Appraisal Video: (4:52)
Paintings & Drawings
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
GUEST: This was a wedding gift to my parents when they got married in 1940 in Chicago. A friend had this painting commissioned as a special gift to them. I got it when they moved out of Chicago, and they were moving to a smaller house. And some of the items in the house, I acquired. That was about more than 30 years ago.
APPRAISER: Wow. Do you know much about the artist, Joseph Henry Sharp?
GUEST: Not too much. I know he was an artist in New Mexico and painted scenes of, I think, Indians in Mexico... New Mexico.
APPRAISER: The Taos School is a group of artists-- mostly American, although there were two Russian-born artists as well-- and they painted the landscape in and around Taos, as well as Native American life there. And so you can see in this painting in particular, we have a conversation between two Native Americans. Sharp actually was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a young boy he became deaf, but he did learn that he knew how to draw, so he went to the Cincinnati Academy of Art and learned painting. He also studied frequently in Europe. The first time he goes to New Mexico is in 1883. And he gains a reputation for some of the work that he painted there. He then also goes back in 1893 to Taos, and there he was commissioned by Harper's Weekly to do images of the scene in that area. He wasn't really able to make too much of a living or a full living at painting. So he went back to Cincinnati, and he was teaching at the Cincinnati Academy of Art. But during the summers, he would go out to Montana, and he'd paint the Crow and Sioux Indians there.
APPRAISER: His paintings were so successful that they were bought by the Smithsonian.
APPRAISER: And then even Teddy Roosevelt caught wind of it and had the government actually pay for a real cabin for him to paint.
GUEST: The president?
APPRAISER: Yes, the president. So that was neat. And then he really achieved his financial success when William Randolph Hearst's mother actually bought 80 of his paintings. And he ends up being in Taos, New Mexico, by 1912, where he lives full-time. Now, this scene that we see here is in Taos. Well, it turns out that Sharp actually lived across the street from Kit Carson's home site. Carson moved there in 1843 with his bride. And it was an adobe three-room house, so not terribly large. The painting is oil on canvas, and it has a very textural surface. We can see what we call impasto, or heavier areas of where the oil paint is applied. And of course, the glass that we see here has maintained the condition over the years. It's got his wonderful sense of light. All the light and shadow is really quite magnificent. It's also in superb condition.
GUEST: What does superb condition mean?
APPRAISER: It means it's in its original condition, and it doesn't seem to have suffered any damage. It doesn't have any holes, tears, paint losses, cracking. And so it really is in wonderful state.
GUEST: It is.
APPRAISER: Now in terms of value, did you ever have any idea what...
GUEST: Yes, this is what I want to hear.
APPRAISER: Well, have you ever had it valued?
GUEST: I've never had it appraised. Somebody came to my house one day and saw this hanging at the top of my stairs. And they looked at that, and they saw the name, and he did a double take. He says, "Do you know what that is?" I said, "Yeah, it's a painting of an adobe or something," because I didn't have a clue. He says, "That's a J.H. Sharp picture. "You don't put that up here in front like that, exposed to light." He says, "You've got to protect that." So I thought, "I better go and find out what this is worth." Well, I never followed up on it.
APPRAISER: Ah, okay. Well, the Taos School of artists are extremely... their works are extremely desirable in the marketplace. Western art has fluctuated over the years, but at the moment, and really in the last few years it's been very strong, and particularly for really good examples, as well as fresh examples to the marketplace. This painting, if it were in a gallery, I would expect it to sell in the range of $400,000.
GUEST: That's a lot.
APPRAISER: Yes. It's a very exciting painting.
APPRAISER: Collectors, they love to find things that have just come to market.
GUEST: Thank you for your appraisal.