The smart collector: Bullfighter wasn't much of an artist

2012-12-30T00:00:00Z The smart collector: Bullfighter wasn't much of an artistDanielle Arnet The Smart Collector Arizona Daily Star
December 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Q: I have seven paintings by John Fulton, also a collection of 8-by-10 pictures signed by him. All are about bullfighting. What are his paintings worth?

A: Born in Philadelphia as Fulton John Schoccitti in 1932, the artist was the first American to qualify as a matador in Spain, becoming a full matador in 1963. By then, he had rearranged his name.

Fulton was a celebrity artist long before our current crop of media-savvy painters came along. He never achieved serious recognition as a mainstream artist.

Bios tell that as a child he saw Rita Hayworth and Tyrone Power in "Blood and Sand," the story of a doomed matador. As a young adult, Fulton accomplished a year of study at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and learned flamenco dancing. The dance teacher had a friend who was a bullfighter, and in short order Fulton had a scholarship to art school in Mexico. There he learned bullfighting. His bullfighting career was a wash, and he never hit the majors with top bulls in good arenas.

To pay bills, he sold his art. Fulton later made his home in Seville, where he died in 1998. Fans of his lifestyle and art maintain the site www.johnfultonmatador.com in his honor.

Fulton created a variety of art but became a media sensation through paintings created with the blood of bulls.

His artwork is shunned by major auctions, but in 2011 a "Blood of Bulls" framed artwork sold on eBay for $305. How his works will weather future markets remains to be seen.

I'm seriously questioning if the reader's seven paintings are originals. Could they be prints or photocopies? I'm also wondering if the signed photos are facsimiles and/or publicity handouts with faked signatures.

We found a number of Fulton photos on the site. Our reader should check there to see if they match hers. If so, that's a major hint. Value goes only to original paintings and authentically signed photos. Bottom line, all materials must be seen and evaluated.

Q: I found this coffee set at a market a few years ago. It's marked M Z Altrohlau CM-R Czechoslovakia. The pattern looks art deco, and the set is in perfect condition. I looked online, but I couldn't find anything similar from Altrohlau. Any info on the pattern?

A: One in a cluster of factories in what is now the Czech Republic, the Moritz Zdekauer Altrohlau Porcelain Factory is named for its location. The factory started in 1810, though Zdekauer bought it in 1884. In 1909, the CM-R mark appeared. Nationalized, the factory is still in operation.

Marks have been adapted and changed through time, plus they have been reused. All that makes exact dating tricky.

Though the reader thinks her set looks art deco, to my eye the set seen in images is far more modern. The rounded shapes and decorative glaze panels are characteristic of the 1940s-70s. Through the decades, Altrohlau produced many hundreds of designs. Finding the name for this pattern is virtually impossible.

MORE: To "Smart" readers: I send you all best wishes for a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous (so we can all buy more antiques) new year. Here's hoping that 2013 brings only good things. I appreciate you; you are the best!

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos will not be returned.

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