Will I be defacing an antique if I paint this?

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Will I be defacing an antique if I paint this?

Post by ileney » Sep 10, 2016 10:13 am

HELP! This is the very large Mrs. Fu the Guardian Lion and her baby. I would like to paint and her baby red or at least seal them with polyurethane and put them on my fireplace hearth, but I won't do that if doing so will be defacing a cultural icon or damaging the value of an antique. I need HELP because I know very little about Mrs. Fu. Mrs. Fu (and her baby, which is attached to her by pegs,) is carved of some kind of wood. She is about 18" long, 16.5" high and 8 inches wide. Her baby is about 9" long. I would guess that at some point there was a Mr. Fu who held a ball, but I never met him. I would also guess that Mrs. Fu and her baby were painted, but there are no signs of that now. I think she is older because I notice that newer Fu pairs typically have two Fus holding balls and that the older Fu pairs had one Fu with a baby or babies and one with a ball, so male and female, I guess. So my questions are 1) is it OK to paint Mrs. Fu and her baby? 2) Where are Mrs. Fu and her baby from? 3) what, if any, was their original purpose 4) how old are they 5) what kind of wood are they carved from 6) are they valuable, and if so, any estimates 7) again, is it OK to paint Mrs. Fu? Thank you for any information you can provide. PS I bought Mrs. Fu about 12 years ago, I think. She was an impulse buy because she is pretty.
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Re: Will I be defacing an antique if I paint this?

Post by Gary » Sep 11, 2016 3:36 pm

That is a nice guardian lioness - very unique, as I have not seen one in that style/pose before. Too bad you don't have the complete set.

If you told me that you bought this 20+ years ago, I would say the likelihood of it being a real antique was higher. Around the year 2000, they kind of started to run out of antiques and started to make mass reproductions of antiques (even leaving them outdoors for years or accelerating the development of an antique patina). The reproductions are so good that they fool the experts all the time. Awkwardly, the reproductions have driven down the price of the real ones in some categories. The logic is something like this: If you can't tell the real from the fakes, the real ones lose value. So unfair.

I am in no way an expert, nor an appraiser. I meant to go get my certification at the British Museum years ago, but never could find the two years away from home and massive tuition to do a post-graduate certificate in Asian art (dealing mostly with appraisal and conservation). Therefore, do not take the following as professional advice...

My gut instinct says, this is a reproduction. Therefore applying a concrete/stone sealer is a good idea if you plan to leave it outside. I have never seen a guardian lion painted with a colorful scheme, but I don't think anyone will think it's taboo.


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