Japanese Bronze Sculpture, ca. 1890

Value (2011) | $15,000 Insurance
Watch  

GUEST:
It came with a German professor from Japan when he returned. He had been teaching in Japan, and his students gave him this as a going-away gift for their appreciation. We believe it was 1892 that he returned to Germany with the statue. And my father then found it in an antiques store on consignment from the grandchildren. My father was in the Army, stationed in Heidelberg, and he loved bronzes, and he saw it and went in and asked how much it cost, and it was $150, and being in the Army with four kids, that was a lot of money.

APPRAISER:
And what year was that?

GUEST:
1964. And so he walked by there for six months, and his heart would pound and he would wonder if it was still there, and it still was. So after six months, he went back in with my uncle and, together, they discussed with the shop owner that perhaps $100 would be an okay amount. And she went back to the grandchildren, and they agreed.

APPRAISER:
That's great. And now it's yours.

GUEST:
It's now mine. We have an Asian daughter adopted from Vietnam, and my father thought that this should be in our family.

APPRAISER:
The scale of it's wonderful. It's not small and it's not too big. It's just like the three bears, it's just right, isn't it? And it's depicting an archer, and we know that this is from Japan not just because of the story that you've heard from the professor. One of the other clues is if we go around to the back, we see, as with a lot of Japanese art, the craftsmen often sign their work, which is different than what you get with Chinese art or other cultures, but in most cases they did not. But with Japanese, they did. And if you look right here, you'll see that there's a signature. And this is the name of the maker, whose name is Hiromitsu. Hiromitsu is not one of the major makers, so there's not a lot of information out there. Ne'ertheless, it's a terrific piece. Now, 1892 is an interesting timeframe because it's the beginning of the Meiji Dynasty, the Meiji period. You had a shifting in Japanese industry, moving toward industry, away from the manufacture of armor and weaponry and so on. And so the folks that were making those things lost their jobs. They had to go do something else. So what do they do initially? They're making lots of images of militaristic themes, and the other great favorite subject would be animal subjects. But this happens to be a terrific view of an archer, a military theme. If you look at some of the casting on the face and the armor and the breastplate, it's not the A+ quality, but it's very high quality. The patina is good, the surface. You all have not gone through and polished it.

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
And I'm sure you watch the Roadshow and you've heard everybody say, "Don't polish the surface." You haven't done that, so that's good. The market's down in Japanese art at this time, but I would insure this for around $15,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my.

APPRAISER:
So I think your dad did pretty well.

GUEST:
He did, he did. Thank you so much.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2011)
$15,000 Insurance
Event
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
Period
19th Century
Form
Sculpture
Material
Bronze

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