Emily Muir Watercolor, ca. 1950

Value (2008) | $1,500 Auction$2,000 Auction

This painting I believe is by Emily Muir. Emily Muir is an artist from Stonington, Maine, who lives off of Deer Island. I know that she painted back in the 1940s and she was also an architect. And she was on the President's Council for the Arts under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first female elected.

Now, where did you get the painting?

Well, we went into this antique shop and my wife and I saw this painting on the wall. It was at the right price, we liked it and we purchased it. We paid $22.

Okay. Well, you caused me to do a little homework and to learn some stuff today because I have to confess I'd heard the name before but I was not particularly familiar with the work. So I looked at a lot of images and a lot of signatures and I came to the conclusion that I think it's absolutely by her. It's typical of a certain style that she worked in. She was trained in New York, but she spent most of her career on Deer Isle in Maine. She was married to a gentleman who was a sculptor. And she's a very beloved figure in Maine. There were records that I found of many, many exhibitions. She was still painting at the age of 98. She died just a few years ago when she was 99. And there are exhibition references and examples of her writing and things right up until the very end of her life. She also, as you say, was an architect. She designed about 40 or 50 houses that are on Deer Isle. She was known as something of an environmentalist. Her style, I would describe, in this particular picture, as naive sophistication or sophisticated naivete. She obviously knew how to paint. She was a trained artist and this very charming, naive look is kind of typical of some of the work that she did. Based on the frame and the whole presentation, I'd be inclined to think this came from the 1950s. I think the frame is great with it. I suspect it was her choice. The way the red in the frame echoes the red in the composition, it's really clever and graphic and wonderful. Do you have any idea what it's worth?

The only thing I know, when I look back in the history of Emily, is that there was one painting of hers that was sold back in '99, I think it was, for $2,500.

Okay, well, that was probably an oil painting. Much of what I found record of on the market are oil paintings. Just a few watercolors, but in today's market, at auction, particularly at an auction in New England, which was where she seems to have her greatest reputation, I would think this is a picture that would make around $1,500.


Somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000. It's a great little picture and I'm glad you brought it in and I think you did really, really well.

Well, the main thing is we enjoy the painting. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Kathleen Harwood Fine Art
South Hadley, MA
Appraised value (2008)
$1,500 Auction$2,000 Auction
Hartford, CT (August 23, 2008)

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.