1883 Arthur Brown “Yellowstone” Watercolor Painting

Value (2010) | $75,000 Retail$125,000 Retail
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GUEST:
I, um, about 18 years ago was traveling in Paris with my husband, and he was uninterested in going out to the flea market area outside of Paris. And I went out there, and as I was going down the street, I saw this in the storefront of an antique store. And I took a double take, because it looked like Old Faithful to me. And went in, and wound up buying it and sent it home and it's been in my dining room ever since, and I don't know a darn thing about it, although it says it's from 1883.

GUEST:
Well, it's a wonderful example of the work of a British artist named Arthur Brown. Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world, and it was incorporated in 1872. Brown came over from England in 1883 and did about 20 watercolors of Yellowstone Park. And what his scheme was was to take them back to England, along with rocks and wood and all different pieces of Yellowstoniana...

GUEST:
Yeah, right.

APPRAISER:
...and present them in sort of a tableau vivant situation on stages in England.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
He had the paintings, and he would lecture, and they were beautifully lit. And he called them sun paintings. He came back to the United States in 1885. And the record there is that he sold them to the Northern Pacific Railroad.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
However, the Northern Pacific Railroad has absolutely no reference for the purchase of these 20 paintings.

GUEST:
Wow, wow.

APPRAISER:
So out of the 20 watercolors, we have one from Paris. And it's a terrific example of a wonderful watercolor style, late 19th century, a European artist painting the wilds of Yellowstone. And it's in great condition, too. The frame that you have here would be the liner to a much, much larger frame.

GUEST:
Really? And so I just thought it was a cool frame, but it's not even a frame.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's a cool frame, but it's a cool liner. What did you pay for the painting?

GUEST:
You know, I can't really remember the details, but I bet it was no more than $500, $600.

APPRAISER:
It's very hard to value something like this, because it's a... where are the others?

GUEST:
Yeah, right.

APPRAISER:
They disappeared. There are 19 more. Given that, in a retail situation, because of the location and the quality and the history and the mystery, I would evaluate it at between $75,000 and $125,000.

GUEST:
No. I am just... I can't believe it. Wow.

APPRAISER:
Yes. Oh, it's so special.

GUEST:
My family's going to be so surprised.

APPRAISER:
It's a rediscovered masterwork of Western art. Thank you so much.

GUEST:
Oh, I'm just surprised. Thank you so much. It's terrific.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Colleene Fesko Works of Art
Boston, Massachusetts
Appraised value (2010)
$75,000 Retail$125,000 Retail
Event
Billings, MT (June 26, 2010)
Period
19th Century
Material
Watercolor

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