Landscapes have long been among the most common subjects for artists. Some are brought back as souvenirs of a vacation or trip or by immigrants as a reminder of a beloved homeland. Years later, some of those works of art end up later in family homes, others in antique shops.

Rudy Menchl thinks the landscape he recently brought in to an appraisal with Brian Thomczek at the Michigan Design Center was brought to the United States by his father’s parents and originally came from the Czech Republic.

“Yes, I definitely think this is a European work, not American,” Thomczek confirmed as he looked at the painting more closely. “My guess is it could be German or somewhere around there based on the style, which would correspond with the history you’ve been given,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is no signature, which makes it harder to track down and authenticate with any certainty.”

The exact location it depicts is also hard to identify, he said. “I’m not sure exactly where this is, but it’s a nice European mountain scene, and there would be a market for it at auction or in an antique shop if you were to sell it.”

Thomczek said that the piece was a bit dirty and “it could stand a good cleaning,” he added, saying that years of smoke, dust and direct sunlight can discolor a work of art. “If you took it in for cleaning, you’d be surprised at the difference it would make. The colors would really pop and stand out afterward.”

He said there are many places in Metro Detroit that would do a good job if he decided to invest in its future. “It’s in good shape, there’s no cracked areas on the surface and no holes, which can really hurt the long-term value unless they are taken care of. He said the frame is also in good shape, and typical of the quality frames that were used on these types of European works at the time this was made, which he estimated to be around the turn of the century/early 20th century. “It’s a nice frame, which definitely adds value,” the appraiser told Menchl. “Sometimes the frames that come back with these works from Europe are worth more than the painting inside them.” He valued the landscape at $500 retail if he were to sell it in an antique shop. It would bring less at auction, which is a wholesale value.

Menchl also brought in a pair of white porcelain vases that he thinks were brought to the United States by another family member and could be traced by to Germany.

Thomczek said they are examples of German porcelain, but also found it difficult to give him more information because the pair lacked a manufacturer’s mark. “They can sometimes be found in strange places, but I really can’t find anything on these,” he said as he examined them. He valued them at $150-$250 for the pair.

Menchl says he will share the information with his siblings and decide what to do with the pieces afterward. They may ultimately stay in the family. “We have six kids in the family and everyone will get something,” he predicted.

Shopping time at Eastern Market: Now in its second year, Shed 5 Flea at Eastern Market promises to be “bigger and better with more vendors, more good junk and more food,” promises President Stephanie Jones. This Sunday is the kick off (hours are 10-4); other dates include July 9 and Aug. 13.

About this item

Item: Landscape and porcelain

Owned by: Rudy Menchl

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value: approximately $500 and $150-$250

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