Copy of Honthorst Painting, ca. 1890

Value (2008) | $2,000 Auction$20,000 Auction

GUEST:
It was in my grandfather's house, and one of the neighbors had actually given it to my grandmother.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

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.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Well, as you can see it here, it's actually painting number 209, which is an inventory number.

GUEST:
Right.

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.

GUEST:
Okay.

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.

GUEST:
Okay.

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.

GUEST:
Okay.

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.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Well, I wish it were the original, but it's actually a copy. Probably worth about $2,000 at auction these days.

GUEST:
Okay.

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.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, NY
New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$2,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
Event
Chattanooga, TN (July 19, 2008)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paint

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.