1919 Maynard Dixon Painting

Value (2005) | $25,000 Auction$40,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I've owned it since 1988-89. My mother purchased this for me at a local art auction here in Los Angeles. And at the time she bought it, she was under the impression that it was painted by Maynard Dixon. And the only other thing I've been told about it is that it may have been painted by him as a gift for a friend.

APPRAISER:
And how much did she pay for it? Do you remember?

GUEST:
I think she paid a couple of thousand dollars for it.

APPRAISER:
So, $2,000.

GUEST:
I think so.

APPRAISER:
Well, I don't think there's any question it's by Maynard Dixon. And we can see the signature here... his initials, "M.D." And he's even located it, Tempe, Arizona. He was a terrific painter, but he's a pretty rotten writer. It's rather hard to make out what the date is here. I can see "A-P-R..." presumably April. And then you mentioned that maybe it was a gift. Over here we can see "To..."and I'm guessing-- it looks like "Rollo and William Hell," or "Hall." And then the date is much clearer here. It's 1919. Maynard Dixon was one of the leading Western painters. Very much in demand. Even from his early days. He famously sent a collection of his sketches to Frederic Remington-- perhaps the greatest Western artist of them all-- when he was about 16.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And Remington responded very favorably and encouraged him in his art. And so he ended up becoming an illustrator as many of those Western artists did. At one point he was even illustrating books about Hopalong Cassidy. I always think it's a little unfair that Western painters are accused of being somewhat innately conservative--

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
--as a painting style. And I think Maynard Dixon really flew in the face of that. He was someone who was acutely aware of modernism and Postimpressionism and the fauve movement. And he absorbed that into his work. He was actually a California fellow. So he's from here originally-- Fresno. And this is painted in Arizona, where he visited first, just at the turn of the century-- about 1902. And I think his best work was actually done in Arizona, and then Utah and New Mexico. Not so much in California. Montana too, which he visited a couple of times. And, in fact, he ended up living in Arizona. This was really his land of choice. It's a very attractive piece. I think the composition owes something to that other great American artist, Whistler.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
It's very simple. We've got the land here, punctuated by a couple of trees and then it's sky. That beautiful sky. It's one of these big rolling sky-scapes that he was famous for doing. Now, have you ever given any consideration as to the value of the piece?

GUEST:
I assumed it was somewhere in the area that my mother paid for it. Maybe $3,000, $4,000.

APPRAISER:
3,000 or 4,000. Well, he's very much in demand just now. And a painting like this at auction, probably being a little stingy with my estimate here, should comfortably fetch $25,000 to $40,000.

GUEST:
This painting?

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm. This painting. There have been a couple of smaller ones that have come up just relatively recently. There's a little bit more going on, but they're making 30,000, 40,000. Some of his paintings have made well into six figures and even over a million.

GUEST:
Oh, for crying out loud. I can't believe I picked it up to bring in...

APPRAISER:
Good for Mum.

GUEST:
Good for Mum.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2005)
$25,000 Auction$40,000 Auction
Event
Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2005)
Period
20th Century

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