Italico Brass "Venetian View" Oil, ca. 1920

Value (2009) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction

I lived in a small town called Tortona in northern Italy, in the Piedmont region. I lived there about five years. There was a mom-and-pop kind of antique store. It looks like a lot of their art was acquired over their lives, and I spent a lot of my money buying art there.

And what is this painting?

The artist, I think, is a gentleman called Italico Brass. He painted this painting, I think, in 1920. He died around 1943.

Now, what kind of price tag did they have? Was this before the euro or after the euro? Was it in lire?

It was in lire.

So it was a big number, then.

Yeah, about the equivalent of around $600 at the time.

What's the subject?

It's Venice, and it's a piazza, I believe, called San Trovaso. And I actually found it on a map and went there before I left Italy, and I brought a photograph of the scene so you can compare today versus 1920.

This is a work that is oil on canvas. This is an example of a painting by Italico Brass, who's a... an Italian impressionist artist. He's born around 1870 and does, as you say, live until 1943. He studies originally in Munich, then in Paris, but he really hits his stride in Venice. And we see views like this are the things that are the most prized of his works. He follows in that tradition, but a slightly different tradition, of Venetian views. They go back to the 18th century with Canaletto and then through the 19th century with the sort of photographic realists. But this is a slightly later take on it. It's a much more impressionist and beautiful atmosphere that you have, and less formal. It's not the Grand Canal, it's not the Doge's Palace. It's a little back canal here. And you see it done in a charming, inviting and intimate way. We see this lovely little tree here and the wispy branches and leaves, and below that you have these schoolchildren being ushered out by the nuns and a sleepy little barge going by and folks along the bridges. It's in pretty good condition. It has a couple of little patches on the back, but you really can't see the small little holes. It's slightly dirty. Probably could stand a cleaning. It's probably its original frame, but it looks like they spray-painted it at one time. Well, given that this is a fairly pristine work by him, it's a good size work for him too. Not too many have come up at auction. This is one of the larger ones. I would think this would go towards the upper end of what his things have been selling at auction. An auction estimate for this would be about $20,000 to $30,000.

Wow! (chuckles) Wow, I'd no idea. That's incredible.

Appraisal Details

Bonhams, NY
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)
Canvas , Oil

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