William Posey Silva Painting, "In the Garden of Dreams"
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $6,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:43)
Paintings & Drawings
Owner and President
Harwood Fine Arts, Inc.
GUEST: My wife found it in my mother's attic and she said, "I want this," and my mother said "okay," so we took it home and it's been hanging in our entry hall. It did come from my great-aunt, who was the director of the public library in Birmingham, Alabama, and she died in the mid-'50s. And I'm not sure if it came directly to my mother from her or if it was passed to my grandmother and then to my mother, but we've had it hanging in our entry hall for the last few years since we retrieved it from the attic.
APPRAISER: Do you know anything about the artist?
GUEST: I do not know anything about the artist. I know that the painting, it says "Garden of Dreams," but I think this looks very much like the Middleton Gardens which is outside of Charleston.
APPRAISER: Well, we're going to look at this label on the back that tells us a little bit about this picture... which you can see here is it says "'In the Garden of Dreams' by William P. Silva." Now, William P. Silva is William Posey Silva, who is an artist who was actually born in Savannah. And your provenance is here on the label, so we see that it belonged to Lila May Chapman.
GUEST: And that's my mother's maiden name.
APPRAISER: So you don't know how she might have happened to come to own this picture, do you?
GUEST: No, I don't. Other than my great-aunt was from Macon, but she did move to Birmingham and live there for many years.
APPRAISER: William Posey Silva was always interested in art, but he did not actually pursue art as a career until pretty late in his life. His father was a successful merchant here in town and he carried on the family business. It wasn't until he was in his 40s that he decided to pursue art full-time. He studied with a well-known American artist named Arthur Wesley Dow, who was a Tonalist, a school of art called Tonalism. And there's a very strong Tonalist influence in this picture, with these wonderful, kind of romantic, slightly murky, merged-together colors and this kind of hazy overall quality that it has. When he was well into his 40s he studied in France, he came back, and he became affiliated both with Savannah and Chattanooga and ultimately moved to Carmel, California. So he's kind of thought of as both an artist with Chattanooga and Savannah associations and as a Carmel, California-school painter. But even as he lived in California, he retained his connections here and was active in the art community here. Recently a picture of his sold at auction for over $40,000. Now, it was a big picture; it was quite different from this, but I would say if you were interested in insuring this picture, it should be in the area of between $5,000 and $6,000.
GUEST: All right.
APPRAISER: So your attic find was not a bad thing.
GUEST: Very good.
APPRAISER: You do have a little condition problem going on where it looks like it's been poked out a little bit somehow from the back or something. I'd get a conservator to look at that for you. You've also got a very nice little period, original, hand-carved frame here. It's a wonderful piece of local history.
GUEST: Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: You're very welcome. So you didn't know he was a local guy?
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