Early Ming Dynasty Ink on Silk
This painting belonged to my mother, and it was always one of my favorites, so several years before she died, she gave it to me. Now, she had acquired it from a friend who was also an art collector, and not much more information was given to her except for a little plastic bag that had fragments of a page supposedly from an auction catalog, and on it was this picture of this painting. It showed that this man was called a lohan, was supposed to be a religious person who was reading scriptures and burning incense, and it had a word "Yuan" on it, and I had originally thought it was an artist, but it turned out it was referring to a dynasty.
When did your mom get it, roughly what year?
She got it probably in the mid-'60s.
Do you know what she paid for it when she purchased it?
She said she paid several hundred dollars, not over $1,000, but I don't know exactly.
What's really interesting about this picture is the dramatic size of the individual, the scope, the scale of the image. We have this man that's seated on a circular stool, which is made up of bamboo sections bound together by reeds, and he's dressed in this incredibly lavish, very luxurious fabric that actually has a number of roundels, of which you can see here and here and scattered throughout, along with fringe that is in gold to give you a sense that this is an important person. And he is sitting, examining scriptures, and as he's seated, you have before him an archaic bronze vessel, which is a censer, which is something that stylistically one would date to 1,000 years or more earlier. And you have next to that a box that would have held incense. The coral beads around the hand, the wonderful interplay of colors, of the gold and the blue and the red, and then in the background you have the bamboo, so the setting is just very, very atmospheric. It's a terrific painting and it captures your attention when you see it. One of the other things to notice about this, just aside from the striking composition, is the condition. Very difficult to see from a distance, but easier to see close up, you can see the lines and the breaks in the silk fabric on which this is painted. So my sense is that this is a painting of terrific quality, it's unsigned, dating from the early Ming dynasty, and the early Ming dynasty would be somewhere in the 14th, 15th century. So with all that information, we have to then decide what is the value, and with the market being strong today for Chinese art, I believe there'd be considerable value for this. What do you think this might be worth?
I have no idea.
Give me a guess.
I think you're headed in the right direction, but I would actually say closer to $40,000 to $60,000 in an auction sale.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.
Last Tango in Halifax
Enjoy the third season of this award-winning series that celebrates life and love