1906 William Keith Oil Painting

Value (2008) | $6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction

GUEST:
It's a painting by William Keith. He's a California artist. He lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And he signed the painting 1906. And I learned earlier today that the date-- April 18, 1906-- is, I think, the day that the San Francisco earthquake occurred. And this is a painting of Marin County just north of San Francisco. It even says "S.F." on the bottom, so... after his signature.

APPRAISER:
Now, how did you come to own the painting?

GUEST:
My father loved to go to auctions in the '60s, and he bought lots of things, this being one of them. And I inherited it at his death.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, William Keith was a Scotsman. William Keith came to the United States around 1850...

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Spent some time in New York and ended up in California in the early 1860s. And it was when he got to California that he really found his niche in life as an artist. But to get back to what really gave me chills about this picture...

GUEST:
Oh, chills.

APPRAISER:
Is that you are correct that the date here, which is April 18, 1906, is the date of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and the fires that followed it. His work, in numbers anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 pictures, was totally destroyed. So the fact that this was apparently painted on that very day, first of all, suggests to me that he was not near that area.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
Now, you said you think it's Marin, but I'm not sure there's any real basis for that.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The earthquake took place around 5:00 a.m., and this was obvious painted that day, so it would be after. So I suspect this poor guy was someplace painting and he didn't know that his studio and home were, in fact, destroyed in the earthquake and the subsequent fires. Now, as far as the value is concerned, in today's market, this is probably a painting that would sell at auction for between $6,000 and $8,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Typical for these smaller later works. Now, works by him have sold for as much as $190,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
But they're the earlier, more monumental works.

GUEST:
Right, right.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Harwood Fine Arts, Inc.
South Hadley, Massachusetts
Appraised value (2008)
$6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
Event
Palm Springs, CA (June 07, 2008)
Period
20th Century
Material
Oil

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