Copy of Honthorst Painting, ca. 1890
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $20,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:01)
Paintings & Drawings
Vice President Director of Fine Arts
GUEST: It was in my grandfather's house, and one of the neighbors had actually given it to my grandmother.
GUEST: Because she needed something to hang over the piano.
APPRAISER: Did she pay for it or was it a trade?
GUEST: No, just as a gift.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, it's a painting of a 17th-century artist, a Dutch artist by the name of Gerrit van Honthorst, who was born in 1590 and was a famous painter who went to Italy in the first quarter of the 17th century and was influenced by an artist by the name of Caravaggio. Caravaggio is known for his dramatic use of light. And the reason this painting is so dark is the fact that Honthorst specialized in these dark scenes. And we can see this contrast with the light and the dark here. We see over here he's holding a compass and his palette there. But he did so many dark evening scenes. In Italy, he got to be known as "Gherardo della notti." This painting, it's also dark because it's very dirty; you can see some of that here. But there's something else about this painting, and that's revealed on the back. (laughs) Let's have a look at that.
APPRAISER: Well, as you can see it here, it's actually painting number 209, which is an inventory number.
APPRAISER: And then it says, "Gherardo della notti," Gerrit van Honthorst's Italian name-- "Gerrit of the night." And then it says, "Auto-ritratto." That's Italian for self-portrait. So it's a self-portrait of him. And then it says down here, it says "M. Garinei." This is the guy who is the actual painter of this.
APPRAISER: Behind that, behind the Garinei, is this big, black blob. Did you ever wonder what that was?
GUEST: I always did, yes.
APPRAISER: Okay. Somebody was very naughty one time and they crossed out where it said "copia"-- Italian for copy.
APPRAISER: So what you have is a copy of a painting, a self-portrait of Gerrit van Honthorst, which is in an Italian museum. These were very popular between 1840 and about 1940.
APPRAISER: Artists would go to the museums and they would paint the paintings there, and they would go out and they would sell them to American and European tourists who came through town. Down here is actually where the museum superintendent signed off on it. So what you have is a 19th-century copy of a 17th-century painting. Now, I mention this because it's important to look at the backs of these paintings. Because they are old, many people confuse them with the real thing.
APPRAISER: Well, I wish it were the original, but it's actually a copy. Probably worth about $2,000 at auction these days.
APPRAISER: It was painted probably around 1890.
GUEST: Okay. Still good. I had always, because of what was on the back, even though I couldn't read it, for some reason I felt like it was an off-the-rack tourist piece.
APPRAISER: If this were original, I would think it would probably be somewhere between a half-million and a million dollars at auction.
GUEST: That'd be nice.
APPRAISER: Sure would, yeah.
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