A French Find in the Midwest

Last summer the owner of a bronze sculpture in a rural area of Ohio decided that he wanted to know more about the piece. Although he had owned it for close to 20 years after his grandfather had passed it down to him, he knew nothing about its history or value and didn’t want to bring it to the only appraiser in town, who he had worked with unsuccessfully in the past. So, he enlisted the help of a tech-savvy friend, Glen, to research the piece online.

Unable to find any information on the piece on his own, Glen came across Lofty on Google and submitted a few pictures of the sculpture to the site, not expecting anything to come of it. However, he soon received a request for additional pictures of the sculpture and within a few days, received a full evaluation of the piece, including the fair market value and a detailed history.

Glen and the owner of the work were thrilled to learn that the sculpture was an original patinated bronze by Arthur Jacques Leduc, a French artist who lived from 1848 to 1918, and that its fair market value was $7000-$8000. Depicting a family of Elk, the sculpture was cast by Thiebaut Frères, a Parisian foundry in operation from 1827 to 1928, and based on the foundry stamp, the work was made between 1920 and 1926, at least two years after Leduc died. While the assumption might be that this work was either a forgery or a reproduction, it is not uncommon for foundries to posthumously cast bronzes of a given artist using the original plaster model made by the artist’s hand. These works are still considered original bronzes by the artist, as they are based on the original model and are produced in the same way as works made during the artist’s lifetime. Had the work been a later copy, its value would have been a fraction of the expert’s estimate.

The owner immediately listed the work for sale on Lofty, and it sold for $8050 a few months later. When he received the email saying that the piece had sold, Glen thought, “No way – is this place a scam? Nobody does this!”, but once the owner received payment for the work, his concerns were laid to rest. The ease of the transaction still seems impossible to him – “All I did was take pictures of it, and it sold!”