Jón Stefánsson Oil Painting, ca. 1930

Value (2007) | $30,000 Auction$60,000 Auction

Well, this painting hung in my dad's office. It was given to him in Iceland. He was a golf pro at the course there, and he was going from Iceland back to Denmark to teach golf; and the board of directors gave him this, among other gifts.

And how long had he been in Iceland?

A couple of years there, but in Europe, overall, 18 years. Playing golf and teaching golf.

You were kind enough to bring in this letter that he wrote as he was heading towards Denmark from Iceland.


And I just wanted to quote a little bit, because it mentions the paintings. "Boy, oh, boy, "wait until you see the gifts "which were presented to me. "A painting by Iceland's leading artist, a picture of Thingvellir." So here we have it. So you were a little mystified as to who the artist might be.

Yeah, I don't know the exact name.

I see the signature. The name is actually signed down here in the lower right, is Jón Stefánsson. Ah. Stefánsson.


I'm not sure of the pronunciation. This letter, which is dated 1935, probably indicates that this painting might be from around the same time. And it was interesting in the '30s, the art community in Iceland kind of did a split. There was a younger, more radical group that embraced less traditional subject matter and approaches to painting. But Stefánsson and his group promoted painting landscape and going the more traditional route.


The artist was born in 1881, and he did study abroad in Denmark and France. And he really was one of the leading proponents of landscape painting in Iceland. I know that somebody gave you an interesting comment once about the value of this painting.

Mm-hmm. My aunt's niece, who lives in Iceland-- when my aunt died, she came over to settle the estate. And, uh, I invited her to come to my house. And she came in through the basement, and I had a couple of paintings hanging on the wall, and her mouth dropped and she went towards the wall and said, "You're rich." And I said, "I am? How rich?" She says, "100,000 kroner maybe." And I says, "Well, what's that?" And she says, "Maybe a new car." I don't know.

Well, I don't know how much a krone is, but I would say, if you were to sell this at auction, you might expect to get $30,000 to $60,000.

Oh, wow. That's fantastic.

Appraisal Details

Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2007)
$30,000 Auction$60,000 Auction
Spokane, WA (August 04, 2007)
20th Century
May 18, 2009: In this segment, appraiser Nan Chisholm mentions that the landscape depicted in this Stefansson painting is of Thigveller, Iceland. After this episode aired, however, a viewer wrote in suggesting that the painting actually depicts Akra Mountain in Akrafjall — observed from the city of Reykjavik across the bay. In hopes of confirming the location Chisholm contacted an Icelandic collector familiar with Stefansson's work, who verified that the painting is not of Thigveller. While the actual landscape has yet to be positively identified (the collector could only suggest that the painting may be of Akra Mountain), Chisholm tells us that she later ran into a similar painting done by Stefansson, which she says matched the piece in this appraisal. Confoundingly, the owner of this second painting said the landscape is of the Brei avík area in west Iceland.

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