As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, June, 2005
Ever wonder why some bronze
figures are priced in the thousands and
others in the
low hundreds ? Much
depends not only on the quality of the work but the
name of the
sculptor and often the
foundry mark. Yet, many of the best known
sculptors such as P.J.
Mene and A.L. Barye who
had their own foundries used no mark. Others ,
their works and used foundry marks. Often, even
can lower a price. This
was the case when a bronze statue by
1824-1887) came to
auction. With minor damage to the base and post it
$9,487.50. The high
estimate was $12,000.
Bronze statue signed Carrier-Belleuse.
Titled "Printemps" (Spring) Courtesy of Garth's Arts and Antiques, Delaware, OH.
There’s a lot beginning
collectors need to know before paying big money.
various price guides,
such as Miller’s International Antiques
Professional Hand Guide
auction house catalogs.
Another source, on the internet, is Art Facts.
These sources will
give you an idea of what
is coming to market and the prices. Familiarize
names of sculptors, their
signatures and the foundry that made them.
There are a variety of
patinas and techniques you should learn to
the patinas; velvet
black; “embugadon” (a reddish-brown); medallion black
that has glints
of brown. There are gilt
bronze, silvered bronze and many other shadings.
Many materials that were
combined with bronze from the
the Art Deco eras,
included chryselphantine and ivory. The use of ivory
1894, when the Belgians
conquered the Congo and began shipping ivory
tusks to Europe
in great quantities. When
the bronzes were overlaid with gold and ivory
word was “chryselphantine”.
In Austria, bronze figures, primarily of
Arabs and harem
girls, used another
technique called “cold-painting”. The use of colors
over the bronzes.
CLUES: The first thing
you have to know is if the piece is really
bronze. If the ivory is
really ivory, and the signature (if signed) is authentic. The popularity
of these relatively
inexpensive bronzes at
the time resulted in copies being made of
spelter (white metal with
silver look). It was
given a bronzed finish. Look for a scratch made by
others that will
reveal the gold tint of
bronze under the finish (patination). If you are
buying at an estate
sale or any other source
that can’t offer written proof, ask the seller
to make a tiny scratch
for you. The white metal
will of course show up silver.
Many pieces mounted on
bases may actually be spelton on bronze bases.
don’t guarantee anything.
If the piece bears as famous name, it may be
“after Mene, etc.”
This means it was done
after the original casting and should show a
foundry name or
mark. Or, that it was
copied from another work of art. This doesn’t
detract from the
value. Another clue is
the sharpness of the sculpture done by a famous
artist. Fake casting
will not have the
sharpness of detail. They will also have a reduction
in size from the
Small bronzes are often not signed. They can be attributed to
important artists if they are a miniature of the artists larger,
Small bird, animals and
figures are in the $150 and up range. They offer
a good way to
begin a collection and
study patination. There is nothing like hands-on
experience to get
acquainted with the
sharpness of detail versus the soft touch of