1895 Bessie Potter Vonnoh Bronze
I brought this lovely young lady with me. We've had her in the house for 60 years. She was given to my husband and I as a gift when we got married. And I don't know very much about her, but I love her, and she's waited all this time for people to really notice her. It's a long time not to know anything more about her.
Right. Did you ever give her a name?
Well, we call her Bessie now.
And why do you call her that?
Well, I saw the artist's name, so I cheated a little bit.
That's all right, that's a good name for her. Do you know anything at all about the artist?
I don't know anything about the artist, no.
The artist's name is Bessie Potter Vonnoh, and she was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1872. Her father died when she was quite young, and so her mother moved to Chicago, where Bessie enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute, and she studied art there. And so she became a very good, accomplished artist and ended up working in bronze. So as sweet as her face is and as beautiful as she is on the front, if we turn her around on the back, she's equally as pretty on the back. The folds in her dress are so alive, and the folds in her skirt and the sleeves. You've got that beautiful ponytail with the nice bow in it, and you've got a little bit of a cinched waist with a bow there. And then you see the signature for the artist. You so fondly called the bronze Bessie after the artist's name, but it's marked "Bessie Onahotema Potter." She married in 1899 to an artist who was an impressionist painting artist named Robert Vonnoh, and this is dated 1895. It also has on the back the Roman Bronzeworks foundry mark, which indicates where she had this casting done, and it has a number one, edition of one on there, so we don't know if that means this was the first of others that were ultimately done or just the one and only example, and we can't find another one just like this ever having been offered at auction.
So if we were to value this, I would say, at auction, I would put this in the range of $15,000 to $25,000.
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