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S. I have a set of corbels I hope you can tell me about. One…

Hi Robert S. I have...
Hi Robert S. I have a set of corbels I hope you can tell me about. One is a dragon slayer, the other an eagle. They measure 14" x 16" x 2.75" and weigh 17 pounds. Thank you for your help.
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Answered in 2 hours by:
10/17/2017
Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 6,622
Experience: Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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Hi Joe,

I'd be glad to help with these very decorative architectural pieces.

Am I right in saying these are made of some sort of molded resin? They don't seem to look quite like either carved stone or wood or gesso (plaster of Paris).

Robert

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Customer reply replied 11 months ago
What I see with the chips that are present, looks like plaster to me. Chips are white and very fine grain when scraped.

Okay, thanks for that, now that I look at them again, I can see a couple of white spots that indicates what these are inside, in other words alabaster.

Alabaster can be used two ways for sculptural work. Either by traditional carving from a solid piece, as one would with marble, though alabaster is a lot softer and easier to work. Or by casting using a cement of alabaster sand or alabaster powder which latter, I believe yours are made from. It also accounts for them being so heavy. Cast alabaster can be heavier than marble.

One is St George slaying the Dragon and the figure of the of the sacrificial Princess that legend has it he saved. The other is a heraldic eagle with "wings addorsed" and "inverted" in the parlance of heraldry that has a language all of its own based on Middle English and Norman French. "Addorsed" means wings raised but facing backwards, "inverted" means with wing tips pointing down.

That gives a slight clue as to their origins as these are commonly found architectural ornaments of medieval English and French church interiors as well as those of the grander secular buildings such as castles and palaces. I don't think they are as old as medieval, but they are certainly no newer than Victorian when the practice of casting and molding alabaster was at its peak of popularity.

These are very decorative. Since the figural work is mounted on the same architectural bracket molding, they were clearly part of the same interior, or feature within that interior, and so should be kept together as a complimentary pair. It's unlikely they were true corbels because the figural work would end up being upside-down, more like brackets at the foot of a column or arcade wall.

I would give them an auction value in the range of $500 - $800 for the pair. Full retail/replacement/insurance value: $1500.

Hope this does the trick!

Have a great evening,
Robert.

Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 6,622
Experience: Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
Verified
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