1851 Minton Parian Figural Group
Appraised Value: $1,500 - $1,600
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:09)
Decorative Arts, Glass, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
Vice President of Special Collections
GUEST: In 1969, my grandmother came from England to visit us when we were living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My uncle had purchased this at an estate sale in England and he put it in her suitcase and shipped it over with her, unbeknownst to either my grandmother or my mother. My mother was to sell it, and the money was to go towards my grandmother's three-month stay with us in the States. My mother was afraid of selling it because she didn't have a bill of sale, so we have no idea how much it cost to purchase it other than my uncle bought it at an estate sale.
APPRAISER: So you supported your grandmother when she came here without her selling this?
APPRAISER: It's a beautiful piece of sculpture. This is titled Naomi and Her Daughters-in-Law, and it was common at the time to model biblical scenes...
APPRAISER: ...and I believe this was modeled by an English sculptor called William Beechey. Beechey was best known for his religious subjects. It is marked, but it's very obscure. This particular mark is quite distinctive of a well-known English manufacturer called Minton. The principal mark that tells us it's Minton is those three little dots, and that's what we call a date cipher. And that tells us that this was made in 1851. Now, 1851 was a great year, actually, for Minton and for British decorative arts in general. It's the year in which they held what we call the Great Exhibition, also known as the Crystal Palace Exhibition.
APPRAISER: Now, Parian porcelain is a uniquely English invention. By the end of the 19th century, it was made in other places, but the company Copeland and Garrett introduced it in 1842. Copeland called it statuary porcelain. Minton called it Parian to relate it to a kind of very smooth marble found on the Greek island of Paros. It was kind of a prestige term.
APPRAISER: But Parian was able to retain an extraordinary standard of detail in the modeling, even with shrinkage. Look at the foot with this Roman sandal and the toes. Extraordinarily done. Look here at the little flask suspended from her waist with the little knot tied in the strap work. It was quite expensive, certainly compared to colorful porcelain. The reason being that if you're going to make this, it has to be perfect. !
APPRAISER: Any imperfections in Parian and they would have to waste it, as they say, and they couldn't sell it, whereas if you were making a colorful glazed piece, you could glaze over a little imperfection. Unfortunately, today it's not more expensive than colorful ware. The modern taste tends toward colorful and impressive pieces. It's what people wanted in the mid-Victorian years.
APPRAISER: I suspect if this were in an antiques shop, it would certainly command a price of $1,500 or $1,600.
GUEST: Very nice.
APPRAISER: Something like that.
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