19th-Century Italian Majolica Big Cats
I first met these guys when I was about 20 years old. They were in the apartment of my favorite Auntie Judith. She was quite a storyteller and a bon vivant and a world traveler. She had acquired them in London in the mid-1970s and brought them back to New York with her. I don't exactly know much about them except the stories Judith liked to tell, which were, among other things, 17th century Venetian. I have no idea if that's true or not. And I inherited a few of her wonderful things, including these cheetahs.
Thank you for bringing them here. This must be no small feat. They're so terrific, and incredibly expressive. Much more aggressive-looking than perhaps new ones like this would be. I think that decorative arts have gotten more commercial and more pretty, and these are much more raw. We all agree that these are Italian, but not necessarily Venice. They are majolica, which means they're covered in this glaze that the whole thing would be low-fired and the glazes are very bright. It is a typically Mediterranean way of making ceramics. The fact that they're on these lovely pillows, you don't see these pillows. It would just sort of be cut and hollow and on the ground. They're in beautiful condition. There's a little flaking of some glazed spots here and there, but not many. So these have such a strong look to them. These are often referred to as designer items. So that said, sometimes you have to rely on your gut for an estimate. We felt that easily, a retail price on this would be in the $4,000 to $6,000 range for the pair.
This is fairly conservative.
Well, I didn't really care so much about the price on them because I just value them. They're cherished items, and they remind me of a person I loved very much. One of our dogs, who's about the size of one of these guys, he puts his head down on the ceramic pillow and starts snoring.
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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."
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