Christophe Fratin Bronze Sculpture, ca. 1850
Appraised Value: $10,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:47)
Metalwork & Sculpture
Lillian Nassau, LLC
GUEST: We bought it in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1965 from an antique shop. My husband worked next door to this antique shop, and we just window-shopped every day and finally went in and asked him if he'd take payments on it, and he did. I just loved it. I love the violence of it, in a way.
APPRAISER: The piece you have is by Christophe Fratin, who's a very well-known French artist of his day. He worked in the middle part of the 19th century. There was a whole group of French artists working at this time. They were called animalier sculptors; they specialized in animals. And at this time, people liked these animals, they liked this whole subject, especially the violence of these figures in their natural setting. It was done probably in the 1850s or so. This is done in a French technique that's called sand casting, and these were cast in pieces and then assembled. So here we have... this whole thing is wiggly, and that's because this was cast separately and attached to the base. And if we look at the bottom, you can actually see how they're attached.
GUEST: Right, okay.
APPRAISER: The sculpture's made out of bronze.
APPRAISER: It's very clearly signed here on the side, "Fratin," and the signature's very sharp, and that's an indication that it was made in the period.
APPRAISER: Later bronzes were sometimes cast from earlier bronzes and you lose detail. The piece you have is beautifully cast. It's a great example of French casting from this period. Very nicely detailed and beautifully finished with the original patina on it. Many of these sculptures that we've seen on the show were cast by what was called the lost-wax process.
APPRAISER: Most of the sculptures we see are made out of spelt or white metal, and they're just very, very poor quality castings. When this was done, they didn't do a lot of foundry marks. It's more like in the 1870s and '80s, the foundries put their marks on there. Fratin was very, very famous. He did a lot of public monuments in Europe and he even did a sculpture for New York's Central Park.
GUEST: Oh, I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: Now, what did you pay for it?
GUEST: If I remember right, it was $550.
APPRAISER: And what was that, five payments of $100 or so?
GUEST: It was something like that, true.
APPRAISER: Earlier, you said you liked the subject matter, and it is interesting, this excitement of the horse, the horse below being attacked here. It's a great, great depiction of this event. It's just not popular today among collectors. However, it's still a desirable piece, and it's probably worth around $10,000.
GUEST: Well, that's good to know. That's good to know.
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