Early 20th-Century George W. Sotter Oil Painting

Value (2006) | $120,000 Auction$180,000 Auction

APPRAISER:
Well, you tell me some interesting stories about your mother who used to own this painting.

GUEST:
Right. When she was a girl, she was an artist. But she couldn't become an artist, because she was a child of the Depression. So she became a nurse, traveled around, but still became a great horsewoman. She wanted to be a racecar driver, but couldn't do that. And we moved back to New York. And this painting hung for-- since my childhood-- in our apartment in the South Bronx. When I left there to live overseas, this went into storage. When I got back, it went into our basement. My wife wouldn't let it go on the wall. She didn't like it very much. And when we got the tickets to come down here today, um, we took this as an afterthought with us.

APPRAISER:
Out of the basement?

GUEST:
Out of the basement, because as a boy, I used to look at the scene and I'd imagine myself going down that pathway. And that's... basically the story of the painting. I don't know very much about it. I looked up the name of the painter, and I found that he died in 1953, but other than that I don't know anything about it.

APPRAISER:
Well, we think perhaps your mother, being an artist, might have known the artist, George Sotter, because in the signature here, it says "compliments of" and also this mysterious inscription "To Horny," which we're not sure what that...

GUEST:
Well... she would never talk about it, and she was a very adventurous woman. And I can't say for certain whether or not that was her nickname or not.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
But it wouldn't surprise me.

APPRAISER:
Well, Sotter was born in 1879 in Pittsburgh.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
And he started out in stained glass. He actually became nationally known for the stained glass windows he did, which are still in some churches around the country. Then he went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study, where he met Edward Redfield, who was his teacher and became a lifelong friend. And Redfield is known as one of the leading painters in the New Hope School. And although we're not sure where exactly this was located, it definitely relates to that subject matter of New Hope and Bucks County. After he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art, he went back to the Carnegie Institute and taught there for a while. But then he and his wife moved in 1919 to Holicong, Pennsylvania, which is where he stayed until he died.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Now, the American market at the moment is very strong and these Pennsylvania Impressionists in the New Hope School are bringing very great prices at the moment. And this picture, it's got this great dappled sunlight. It is so dirty. It's got like a layer of nicotine throughout. Once this is cleaned, it's going to be a completely different picture. You might even want to take it out of the basement. Especially when I tell you that if it were sold at auction it might bring between $120,000 and $180,000.

GUEST:
You're not kidding?

APPRAISER:
I'm not kidding. You promise not to have a heart attack, though.

GUEST:
(laughs) Right.

APPRAISER:
Will you bring it up to the living room?

GUEST:
Tonight. I think my wife will let me take it out of the basement now.

APPRAISER:
Oh, good.

GUEST:
Now, that's... no, I didn't know that. I didn't know that at all. I don't know what to say. Other than... she would be very happy. Thank you very much.

APPRAISER:
Well, great. Thanks so much for bringing it in today.

GUEST:
You're not kidding, are you?

APPRAISER:
No. (both laugh)

GUEST:
It's really an old friend, you know.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, New York
Appraised value (2006)
$120,000 Auction$180,000 Auction
Event
Philadelphia, PA (August 05, 2006)
Period
Impressionism
Form
Painting
Material
Oil

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.