Thinking of selling your unwanted stuff at a flea market?
Do your homework first – and DON’T GIVE UP until you have all of the answers. When it comes to antiques and collectibles, persistence does pay off.
For years, I’ve wondered who drew this unsigned portrait, and who the subject was. It was given to me by my great Aunt Nan, whose 18th Century home was filled with antiques. My brother had a similar drawing, which he passed on to me. His, however, had a notation on the back that read “Signed RRB 1939 Silk.” Finally, a clue!
But it didn’t help much at first.
It isn’t my kind of art, but I didn’t want to sell the drawings until I did more homework. A designer friend said it resembled the work of Käthe Kollwitz, and while the mood and era were similar, no cigar. I searched endless lists of artists, looking for “RRB.” I hounded artist friends. I scoured art books. Finally, I assumed that it was the worthless drawing by some long-forgotten art student, and decided to sell it on Etsy for $25 or $30.
You know what they say about assuming!
Something told me to try one more time. I Googled “artist initials RRB” and found a site – Find Art Info — that let me search by monogram.
“RRB” brought up a list of similar names – and there was my drawing!
He also drew the famous European Expressionist dancer Mary Wigman — I think she’s the woman in the other drawing.
I still have no idea what the drawings are worth, and I can’t imagine they’d bring in much. But if nothing else, thanks to persistent effort I’ve finally met Emmy, Mary and Reinhold. The drawings now have a story – and meaning. They’ll probably live with us for a while longer.
After the Cabaret
I see the early morning sun
At five a.m. I homeward stroll
The lights still burn in my hotel
The cabaret is finally done
In shadows children hunker down
The farmers bring their goods to town
You go to church, silent and old
grave sound of church-bells in the air,
and then a girl with untamed hair
wanders up all blear and cold:
“Love me, free of every sin.
Look, I’ve kept watch many nights.”
-Emmy Hennings, translation from German