Dear Helaine and Joe: I think this lamp was purchased in the 1960s from a fine furniture store in Texas. It weighs 34 pounds and is 47 inches tall from base to top of shade. There is a card on the bottom that reads, "TL-1005 Moreau Innocents An Authentic Reproduction of an Original French Bronze by Moreau c. 1825." Any information would be appreciated.Thank you, K.G., Orem, Utah
Dear K.G.: There is very little question that this lamp is from the 1960s. It appears to be all original and in very good condition right down to the nicely fluted shade with its gold floral embellishment.
However, this is the simple part because the tag on the bottom opens up a proverbial can of worms. During the 19th century, there were a lot of French artists with the last name "Moreau," but we feel that this notation refers to the family of Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who had three sons Hippolyte, Mathurin and Auguste.
These three siblings were all sculptors, and to some degree, worked in vaguely similar styles. This can be really confusing to some collectors especially if a piece in question is signed without a first initial.
After doing a bit of research, we feel that the piece belonging to K.G. is based on the work of Auguste Moreau, who was born in Dijon in 1834 and died in Milesherbes in 1917. With these dates, the circa 1825 notation on the tag is an impossibility, and it should also be noted that this piece is more in the style of the late 19th century than of the earlier part of that century.
Auguste is said to have studied under his father and his brother, Mathurin, as well as Jean-Francois Millet, and Auguste Drumont. Auguste first exhibited his work at the Salon in 1861 and continued to do so until 1913 (one source said 1910). It is reported that his work is represented in French Museums in the cities of Bordeaux and Troyes, and his sculptures are being widely reproduced (mainly in bronze) to this day.
According to the tag on the base of the lamp, this particular piece of sculpture should be titled "Innocents" or "The Innocents," but research reveals that this is not the title that this piece is most often given when it is offered for sale.
Actually, this design, which shows a boy whispering into a girl's ear, is given a variety of names including "A Confidence," "The Secret," "Whispering Children" or "Whisperings of Love."
It must be understood that the vast majority of all bronze pieces signed "Moreau" or "A. Moreau" are after-casts or just out-and-out reproductions. One piece in particular that depicts a girl in a swing was so widely faked in years past that there was a time when we saw one in almost every general line antiques mall we visited.
There is some question left in our mind as to what kind of material was used to make the figure group found on K.G.'s lamp. We are reasonably sure that it is not bronze, but it could be ceramic or some sort of pot metal or "spelter" (a form of zinc). Since this piece weighs 34 pounds we think that gilded and patinated pot metal is probably the material used but without seeing it, being sure is impossible.As for the insurance replacement value of this piece, it is less than 50 years old but it is attractive. Unfortunately, it is a single lamp (lamps are most valuable as pairs) so this "after Auguste Moreau" item should be valued in the $250 to $300 range.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of the "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, 5201 Kingston Pike, Suite 6 - 323, Knoxville, TN. 37919.