John Steuart Curry Drawing and Oil & Grant Wood Oil Painting

Value (2009) | $77,000 Auction$123,000 Auction

APPRAISER:
I would have been very disappointed coming to the Midwest and not seeing work by the Regionalist artists. And so I was thrilled when you came in the door with these three works.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
We have John Steuart Curry, we have Grant Wood, and can you perhaps tell me a little bit about how you came by these works?

GUEST:
Well, my grandmother went to school with Grant Wood in Iowa and remained his friend. And when she married my grandfather, he came to know Grant Wood, too, and they supported him. They bought several works of art from him earlier in his career. And then when John Steuart Curry became artist-in-residence at the university here in 1936, they got to know him, too. And so they had some of his artwork, too. Then when my grandparents died, the pieces went to my parents, and when my parents died, they are now owned by my sister and me.

APPRAISER:
And of course, the whole thing about the Regionalists, who flourished in the early 1930s, during the Depression, was that rather than looking to Paris and Modernism and everything that was going on there, they looked into the heartland. They looked towards American subjects. They would pick farm scenes, there'd be some political paintings. Subjects would be handled in a humorous way sometimes. Sometimes they were satirical. But the ones that you've brought today are certainly not typical...

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
Regionalist paintings. When one thinks of John Steuart Curry, one might think of Tornado Over Kansas...

GUEST:
John Brown.

APPRAISER:
John Brown-- exactly. Grant Wood, of course, American Gothic, the great painting that hangs in Chicago. These are a long way from that. This is a very lyrical evocation of a river and reflections in a river. And this is a very simple still life of zinnias. They are both signed, of course. Both done in 1930.

APPRAISER:
Yeah. And can you perhaps tell me a little bit about this little one, which is depicting what?

GUEST:
The founding of the national Progressive Party by Phil LaFollette here at the University of Wisconsin.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
It's a drawing inscribed to my grandmother. He gave it to her for a birthday present.

APPRAISER:
It's a wonderful record of that time and of the politics of that time, and wonderful, too, that it actually happened here in Madison. As to value... they're not typical works, but obviously these are major, major American artists, so these will still certainly have some value. The John Steuart Curry, lovely painting. I think at auction, $25,000 to $40,000.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
This one I'm going to say $2,000 to $3,000 at auction. And for the Grant Wood, it's a terrific thing, but a long way from the rolling hills, et cetera, et cetera. Which, frankly, have made millions at auction.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
A painting like this still would make, I would think, quite comfortably $50,000 to $80,000.

GUEST:
That's great.

APPRAISER:
But it would not surprise me the way the market is going for Grant Wood if it even made more than that. It's a little bit of a down market, but if great works are fresh onto the market, they're still doing extremely well. And this is exactly that.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2009)
$77,000 Auction$123,000 Auction
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Material
Oil

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