Piece will not be considered an antique for another 50 years.
Dear Helaine and Joe:
Could you tell me the value of this solid bronze statue? It is 26 inches tall with a lead crystal bowl that is 9 inches in diameter and a marble base. It has “Italy”stamped on the bottom. Hanging prisms make it look like the nude woman is playing in the rain. Any information would be helpful.
D.W, North Augusta, S.C.
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Times have changed dramatically in the world of antiques and collectibles. A wide variety of objects that were once very valuable are now much less so, and other items that were inexpensive and not on many collectors’ radars are now sought after and bring considerably higher prices.
The piece in today’s question is not yet antique and will not be so for at least another 50 years. It was made in the mid-20th century — 1960s or even a tad later — and it is a decorative item rather than an art object.
Its size and subject matter make it an attention-getter, but is it the sort of decorative item that current collectors are looking for and willing to pay a substantial amount of money to own? Before answering this query, we want to explore the item a little more.
First, this is a centerpiece that probably (at one time) was part of a set and had flanking items such as a pair of candelabra or perhaps two lower compotes. This three-piece suite would have been quite spectacular on a 1960s or early-’70s dining table, sideboard or mantelpiece. But the question remains: Is this centerpiece something that fits in with current tastes?
Second, we doubt seriously that the figure is “solid bronze.” Most pieces similar to this were made from “spelter” (i.e., zinc, and also called “pot” or “white” metal), and then covered with bronze and sometimes gilded (as this one appears to be). The “lead crystal bowl”was most likely made in Germany or Czechoslovakia and then sent to Italy to be incorporated into this centerpiece. This type of glass is fairly common and does not command a great deal of respect from most American collectors.
In its genre, this particular piece is spectacular if not a bit kitschy — but kitschy can be fun. It is also mid-20th century — but it is not mid-20th-century modern, which is what many serious collectors seek now.
The piece is Italian, and Italy was one of the great design centers of post-World War II Europe, with its glass, furniture, ceramics and clothing being very “fashion forward.”Unfortunately, this piece is not fashion forward. It is “fashion backward” because it takes inspiration from turn-of-the-20th-century models.
It can also be argued that all sorts of objects from the 1960s are very collectible, and we would agree. But the things that are most desired from then are items that scream “1960s!” — such as almost anything psychedelic (i.e., iconic rock posters) and “mod”fashions.
This piece does not fall into this range of items, but it does have a great deal of visual presence and should interest collectors more down the road. Right now this imposing centerpiece should be valued for insurance purposes in the $100-$125 range.