William H. D. Koerner Painting, ca. 1935

Value (2008) | $150,000 Retail

My dad bought it in an auction back in the early '70s and we've had it ever since.

And what do you know about the artist?

His name's W.H.D. Koerner and he was, uh-- grew up in Ohio.

And his parents were from Germany. He was born in 1878 and he died in 1938. And I believe he was also an illustrator for the New York Post. Well, at age 20, without any artistic training, he was hired as a staff artist for the Chicago Tribune. And he then went to New York and he ended up studying with Norman Rockwell's teacher and later with Howard Pyle, who was the teacher of N.C. Wyeth. So, two famous illustrators. He was hired in 1919 by the Saturday Evening Post and asked to illustrate two stories that had Western themes. And he really didn't know anything about the West, so he embarked upon a whole process of research, studied a lot of books. He taught himself everything about Western history, tools, weapons, dress. He really became kind of an expert and he fell in love with it all and became known as one of America's foremost illustrators of the West. And we can see some of these details here. We have the hanging chili peppers, which are known as ristras, the hat, the kerchief, even this wonderful belt with these silver medallions and, of course, the gun, and even the serape over here on this other figure.


And we see it has the typical Koerner signature down here in the lower right-hand corner, where he signed with his three initials over the last name. Since the picture was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1935, I would imagine it was painted in early 1935 or late 1934. It looks like this guy is about to pull his gun out and maybe there's going to be a shootout.

It looks like something's fixin' to happen.

It's oil on canvas and the artist took two stretched canvases and joined them together. We can see where they're joined together right here in the center of the picture. I'm not sure quite why this happened. Perhaps he started out with a smaller format in mind and then needed more space and had to expand it. It's something that probably not every collector would go for, but I think you have a terrific painting by Koerner with fantastic color, great drama. Do you know how much your father paid for it when he bought it at auction?

I believe it was around $30,000.

Well, if you were to sell this in a retail gallery, I would expect the price to be around $150,000.

Really? Excellent.

Thanks so much for bringing it in. It's great to see.

Your welcome.

Appraisal Details

Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$150,000 Retail
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)
20th Century
July 11, 2011: After this segment aired a viewer emailed to point out that at the beginning of the appraisal, the painting's owner was mistaken in saying that the artist, W.H.D. Koerner, had grown up in Ohio. Koerner actually grew up in Iowa.

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