George Luks Watercolor, ca. 1925
My great-grandfather was friends with George Luks. They grew up in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
And George Luks actually gave it to my great-grandfather.
Do you have any idea around what time that would have been?
I don't. And it's been passed from my grandmother to my father and then to myself.
And your grandmother, was she from the East or did she move out here?
Yes, she was from Pennsylvania. And she actually went through a little bit of a rough time and lost everything, and this was the one thing she held on to.
Well, George Luks was quite a colorful character. George really liked carousing around quite a bit. Right. And he was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which is in coal country. Luks goes on to Philadelphia to study at the Pennsylvania Academy, and of course he goes to Europe, like a lot of the other artists did at the time. And then he comes back to Philadelphia and works for a newspaper as an illustrator. He even goes for a while to Cuba for the Spanish-American War and is a war artist over there. Coming back to Philadelphia, he meets a group of other artists, and they were all newspaper illustrators, but they also were painters. And they were very rebellious against the prettiness of American Impressionism. So what they ended up doing was to create their own group. They were called "The Eight" because there were eight of them, and they were also nicknamed "The Ashcan School" because they liked to paint the back alleys of the city and people hanging wash and the plight, or the day-to-day routine, of everyday Americans. Luks's forte, for the most part, was portraiture, and he painted street urchins and beggar women, rag pickers and basically working-class people. And he didn't do as many scenes as some of the other artists in the group. He also painted watercolors, as you can see here. And this is a watercolor heightened with a little bit of gouache. And gouache is sort of the more opaque pigment that you see here. And most of these were done in the 1920s or so. Now, one thing about Luks that is perhaps a little more problematic than other artists is that we see probably half as many Lukses that are fake as are real. And so there are ways in which we try to authenticate the works by Luks. There is no real expert on the artist, so usually we're left to our own devices. But in terms of the watercolors, he normally signs in a very bold red. I have seen watercolors on occasion with little black, wimpy signatures, and they're not by him. The bold density of the watercolor and the brushwork-- very characteristic. And, of course, in your case, it's ironclad provenance, because it came directly from the artist to your family. So that's really exciting. Luks actually died in New York in 1933 as a result of a barroom brawl. He was actually found in a doorstep dead one night. Luks is one of the most desirable artists, and although he didn't do many watercolors, they do come up at auction from time to time, and certainly we see them in the galleries. If this were sold in a gallery, let's say in New York City, it would probably sell in the range of $75,000.
Oh, my gosh. (laughs) My dad always said, "Be careful with it." Now I know why. Wow.
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.
Last Tango in Halifax
Enjoy the third season of this award-winning series that celebrates life and love