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Antiques: Women artists are better-recognized today

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Q  My husband and I recently inherited three paintings by Ada Torrance, who studied with the Group of Seven. I would love to know the value of this one, with the rock face and lake.  It measures 38 by 50 cm (15 x 19.5 inches). Thanks.

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A  Ada Mildred (née Bruce) Torrance (1903-1982) was taught by members of The Group of Seven and the influence is apparent in this colourful painting. She was known for landscapes of Ontario and Quebec and the Orillia Museum of Art and History houses much material about the artist, including paintings, watercolours, quilt and costume designs and much more. Sales records of her works are scarce but there has been more growth in the interest of women artists over the last 20 years, proven with book publications such as ‘The Women of Beaver Hall’ by Evelyn Walters (2005) and ‘Independent Spirit’ by A.K. Prakash (2008). This vibrant work will be a good investment for anyone breaking into the world of art collecting at $350.

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Lalique blue bowl.
Lalique blue bowl. Photo by Supplied

Q  This beautiful rich blue bowl always caught my eye as a child at my aunt’s home, and she eventually gave it to me. All the pronounced relief decoration is on the back side, that includes koi fish and aquatic plants. I put a small chip on the edge one time while using it. It is very heavy and has a diameter just over 38 cm (15 inches). The shallow bowl section is a bit deeper than 5 cm (2 inches).  There’s also information moulded on the lower side – R. Lalique, France in capital letters. Can you tell me about it?

Mona, North York, Ont.

 Your stunning electric-blue bowl is a genuine work by renowned Art Nouveau-era French jeweller and glassmaker Rene Lalique. This bowl, in the “Anvers” pattern, is called a coupe – meaning a broad-rimmed shallow bowl.  It was introduced in 1930 and is quite rare.  In perfect condition, this bowl has sold for $10,000, but prices have come down to perhaps two-thirds of that figure today. It’s hard to say how much that chip will affect its value but with rarities like this, collectors don’t often have the luxury of waiting for another example.  Conservatively, I would estimate its value at $3,000.

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Globe on stand.
Globe on stand. Photo by Supplied

Q  This is one of two globes that belonged to my great uncle, a very successful entrepreneur who bought them in England. The one pictured is marked “Cary’s New Celestial Globe Made & Sold by J. & W. Cary, London, 1816.” They measure 117 cm high and 61 cm wide (46 x 24 inches). There is some wear but they are in very good condition overall. We are curious about value, but they will stay in the family.                                                                                     

Lillian, Mississauga, Ont.

 Your set of globes is truly remarkable and very rare. London, England was the centre of globe manufacture in the early 1800s, and Cary was one of the great makers. At this time, production of these hollow plaster spheres, with printed paper laid down, was very costly. The terrestrial globe was constantly upgraded to be contemporary with the latest geographical, natural and political changes and discoveries. These large globes would have graced the library of only a very wealthy few, and for them to have survived in this condition is wonderful.  They are missing only the leg stretchers that would house a central compass. Still, this historically valuable pair is worth $40,000 – complete sets have sold for up to $100,000.

John Sewell is an antiques and fine art appraiser. To submit an item to his column, go to the ‘Contact John’ page at Please measure your piece, say when and how you got it, what you paid and list any identifying marks. A high-resolution jpeg photo must also be included. (Only email submissions accepted.)

* Appraisal values are estimates only.*

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