Daniel Chester French Bust of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ca. 1900

Value (2010) | $15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
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GUEST:
This is Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great American philosopher.

APPRAISER:
He was probably one of America's greatest philosophers of the 19th century. Worked up in Massachusetts, Boston area. And this is by a rather prominent American sculptor, who is...

GUEST:
Daniel Chester French.

APPRAISER:
What do you know about Mr. French?

GUEST:
Well, I know that he also did the Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Right, that's probably his most famous work. And the piece that really got his career going was the sculpture of the Minuteman in Concord, Massachusetts, which was done for the centennial of the first battle of the American Revolution.

APPRAISER:
It's signed here on the side, "Daniel Chester French." And it's dated "1879." So that was the date when the piece was actually modeled. This was probably cast around the turn of the century. In those days, they just cast them as people wanted them. And then it's also signed here on the underside with the name of the foundry, Jules Bercham. It was a foundry from Chicago. And they were active roughly the same period that French was working. They cast a number of sculptures by prominent artists of the period. Most of his career was spent doing monumental sculpture. So, as a result, there are very few actual home-size, apartment-size sculptures. They turn up from time to time. Sometimes you see small versions of the Lincoln Memorial or a few other pieces. But for an artist that's this prominent, we see relatively few of these pieces come up on the market. Where did you get him?

GUEST:
I found it in an antiques store down in central Wisconsin. They had it mismarked. They didn't know really who it was and who it was by, so...

APPRAISER:
And they never heard of French?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
And had you heard of French, or...?

GUEST:
I had heard of him, but I did a little more research, then I went back and I purchased it.

APPRAISER:
And what did you pay for him?

GUEST:
I paid $500 for him.

APPRAISER:
This piece is well cast, beautifully modeled. I mean, it really captures, I think, his personality, his look. The finish and the patination is quite good. It has some very minor condition issues. I think it's been rubbed a little bit, but I don't think that would affect the value all that much. A piece like this, at auction, I think, conservatively, would bring in the $15,000 to $25,000 range.

GUEST:
Wow, that was... that was a little bit more than I expected.

APPRAISER:
And a little bit more than $500.

GUEST:
A little bit more than $500, too, yeah.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, New York
Appraised value (2010)
$15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Event
Des Moines, IA (August 07, 2010)
Form
Bust
Material
Metal

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