1921 Lyonel Feininger Watercolor, “Silver Stars”

Value (2009) | $75,000 Retail

It was a present from my father. I inherited it from him when he passed away. I always liked Lyonel Feininger. I had a book about him and I've seen pictures in museums of him. And I was thrilled when I inherited the painting. I came to this country a long time ago for one year, and my dad visited me and we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and there was this picture of Lyonel Feininger. He did a lot of churches. And I liked it and he bought a poster and framed it for me. That was the first picture I ever owned.

And how did that poster compare to this work?

I like the poster better. (laughs) Because it was a picture of the oil painting. This is just a sketch. I like it very much, don't get me wrong.

Well, the picture is signed down here, lower left, as we can clearly see. And it's also dated. This translates to "Thursday, the tenth day of February, 1921." And the work is a watercolor. The title on the back... tell me in German?

It's Silberne Sterne, which means "silver stars" in English.

So you can see here that the stars have been reduced to these kind of cross-like, or X-like shapes. And Feininger's style, he would reduce his subjects to very simple shapes or planes, and then combine them with this linear definition. Very interesting artist. He was born in New York in 1871 to two parents who were both musicians. And they fully expected him to study music, but he decided he wanted to study art, and he went off and studied in Paris and Germany. And in 1919, he was asked to teach at the Bauhaus, which is a very famous school of art, craft, design. Very influential in the Modernist art world. And then he had to come back to the States when the Nazis took over Germany. This really is a wonderful work. The colors are so great.

I love the colors.

He manages to make his works a little bit of realism but a lot of fantasy, and they're just very, very appealing. I think if this were offered in a retail gallery, it might sell for as much as $75,000.

You must be kidding.


Oh, my God.

It's a lovely example.

Oh, my God, I had no idea. (sighs) I thought maybe $5,000, $8,000, something like that. Thank you so much.

Maybe you'll like it now better than the poster.

I do. (laughing)

Appraisal Details

Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$75,000 Retail
Phoenix, AZ (August 01, 2009)
20th Century
Paper, Watercolor

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