Appraisal Video: (3:38)
Paintings & Drawings
Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
APPRAISER: You told me some interesting stories about your mother, who used to own this painting.
GUEST: Right. When she was a girl, she was an artist. But she couldn't become an artist because she was a child of the Depression. So she became a nurse. She wanted to be a race car driver, but couldn't do that. And we moved back to New York, and this painting hung for... since my childhood, in our apartment in the South Bronx. When I left there to live overseas, this went into storage. When I got back, it went into our basement. My wife wouldn't let it go on the wall. She didn't like it very much. And when we got the tickets to come down here today, we took this as an afterthought.
APPRAISER: Out of the basement.
GUEST: Out of the basement. As a boy, I used to look at the scene, and I'd imagine myself going down that pathway. And that's basically the story of the painting. I don't know very much about it. I looked up the name of the painter, and I found that he died in 1953. But other than that, I don't know anything about it.
APPRAISER: But we think, perhaps, your mother, being an artist, might have known the artist, George Sotter, because in the signature here it says, "Compliments of," and also this mysterious inscription, "To Horny," which we're not sure what that...
GUEST: Well, she would never talk about it. She was a very adventurous woman. And I can't say for certain whether or not that was her nickname or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.
APPRAISER: Well, Sotter was born in 1879 in Pittsburgh, and he started out in stained glass. He actually became nationally known for the stained glass windows he did. Then he went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study, where he met Edward Redfield, who was his teacher, and became a lifelong friend. And Redfield is known as one of the leading painters in the New Hope School. And although we're not sure where exactly this was located, it definitely relates to that subject matter of New Hope and Buck's County. After he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art, he went back to the Carnegie Institute and taught there for a while, but then he and his wife moved in 1919 to Holicong, Pennsylvania, which is where he stayed until he died. And this picture, it's got this great dappled sunlight. It is so dirty. It's got, like, a layer of nicotine throughout. Once this is cleaned, it's going to be a completely different picture. You might even want to take it out of the basement, especially when I tell you that if it were sold at auction, it might bring between $120,000 and $180,000.
GUEST: You're not kidding?
APPRAISER: I'm not kidding. You promised not to have a heart attack, though.
APPRAISER: Will you bring it up to the living room?
GUEST: Tonight. I think my wife will let me take it out of the basement now.
APPRAISER: Oh, good.
GUEST: Now, that's... no, I didn't know that. I didn't know that at all. I don't know what to say, other than she would be very happy. Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: Thanks so much for bringing it in today.
GUEST: You're not kidding, are you?
APPRAISER: No. (laughing)
GUEST: It's really an old friend, you know?