1896 Watercolor Farm Portrait

Value (2005) | $10,000 Retail

I got this from my grandmother, and this is a picture of her grandparents' farm in southeast Minnesota. It'd be over by the Rochester, Stewartville area. And she had gotten it from her brother. Actually, it was hanging in a granary for a while. She really liked the picture, got it and had it in her house. I always was really attracted to the picture, and I was really intrigued by it. And when she was getting older, she gave it to me, and I've had it hanging in my house for a while. The people in here would be my grandparents or relatives in there, and this would have been their farm.

Great. The picture is painted with watercolor and gouache. It's like an opaque watercolor. And I'm very taken by the fact that all these farm activities have been done in such detail. It's very carefully painted. Um, if we start here, we see that there seems to be someone arriving on horseback-- a relative, or maybe it's the tax man, who knows. And the windmill next door, the out buildings and ultimately the barn, all painted with vivid, wonderful clarity. We can see that it's signed and initialed and dated 1896. But you don't know who that person was?

No. I had a card that was with the picture, but on the card it said that it was painted by a traveling artist. I tried to do a little research on it, and what somebody had suggested at a local museum or historical society was that there were some, maybe some art schools locally, that maybe some of the students might have went out at various times. It was kind of popular, I guess, for kids to go and get... So we have yet to find out. That's all I ever knew.

Well, the picture has a lot going for it. It's colorful, it's graphic, and I think, all in all, condition is excellent. There are these vertical stains, which were caused by the picture at some point being framed and backed with wood. Because it's not too dark. I don't think it affects the painting negatively as far as value is concerned, and I think the frame, in all likelihood, it's certainly from the same vintage as the painting. Has anyone along the way ever told you what this was worth?

Somebody told someone else about that my grandmother had this, and somebody came and offered her $700 for it one time.

All right.

And that's the only thing I ever knew.

So your grandmother, steadfast, said, "No way, I'm not selling this."

Yeah, it was family deals.

I asked some of my friends here on the show for opinions, and I always ask myself if I was buying something, "Would you pay X?" So the X, in this instance, was somewhere upwards to $10,000.

Are you s...

I think it's so special. And it is as good a farm scene as I've seen here, and I've been doing the show for ten years. We want to thank you.

Well, I appreciate it. Wow, that's amazing. That much, huh?

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2005)
$10,000 Retail
Bismarck, ND (July 30, 2005)

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