1930 John Wells James Painting

Value (2006) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction

Now, I understand you're, in fact, related to this artist.

Uh, actually... he's related to my wife. His names is John Wells James. He was born in New York. I understand he was an insurance person, became very involved with the early American Impressionists, New Hope School, Rockport, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Cornish, New Hampshire. Painted pretty much as a personal hobby. Um, enjoyed France, traveled a good deal to Southern France, Pyrenees, perhaps, and a number of the paintings that we know of that are scattered through the family are of that area.

We're in Philadelphia today, and I must say I would have been very disappointed if we hadn't seen something by the New Hope School or the Pennsylvania Impressionists, or, as some people call them, the Bucks County Impressionists. And here we have, as you say, John Wells James. And this one dated 1930. Now, he's perhaps one of the lesser known members of that group, and as you say, he was a hobby artist, but he's a lot more than a gifted amateur. Now, one of the attractions of New Hope, of course, was that it was very near to Philadelphia. It's about an hour's drive from here. And it's not too far from New York, either. And, of course, the other attraction was the fantastic scenery. It's a beautiful part of the country. Well, he's used this wonderful impasto technique using a palette knife in most cases. There's a lot of energy there. And there's a lot of sort of cross-hatching. So he's really built up a wonderful, colorful tapestry on the surface of it. Reminiscent-- I think he was looking at Van Gogh, actually. You can certainly see that influence. Now, the New Hope School has become increasingly popular at auction over the last few years. I'd say really over the last six or seven years. And artists like Redfield and Garber make, you know, comfortably six-figure, sometimes seven-figure sums. And in their wake, you had artists like Sotter and Coppedge, who have all got pulled along. There's been a sort of domino effect in the market. And then you have artists like John Wells James, who doesn't appear quite so frequently. So have you been keeping track of the market? Have you any idea?

Um, we've tried to. We've kept track of the pieces in the family. I would think there's probably around 80 pieces that are still floating about. Many of the paintings, in fact, this particular painting never left his house until he died. He died in Southern France in 1955. And when they were breaking up his home, these paintings were parceled out among the Jameses. They all got their paintings.

Well, you've had it recently conserved and reframed. And I think at auction, this should comfortably fetch $20,000 to $30,000.

I am surprised. I am surprised.

Appraisal Details

Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2006)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Philadelphia, PA (August 05, 2006)

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