20 August 2017

Rococo Chess

I can't remember another auction on Top eBay Chess Items by Price which was not primarily in English, so this might be a first. The item pictured below was titled 'AUGUST STEPHAN (*1868 Wien) Rokoko Schachspiel. Orig. antik Ölgemälde AP:-22000€', which Google translates to 'AUGUST STEPHAN (*1868 Wien) Rococo chess game. Orig. antique oil painting AP: -22000 €'. The word 'Wien' would better be translated as 'Vienna', but I have no idea what 'AP' means in German.

The painting was listed 'Sold for: EUR 2,750.00 (Approximately US $3,231.39)', although the index entry had a bar through that price. It was placed after an item listed at $2399 and before an item at $2000. I've never understood why eBay is so coy about the actual selling price, and probably never will understand.

For the rest of this post, I'll dispense with the original German and will give only the English translation with a few corrections of my own. The description started,

Galante dinner party ['Tischgesellschaft'] at chess in the rococo parlor. 19th Century, signed A. STEPHAN (August Stephan, very well-listed Viennese history painter * 1868 Königsstetten - 1936 Vienna). Perfectly preserved historical painting approx. 1890. Artprice up to 22000,- €.

Now I know that 'AP' means 'Artprice', which must mean Artprice.com. Wikipedia informs, 'Artprice is a French online art price database created in 1987 by its now CEO'. The mention of 22000 Euro must be the highest price recorded for the artist. The description continued,

The dimensions are: With frame approx. 75 x 60cm, Picture size approx. 47 x 32cm. Technique: Oil on painting cardboard ['Malkarton'], exceptional frame.

Very well preserved antique painting: rococo parlor with gallant society at the chess game. Origin: Berlin private collection. Conclusion: A very well painted historical oil painting in rare condition of good condition and of high quality. Viennese painter with best auction results. Surely a worthwhile investment.

State: The painting is antique, but in very good condition as seen on the original photos. Strong colors and good varnish. No flaws recognized. Overall impression: Apparently perfect.

How much of the selling price was for the frame?

The richly decorated stucco frame is very handsome, only minimally bumped, partly restored. It is to be regarded as free admission ['Gratiszugabe'], not part of the auction and evaluation - FREE. Value of the frame alone approx. 200-250 Euro (incl. VAT).

If your knowledge of art movements is as shaky as mine, Wikipedia's Rococo says,

Rococo, less commonly roccoco, or "Late Baroque", is an early to late 18th-century French artistic movement and style, affecting many aspects of the arts including painting, sculpture, architecture, interior design, decoration, literature, music, and theatre. It developed in the early 18th century in Paris, France as a reaction against the grandeur, symmetry, and strict regulations of the previous Baroque style, especially of the Palace of Versailles, until it was redone.

In the past I've used Tableaux ayant pour sujet les échecs ('Paintings with chess as a subject') as a reference, but the underlying domain jmrw.com has disappeared. Fortunately for fans of chess art, it lives on in archive.org.

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