon II” until his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1832.

This painting, which we believe to be a watercolor, was done by Vienna artist Rudolf Hille, who was born in 1875 (44 years after the date on the painting). It is our opinion that the 1831 date signifies the year in which the subject was supposed to have looked the way he appears in the picture.

Hille’s death date is not known, but we must assume the portrait was painted sometime in the very late 19th century or early 20th century, and we feel it was based on one of several portraits of Napoleon II shown clutching his father’s sword with two military decorations on the left side of his chest. The somewhat romantic portrait by Moritz Daffinger and the standing image by Leopold Bucher come to mind.

Hille was known for painting watercolor panoramas of battle scenes, not for his portrait work. Perhaps Hille was paying tribute to a somewhat tragic figure who gained the nickname “L’Aiglon” _ the eaglet _ after his death. “Franz” Bonaparte yearned to follow in his famous father’s footsteps in battle but never got the chance.

As a young man, “Franz” was made colonel of the 60th Imperial Regiment by his grandfather, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Francis I, and given command of 200 men. Not yet 20 years old, the task is said to have exhausted the youthful Napoleon II. He died shortly thereafter. The story is both martial and tragic. That is perhaps why Hille chose to execute this image of a handsome yet doomed royal princeling.

Hille’s battle panoramas sell for between $1,000 and $2,000 on the European continent, but this atypical portrait would bring less. The Napoleon II lore and the romantic nature of the image add to the desirability, but the insurance replacement value is probably around $700 to $900.

Read the original article here.

Inside The American Folk Art Museum’s Outsider Ball

From left, Penny Katz, Burt Fendelman, Helaine Fendelman and Arlie Sulka.

Review by W.A. Demers

NEW YORK CITY – Outsider art and the category’s major proponents and collector were the focus on October 7 as the American Folk Art Museum conducted its annual benefit fundraiser, this year called the Outsider Ball at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. The event honored Monty Blanchard, board trustee and outgoing president of the board, his partner Leslie Tcheyan, and Audrey Heckler for their outstanding commitment to the museum and contributions to the field of self-taught art. Joining the honorees for the evening’s celebration were friends and family.

The field is one the museum takes seriously. For 60 years it has been a leader in celebrating the accomplishments of self-taught artists, whose genuine and candid inspiration springs from personal experience.

Welcoming remarks were presented by the museum’s director, Jason T. Busch, who stepped in at the helm in August 2018.

Before awards were handed out to recipients, event co-chair Edward M. Gómez mounted the stage to introduce the honor being given to Audrey B. Heckler. Gómez is senior editor of Raw Vision magazine and a member of the advisory council of the Collection de l’Art Brut, the well-known museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, that specializes in the art of visionary self-taught artists.

“It is generous patrons like Audrey Heckler who light the fuse of an explosion of the most original and creative research, exhibition-making, educational programming and, yes, community-building through a shared exploration and appreciation of art and cultural history here [at the American Folk Art Museum],” said Gómez.

Heckler’s collection of works of art brut, Outsider and self-taught art are currently on view at the museum in an exhibition titled “Memory Palaces: Inside the Collection of Audrey B. Heckler,” on view until January 26. For nearly three decades, Heckler – a longtime and committed patron of the museum – has surrounded herself with examples of blue chip names in this collecting category, including William Edmondson, Martín Ramí­rez, Henry Darger, Adolph Woelfli, Thornton Dial and Anna Zemánková.

Gómez recounted for the assembled crowd a bit about the background of Heckler, who was brought up in Manhattan, studied at Skidmore and Finch college, and who, as the former president of a commercial real estate company, in the early 1990s, “caught the bug – she fell in love with the work of art brut, Outsider and self-taught artists – and then there was no turning back.

“Audrey once told me: ‘Sometimes it isn’t easy to live with this kind of art, because it can be very powerful – but I can live with it. I love it. It speaks to me,’” Gómez continued. “If you’ve ever had an opportunity to visit Audrey’s home, you’ll notice that she is someone who is not intimidated by color, either, for the walls of her apartment are painted in bold colors that provide a dramatic setting for her art collection. She often refers to the works in her midst as ‘my friends.’”

The evening’s two other honorees were Monty Blanchard, collector, investor and advisor, who has been involved with the museum since 1985, most recently as its president and now chairman of the board, and his partner, Leslie Tcheyan. The couple was introduced by Elizabeth Warren, the museum’s newly elected president of the board of trustees, who described Blanchard as ” a savior, a leader, a mentor to me, and a solid rock for the museum board and staff to lean on.” She recalled meeting Tcheyan years ago when, as the owner of her own boutique jewelry company, she donated some of her company’s jewelry to an auction at the museum’s benefit. “I had little idea then of what a force she is,” said Warren, “graciously opening her home and her life to the museum and given over all the wall space (and much of the floor) in the Blanchard/Tcheyan home to the kind of self-taught art we are celebrating tonight at the Outsider Ball.”

Between the awards presentations, John Hays of Christie’s served as auctioneer for a live auction, and gala attendees tucked into dinner and dessert, followed by music and dancing. This year, as at last year’s event, Blanchard auctioned his own colorful neckwear for the evening, won by patron Burt Fendelman.

Read the original article here.

Treasures in the Attic: Steinway square grand piano needs substantial repairs

Selling this square grand piano at an auction might be the best option.

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: I am enclosing photographs of a beautiful Steinway piano that was left behind in a house my son bought. The serial number indicates it was built in 1869.

Our dilemma now is that it needs to be taken out of the house because of its sheer size. It does need to be refinished and refurbished because it is missing one or two of its ivory keys, and 20 of the keys do not work. The foot pedal and the music holder are in good shape. Do you have any idea of its value?

But right now, knowing the value is not of much help since no one seems to want it. Would you know what we could do with it? Thank you for your help.

— D. D., Chesapeake, Va.

DEAR D. D. We have faced this problem many times in the past, and it is always daunting. Square grand pianos (yes, we know they are really rectangular) are quite lovely, but they are seldom good musical instruments because their tone and performance are limited by their narrow sound board.

Proper hammer arrangement is also difficult, and they are hard to keep in tune. It is just the nature of the beast. Steinway & Sons of New York City, founded in 1853, produced an iron framed overstrung square grand piano that was more than twice the size of the wood framed square piano produced by Johannes Zumpe in England about 100 years earlier.

The piano, which was originally called a pianoforte (Italian for “soft/loud”) was invented around 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori. Square pianos were popular in England until the 1840s and in the United States until the 1890s, but today, they are for the most part seen as rather poor musical instruments

Steinway square grand pianos, however, are something of an exception. Prime examples of Steinway square grand pianos have sold at auction in the $8,000-plus range. But most run-of-the-mill examples bring prices only in the $250 to $700 range, with a few reaching a midrange of $1,800 to around $3,000.

The example in today’s question, however, is a bit of a wreck, with 20 keys not working, a badly scuffed case with some of the ivory tops missing from “one or two” keys. We believe it would take relatively big bucks to make this into a beautiful and functioning musical instrument again. But there might be someone who wants to take this grand old grand piano and restore it.

We know most square pianos will be gutted and turned into desks, dining room tables or have their legs amputated to be used elsewhere, but someone might want to salvage this one. Donating it to a school or other institution is really not feasible because of the condition, but D. D. could have it picked up by a reputable auction house and sold to someone who might be willing to do the extensive work necessary to save it as a piano.

The prognosis is not good, and the value might be very low (probably less than $500 at auction), but we can always hope.

Read the original article here. 

Alice in Wonderland and German Jasperware inspired Shofu China tea set

This is a Japanese interpretation of a German design.

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: My mother passed on to me the tea set shown in the attached photographs. It is marked “Shofu China.” It is in mint condition and has lived in our china cabinet for more than 50 years. I would like to learn more about it and its value. Can you help me?

— P.H., Madison, Wis.

DEAR P.H.: “‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice …”

Yes, this partial tea set, which consists of a teapot and six cups and saucers, is indeed curious. If it were marked with the numbers 3867 on the teapot and 3847 on the cups and saucers, we would know they were made by the Schafer and Vater Co. of Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany.

Founded in 1890 and in business until the early 1960s, the company was famous for its figural work and a type of pottery called German Jasperware. This type of ware is a bisque porcelain, usually with a colored background and raised decorations in one or more contrasting colors.

This is opposed to English Jasperware, which is pottery and has a colored background with applied, raised decoration usually white. English Jasperware was invented in 1774 by Josiah Wedgwood. German Jasperware was introduced much later and was much cheaper to produce.

In the 1930s, Schafer and Vater introduced their Mad Hatter tea set, which was based on characters in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The tea party is found in Chapter 7 and features Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse.

The Schafer and Vater tea set features only the Mad Hatter and Alice, with the former in his top hat and the latter in a ruffled top with balloon sleeves and a tall ribbon/bow on top of her head. The tea set is usually found in pink and green German Jasperware.

The set belonging to P.H. is very similar to this. One glaring exception is the bow is missing from Alice’s hair. In any event, it is marked “Shofu China” inside a shaped red reserve. There is little history we could find about this company beyond that they were (are?) located in Nagoya, Japan. Their products can be found marked “Nippon” (1891-1921) and “Made in Japan” or just “Japan” (post-1921). Shofu China wares are also found marked “Made in Occupied Japan,” which was a designation in use from 1945 to 1952.

We feel the Mad Hatter tea set in today’s question is a copy of the Schafer and Vater set and must have been made after the 1930s. Our guess is the set is post-WWII, circa 1950. But it is still a very uncommon set.

Schafer and Vater Mad Hatter tea sets sell at auction in the $475 to $700 range, but we believe because this set is a copy, it might sell for a bit less.

(Note: We found other Japanese copies of this design that had strayed a little farther from the original but were still recognizable as Schafer and Vater Mad Hatter-inspired.)

Read the original article here.

Treasure Hunt

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: My 95-year-old grandmother recently passed away and we are beginning to go through her belongings and could use your knowledge. Among a house full of items is this secretary hutch/desk that is 70-by-13-by-38 inches. Are you able to help us?

Thank you,

L.C.

DEAR L.C.: It is unfortunate but we are unable to do evaluations of large numbers of items in this space. We have to focus on just one or two specific pieces.

To begin let us say that the other items you asked about, including the lamp, cup and saucer, and china figures are not very valuable with the cup and saucer less than $15, the figures less than $35 each, and lamp less than $100. The sofa is hard to evaluate from the photos — but probably less than $150.

With all that said, the secretary hutch/desk is an antique and has a higher value. Some people call these “side-by-sides,” others call them “Larkin desks.” The latter designation is due to John D. Larkin, who founded the Larking Soap Co. in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1875. The company’s initial product was named “Sweet Home” soap.

Larkin was aided by his first salesman and brother-in-law, Elbert Hubbard, future author of the essay “A Message to Garcia” and one of the founders of the American Arts and Crafts movement. It was Hubbard’s idea to include a “premium” with Larkin’s soap.

At first these giveaways were just cards with the company logo but these soon morphed into colorful pictures that could be traded among housewives. The idea grew until a free handkerchief came with “Pure White” soap and a free bath towel with “Ocean Bath” soap.

Soon large wholesale orders came with piano lamps, Morris chairs or oak dining room chairs.

The business was so good that Larkin fired all his salesmen and intermediaries and went into mail order. The company issued a catalog (destined to be second only to the Sears catalog) with available premiums, and business was so good that Larkin had to set up a furniture manufacturing factory in Buffalo that assembled parts cut in Tennessee. Buffalo Pottery was established to make pottery while glass, silver plated wares and men’s clothing were bought from various suppliers.

Side-by-side desks were very popular Larkin items, but there is no way to be sure this example was made by Larkin unless there is an attached label because so many other furniture companies made similar pieces. Still side-by-side units with desk, bookcase and mirror carry the Larkin name whether the soap company actually made it or not.

This unit was probably made in the 1900-1910 time-frame and is still a very useful piece of household equipment. But its popularity has greatly declined with collectors over the past decade or so. There was a time when a nice golden oak side-by-side desk/bookcase unit such as this one would have sold at auction for as much as $800.

Sadly, we are talking about 2005 with that number. Now, in 2019 similar units are selling at auction in the $175 to $300 range, which we believe is too low and could rise again in the near future.

Read the original article here.

Treasures: Doll used for Nativity scene is bisque

This bisque baby is perfect for a nativity scene.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

This little porcelain figurine belonged to my great-grandfather. My father told me that each year at Christmas his father would put up a Nativity scene in the living room and this piece would represent the baby Jesus. The box is original but broken and falling apart. It has no markings. I am wondering if my figurine has any monetary value.

Yours truly,

J. M., Staten Island, N.Y.

Dear J. M.:

We can picture this little fellow lying in his padded box making a wonderful representation of the baby Jesus in a Nativity scene. What a warm and wonderful piece of family history that is — the ancestral association is its true value —but it is worth some dollars as well.

Identifying dolls can be very easy, or it can be very hard. Often the name of the manufacturer is impressed in the back of a doll’s head. The information is often coupled with a mold number that gives a complete picture of the doll’s history and value.

The doll in today’s question is all bisque with jointed shoulders and hips, molded hair, painted blue eyes, a character face, bent limbs and the number “830-23-” between its shoulders. The term “character face” means the doll has a face reminiscent of one that might be found on a real person.

“Bisque” means the material was tinted, unglazed, once fired porcelain with a matte finish. (The term “china” doll would refer to a piece made from glazed porcelain that has a shiny finish.) It is unfortunate, but the mold number found on the back of the doll cannot be ascribed to a specific manufacturer, but the probability is the maker was working in Germany.

It is generally thought that the 830 all-bisque character dolls were made after about 1910, and they came in a variety of sizes and characteristics. Some had glass eyes; some had painted eyes; some had swivel necks; some had stationary heads. Glass eyes are usually a plus in small bisque dolls. Swivel necks are also desirable.

J. M.’s example, with its slightly opened mouth and cute little belly button (yes, it’s an innie), has a face that makes it look like a perfectly miniature human being. Some people find a homunculus (i.e. a perfectly formed small-scale human being) to be creepy and off-putting, while others find them charming.

In many cases, the value of 19th and early-20th century dolls has declined in recent years, and demand appears to be down because fewer young people find the porcelain playthings to be appealing. At one time in the not-too-distant past, the doll — depending upon its size (and we are guessing somewhere in the 4- to 6-inch range) — would have been valued for retail purposes in the $250 to $350 range, but currently that seems to have softened considerably to the neighborhood of $75 to $125.

Treasures in the Attic: Appraising a grandmother’s side-by-side hutch/desk

This side-by-side bookcase and desk is also known as a Larkin desk.

HELLO HELAINE AND JOE: My 95-year-old grandmother recently passed away. We are beginning to go through her belongings and could use your knowledge. Among a house full of items is this secretary hutch/desk that is 70-by-13-by-38 inches. Are you able to help us?

— Thank you, L. C.

DEAR L. C.: It is unfortunate, but we are unable to do evaluations of large numbers of items in this space. We have to focus on just one or two specific pieces.

To begin, let us say the lamp, cup and saucer, and china figures are not very valuable, with the cup and saucer less than $15, the figures less than $35 each, and lamp less than $100. The sofa is hard to evaluate from the photos — but probably less than $150.

With all that said, the secretary hutch/desk is an antique and has a higher value. Some people call these “side-by-sides,” others call them “Larkin desks.” The latter designation is due to John D. Larkin, who founded the Larking Soap Company in 1875 in Buffalo, N.Y. The company’s initial product was named “Sweet Home” soap.

Larkin was aided by his first salesman and brother-in-law, Elbert Hubbard, future author of the essay “A Message to Garcia” and one of the founders of the American Arts and Crafts movement. It was Hubbard’s idea to include a “premium” with Larkin’s soap.

At first these giveaways were just cards with the company logo, but these soon morphed into colorful pictures that could be traded among housewives. The idea grew until a free handkerchief came with “Pure White” soap and a free bath towel with “Ocean Bath” soap. Soon large wholesale orders came with piano lamps, Morris chairs or oak dining room chairs.

The business was so good that Larkin fired all his salesmen and intermediaries and went into mail order. The company issued a catalog (destined to be second only to the Sears catalog) with available premiums, and business was so good that Larkin had to set up a furniture manufacturing factory in Buffalo that assembled parts cut in Tennessee. Buffalo Pottery was established to make pottery, while glass, silver-plated wares and men’s clothing were purchased from various suppliers.

Side-by-side desks were very popular Larkin items, but there is no way to be sure the example owned by L.C. was made by Larkin unless there is an attached label because so many other furniture companies made similar pieces. Still, side-by-side units with desk, bookcase and mirror carry the Larkin name whether the soap company actually made them or not.

This unit was probably made in the 1900-1910 time frame and is still a very useful piece of household furniture. But its popularity has greatly declined with collectors over the past decade or so. There was a time when a nice golden oak side-by-side desk/bookcase unit such as this one would have sold at auction for as much as $800.

Sadly, we are talking about 2005 with that number. Now, in 2019, similar units are selling at auction in the $175 to $300 range, which we believe is too low and might rise again in the near future.

Read the original article here.

9 items in your kitchen that could be worth money

Those large sets of silver-plated dinnerware or crystal stemware you inherited? They may not be worth as much as you hope, but your kitchen could still contain treasures. “Today’s kids don’t want what their great-grandmothers grew up with,” says Helaine Fendelman, a New York City-based expert in art, antiques, and collectibles. “Most of the kids today want IKEA, Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel—stuff they can put in a dishwasher. They don’t want things like gold and silver.”

Read the original article here, on AOL.com.

‘Treasures in the Attic’: Flatware set comes from powerhouse of American silver making

This sterling silver pattern is one of Gorham’s most popular.

Dear Helaine and Joe: We are sending you photographs of our family Gorham sterling silver flatware — 72 pieces, pat. 1897. We also have a pair of Towle 7-inch-tall candlesticks, No. 131. They are “filled reinforced.” Please let me know the value of both and any other information you might have.

Kindest regards,

D. P. E.

Dear D. P. E.: We are going to focus primarily on the Gorham flatware because it is the more interesting and the more monetarily valuable.

Jabez Gorham was born in Providence, R.I., in 1792 and became an apprentice at age 14 to jeweler and silversmith Nehemiah Dodge. When Gorham finished his apprenticeship at age 21, he went into business in Providence with several partners, making small items mainly from gold, and became famous for the so-called “Gorham chain.”

Gorham and Henry L. Webster founded Gorham & Webster in 1831 to make small pieces of coin silver, specifically coin silver spoons. Various partnerships followed, and in 1841, Gorham’s son joined the firm and introduced the use of machinery in the silver manufacturing process.

Gorham is still in business in Providence and is the commercial powerhouse of American silver making. The flatware in today’s question is in their Strasbourg pattern, which was indeed first made in 1897 and continues to be popular.

D. P. E. supplied a photograph of six pieces of Strasbourg pattern flatware and said he has 72 pieces in total, which may suggest he has a service for 12. But no serving pieces were shown in the photographs. This is a bit unusual because most owners of sterling silver flatware sets want such things as tablespoons, cold meat forks, casserole spoons, gravy ladles and the like to complete their set and make it more useful.

The pieces do not appear to be monogrammed, and that is a plus as far as value goes. Retail, the 72-piece flatware set should probably be valued in the $3,000 to $4,000 range — if it is indeed without serving pieces — but for fair market value, that price drops significantly to the items’ worth as silver metal, and that is probably in the $1,000 to $1,500 range.

As for the Towle 7-inch-tall candlesticks, they are so tarnished it is hard to tell much about them. They appear to be in a sort of Georgian-inspired pattern, but they have one huge thing going against them: Their weight is largely from cement (or some similar heavy substance) placed in the candlestick’s base, which is what the phrase “filled reinforced” is really saying.

Weighted candlesticks were made so they would not tip over easily during use and prevent the lit candles from setting the tablecloth on fire. But as practical as they are, they are more “cement” than silver, which keeps their price down drastically. This set is probably mid-20th century and would retail in the $45 to $65 range.

Read the original article here.

Treasures: Urns are magnificent, but not from Sevres

This monumental pair of covered urns is magnificent but fake.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

My sister and I acquired a pair of Sevres urns that were once the property of a Duluth, Minn., museum. The urns are stamped “Sevres 1846” in a circle with an intertwined “LP” and “Chateau Des Tuileries” in a red circle with a crown. They are hand painted and about 32 inches high. We would appreciate any information and how best to sell them.

Thank you,

J. B.

Dear J. B.:

There is no question that the pair of urns is magnificent. The elaborate rococo-style gilding is superb, the gilt bronze mounts are impressive, and the large reserves with painted designs of court figures on one side and a scenic view on the other are beautifully done.

In 1738, under the patronage of French King Louis XV, a porcelain factory was established in a former riding academy at Vincennes, France. Porcelain was not made here successfully until 1745, and although it produced some truly remarkable things, the enterprise was never financially successful.

In 1753 production was moved to Sevres, which was near the home of Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s mistress and one of the firm’s most vocal advocates. Porcelain for royalty was the focus, but when the French Revolution occurred, the Sevres factory became property of the state.

The problems with the pieces begin with a mark that J. B failed to mention in her letter – conjoined “Ls” with the letter “B” inside. This is supposed to be the monogram of Louis XV with the “B” indicating (falsely) that the piece was made in 1754. The 1846 mark that appears with the monogram of King Louis Phillippe is closer to the true time of manufacture, but even that is probably a tad too early for this pair of covered urns.

The “Chateau Des Tuileries” mark is there to indicate the piece was supposedly made to be used in that palace, which was located in Paris until it was destroyed by fire in 1871. But the mark is always suspicious. The lovely pair of covered urns was not made in the Sevres factory, but probably in Limoges or by an anonymous Paris factory. An Austrian origin is also possible.

The pair should be called “Sevres style.” It has been said that as much as 90% of all porcelain bearing Sevres marks are fake and buyers need to beware. Some of these pieces are decorated so poorly they scream fraud, but many are gloriously decorated. The pair in today’s question falls only a little short of this lofty category.

As for selling these, we recommend a fine auction house. Similar pairs have brought over $10,000 at auction, but others have fallen far short of that figure and sold in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Finding the right auction house will take a little research. She might check out such firms as Dallas Auction Gallery, John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, Calif., or Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland, Calif., to name just a few who have done well with this kind of porcelain.

Read the original article here.


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