1947 Albin Polasek Portrait Bust of a Boy

Value (2009) | $3,000 Insurance

GUEST:
Well, that's actually me when I was four years old. My family used to have a restaurant business in Chicago. It was a Polish restaurant, and Mr. Polásek was a friend of the family and he was coming to the restaurant for about 30 years. And evidently, my mother had him do my bust for her.

APPRAISER:
So that's a picture of you when you were four.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And there's a picture of the artist.

GUEST:
Yes, that was a Christmas card that he sent to the family.

APPRAISER:
And then there's that Easter card that they sent also.

GUEST:
Yeah, well, he was a big fan of the pastry. We used to have a bakery, so...

APPRAISER:
And did you know him?

GUEST:
You know, I remember... I seem to remember the studio. I remember he had a large crèche, and for some reason that's all I really remember. I was only four.

APPRAISER:
Well, Polásek's a very interesting artist. He was born in Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic, in 1879, and he came to the United States around the turn of the century, 1901. And he had very strong academic background. He studied in Philadelphia with Charles Grafly, and he was successful enough to have won the Prix de Rome, and that was a very, very prestigious prize at the time. So he was really quite well recognized in his day, and the bulk of his career was teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
He did retire to Florida, to Winter Park, and there's a museum of his work down there. The artist died in 1965. Now, when was this portrait done?

GUEST:
That would have been 1947.

APPRAISER:
1947, okay. He did a lot of portraiture, he did a lot of monuments, public sculpture in Chicago. Usually these would have been modeled in clay, and from clay they would have made a plaster mold.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And you have a photograph of the plaster mold.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And that plaster mold would have been sent to a foundry, and the foundry would have cast it.

GUEST:
Now, is that destroyed when they do that?

APPRAISER:
The plaster isn't, no, but from the plaster they make a mold. From that mold they make a wax model of it, and the wax model is destroyed in the making. It's called the lost-wax process.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
And that's how this was done. It's a very ancient technique for casting bronzes. It doesn't have any foundry mark, but that does happen. It's beautifully modeled. I mean, the quality, the skill of the artist is very apparent. His work comes up rather often at auction. They can be worth $30,000, $40,000 in a large size. When it comes to portrait busts, it's a little bit more of a difficult market. Who the person is...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
If you were a prominent person, of course that would affect the value. For an insurance value, I would think about $3,000.

GUEST:
Okay. Thank you very much.

APPRAISER:
Thanks for coming in.

GUEST:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, New York
Appraised value (2009)
$3,000 Insurance
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Form
Bust
Material
Bronze

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