Q: An old friend recently gave me two pen-and-ink sketches by Pablo Picasso. They show a former lover of Picasso, a Serbian countess named Countess Zamora. She was Picasso’s mistress during the mid-’50s and went to Philadelphia after he died to take up with my friend. How can I sell it?
A: Well now, that’s quite a back story. I assume it came from the friend, whom the writer tells us is now 90 years old.
Here’s the thing: A Serbian countess would not be from Zamora, as that is a city in Spain, known for its Romanesque 12th and 13th century churches. And there’s more.
Picasso had two recorded wives — Olga Khoklava and Jacqueline Roque — and four children by three women. His major loves included Fernande Olivier, Marcelle Humbert, Marie-Therese Walter, Dora Marr and Francoise Gilot. To that, add numbers of affairs and flings. Biographical info tends to stick with the artist’s major amours.
We found no record of a Serbian countess.
To put it kindly, perhaps the donor is confused. Certainly on how the lady moved to Philly to take up with him after the artist died.
Bottom line, the art needs to be examined firsthand by an expert. The donor owns the burden of proving the romantic story.
Fake Picassos are a major industry, and have been for a long time. Perhaps the sketches are really prints or are photocopied. The art may well be faked or digital. There are all sorts of possible scenarios and unknowns.
Our reader adds that he knows zero about art. But he wants to sell. If intent is sincere, then I suggest sending clear photos of the art, front and back, to reputable auction houses that handle art on paper. Include measurements and any and all info you have on the pieces.
Should an auction be interested, they will be in touch. Auctions are in business to make money for consigners and the house, so they know how to set target prices. Your job is to choose well before handing over the art.
Q: My inlaid picture frame was made by a known local artist around 1915. I count almost 700 pieces in this frame. Three or four kinds of wood are involved. Any info?
A: Specialist Clifford Wallach, trampart.com, looked over images sent and told us the frame is marquetry folk art. Marquetry is the art of inlaid wood.
The frame is not tramp art because it lacks layers and carved notches. At 22-by-18.5 inches, it’s on the large side. That’s a plus.
Because the maker is known in his area as a creator of historic folk art, a buyer may pay premium for the artist’s regional reputation.
A decade or so ago, your best bet would have been a regional sale. But since the Internet, auctions have become international. Bidders throughout the world have access to everything. There are no hidden treasures.
Similar frames have sold at auction and online for $200-$250. In this case, the maker is the key.
Q: I can’t find a site to give me info on old stamps. How do I find out what they’re worth?
A: This query vividly illustrates change. When stamps were a window to a wider world, kids and adults could find all sorts of collector clubs alive with members just itching to give advice.
But stamps and stamp collecting are sliding the way of the dodo, so this writer may find more info from books in the library than online.
Internet sites tend to be dealer heavy and hard to understand. Many are loaded with second-rate stamps. That’s no place for a novice.
Price guides found in a library may be less confusing.
Also watch your local paper for notices on stamp shows. When you find one, take the stamps in for identification.
When A&S Antique Auction Co. of Waco, Texas, sold a 65-year collection of railroadiana, a MoPac (Missouri Pacific) lantern brought $275. One of over 150 lanterns from various train lines in the sale, the lamp had a ruby glass globe.
Q: Picasso’s Vollard Suite was a collaboration between the artist, a print publisher, a paper maker and a printer. How many plates were made? During what years?
A: Some 100 plates were made between 1930 and 1937. In spring 2012, Swann Galleries in New York sold early prints from those plates for $3,600-$18,000.
Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.