• Carl Fabergé created many works of art for the Russian Imperial family, including his famous Easter eggs, but working for royalty did have its disadvantages. Alexandra, wife of Czar Nicholas, occasionally wanted Mr. Fabergé to create a piece of jewelry for her, so she would send a drawing to him along with a statement of how much she was willing to pay to have the artwork created. Unfortunately, she did not know much about goldsmithing, so Mr. Fabergé was often obliged to alter her drawing and her piece of jewelry. In addition, Mr. Fabergé sometimes took a loss in manufacturing one of her pieces of jewelry — no one would dare to suggest that the Czarina pay a higher price than the one she had suggested! Fortunately, Mr. Fabergé was able to make up the losses with the other work that he created for the Russian imperial family. (For example, Nicholas once gave Alexandra a diamond necklace that cost 166,500 rubles, and his parents once gave her a 267-pearl necklace that cost 171,600 rubles. Mr. Fabergé made both necklaces, and each necklace cost the equivalent of several hundred thousand dollars.)
• While growing up, country comedian Archie Campbell liked to draw, and he quickly discovered that he enjoyed creating art a whole lot better than doing heavy farm work. As a youngster, he once worked an entire day pulling hay for 75 cents. The next day, he was so sore that he couldn’t go to work and pull hay. That turned out to be a lucky break, because a neighbor lady asked him to paint a picture on her wall. Archie painted the picture in three hours, and the neighbor lady was so pleased that she gave him $3 — a lot of money in those days. Archie raced home and told his mother that he had made in three hours as an artist what he would have made in four days as a hay puller. He also said that he was going to make his living as an artist. Things didn’t quite work out that way, as Archie first became a country musician, then made it big as a country comedian, but he kept on painting — mostly as a hobby but occasionally as a source of income.
• One would expect that the owner of an art gallery would be very aware of how much money a customer has available to spend on art, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Before World War II, Lucy Carrington Wertheimer ran an art gallery that concentrated on the work of then-modern artists. One day, a well-dressed woman expressed interest in a work of art by L.D. Rust — a drawing of a horse, which she wanted for her little son’s room. Ms. Wertheim named the price, but the well-dressed woman returned the drawing to the portfolio. Because Ms. Wertheim thought that the price had been too high for the woman, she reduced it, and the well-dressed woman bought the drawing. Ms. Wertheim then discovered that the well-dressed woman was Barbara Hutton, Countess Reventlow, who at the time was the richest woman in the world.
• Edna Hibel showed much talent early in her career, and of course people wanted to buy her paintings early in her career, causing a kind of crisis because she did not want to sell them. However, she talked to her art teacher, Professor Karl Zerbe, who gave her good advice. He told her that if she thought she could paint a better painting, then she ought to sell a painting she had already created, but if she thought she could not create a better painting, then she ought to hold on to the painting she thought was best. Of course, Ms. Hibel always thought she could create a better painting, so she began to sell her paintings. She says, “I hope I can always do better! Letting go of what I consider my best work is much easier when I remember Karl Zerbe’s remarks.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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