Venetian Gilded Bergère, ca. 1850
Appraised Value: $10,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:35)
Decorative Arts, Furniture
Partner & Chief Executive Officer
GUEST: It belonged to my grandfather. It's been in our family for 100 years, I believe, and he may have purchased it in Europe in the 1800s.
APPRAISER: Did he travel in Europe?
GUEST: He did, he lived in London and in Paris for some time in the early 1880s.
GUEST: And brought a lot of stuff back with him.
APPRAISER: So have you lived with it for a long time, or was it in your grandfather's house and then you saw it?
GUEST: No, my grandfather died before I was born, so it was in our home when I was a boy. I grew up with it.
APPRAISER: Well, it is a chair that was made in Venice. And I believe that it was made in the second quarter of the 19th century, so somewhere between 1825 and 1850. The figures on the front are what we describe as caryatid figures, and they're taken from Greek architecture.
GUEST: Egyptian art.
APPRAISER: Yes, and Egyptian architecture. Where you'd see a female figure holding up part of a building. Well, she's holding up the front of this chair and doing a pretty good job. She's anthropomorphized with her wings that are coming out, and her hoof feet. And then when you turn the chair around, I mean it just gets better and better. And you can see on the front of that griffin face, there's some wear on it. And it's because the chair I think has been against a wall. Do you have it in your house against the wall?
GUEST: No, no. But I'm sure over the years it got banged and pushed up against a wall.
APPRAISER: Right. Well, it's meant to be viewed in the round. It's an Italian piece, and of course we know the Italians are great violin makers. Here are these scrolls on either side, which are a little asymmetrical. Because the Italians also were not so careful and particular about symmetry. They just were exuberant. And so this would have been carved quickly, obviously by a person with skill, but not painstakingly trying to balance the whole piece. It is a wood base. Also we know that it's early 19th century because there are some pins, which is part of the construction that holds it together. And you can see it through the gilding here, and then on the other section of the leg as well. It's a pin construction. Now, the whole piece is carved wood. It's probably a lighter pine, which would be easy to carve. And then it is gessoed, and then the gilding is laid on top of that. Although there is much original gilding on this piece, I think at some point someone has sort of smeared the finish, and maybe enhanced it slightly. But for my taste, it is in great, great condition. Over the years, especially, I mean, a 19th-century piece you'd expect to see several upholstery changes. Well, this has maybe not its original, but very early French mohair upholstery. Done probably about 1860, probably Paris. And it has a very Napoleonic decoration to it. All wool, and that's why it's in such great condition. The wool mohair wears like iron. So it's a great, great piece. And have you ever had it appraised?
GUEST: No, never had it out of the house, I don't think.
APPRAISER: Well, this is a great decorator's piece. And I bet with the right decorator, he or she would be able to charge in the $10,000 range for a piece like this.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: I love this chair.
GUEST: (laughing) Good, thank you.
APPRAISER: Thank you.
GUEST: I've always enjoyed it.
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