The Lost Art of Antiquity

The Lost Art of Antiquity

Engraved on my Heart

What happens when two men from Holland – one an engraver, the other an artist – meet up in another country far from home? The creation of a rare Victorian masterpiece is born and now, almost 150 years later has taken the art world by surprise.

The artist in question is the famous Neoclassical painter, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, who is known for his cherubic lounging femmes. Showcased on the popular Antiques Roadshow, it was modestly valued between £200-300,000 by expert Robert Maas, who was reported saying that Alma-Tadema is "the most valuable Victorian artist today."

This painting depicts an engraver by the name of Leopold Löwenstam working on a copper plate of one of Alma-Tadema’s paintings. It is quite a departure from Alma-Tadema’s well-known works, which gives it an element of intrigue and a rare perspective from an old favourite. It’s also a valuable piece of history as it sheds light on the profession of an engraver and their relationship with the artist.

This work of art was created for a special occasion in 1883 – the wedding of the engraver himself to his wife Alice, who was governess to the Alma-Tadema children at the time. It has remained in the family ever since with Löwenstam’s great-great grandson and is currently on tour in the Netherlands until the fall of next year.

You can find out more on Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema by visiting the Dutch Museum of Friesland.

Lost and Found

Even antique dealers get it wrong sometimes. Such is the case with one such gentleman from Manhattan, who lived with a Paul Gauguin original for 30 years never once questioning its provenance. The painting even carried Gauguin’s famous PG signature at the bottom of the painting, but was perhaps obscured for its oversized frame.

But auction experts were not fooled and quickly determined its origin by matching it to an extensive catalogue of the Paul Gauguin’s most valuable works and a piece called 'Fleurs d'été dans un gobelet' (1885). It’s expected to fetch $800,000-$1.2 million.

You can read more information about this long-lost Paul Gauguin painting by visiting Litchfield County Auctions.

Restored to its Rightful Place

So many artefacts and valuable antiquities get lost in the archives of museums or disappear into a private collection never to be seen again; it’s easy to lose track. So it might surprise you to learn that two very famous Van Gogh paintings that have been missing since 2002 were recently found by the Italian police during a mafia raid. The two paintings – Seascape at Scheveningen (1882) and Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884/85) have been authenticated and reported to be slightly damaged and without their frames but in good condition and on their way back to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

"The paintings have been found! That I would be able to ever pronounce these words is something I had no longer dared to hope for," Axel Rüger, Director of the Van Gogh Museum.

Together these paintings are valued at €89 but historically, the value is even greater. The Seascape at Scheveningen is the only painting in the museum dating from Van Gogh's period in The Hague (1881-1883). It is a remarkable example of the artist’s early style of painting.

The Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen was painted by the artist for his mother and has extraordinary biographical context. The church was presided over by Van Gogh’s minister father and had great significance for his mother. It is a small canvas and carries two dates because of an addition a year later in 1885 of the mourners. Experts believe this was later added after the death of Van Gogh’s father as a sort of commemoration. It is a very emotionally charged piece with great historical value.

You can read more about this intriguing story by visiting the Van Gogh Museum.

The Return of the Ring

Across the border in France, another story of return involving a devotional ring that once belonged to Joan of Arc. The ring is said to have been described in detail in her trial by the heroine herself, for it was given to her by her mother and father and held great sentimental value. Later that same day in Rouen, northern France, 1491, Joan of Arc burned at the stake for heresy at the age of 19. It had been a three-year battle for freedom, but she died a martyr for her country and is remembered in the hearts of the French people for her sacrifice.

The ring is accompanied by an incredibly long provenance and large portfolio proving it belonged to the saintly figure. Auctioneers were hoping this ring would be scooped up by a French museum or France itself, because it is so historically important. Instead, it sold for £300,000 to a private owner and now resides in its new home – a French themed fun park called Puy du Fou. Not quite the heroic ending worthy of such an historic treasure.

You can find the whole story at Time Line Auctions.

Anyone for a drop of Antiqui-tea?

As every collector has probably discovered, when you’ve been bitten by the bug, you just never know what you’ll end up collecting next. Take the case of Philip Miller, an architect who over a period of 40 years amassed an enviable collection of some 2,000 vintage teapots before he died. It is one of the largest collections to be sold in its entirety at auction and the final tally was in excess of £80,000 when the final hammer came down.

Miller and his wife were avid collectors and loved their antiques, but the teapot collection was by Philip’s pride and joy, even though he rarely enjoyed a cup of rosie himself! The collection represents teapots from almost every English factory, some now defunct, and is a wonderful example of British craftsmanship through the years.

You can find out more about the Teapot Sale by visiting Anderson and Garland.

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