Painting Attributed to William Matthew Prior
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $25,000 (1997)
$15,000 - $25,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:27)
Paintings & Drawings
Colleene Fesko Works of Art
GUEST: Well, he came to me through my husband's grandmother's family in Baltimore, and really through accident because that big family had no heirs. His mother became the sole heir, and she gave me all these lovely things and my little boy with the horn was one of them.
APPRAISER: It's just terrific.
GUEST: Thank you.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a 19th-century American portrait of a young boy. Portraiture from this period is really interesting because there's really a hierarchy of subject matter, and with this little guy, we have everything going. He's very appealing, he's wearing a terrific outfit, and carrying the horn is also wonderful. The chair that he's sitting on also adds not only a great dimension to the piece but also a lot of color and a lot of interest. The way these pieces are often thought of is children being the most desirable. And the attribution that I would make to this piece is to William Matthew Prior, who was a New England artist. He was born in 1806 and died, um, in the 1870s. What's interesting about Prior is that he also had a more academic style which during his life was more popular than this very flat, almost abstract style. But in the 20th century, the way we look at things, pieces of this style are more popular. A downside issue with this is the... is the restoration, oddly enough because he's in such terrific condition. But for American portraits of this period, restoration is really one of those darned if you do and darned if you don't things. It's best to have them in original condition, and it would be lovely to have the original frame with it rather than this very pretty but rather fussy frame for it. He's a terrific little boy.
GUEST: I thought he would be classified as an American primitive, but I guess he has too much depth for that.
APPRAISER: He is a terrific example of that.
GUEST: Oh, thank you!
APPRAISER: There's lots of variety in that. And given that, and also taking into account the condition, I would estimate him between $15,000 and $25,000.
GUEST: Well, wow! Good boy. Yeah, I think I'll adopt him for good.
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