While not an Alberto, Diego or Bruno, this table is in a ‘Giacometti style’

Works by the Giacometti brothers are both valuable and influential. Other artists’ work is often said to be in their style.

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2024 1:30am
  • Life
The Giacometti brothers of Switzerland made some of the most important, and most expensive, sculptures of the 20th century. A Giacometti-style table reflects their work at a much lower price.

The Giacometti brothers of Switzerland made some of the most important, and most expensive, sculptures of the 20th century. A Giacometti-style table reflects their work at a much lower price.

Talent ran in the Giacometti family. Giovanni Giacometti, born in Switzerland in 1868, was a painter who studied in Paris and was influenced by Impressionism. He returned to Switzerland and married Annetta Stampa, with whom he had four children. They encouraged their sons, Alberto, Diego and Bruno, in artistic pursuits.

Alberto trained in painting, drawing and printmaking, but he is best known as a sculptor, famous for his tall, thin figures. In 2010, one of his bronze sculptures sold at Sotheby’s in London for over $10 million, setting a record at the time for the most expensive work of art sold at auction.

Diego was also a sculptor and often collaborated with or modeled for Alberto. His own sculptures usually feature animals and similar nature motifs; one of his most famous pieces is a bronze sculpture of an ostrich that incorporates a real ostrich egg. Bruno took his talents in a different direction and became an architect. His creations include the Swiss pavilion for the Venice Biennale exhibition in 1952 and many public buildings, schools and museums around Switzerland.

So when an item is described as “Giacometti style,” like this table that sold at Bunch Auctions for $281, it may not be clear which Giacometti that implies. This table’s cast-metal material, thin lines and abstract organic shapes recall the sculptures made by Alberto and Diego. The presence of branches with visible leaves, complete with birds perching on top, indicates Diego. But remember that it is “Giacometti style;” that is, inspired by the sculptor’s work, not made by him. If it were, it would likely command a much higher price.

Q: I see an online school advertised that’s located in Florida to get certified as an antique collector and was wondering if this would be a good way to understand and identify antiques as a beginner. I watch “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars” and it seems like they have broad knowledge of items and current pricing trends. I realize that the shows are staged but I am trying to better understand this retail field. Buying online can be a gambler’s auction in which some dishonest sellers use friends to enter and raise the bid amount, so I know it’s not the best way to collect items. When I was a kid, garage sales, antique stores and flea markets abound. They were a great way to talk to sellers and get knowledge. The internet has wiped out a lot of those venues.

A: There are some excellent courses available if you want to become an appraiser, like the Asheford Institute of Antiques, but you don’t need certification to be a collector. You’re right that the best way to learn about antiques is to visit sales and talk to sellers; and you’re also right that there are fewer opportunities to do so in the age of the internet. However, there are also some good online resources. Pick an area or a type of collectible that interests you (say, advertising antiques, tin toys, art pottery, vintage posters, political memorabilia) and look up collectors’ clubs. Many of them have online resources and virtual meetings. Check the Kovels and Antique Trader directories for clubs and businesses in your area. Look into the Kovels online subscriptions for access to more material — we recommend Kovels Knowledge membership for general learning about antiques. Read about professional auctions on sites like LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable and Bidsquare. Look for publications and price guides at your local library. And above all, collect what you love!

Q: I have a collection of Willow Angels, Precious Moments and Cherished Teddy figures in the original boxes. I have tried several antique stores in my area and am finding that there isn’t much interest in these items anymore. Before I donate to a thrift store, could you tell me if this is the case? I would like to sell the entire lot instead of individual pieces.

A: You are right. Contemporary collectible figurines like Precious Moments, Cherished Teddies and Willow Angels have little value. These figures are relatively recent, mass-produced and sold as collector’s items, so the market gets flooded. Occasionally, a single very rare or very early figurine might sell for a high price, but general interest is low. Donating them is probably the best option.

TIP: Use protector pads on the bottom of furniture feet. Replace them periodically when they become dirty or very flat.

On the block

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Fenton, opalescent swirl glass, vase, jack-in-the-pulpit, spiral ridged neck, 19th century, 8½ inches, pair, $60.

Inkstand, Gravitating, brass, cylindrical bottle, front spout, adjustable, pen, Perry, England, Victorian, $95.

Toy, acrobat, bisque head, wood body, gauze dress, wood platform, holds wire, tumbles, 7 by 4 inches, $125.

Porcelain, seder plate, six wells around center, opalescent, allover gilt surface, Hebrew lettering, marked, crown over TK, Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia, circa 1900, 9½ inches, $155.

Teddy bear, Schuco, music box, mohair, glass eyes, stitched nose, purple ribbon, key in belly, head and tail swivel, wind-up, 15 inches, $180.

Tiffany glass, bowl, gold iridescent, ruffled rim, ribbed, Favrile, L.C. Tiffany, 5 inches, $220.

Furniture, desk, oak, slant front over three drawers, leaded glass window, bookcase side, curved front, four shelves, glass door, side columns, upper shelf, mirror back, scrolled feet, 66½ by 43 inches, $310.

Silver-Portuguese, cup, kiddush, baluster shape, engraved, crown over shield, Hebrew lettering, pedestal foot, ribbed stem, raised grapevines, gold wash interior, hallmarks, 20th century, 12 inches, $640.

Quilt, patchwork, Log Cabin, red block centers, concentric diamonds, dark brown and cream, flowered and geometric fabrics, dated, 1876, 72 by 72½ inches, $745.

Lampshade, globular, 12 abalone shells, brass mounts, leaves and flowers, Victorian, 9 by 8 inches, $1,475.

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