Maurice Utrillo Lithograph, ca. 1920

Value (2004) | $1,500 Auction

It's been in the family since my grandparents... My mother's family lived on Fishers Island, which is an island off the coast of Connecticut.


And my grandfather was a sea captain, and he captained a ship for someone who came during the summers. And I think it was given to him as a gift. So, it has been wrapped in newspaper and underneath beds in our family for many, many years and actually never even put on a wall.

And you do know who the artist is.

I do. It's Utrillo.

Right, it's signed down here in pencil in the lower right-- Maurice Utrillo. And Utrillo was a Parisian artist first half of the 20th century, actually born into a family of artists. His mother was Suzanne Valadon, and she was friendly with such artists as Renoir, and actually he posed for Renoir. And it dates from around the 1920s. Most of his prints are from that period. Now, you were wondering about the technique.

We noticed that the writing was backwards.


We wondered if perhaps it was original to print from.

It's actually a lithograph, printed from a stone. And you were mentioning the writing backwards, such as this here on the building and this here on the building. When you draw on the stone, it prints in reverse of what you've drawn. So Utrillo actually just drew straight out the names of the restaurants or the cafés or the hotels. And when it was printed as a lithograph, it printed in reverse. Now, he wasn't really much of a printmaker. He was a famous artist, but he was more of a painter. So my suspicion is that he really considered lithography as a means of drawing, so he just drew straightaway onto the stone, not thinking about drawing the text in reverse, so I think that's why the text is on there backward. Now, in the lower part of the print here on the left, you see his initials, and those initials are actually printed. And as you can see, they're printed in the right direction, so it's the one case where he took care to write them backwards in the stone so that they would print the right way in the... in the lithograph. And then very faintly down here, you can see pencil numbering.


It's an edition of 100, this print, and the artist would've penciled that on. Now, you notice that the print is somewhat dark. It's a tan color, the paper. In actuality, the paper should be more of a lightish tone, and over time, this must have been exposed to light, and probably on the back is some sort of an acidic board. Over time, that exposure to light and the contact with the acidic board browned the sheet. Now, that's something that definitely affects the value of a print or any work on paper. In this condition, with the sheet browned as it is, it's worth about $1,500. That's at auction. Now, if you were to take it to a paper conservator to wash away that tone, that staining, which is a fairly easy process, it would increase the value to about $2,000, and it's maybe a $150 or $200 process, so it's definitely worth doing, and it preserves the paper. And it will bring out the contrast in the print that the artist intended-- the lightish cream color of the paper and the dark color of the ink-- and you'll have a better-looking print.

Appraisal Details

Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2004)
$1,500 Auction
Reno, NV (August 14, 2004)
20th Century

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.