During Antiques Roadshow’s tour of Chicago in 2014, one attendee got some sensational news as he learned that one of his favourite paintings from his parents’ collection had increased in value thirty-fold since they bought it.
He brought in a sombre surrealist painting by the late artist Leonora Carrington, who had died just three years before which increased the value of her artworks.
Speaking to expert Alan Fausel of the American Kennel Club, the man admitted he didn’t know much about the meaning behind the painting or the artist herself aside from the fact that she moved from Europe to Mexico after the Second World War.
However, he was left wide-eyed when Alan revealed that the obscure piece his parents had bought for, at most, $10,000 around the same time it had been painted was now worth up to $300,000.
The expert explained that while that was all true, there was so much more to the painting that viewers could understand at first glance.
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Undoubtedly the most famous surrealist is Salvador Dali, who brought the art style into popularity with his otherworldly imaginings, but Alan highlighted that surrealists also tended to look at their “dreams and nightmares” for inspiration.
He noted that a nightmare is likely what influenced the specific artwork the guest had brought in, with its fiendish creatures and dark colour palette.
Alan pointed out the “large wolf-like figure with multiple arms and legs” that seemed to be the main subject of the painting in the center, surrounded by bushes which he pointed out also housed some hidden “wolf-like faces” and “looming” bat-like creatures.
Knowing some history of the artist greatly assisted in understanding the meaning behind the “macabre” piece as the expert explained: “After the war, she suffered a nervous breakdown.
“These pieces are very personal, I think part of them is her coming to grips with the nightmares and the imagery in her life.
“Overall she had a fairly normal life but she was haunted by these visions.”
The PBS show guest revealed that his parents were avid art collectors but this had been the only piece he’d “really adored” and roughly 40 years ago when they opted to downsize their home, they gave the macabre piece to their son.
He recalled his parents going down to Mexico to buy it, adding: “They said they paid somewhere around 7,000-$10,000. Which was a big price to pay for a painting, I’m sure my father had to think twice when he did it.”
When Alan gave the “fabulous example” of Leonora’s art an auction estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, the guest was dumbfounded and simply uttered: “They bought well,” with a chuckle.