Appraisal Video: (3:28)
Paintings & Drawings
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
GUEST: Well, I brought this painting of Geronimo, and I always wondered if that was a real painting or not.
APPRAISER: How long have you owned it?
GUEST: I can't remember what year it was, but I've had it quite a while. I got it from a little shop, uh, not too far from here, and I just liked it because of the character in his face, you know?
APPRAISER: Well, he does have quite a bit of character. The name of the artist is Elbridge Ayer Burbank. And it's signed here in the lower left. He was known for painting Indian portraits. He was from the Midwest, from Illinois, like many of the American Western painters were. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, so he had a lot of training, and he started life as an illustrator-- a lot like Remington and Russell. But around 1898 he made it his goal to paint Indian portraits, and he painted over 1,200 Indian portraits from 125 different tribes. And his claim to fame is that he's the only artist who ever painted Geronimo from life.
APPRAISER: Yes, so that's quite exciting. If we look on the lower-right edge here, we see "Fort Sill, O.T.," meaning Oklahoma Territory. And at some point in the late 1890s, Geronimo-- and here it says "Chief Geronimo, Apache"-- was captured, I believe in Arizona. The Indians were first taken to St. Augustine, Florida, and then transferred to Fort Sill. And that's near here, is that correct?
GUEST: Yes, that's about 90 miles from here.
APPRAISER: Well, one thing while we were here at the show that we discovered after you brought the painting to us is an early photograph of Geronimo at Fort Sill with the head of security who was guarding him, named David Alexander Hadden, and the people who brought this are actually descendants of Hadden. So it's quite interesting to see what Geronimo looked like here vis-a-vis here, because he's wearing quite a fancy headdress. Now, in terms of the authenticity, the signature looks very plausible. It's exactly what you would expect. But in terms of evaluating a painting, it's often best to actually look at the reverse of the painting. And this is a painting that's an oil on canvas board, and here we have the board on the back. And if you'll note there is the remnant of a label here. Now, part of the label is missing. This label actually is a label for a gallery called Kennedy Galleries, which is in New York. And people who are familiar with American art and with the Kennedy Gallery label would recognize it. It says that it's of Chief Geronimo and by Burbank. And since this is a very reputable gallery that handled a lot of Western art, this makes a lot of sense and would verify that what we're seeing on the front is accurate. A painting of Geronimo recently sold at auction for around $4,000.
APPRAISER: Yes-- now, that painting was larger than yours, but Geronimo was more head on in terms of the way he was sitting, and it was not as finely done. The face did not have as much character. So I think, actually, although yours is smaller, it's a better painting, and I would evaluate it at $6,500.
GUEST: Really! You're kidding.
APPRAISER: No, not at all.
GUEST: I never thought it'd be worth anything like that. Oh, well, that's great.