1959 Jimmy Ernst Painting

Value (2007) | $5,000 Retail

My husband is an artist, and his drawing professor was moving from Nebraska and gave us a selection of pieces and when we got this from him, he said that Jimmy Ernst was doing a mural for a bank in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his professor had been working, and he bought it from Ernst at that time. So we've probably had it for around 30 years. And I've always been curious about it, and I thought this is a perfect opportunity to try to learn something about it other than the fact that it's a watercolor, or probably with gouache. I know it's opaque. And I know his father was Max Ernst, very renowned artist, but not... don't know that much about Jimmy, so...

Okay, well, yes, he is the son of Max Ernst, who was one of the most important surrealist painters, internationally. Jimmy was born in Cologne, Germany, and actually grew up there until he was about 18. His father had abandoned the family and he was raised primarily by his mother, who was an art historian. And he moved to the United States by himself and his mother actually ended up passing away in a concentration camp.

Oh, my gosh.

He did not have a great love for his father, and he really tried to steer against going into the art field. But when he came to New York, he got a job at MOMA through various connections of his family, and then he became Peggy Guggenheim's personal assistant.

Oh, yeah?

So he certainly made more connections there and was involved and influenced by a lot of different art. So at that time, he finally decided he wanted to become a painter, but he would do it in his own way. And they were often quite bizarre. What we have here, in your piece, is actually a little later piece from 1959. And this is very characteristic of the type of work that he was doing at that time, with the way the brushwork is done. And you're absolutely right that it is watercolor and gouache. The white areas are the gouache. You received this as a gift; do you know what the gentleman who bought it paid?

On the back of the watercolor is the number 20 in pencil and I assumed he probably paid $20 for it.

Well, Jimmy Ernst is becoming a very hot artist right now, because there's a great deal of interest in decorative arts from the '50s; many people are furnishing their homes with furniture and decorative arts from this period, and so they need paintings to go along with it. And this particular work, if it were in a gallery in New York, the value would be $5,000.

That's nice! $5,000. That's nice. Thank you.

Well, you're welcome.

Appraisal Details

Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2007)
$5,000 Retail
Louisville, KY (July 28, 2007)
20th Century
Gouache, Watercolor

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.