1811 American Silk-on-Silk Embroidery
Appraised Value: $40,000 - $50,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:10)
Decorative Arts, Rugs & Textiles
Appraiser of Fine Art and Antiques
Szescila Appraisal Service
GUEST: It's always been in the family. It's always hung over the buffet. But it came in my possession after my mother died. When we were children, it had on the bottom letters in black and gold painted on the glass-- "1811, L.G. and S.K." Lady Gray is the focal point of this, and Sarah Kenton was my great-great-great-grandmother, who did it in 1811, when she was pregnant with, I think, her first child.
APPRAISER: Do you know where she lived at the time?
GUEST: It was either Philadelphia or vicinity, or New Orleans. One or the other.
APPRAISER: One or the other. So eventually she ended up in New Orleans.
APPRAISER: Do you know why it's no longer framed the way it was? You said it used to have a reverse-painted title on the bottom, probably an ÈglomisÈ.
GUEST: Well, in about the '60s sometime, my mother and father had a fire in the house and the glass at the bottom cracked. The frame is the same as it's always been in.
APPRAISER: It's not the original frame. This frame is later. And it's unfortunate that you lost the original glass. Someone has done some restoration, because if you look at some of these areas, especially like right in here, you can see there's paint on top of the stitchery, so we know that probably when the fire occurred, you had to do a little bit of restoration to this picture. This is a silk-on-silk embroidery. And it's very typical of what we would expect to see in the time period that you mentioned, in 1811. There were artists who would paint most of the background, particularly the faces where you see so much detail, and then either a young woman or a young girl-- in this case a young woman-- would spend time doing all the stitchery. All these wrinkled-looking places are silk chenille, and then the smoother places are just silk. But it's done on a silk background. When I first looked at this, my initial reaction was that it was English. And that's probably because it's more than likely taken from a print source that's an English print. If we had the time, we could probably find that print. It has several things going for it. Number one, it's just absolutely wonderful condition for something that was done that early. The second thing is, it's unusually large. The third thing is the fact that it's not a religious scene. Religious scenes tend not to go for quite as much money as a scene like this would go for. The stretcher is pine. It's a white pine. It's much more typical of what you would have found in the United States than you would have found in England. So we comfortably believe that it is, more than likely, from Philadelphia. Because it's American, it's great condition, great subject matter, I would insure it probably between $40,000 and $50,000.
GUEST: Great Scott!
APPRAISER: Thank you so much for bringing this in. This was a real treat to get to see.
GUEST: Thank you for your expertise. Between $40,000 and $50,000?
APPRAISER: (laughing) Yes.
GUEST: Good Lord.
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