Viennese Enamel Vases, ca. 1880
My dad inherited these from his aunt. He was chosen to go pick stuff out of the estate, and everyone else just kind of picked things that they needed for their house, just kind of, like, TVs and things, and he chose these. Everyone else thought they were really ugly.
Any idea where your aunt got them from?
I don't know. She was a businesswoman who would just buy a lot of art like this, so...
What you brought in are a pair of enamel vases that were made in Vienna in the 1880s, and this is enamel on copper. And you see the bands here that are black?
Yeah. Was it oxidized like that?
That's right, it's silver, it's turned black. They made these in Austria with these wonderful, wonderful decorations. Not only do you have these roundels here, but it's decorated all over. It's decorated on the sides, and the backs have panels, too. And the panels are done in what we call the rococo, or 18th century, style. And we'll look at the bottom. And usually when we turn things over, we usually see some artist's name, a maker, something boring. Here they've decorated the underside, even though you don't see it. What's also amazing is they've decorated the inside. What's also nice is the way they've put the enamel in these dragons. This enamel has sort of a translucence to it. It almost looks like jewels.
Why are they segmented?
So that they could be fired separately because all these things required different temperatures to be fired. So the body here would be one temperature and then the enamel on the silver might be another temperature. So these were all fired separately and then bolted together. What's remarkable is the condition of these pieces. They're relatively fragile. Even though they're painted on copper, they can ding, they can get banged up, and they can shatter. Most Vienna bronze pieces are very small, sort of about this big, so it's very, very rare to see these very, very large pieces. In a retail setting, these are worth between $20,000 and $30,000.
Wow, that's a lot more than I expected.
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