Late 19th-Century Carl Herpfer Painting

Value (2009) | $80,000 Retail

I got it from my maternal grandmother, who lived in Boston most of her adult life. And I know very little about it, except she told me that either her parents or her grandparents had bought it on their honeymoon trip to Europe.

And you said you were able to read some of what was written down here.

I can make out a first name of "Carl" and "Munich" in German, and that's about it. I can't make out the last name.

Well, the missing link down here is the last name, and the last name is Herpfer, which is not necessarily a name that you would automatically think of, but he is a major German genre painter. He was born in 1836, and he died in 1897 in Munich. He did study in Paris, but he never exhibited in Paris. He did exhibit solely in Munich from about 1868 to 1888. And what this is a perfect example of a genre painting. And it's everything you would want in a Herpfer. And by genre painting, we mean a painting that tells a story. Here we see a mother who's recovering from the recent birth of a child, and the nurse is taking care of the child. The two children are looking a little anxious and perhaps unhappy about the new sibling.


But besides the fact that you have this wonderful story that you can imagine the details, you have all this incredible detail and little bits and pieces that show the life of an upper-class German family in the 19th century. And Herpfer was really a genius at painting fabrics. You can see he's got this wonderful embroidered blanket here, this dress, the beautiful lace touches. Here you see this lovely satin stripe on the nurse's dress. You can see this porcelain vase with the flowers. And here, I think, just to get some more extra folds in the painting, he's pushed the tablecloth back. And I love the little bell that she's got here so she can ring for the servant.

I'd never noticed that before.

It's a visual feast. There are so many things to look at, and every time you look at it, you see something new.

I do.

It's in very good condition. It's a beautiful oil on canvas. I think if this were to be offered in a retail gallery, the price might be around $80,000.

My gosh, you're kidding. Oh… wow.

Because the economy is the way it is, it's probably not worth now what it would have been a few years ago.

It's staying in the family. It's been in the family for generations, so I just love it.

Appraisal Details

Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$80,000 Retail
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)
Canvas , Oil

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