Treasure: Czech cathedral artist remains a mystery
“It has taken me all morning to figure this one out and I’m still not sure about what I’ve found,” DuMouchelle appraiser Jim Flannery told Diane Russell at a recent downtown Trash or Treasure appraisal held at the landmark gallery and auction house.
Russell’s questions revolved around an item she bought at a resale/consignment shop in Ann Arbor. The subject matter? A “Cathedral in Prague,” per the name of the work listed on the piece.
Definitively identifying the artist, the appraiser said, was a major part of the piece’s challenge. “The name appears to be Iaro Prochazka, but there are two artists with this last name, one whose first name starts with an I and another who starts with a J. And from what I have seen, their signatures are almost interchangeable, so it may be the same person,” he continued.
The 18-by-24 oil on canvas shows a market scene and a cathedral, probably the well-known and beautiful Tyn Cathedral in Prague, the appraiser said.
The informative website pragueexperience.com, had more detail about the church and its history. “Tyn Church, or The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, dominates one side of the Old Town Square. The twin towers of this powerful looking Gothic church (with a Baroque interior) can be seen from all over Prague. Although the origins of Tyn Church (Týnský chrám) date back much further, the present high-Gothic structure was founded in 1385 as the main Old Town church…Legend has it that the Tyn Church towers gave Walt Disney the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle. True or not, the church is an awe-inspiring sight during the day, and even more so at night, brightly lit up against a night dark sky. The organ at Tyn Church dates from 1673 and is the oldest in Prague.”
Russell remembers paying $130 for the image and that it was marked down after being there for more than a year. That was a good price for something he’d value at $500-$800 because of the quality, Flannery said. He cited three oils by the same artist that sold at auction in Prague for $800 to $1400 in 2017 as support of his estimate.
Flannery recommended she spend the money to deal with the needed conservation if she wants to keep it. “There are holes and it definitely needs some attention and cleaning,” he told her. “It would cost you to conserve it, but you and future generations would enjoy it more. If you had the work done this would really pop.”
Russell says she probably is going to keep it. “I really just wanted to know more about it,” she says.
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About this item
Item: oil on canvas
Owned by: Diane Russell
Estimated value: $500-$800
Appraised by: Jim Flannery, DuMouchelles