Pair Marble Busts Young Victorian Women Wearing Hats

This example shows a pair of modern fantasy decorative objects. It would be incorrect to refer to these as 'sculptures' or 'art' since each piece in this listing was actually milled by machine. Carved marble busts of women seemingly dressed in the costumes of an earlier time frequently will be represented as late 19th or early 20th century pieces. They may be signed or unsigned and quality can widely vary. Because it is illegal all over the world to represent a copy of a piece of art to a buyer as an authentic piece by the original artist most manufacturers don't pretend what they are selling is old or authentic. But it is all too lucrative a proposition for some resellers buying new to not at least try to turn a huge profit on a modern item later. It is they who will often be guilty of knowingly misrepresenting as old and valuable a new marble bust or statue they purchased brand new for a nominal price.

Today sculpting in stone is being done quickly and efficiently in countries like China and India with the aid of technology. Computer-aided design software, laser scanners and automated milling equipment such as CNC (computer numerical controlled) machines can scan, copy and recreate a 3D computer model of an object in just minutes. From initial scan to finished product, multiple duplicates of a 'sculpture' can be made in any stone in only a few hours. Reproduction, fake and fantasy stone 'sculpture' is now being churned out literally by the boatload.

The two examples seen here exhibit mixed colors of white, pink and gray. This arrangement of colors is not typical of antique marble sculptures but that doesn't mean it is 'rare.' It is just intended to help this maker's items standout visually from the many thousands of similar objects being made by other makers.

Note the poor quality of carving, there is no 'life' to either of the two stone countenances seen here. Important details are either missing or they are very poorly executed. Check for craftsmanship in areas like faces, hair or clothing details. Examine such areas on these two ladies and it becomes obvious they were not crafted by a master carver of times gone by. They appear to have been treated a bit roughly after manufacture, too. There are chips to hat brims and one large area appears to have been repaired. The damages illustrated are not indicative of age, but of hasty manufacture and long-range shipment with minimal packing.

These pieces each stands approximately 12 in tall, but other sizes may be available and the same designs may also be found carved in different colored substances.

Other than firmly requiring provenance when considering purchase of a marble bust like either of the items in this listing, there are a few characteristics to look for that may help even a novice identify new fakes or fantasy carvings for what they are:

1. Look for crudely carved features, poor or sloppy detail work. It used to be that owning any type of carved marble statuary would have been prohibitively expensive and out of the pocketbook range of most ordinary people. Likewise artists could not waste a material as precious as marble by carving it badly. So always expect fine work in authentic carvings.

2. New designs that are fantasies, not direct copies of an antique statue, may have visible anachronisms or make use of faulty iconography. A young lady dressed in 'classical' Greek or Roman clothing, for instance, should not have a face like that of the 21st century girl next door.

3. The marble used should be of high quality and unless a piece has been buried for a few centuries or subjected to decades of acid rain in an open garden, an antique carved marble figure should normally be expected to have a highly polished, smoothed almost to the point of being reflective, surface. If originally made as a piece of art, lovingly crafted by the hand of an ancient artist, and not a modern knock-off on which to hang your hat or purchased to impress the mother-in-law, then even surfaces normally hidden from view will have been nicely finished.

4. Look for indications that the substance into which the piece was carved is not marble, but a marble substitute such as can be made by mixing marble dust or chips with pigments and resins. It is almost impossible to well create the 'marbled' effect for which this type of limestone is known with artificial pigments.

5. Look for areas of damage and closely examine any you find. A few rough corners may be explained away as being indicative of 'age' but in fact may provide the means to identify an item as made from a substance other than real marble.

Item ID: 2007RP000264

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies

Ruby Lane, Comparisons, CA   

Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items

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