Henry O. Tanner Gouache, ca. 1895
Appraised Value: $35,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (3:55)
Paintings & Drawings
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
GUEST: I went to an estate sale about ten years ago, and that was lying below some other pictures and I happened to look at it, and it looked like a religious scene. And I decided I wanted to get it.
APPRAISER: And where was that?
GUEST: This was in Northwest Washington.
APPRAISER: Oh, I see, okay. And what did you pay for it when you...?
APPRAISER: $150, and did they have other works of art there or was it just a mixed...?
GUEST: They had some other pieces. A lot of them were larger pieces but I didn't know anything about the artists.
APPRAISER: But since then, have you learned more about who the artist was?
GUEST: Well, somewhat, not a lot.
APPRAISER: Well, of course, Henry O. Tanner is probably the best known African-American artist of the 20th century-- late 19th and early 20th century. And he's probably the best internationally known of the more traditional African-American artists.
APPRAISER: In fact, he was so important that every young African-American artist who wanted to study art would go to Paris to be with him so that they could sit at his knee, more or less, and learn.
GUEST: Wow, I didn't know that much.
APPRAISER: Yeah, an unbelievable artist and teacher. He was born in 1859 in Pittsburgh, moves to Philadelphia as a young man, studies at the Pennsylvania Academy with the well-known artist Thomas Eakins, who taught a lot of many great American artists. And then by 1891, he goes to Paris. And he ultimately stays there with maybe one or two small trips back to the States, but he loved being in Paris and that's where he was. By the mid-1890s, he turns to religious subjects, and so most of what he did after that time are the religious subjects such as we see here. It's interesting because in today's world, it's very difficult for religious subjects to sell in the marketplace, except for Tanner. Everyone wants Tanner's work and so religious subjects are acceptable in that regard.
GUEST: Well, I feel honored to have it.
APPRAISER: Yeah, I know, it's wonderful. Now, we'll notice it's not signed. Here at the back we've got a label from the Grand Central Art Galleries. They have what they call a "Pastoral scene, Palestine" by Henry O. Tanner, number 491. And it indicates that it was owned by the Hampton Institute. Now, of course, Hampton Institute was a well-known college in Hampton, Virginia, and they do presently have a wonderful collection of African-American art today.
APPRAISER: The other thing we find is an authentication. We have a stamp here by the artist's son, Jesse O. Tanner, who states that his father made this work. So that's another indicator and unusual to find, I think. But if we go back to the front, we see this number 491 here in the corner, and that number corresponds with the label on the back with Grand Central, so it was obviously for sale and probably had been consigned by Hampton Institute.
APPRAISER: What did you pay for it when you went?
APPRAISER: $150, and again, that was ten years ago?
GUEST: Ten years ago.
APPRAISER: Do you have any idea what you think it might be worth today?
GUEST: Not really.
APPRAISER: In a gallery, if this were for sale and if it were fixed up-- it has a little bit of cosmetic work that needs to be done-- I believe that it would sell in the neighborhood of $35,000.
GUEST: Wow... That's hard to believe. Oh, thank you so, so, so much.
APPRAISER: Oh, well, you're welcome.
GUEST: I really appreciate that.
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