1879 René de Saint-Marceaux Bronze

Value (2012) | $15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I bought it from friends that were in the antique business when they liquidated their business. This was back in the Boston area, in about '76.

APPRAISER:
What did you pay for it at the time?

GUEST:
$2,400.

APPRAISER:
That was a lot of money.

GUEST:
(laughing) I liked him.

APPRAISER:
So are you a collector, or was this something that struck your eye?

GUEST:
No, he just struck my eye, and I had to have him when they offered him to me. Yeah.

APPRAISER:
So you don't know much about the artist or...?

GUEST:
I just know that he's French.

APPRAISER:
Well, it is a French artist. René de Saint-Marceaux. And he was born in 1845 and died in 1915. He did a lot of public commissions, but he also did some small-scale works that were mostly portraits and animals. I think those were the more commercially viable works. This is a wonderful figure of a harlequin, a jester.

GUEST:
It may have been what attracted you to it. I think it was the mask, the eyes. Yeah.

APPRAISER:
No, it's wonderful. And he's standing on this naturalistic wooden floor, this great, defiant pose.

GUEST:
Very confident.

APPRAISER:
And it's signed here on the back. We can spin him around a little bit. But it's signed Saint-Marceaux here, 1879. And then it has a Barbedienne foundry, which was one of Paris's best known bronze foundries.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
And then there's this little mark here, which shows that it's a reduced version of a larger-scale piece.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
There's a marble of the same subject that is a life-size figure.

GUEST:
Where is it located now?

APPRAISER:
It's in Vichy, in France.

GUEST:
Okay, okay.

APPRAISER:
And there are also on the market have been some life-size plaster reproductions of the marble, and this version, which seems to be his best-known sculpture, in a whole bunch of different sizes--so everything from probably around a foot high and up. And this is probably the largest scale.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So you paid a fair amount for it in the '70s.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Have you had it looked at in this intervening time?

GUEST:
I did about ten years ago with a local antique dealer. And he thought about $6,000.

APPRAISER:
Based on its size, the fact that it's the largest scale, I think that price was undervalued. I'd say in today's market, at auction, probably in the $15,000 to $20,000 range.

GUEST:
You're kidding.

APPRAISER:
No.

GUEST:
What a wonderful surprise.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, it is a wonderful piece.

GUEST:
(laughing) I can't believe it.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Skinner, Inc.
Appraised value (2012)
$15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
Event
Rapid City, SD (July 14, 2012)
Period
19th Century
Form
Sculpture
Material
Bronze

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