Q: Can you tell me anything about this painting of a woman? It is 23-by-19 inches, and is on a very heavy corkwood surface. She is wearing a necklace with what looks like a family crest on it. The painting is not signed.
I would appreciate any information you can provide on who she is, who the artist was and when it was painted.
A: Your have a reproduction of a portrait of Jane Seymour by the Renaissance artist Hans Holbein. The original painting is oil on a wood panel that was painted in 1537. It hangs in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Seymour was the third wife of King of England Henry the VIII. The letters are Greek and say, "IHS," which signifies the name of Jesus. Holbein painted portraits of the king of England and his court. He was born in Germany and his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, was his teacher.
There are many reproductions of this portrait, but most are not valuable. Yours was made in the 20th century and would probably have a value of $25 to $50.
Q: I have enclosed the mark that is on the back of a metal ashtray that was given to me. The ashtray is decorated with ornate gold and turquoise hand-painted medallions. It is round and has a partial lid.
What can you tell me about the maker, age and value of my ashtray?
A: Your "Sascha B"-signed ashtray was designed by the multitalented artist and designer, Sascha Brastoff. He opened his studio in West Los Angeles in 1953. Objects that were signed "Sascha B" were decorated by staff artists. Those signed "Sascha Brastoff" were personally crafted by him and are more desired by collectors, therefore commanding higher prices.
As a young man, Brastoff was encouraged by his immigrant parents to pursue a career in art. He studied at the Case Western Reserve School of Art in Cleveland. He was also a dancer, sculptor, jewelry designer and Hollywood costume designer. His LA studio produced earthenware, decorative enameled metal pieces and fine china. When he retired in 1963, Gerald Schwartz took over the supervision of the business until 1973. The letter "H" is a model number, and the letter "R" in a circle signifies a registered trademark.
Your enameled metal ashtray is circa 1963 and would probably fetch $25 to $50 in an antiques shop.