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10/15/2019 THREE GREAT FINDS | Digital Antiques Journal

THREE GREAT FINDS


Oct 10, 2019 | 0 comments

Found on a Kitchen Wall (1.5-minute read)

She thought it was


just another old
religious painting,
so she hung it over
the hotplate where
she cooked to give
herself something
to look at.

She was right,


that’s exactly what
it was — another
old religious
painting. How old?
Quite old, actually
– it was painted in
1280. Christ Mocked, courtesy AP France.

The 90-year-old
woman who enjoyed looking at it while cooking lives in the French town of Compiègne.
The house was getting too much for her, so she decided to move and called in the local
auctioneer to sell all her surplus stuff.

“I had a week to give an expert view on the house contents and empty it,” the auctioneer
Philomène Wolf said. “I had to make room in my schedule … if I didn’t, then everything
was due to go to the dump.”

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Mme. Wolf suggested the woman bring the small painting, 8” x 11”, to experts for an
evaluation. She thought that it might go for as much as €300,000-€400,000.

But when the painting reached real experts, the estimated sale price jumped to between
$4.4 to $6.6 million, according to art expert Éric Turquin.

So why the sky-high estimate? The painting, Christ Mocked, is by the Florentine artist
Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, who has been called “the father of Western
painting” and was hugely in uential just before the Italian Renaissance began. The
National Gallery in London described Cimabue’s work as representing “a crucial moment
in the history of art” when Italian painters, while still in uenced by Byzantine painting,
were exploring the naturalistic depiction of forms and three-dimensional space.

Christ Mocked, (detail), courtesy Reuters.

In particular, Renaissance artists were beginning to depict the faces of individual people,
not the generic faces (of a king, of a saint, of a sinner) that characterized medieval and
Byzantine art.

Cimabue was more than an artist, he was a teacher among whose pupils was Giotto – the
student who became more famous than his master.

The painting from the kitchen wall will be sold by the Acteon auction house in Senlis on
October 27.

Found in a Field (1-minute read)


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Ancient English elds can


produce strange harvests. Don
Crawley found one. A eld in
Suffolk County, in SE England,
made his metal detector buzz
imperatively. A few quick turns
of his spade, and he was the
possessor of 99 Anglo-Saxon
coins.

The coins appear to have been The Anglo-Saxon coins found in a Suffolk eld
buried in the year 999, quite
possibly by a man with a guilty
conscience scared of what might happen to him on the judgement day as the year turned
to 1000AD.

The theory is supported by the fact that two of the coins were folded, which meant that
they were intended as a vow to a saint. And then archeological digging revealed human
bones suggesting that the site was that of a long forgotten Saxon church. Life insurance
for judgement day seems a plausible explanation!

The hoard contained 81 pennies and 18 halfpennies – literally: a halfpenny was a penny
cut in half. They all dated back to the reign of King Ethelred II, the Anglo-Saxon king who
ruled from 978-1016.

At this time there were 86 mints operating around the country with up to 100 different
“moneyers” working at the largest in London. Producing coins seemed to be big business
in Anglo-Saxon England.

 As the law required him, Don Crawley took his nd to the British Museum whose experts
examined the coins, con rmed their authenticity and gave them back to him as “ nder’s
keepers.”

With the museum’s permission to sell the coins, Don Crawley got a price estimate from
London auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, who said they could be worth £50,000. He will
share the proceeds with the farmer whose eld produced the strange and valuable
harvest.

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Pennies and cut halfpennies

The head of King Ethelred on a coin

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The obverse of the “King Ethelred” coin

Found in a Flea-Market (1.5-minute read)


Finds don’t have to be expensive to be great. Just ask Justin Thomas, that expert and
tireless hunter of New England redware. He had a great nd at a ea market in Rowley,
Mass. Here is his niece displaying it.

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Justin describes it as an “intriguing nineteenth-century New England red earthenware


vase decorated with gold paint.” It intrigued him because its form with an elongated neck
is not often found in redware. Just looking at it, I was impressed by the skill of the potter:
it must have been dif cult to draw that ne neck up from the bowl in the relatively coarse
clay of which earthenware was made.

Justin noted that the form is very similar to a group of vases with elongated necks made
by Hugh Robertson (1845-1908) c. 1882-89 at the Chelsea Keramic Art Works in
Chelsea, Mass. The form of these vases was derived from Chinese porcelain vases that
were fashionable at the time.

Justin does not believe that his “ ea-market nd” was made in Chelsea. The dealer told
him that he had discovered the vase earlier in the summer in mid-coast Maine.  

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Justin thought that the most


likely origin of this vase was the
Charles A. Lawrence (1829-
1904) pottery in Beverly, Mass.
The pottery did employ an artist
from Marblehead, Mass., by the
name of Thomas Pitman, who
painted pots and vases copied
and imitated from other
countries. But Justin had not
seen this Chinese form from
Beverly: this does not rule it out,
however, as the pottery was The bottom – typical of the Lawrence pottery
certainly aware of the trends in
the American pottery industry
during this period. The clay and manufacture of the base is also in keeping with the wares
made at the C.A. Lawrence Pottery as is the decoration with gold paint.

Porcelain in China; ceramics in Chelsea; redware in Beverly; and a ea market in Rowley


– there’s a lot to think about in a ea-market nd.

Arts & Crafts vases from Chelsea Keramic Artworks

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Qing Porcelain Long Neck Dragon Vase with Qianlong Mark. Courtesy Cowan’s Auctions

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