Folk Art Portrait of a Girl, ca.1845

Value (2008) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

I've had it about 30 years. My wife was driving home from shopping, and she saw a sign saying, "Church Rummage Sale." It was 4:00 in the afternoon, and she said, "There isn't going to be anything left at all, "but I'm going over anyway just... it's on my way." So she went in, walked in, it was empty. The woman said, "Oh, everything is sold out." This painting was leaning against the wall, and she zoomed over to it. And she said, "How much do you want?" And she said, "We were asking $25," but we'll take anything that you're willing to pay." And she said, "I will gladly give you $25 for the painting." Brought it home, hung it in the living room, and we've always just loved the charming little girl in this picture. It is not signed, and I feel it's American. And...

I think you're right.


It is Victorian. This clearly is about an 1845 painting by probably an itinerant, and there were many who were unidentified, a lot of them didn't sign them. One of the things that's interesting to me about it is that it's painted on a square canvas, but it's an oval painting. I think the frame is original to the painting. And in 1845, it was this transition from the flat limner folk artist to a rather sophisticated romantic, early Victorian young lady, there with those symbols of innocence-- the flowers, telling us that it's a girl and not a boy in a frock. This was the age of reform. And in this period, children were idealized. Foreign travelers who came here complained bitterly about how spoiled children were. I've talked to my colleagues, and we feel that this, at auction, could be estimated and could bring between $8,000 and $12,000.

Oh, really.

It has condition problems.


It's flaking, and it would be very good to get a professional conservator to essentially flatten it out and getting the paint stabilized in it. Thank you very much, Dan, for bringing it to us today.

So nice to talk to you.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2008)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Grand Rapids, MI (August 09, 2008)
Canvas, Paint

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