Justus Dalee Portraits, ca. 1840

Value (2003) | $6,000 Auction$9,000 Auction

GUEST:
I bought it probably 30 years ago as a birthday gift for my mother. And she loved antiques and collected antiques. I knew she would love it, which she did. She died in 1981, and I have kept it.

APPRAISER:
When you brought it up to the folk art table, I guess you kind of noticed that our eyes perked up a little bit.

GUEST:
Yeah, I did.

APPRAISER:
Well, you know, we see a lot of things like this at the folk art table, and first of all, we know it was done in New York, because it says Rochester underneath the gentleman right there, and it's got his name on there. This was done by Justus Dalee, who was a folk, miniature portrait artist and it's interesting that it has the date 1840, because that's right at the time that photography would have started being used in America, and it wouldn't be too long after this that everybody would have had their picture taken with a camera instead of having somebody do a portrait by hand.

GUEST:
I see. Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
So once I figured out who it was, then the thing that puzzled me was the fact that the man's portrait is a little bit smaller than the woman's portrait. Luckily, it was okay with you for me to do this...

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And I don't know if you know this, but this was glued in the back.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
And underneath that...was a piece of wood.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And underneath that was... the original image, which I will pick up out of here very gently. And once you see this without the glass on it, it really does strike home with you how wonderfully detailed Justus Dalee could do this type of thing. He was active from the 1820s up to about 1843, I think. Now, I think this lady in this portrait is his second wife.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
I do.

GUEST:
Oh, for heaven's sake.

APPRAISER:
And you know why I think that? Because if you pull the mat back, look how much larger her portrait is, and it's still done by the same artist. I think his first wife died and his second wife had her portrait done to put that there and have it in the family. Now, what did you pay for this when you got that?

GUEST:
It was probably around ten dollars. I'm sure it wasn't more than $15.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Do you think it's gone up in value any?

GUEST:
Well, I'm beginning to think so.

(both laugh)

APPRAISER:
Well, I talked to my colleagues at the table over there, and there's been several of these examples. He did portraits of children, but he also did double portraits like this. And we feel like a conservative estimate at auction would be $6,000 to $9,000.

GUEST:
Oh, that's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Farmer & Associates
Charlottesville, VA
Appraised value (2003)
$6,000 Auction$9,000 Auction
Event
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)
Period
19th Century

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