Early 20th-Century Mathias Alten Landscape

Value (2008) | $20,000 Retail$25,000 Retail

GUEST:
It belonged to my family, my mom and dad. I'm sorry I don't know when they purchased it and I don't know what they paid for it. I've always enjoyed it. It's been hanging in my living room in a dark corner for the last ten or 12 years. That's all I know.

APPRAISER:
And did you know who the artist was?

GUEST:
No, not until two days ago, when my husband and I decided to bring the painting. He lifted it off the wall in the living room, took it out to a brighter spot and noticed a signature. I can barely see it; it's quite dark.

APPRAISER:
Well, there is a signature-- "M. Alten"-- and it's the signature of Mathias Alten. He was born in 1871 in Gusenburg, Germany, and started out as a young man as an apprentice to a painter. He moved to Grand Rapids and he painted signs, he decorated furniture. And in his late 20s, he went and studied in France and Italy, and his academic career really paralleled that of a lot of artists of his generation. Although abstract art was introduced to America in about 1913, he clearly rejected that and his career was spent as a second-generation Impressionist. He painted still lifes and portraits, but his great love was for nature and landscapes, and his landscapes often include either rustic figures or animals. He painted briefly in Old Lyme, Connecticut, but he did a lot of his work in Grand Rapids and Saugatuck. What we see here is oil on canvas and that was the artist's preferred medium. And one thing I wanted to point out here was this condition issue on the right-hand side, where there's a couple of areas of paint loss. And this is something that you might want to have attended to in order to sort of stabilize that area so that you don't lose more paint. I also think this picture could really benefit from a cleaning, because you have these beautiful bands of color in the water and the sky, and all of this will become much more vibrant if it were lightly cleaned. And I think at some point it was reframed. I think if this were offered in a retail gallery, the asking price might be between $20,000 and $25,000.

GUEST:
I'm... oh, my goodness, I'm speechless. If I liked those cows before, I love them now. (laughing) Thank you, Nan.

APPRAISER:
Thank you.

GUEST:
That's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, New York
Appraised value (2008)
$20,000 Retail$25,000 Retail
Event
Grand Rapids, MI (August 09, 2008)
Material
Canvas, 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.