Victor Dubreuil Painting, ca. 1891
Well, it was given to me when I first started going with my husband, probably 50 years ago. And his great-aunt was related to the Bowers from Bower's Mansion, which was the discoverer of silver in the silver mines of Virginia City. So the piece was originally from their mansion in Virginia City mid-19th century. The mansion is in... between Reno and Carson City.
First of all, it's by the artist Victor Dubreuil. And Victor Dubreuil was an interesting artist. He was American, 19th century, and painted in the trompe l'oeil painting style. And what that means is "fool the eye." And he's done a pretty good job with this treasury note from roughly 1891. We can see shadows, we can see creases. He's really done a remarkable job in capturing a silver dollar bill that has been in somebody's pocket or someone's drawer. It's really a terrific example of the trompe l'oeil style of painting. There isn't a great deal known about the artist. What we do know about him is that he apparently was obsessed with money. He would paint barrels of money. He would paint stacks of money. He would paint single bills. He would paint a couple bills. He really liked his money. But someone once wrote about him, that perhaps the reason he was so obsessed is because he had so little. The condition of the painting looks fine but restored. Now, did you have the painting restored?
Unfortunately I had it cleaned. And it had a small tear on it, and I thought it might be better than just stretched on the boards to put it on a back, so they backed it. And then as young as I was then, I put a garish... today's frame on it. So... I hope I haven't ruined it.
No, the frame is a modern frame. The condition of the painting is in good, restored condition. You know, it's unfortunate that it couldn't have been left on the original stretchers, but it's in fine condition. Do you know what anyone paid for the painting at all?
I've never heard any value whatsoever.
Well, in terms of its value, it's a great example of American 19th-century trompe l'oeil painting. It's a great example of what people in 19th-century Victorian Virginia City were buying, too. There is, of course, a hierarchy in his value. The barrels of money sell for barrels of money. I think one sold for over $250,000. But this single, wonderful little bill with Martha Washington looking out at us is worth, for insurance purposes, about $15,000.
Oh... So little do we know about things that we have with us.
And it's a great one to have.
Thank you very much. It's nice to learn about it.
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Last Tango in Halifax
Enjoy the third season of this award-winning series that celebrates life and love