19th-Century Prior-Hamblin Folk Portrait

Value (2006) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

GUEST:
This woman is Louisa Keith. If I've done my generations backwards correctly, she's my great-great grandmother. She died at the age of 30 and six months in 1856. And she was the first wife of Robert C. Keith. He actually had three wives. They all died in their thirties. I think the oldest of the three lived to be 37. He lived on to his eighties and died in 1901.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Where were they from?

GUEST:
Uh, the Bridgewater area in Massachusetts.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
I'd say I'd always loved this painting, except when I was a child. I think I was kind of intimidated by her. (laughs) It's a little bit dark and stern-looking. She was on the wall in our dining room, growing up, and I don't think I really came to love Louisa until I was an adult, but I am very fond of her now. I think she's beautiful. If you tell me that Louisa is worth $10, I'll still love Louisa, because she's family.

APPRAISER:
Well, when you set her up on the table, I immediately thought that she was painted by a school of painters that worked in Boston in the mid-19th century. It's called the Prior-Hamblin School. William Matthew Prior and Sturtevant Hamblin. And they worked in the 1840s and '50s. And there's a really large group of people that seek their work. It's got a folky quality to it, and the faces are sort of animated. It's funny that you would think she was kind of stern-looking when you were a child, 'cause one of the reasons that people wanted them to paint these portraits was the fact that they could give the people rosy cheeks, and put a smile on their lips. 'Cause at that time, they were competing with early photography.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And if you got your picture taken back then, you weren't gonna smile, 'cause you had to sit there for a few minutes--

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
--to make sure the picture wouldn't blur. One thing that I love about their portraits is the way they did the eyes, and it's such a nice, pleasant image. Value-wise, uh, you're looking at $8,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Wow.

APPRAISER:
And that would be the range that a dealer would ask for it, or if it were in an auction, that's probably the range that it would sell in.

GUEST:
Thank you so much.

APPRAISER:
Thank you for telling me about her.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Farmer & Associates
Charlottesville, VA
Appraised value (2006)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Event
Honolulu, HI (August 26, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Form
Portrait
Material
Paint

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