04 March 2012

Who's Really Winning?

For this series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I last featured a painting a few months ago on a post titled Canadian Caissart. Although that piece fetched a lower price, I much prefer it to the piece pictured below. This latest example of chess art, '19th C Antique O/C German Chess Game Genre Oil Painting *Check Mate!*', received 39 bids from 18 bidders, finally selling for US $742.

The description said,

The aristocratic gentleman on the right has a look of satisfaction on his face as his opponent looks defeated after playing a game of chess. The chairs & table look German and on the wall are armor, spurs, a powder flask and the crossbow of a soldier. There is a tall glass of ale on the table and a German stoneware flagon on the floor.

I keep looking for a signature on this circa 1870s oil painting, but it is unsigned. There is an original paper label on the back of the stretcher, but I cannot make out most of the writing.

What don't I like about the piece? I'm not really sure, but the cartoonish look of the two players might have something to do with it. The perspective is also annoying. That 'tall glass of ale on the table' looks more like a glass candleholder. As for the 'crossbow of a soldier', I'm not convinced. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

At first I was puzzled about the acronym 'O/C' in the title, but when I read the following paragraph I understood that it means 'original condition'.

Hand painted on stretched canvas this 14 3/4" by 18" painting was relined many years ago with a piece of early 20th century fiber board. I looked at this painting under a strong blacklight and it is perfect with no repairs or any in-painting. The original frame however is in poor condition and does not have to be shipped with this painting if the high bidder does not want it. In the corners are damage to the gesso and this frame has been painted gold.

The paper label almost certainly says 'Schach' something -- my guess is 'Schachspieler' -- but the rest is indeed illegible.


Later: See also Which Is the Original? (January 2017).

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