Provenance

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Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 10:27 am

What can constitute as good provenance , the Hamada bowl on ebay at the moment is being sold by a reputable seller ( Iv'e bought from many times ), but the point is although it was sold through Bonhams and sale receipt etc from someones collection and a pic of the item in their catalogue at original sale blah , blah ,blah there isn't any provenace on this rather badly turned out bowl , seems to me if you can throw in the Bonhams name or similar then that's good enough then , which of course it isn't is it ? Shrugs
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Re: Provenance

Post by Nic on February 13th 2013, 10:58 am

Reputable auction houses can often be no better than any jack-of-all-trades dealer. The stuff they see all the time they might know very well, but will often take stabs in the dark for the less obvious items.

But, as with most things, it's about the comfort, prestige and perceived safety of brands - and auction houses people have heard of are as much brands as Harrods or Selfridges. Whether or not the services they offer are superior to something you've never heard of is entirely incidental.
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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 11:08 am

Fair points - Tesco is a brand , reputable ? maybe not now , I think if there is the slightest doubt over an item , it should at least be mentioned.
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Re: Provenance

Post by Nic on February 13th 2013, 11:25 am

In support of some of the better-known auction houses, though, they will occasionally fly in proper academic experts for writing up specialist sales.

The catalogues from these sales tend to be better than almost any reference book.
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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 11:31 am

but then we get into the realms of mild fantasy because as we know some set themselves up as experts as in the recent case on here of a person claiming to be the most knowledgeable in the land and what he says goes , not very academic imo even if probable.
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Re: Provenance

Post by dantheman on February 13th 2013, 12:24 pm

but then the whole art and collecting scene is based oon confidence

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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 12:40 pm

No it's provenance , entirely different thing imo.
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Re: Provenance

Post by NaomiM on February 13th 2013, 12:52 pm

You have to have confidence in the provenance and on your own experience. If you have limited experience then you're going to put a lot of weight on the providence and if it's good enough for Bonhams then it would be good enough for you. If you have a lot of experience, then you're more likely to doubt Bonhams if the item looks wrong.

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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 1:31 pm

Yes you have to have confidence or gut feeling whatever you want to call it , but that does'nt make it true , Bonhams , reputable that they are aren't gods , if you are trusting their guess over another guess then that's when errors occur , if not 100% certain especially with highly sought after pieces then say so .
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Re: Provenance

Post by NaomiM on February 13th 2013, 2:30 pm

I recall there was that guy who was forging letters and documents like old auction catalogues for faked paintings which were then sold in the big auction houses for big bucks even though they looked 'wrong'. Even now there are major galleries and collectors who've bought those paintings who refuse to accept they've wasted their money.

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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 3:45 pm

They probably refuse to accept they have fakes simply for finacial reasons that and not wanting to look a bit silly , but I would have more faith in them if they at times admitted they got something wrong, proof shouldn't be second guessing in anything , history is full of shite like the last dying words quoted of famous people " kiss me Hardy" bollocks , I mean who was there ? some now say it was Kismet Hardy , CHRIST! it could have been Kermit Hardy , or piss of Lardy , we get so much tripe fed into us as kids it almost becomes the gospel truth .
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Re: Provenance

Post by studio-pots on February 13th 2013, 6:27 pm

I think in the case of this bowl there is good reason for the seller to be selling it as being by Shoji Hamada.

It is clear that it is the bowl sold by Bonhams as being by Shoji Hamada and their provenance at the time says that it came from the "Professor Wilkinson" collection and the original catalogue, receipt etc are being offered with the bowl. All good for any potential buyer to have alongside the bowl.

I say this despite knowing that auction houses, even the large ones make mistakes, and not having any idea who Professor Wilkinson is/was.

All potters have made good, bad and average work during their careers and I share Ed's view of this bowl in that it is a poor example of a piece of studio pottery. So for me the provenance is irrelevant, as I wouldn't wish to own it at any price.

Once Hamada was asked why he didn't mark his work and one of the things he said was that it meant he could always say that he hadn't made it if the work was poor. I bet if he was around to ask about this bowl he would say that it wasn't is even if it really was.

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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 7:22 pm

I agree with all that John , it's the Bonhams Provenance I would question , from "the prof's collection" isn't worth a toss to me , I wouldn't bid on it anyway as it's not that good an example of anyone's work , just a bit surprised they catalogued it as such .
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Re: Provenance

Post by Potty on February 13th 2013, 7:53 pm

I agree with most you've said Ed, though I think the seller has made it quite clear that he is going by Bonham's word (Provenance) for attribution.

So reading between the lines "Bonham's say it's by Hamada, but make your own mind up!" Big Laughter

I've never bought from this seller, but he/she I believe is always very accurate / honest about maker and condition. I'd happily buy from them personally.

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Re: Provenance

Post by Celtic_Fan on February 13th 2013, 7:54 pm

At the end of the day, most 'Provenance' is based on trust. You can have a signed document saying "this item was given to my father by the artist himself". Perhaps even with proof that the father and artist knew each other. But you still have to 'trust' that the item was given by the artist.

Unless an item is signed (and sometimes not even then), it is a case of 'buyer beware'.
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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 13th 2013, 8:26 pm

Potty /CF , yes I agree with what you say and the seller is not in question at all , he is only relaying what bonhams have printed , I would have thought they would have been more thorough than from the colection of so & so , the question of provenance is a very very important one in my view especially in the kind of things we are all interested in , if I were to buy an item I liked I would obviously weigh up all the information available and take the plunge if I was satisfied in myself that all was well , there will always be doubt in an item like this one ,, he has for want of a better word become iconic to a lot of collectors and as such valuable , I personally am not that keen on his work but would happily sell it if given a chance Laughter
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Re: Provenance

Post by studio-pots on February 14th 2013, 12:25 am

big ed wrote:I agree with all that John , it's the Bonhams Provenance I would question , from "the prof's collection" isn't worth a toss to me , I wouldn't bid on it anyway as it's not that good an example of anyone's work , just a bit surprised they catalogued it as such .

I understand why you are questioning it and from my own point of view I would not sell anything based solely on what an auction house had stated. For example I bought four nice studio pots at auction the other week by a studio potter called William Murray but I will be selling them as being by William Marshall.

It is interesting to note the price that it was bought for from Bonhams and what the Ebayer seller's starting price was. I think that must tell you something.

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Re: Provenance

Post by Potty on February 14th 2013, 2:08 am

studio-pots wrote:For example I bought four nice studio pots at auction the other week by a studio potter called William Murray but I will be selling them as being by William Marshall.

They got the first name right, stop being so fussy! Big Laughter

At least they were not described as being by Keith Murray anyway Excellent

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Re: Provenance

Post by studio-pots on February 14th 2013, 7:38 am

Potty wrote:
studio-pots wrote:For example I bought four nice studio pots at auction the other week by a studio potter called William Murray but I will be selling them as being by William Marshall.

They got the first name right, stop being so fussy! Big Laughter

At least they were not described as being by Keith Murray anyway Excellent

Yes but I could have thought that the auction house had missed out "Staite" between the William and Murray and been very disappointed when I found out that he had never worked at the Leach Pottery - the pots each had the St. Ives seal as well. I was outbid on their Malcolm Pepper lot, which the winning bidder is now selling as being by Henry Hammond, which is the case. It appears that they don't always believe what an auction house says either!

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Re: Provenance

Post by Potty on February 14th 2013, 8:44 am

Big Laughter

Makes you wonder how they could get them so wrong, especially having had the St Ives seal too. Shrugs

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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 14th 2013, 9:08 am

Bill Marshall.........Nice Most Excellent
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Re: Provenance

Post by BrandX on February 14th 2013, 1:00 pm

Once a "prestigous" provenance has been assigned to an item it is not in the interest of those selling or buying to start questioning it, as it can mean loss of reputation or money (hence some of the dubious paintings to be found in gallery collections around the world mentioned earlier).

Purchasers can also be self-deluding, as they want an item by a sought after artist/potter/designer etc and sometimes the more expensive the easier it is for them to persude themselves that all is correct. I used to work in insurance claim settlement and saw this quite often. In one case a claimant had purchased a Chinese terracotta horse from a "reputable" dealer in California at a cost of over 3,000, under the inpression that it was from an appropriate era, and claimed this amount when it got smashed. Our own, equally reputable expert (!!!!!!) advised it was a modern reproduction with a value of around 250, which is what we offered in settlement. The claiment protested that it was definitely worth 3,000, as she had the purchase invoice confirming. We, of course, told her to take it up with the dealer.
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Re: Provenance

Post by dantheman on February 14th 2013, 1:09 pm

great story do you have any more please?

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Re: Provenance

Post by big ed on February 14th 2013, 2:35 pm

If any provenance is slighty dubious though, then questions will be asked eventually by someone somewhere down the line , keeping shtum wont last forever .
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Re: Provenance

Post by Potty on February 14th 2013, 3:48 pm

Regarding the insurance, surely if the owner has paid to insure it for the sum of $3000, then that is what should be paid out? Shrugs

Also in the example, if your own "equally reputable expert" disagreed, then it's 1 "experts" word against the other, so either I assume could be correct. Each seemingly with their own bias.

If you put 2 "experts" in a room you'll likely get an argument anyway Big Laughter


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Re: Provenance

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