Sunday, June 6, 2010

1850's Lithograph of boy in a dress I got for $26.00

Portrait of a boy

I woke up Friday morning around 5am to go to a Mobile, AL antiques estate sale at 8pm. Friday is always regular price day at estate sales so I just go to look and see if there is anything I want on Sunday when the prices are 60% off. I ended up buying a Napoleon lll 1860's Old Paris porcelain vase & a very well done early 19th century oil genre painting of a man playing a violin at regular price. I did not want to chance out on theses two pieces disappearing before Sunday discount day plus the price was right for them.

Old Paris porcelain vase I bought

Oil Painting I bought

There was a few pieces that I would come back for on Sunday. One half of a 1820's Baltimore made Mahogany banquet table that once belong to a good friend that has passed. A 1840's cut glass grape etched decanter. Some 18th century style Louis XVI wall brackets, and my favorite a large mid 19th century hand colored Lithograph of a boy in blue dress sitting on a pillow with drum by hissid in it's original Black walnut and gold leaf liner frame.

The hand colored Lithograph reminded me of the work of American Lilly Martin Spencer, one of the most popular and widely reproduced American female genre painters in the mid-nineteenth century. She painted domestic scenes, women and children in a warm happy atmosphere. The colors of the Lithograph would go well in my blue, gold and Burgundy parlor furnished with 1850's American Rococo Revival rosewood seating furniture accented with Federal & Empire tables.

Something told me I should buy this lovely painting Friday at the regular price of $65.00 but I wanted to take that chance to see of I could get it for 60% off the already low price on Sunday morning. After thinking about the painting all Friday night I thought I should get it the next day @ 30% off. I had to go out of town the next day to pick up some French chairs and would go after. But the chairs tuck too long to puck up as I was in traffic for over a hour coming back due to a accident. I did talk to my cousin that went and the painting of the boy was still there.

Up and early Sunday morning I and a friend was about 15th in line waiting for the doors to open at 10. Standing in line I thought some of theses people are here for my boy, I have to be fast and try not to run over any old people. As the doors open I was the first person to run up to him and grab him off the wall. I was very happy as I got everything I had come for. As I was buying the lithograph I was told by the seller that it came from an Old Mobile estate, even better as I try to furnished my place with local made Antiques or pieces that have been in local collections for a long time like this piece.

I could not wait to get my new found treasure home so I could clean the years of yellow nicotine off of the glass and wax the black walnut frame. After I hung it on my parlor wall. I lit a candle and held it up to the lithograph and found the faint signature "Lafosse" on the velvet tasseled pillow the boy was sitting on. Confirming the lithograph was after Lilly Martin Spencer! Lafosse located in Paris, France Published Lilly's painting into stone lithographs that were latter hand colored and sold to the American public. I was excited to find this signature as I have own her lithograph's of children in the past with the same mark. At a Baltimore auction I bought a 1850's frame with a 1873 Masonic engraving mostly for the frame for $25.00. I When I tuck the Masonic engraving out under it was a 1850's French hand colored Lithograph by the Paris firm Lafosse of a girl playing a flute after a painting from a American female artist Lilly Martin Spencer. Someone had covered over this beautiful work of art over 100 years ago. Now it will be hung in my parlor along with the other Spencer of the boy.

                                       Another Lilly Martin Spencer I own of a girl playing a flute

The subject of a boy in a dress is a rare find today in portraiture although at the time this piece was made, boys under the age of 10 was common sight to have dresses on during the Victorian area. There was lot's of reasons young boys were dresses during this period such as dresses were easer to make then britches. But I like to think this was a way for a mother to have a girl of she had a boy until he was a certain age. There are portraits of boys from this period with ringlet curled hair in girls styles of the period . Some of theses portraits are very hard to tell of they are male. We know some of them are males because the portraits are documented and theses fashionably dressed boys latter became governors of states and other famous people. At the end of the day I AM very happy with my great find that I bought for less then the cost of tax, of the value price that this piece is worth and I was lucky that he waited for me to pick him up early Sunday morning to take him back to a surrounding that he would have been familiar with and a price that he probably original cost 160 years ago.


  1. Andrew, I loved your post today. I've read it a dozen times. Estate sales are a real paradise for treasure hunting. My cousin went to two in B'ham on Saturday. His weakness is sets of china. You lithograph is a real gem, especially since it's in the walnut frame. I'm glad you like portraits and thank you for the complement on my Mr. Taliaferro's Mobile portrait. I think I paid too much for him but he's back in Alabama now. I didn't know about Mobile portrait painters so thank you for the lead, and the info on the possible frame maker, too. You know your stuff. Marshel

  2. Hi Marshel Thanks for your kind comments about my blog. I was very happy to discover your blog as it seams there are very few people interested in Alabama Antebellum life style, antiques and furniture. Keep up the good work.