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March 22, 1955

Dear Florence;

As I posted you by telephone, I had yesterday the visit of the representative of your insurance company, who asked me whether the figure of $45,000 (forty-five thousand dollars), at which I understand you insured the "Portrait of a Young Girl" by Fragonard, would seem to be a sound valuation. I told him spontaneously that indeed this was my opinion, that this could be backed by prices brought at auction by comparable paintings by this artist (though, as we know, all kinds of elements can play a role in the prices brought at auction), and that to my knowledge few portraits by this artist were sold at auction within the last twenty-five years.

I could not offhand remember either the names of the auctions or the figures brought. However, having in the meantime looked up my files, I find that at the auction of Judge Elbert H. Gary, 1928, a portrait by J. H. Fragonard, No. 26 "His Assumed Self Portrait" (18" x 14-3/4") brought $52,000; and in Paris at the Burat Collection auction of 1937, a painting now in the Metropolitan Museum, "Portrait of a Woman in Fancy Costume and Holding a Dog," (31-7/8" x 25-5/8") brought French francs 1,450,000 plus 14-1/2 per cent auction taxes--French francs 210,250--a total of French francs 1,660,250, which at the time, I believe, prevailing rate of exchange of 447-1/2 would give us an approximate total of $74,296.19.

In connection with these prices, sizes have to be taken into consideration; and if the portrait in the Gary collection had about the same size as yours, on the other hand the one in the Burat sale was considerably larger, but then too the subject of your portrait is a great deal more appealing than the man portrait, which I recall very well, of the Gary sale.

Thus in my estimation the insurance valuation of $45,000 for your portrait is definitely a conservative one. I thought this information could be of use to you.

With best personal regards,
Sincerely yours,

Germain Seligman

Mrs. Watson B. Dickerman
1120 Fifth Avenur
New York 28, New York 
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