Appraisal Video: (3:45)
Paintings & Drawings
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
GUEST: This is a piece that my husband bought actually at a thrift store. He was looking for frames, and he makes it a habit of buying paintings at thrift stores just for the frames, and when he got this home, we were looking at it and decided that we really liked it, so...
APPRAISER: Do you know anything about who the artist is?
GUEST: I know that he's from California and that's about all I know.
APPRAISER: Well, the name of the artist is Dana Bartlett, and as we can see over here, the piece is signed. Bartlett was from Michigan, and he was born there in 1882 and goes to New York City early on to study at the Art Student's League with William Merritt Chase, who is probably the premier American Impressionist landscape painter, so he had very, very good training. In 1915, he moves on to San Francisco where he sets up a studio, and by 1928, he sets up a studio and his own art gallery where he shows his work as well as that of some of his fellow artists. He's a member of what's called the Eucalyptus School, or a group of California Impressionist painters who worked outdoors. They were called plein air painters. They embraced the California countryside. They loved painting from the northern part of the state to the southern part of the state. Other than their landscape subjects, one of the signature characteristics of the plein air painters is a very heavy texture to the paint, and you can see here, the impasto, or the paint layer, is built up very, very thickly. The other plus in California plein air paintings has to do with very bright colors, and as you can see here, this brilliant purple is just incredible, and so for collectors of this kind of material, this is exactly what they're looking for. Now, in terms of evaluating a painting, in addition to the desirability of the California Impressionists, we have to look at the condition of the painting. If you look here in the lower area, we actually see a little bit of a ridge, and we see a little bit of paint loss. Now, that is a result of the stretcher bar on the back. This painting is actually in excellent condition. It's in its original state, nothing's ever been done to it, so it's-- that's really great, but it does have this little problem where it's buckled in that area. The same is true for the upper portion of the canvas, so at some point you might want to have it restored or relined, which would eliminate that particular problem. The painting is called "Early Spring, Verdugo Hills," and it's signed and inscribed on the stretcher on the back. Verdugo Hills is in the southern part of California. Now, you mentioned that this painting was found at a thrift shop, and your husband is an artist and he was looking for frames. Can you tell me when you got it and what was paid for it?
GUEST: We got it about five years ago and he paid five dollars.
APPRAISER: Five dollars.
GUEST: Five dollars.
APPRAISER: Wow. Well, if you also looked on the back of the painting, you'll notice a price. It sold for $250, or that was the asking price when the artist painted it, and this was probably done sometime around the 1930s. And that's partially based upon the style of the painting as well as the frame, which is this milky, chalky type frame from the '30s or could be early '40s. Bartlett's work comes on the market at auction once in a great while, and there actually was one that sold at auction in the last few months for as much as $20,000.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: It was the same size as this, not as good in my opinion, and so I think this would be worth at least $20,000 if not a little more. So you made a very good investment.
GUEST: Wow. Wow. Wow, that's a lot more than I thought. I thought maybe about $2,000.