March 8, 2011

Bela Sziklay etchings

A while back I found a set of three prints in a local flea market.  One of the frames was missing the original glass, but otherwise the artwork appeared to be in good shape.  I thought they were kind of cool and recognized the setting of at least one of the prints as being Venice, so I bought them thinking I'd find a place for them somewhere in the house.

As I was working on the master bedroom redo I realized the colors and style of the prints would work there, so I went about updating them with spruced up mats and frames.  Here they are before:

I decided against reframing as that would have been a bit out of my price range!  Instead, I took the frames apart, touched up the scuffs on the wood frames with a stain pen, and used a little wood cleaner/refinishing product on them.  Then I washed and dried the glass (and had another piece of glass cut to replace the missing piece).  I was actually going to go get three new red mats cut, but then I read this post by Jenny of Little Green Notebook in which she suggested painting the mats.

I decided it wouldn't hurt to try as I was going to just toss the old faux wood grain mats anyway, so I got a 99-cent bottle of red paint at Wal-Mart and a foam brush and put several light coats of paint on the old mats.  Sure enough, it dried really flat and looks great.  I may eventually get "proper" mats cut, but these will do fine for now!

Here is the finished product:

I am really happy with the red mats since they bring out the bits of red in the coloring of the prints.

At some point in this project I decided to google the artist and see what I could learn about him/her.  After some playing around online I found out that these were a set of three signed, hand-colored etchings by the Hungarian artist Bela Sziklay, who did most of his work in Italy during the first half of the 20th century.

I like how Sziklay pictures ordinary people and scenes in his work: a table with a picture frame on it, men waiting around for someone to buy their flowers, three women chatting.

Here's the Antiques Roadshow part of the post...
I paid $15 for the set of three large (13" x 17"ish) etchings and only spent $5 on new glass and mats.  Online, most Sziklay etchings are selling for about $100-300 per piece (seriously, see HERE).  Not a bad investment!!  I think the best part though is that I really do like them and would have been happy if they were only worth $15.  It's also a good reminder that you don't have to have thousands of dollars to get nice artwork for your home.  If you are willing to shop around a little bit you can certainly find nice, original pieces that you will love so much more than if you have the exact same art on your walls as your neighbor.

One thing I'd like to get better at is purchasing artwork for our home.  We have some already, but I need to work on our collection, focusing on unique pieces that are meaningful to us. Some of my favorite art is not particularly valuable monetarily but is of great sentimental value because of where or from whom we purchased it.  See, for example, this set of three whirling dervishes I got in Istanbul that I've posted on before.

I would also like to start buying some pieces directly from the artists.  I mostly find older art that has been donated or consigned or sold at a garage sale, but I would like to start buying a few new pieces too.  Maybe I'll finally go to the local art festival next summer...

I'll leave you with one last set of before and after shots:


Jenny at LGN said...

Beautiful, Nicole!! I love the art and I love what the red frame does for the colors in the piece! Lovely!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole,
Love what you did with the mats, great idea. Here is something amazing to add..
I just came from an auction last night where I bought a big box of books that nobody cared to rummage through. After paying only $12.50 for the box, I went home to see what books I had. Well wouldn't you know, at the bottom of this big box, I fount not one or three of these signed Sziklay prnts, but a stack of 12 all colored! I can't believe how gorgeous they are! I will of course keep them and eventually frame and display them as one of my nicest surprises ever. I came online to see what they may be worth, and found your post. I'd be glad to send you a few pictures of what ones I have., or try to figure out how to post them here. Thanks for the story, you inspired me to share also.
Jay P.

Nicole @ one half world said...


What a lucky find! I can't believe you found 12 colored etchings. I would love to post a couple pictures, either in their "before" state or once you get them framed and hung. Just send me a low-res image at onehalfworld (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for sharing! Lovely story!


Unknown said...

Today I found one at my local goodwill. A bright colored venice canal scene with a bunch of gondolas $2.99!!!

Faisal Ishfaq said...

There are so many beautiful pieces of original art to be found at thrift stores, and just hunting at yard sales.
Glad you were able to show off wonderful antique art to us all.



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