Miniature Attributed to Henry Benbridge
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $10,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (-1:29:41)
GUEST: My father's aunt found it in the house that they own downtown in Charleston. She was walking in the yard one day and saw something glinting in the walkway and picked it up, and it was in the dirt.
APPRAISER: Can you imagine?
APPRAISER: This is an extremely rare portrait miniature. It's one of the smallest ever made. As you know, it's attributed to the artist Henry Benbridge, who was one of the earlier group of English artists working in America at about the time of the American Revolution. As you also know, it was part of this seminal catalog done on Henry Benbridge in 1976. And I love his costume, that wonderful sort of yellow cravat he's got going on. And the blue. And he doesn't look like a lot of the Colonial portrait sitters.
APPRAISER: Now, have you ever had this appraised, or anyone...
GUEST: No, the only thing we know about it is when she found it, she took a picture of it and sent it to the Gibbs Art Gallery, and they sent the portrait on to Washington. And we didn't know anything more about it until around the Bicentennial time, when they sent us a request to put it in their exhibit. And it was the smallest one.
APPRAISER: It's amazing. I think because it is attributed to an important known artist and as an American miniature, it's pretty rare... there are lots of English miniatures around. There are not that many American ones. What's also most interesting to me is because of the story you told me, it kind of suggests, you know, if it was in the dirt there, that probably it's been in Charleston for a while. So while we don't know who the sitter is, it seems to me like chances are kind of good it may be a Southern sitter. Well, it was found on the property where he stayed when he was in Charleston in the 1700s. Even better.
APPRAISER: We know that he worked here in South Carolina as well. It has rarity, importance. It's a wonderful portrait miniature. It's a tough thing to put a value on, but I'm thinking about $5,000 to $10,000.
GUEST: All right!
APPRAISER: Talk about good things come in small packages.
GUEST: That's great, and finding them in the dirt.
APPRAISER: Exactly. Look where you walk.
GUEST: That's wonderful, thank you.
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