Italian Micromosaic Picture, ca. 1865
This picture has been in my family for at least three generations. But in 1968, where this painting was housed, in a townhouse in Washington, D.C., there was a huge fire that gutted the townhouse. A lot of the roof came off, water dripping in, and the townhouse was never lived in again for the next 25 years. But when I went through things, I found this wrapped up in basically an old sheet, and I thought it was a painting. I didn't know that it was not a painting.
This is a micromosaic picture. It's a remarkable work of art in that it's composed of literally thousands of pieces of marble. And in other words, the artist who is responsible for this really painted with marble. I mean, those subtle color differences and nuances were all created by choice of color of marble, type of marble. This is a scene in Rome, the Palatine ruins. It was a popular tourist destination back then, as it is now. And oftentimes, I think when people went on the Grand Tour, they came back with mementos. I mean, this is a tourist item, but I think an ultimate tourist item. I would think that it dates from perhaps the 1860s or '70s. We don't know specifically who made this particular example. There are signed examples known. It's in remarkably good shape. The fact that it went through a fire is just astounding. I'm so glad it survived.
I believe that the frame is original. Underneath all that sort of goopy gold paint, probably the original gold leaf is still there, and they can do remarkable things as far as restoring the frame. I think it truly deserves that kind of attention. I think in light of its quality, its size, for auction purposes, I would estimate between $8,000 and $12,000.
Oh, my gosh.
It's a beauty. Thank you so much.
Thank you, that's wonderful news.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.
Last Tango in Halifax
Enjoy the third season of this award-winning series that celebrates life and love