1913 Louis Agassiz Fuertes Drawings & Sketches

Value (2011) | $11,000 Auction$17,000 Auction
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GUEST:
My grandfather went on an expedition for the American Museum of Natural History in 1913, and Fuertes was the artist on that expedition. And my grandfather was there. My grandfather wrote journals, and Fuertes put drawings in the journals and gave my grandfather these paintings. The writing is hard to read because they were his personal journals.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
But they're very interesting. They talk about all kinds of people he met, bars they went in...

APPRAISER:
What wonderful documents.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Well, let me tell you a little bit about Fuertes. He was always interested in nature and birds and animals. Early on, he studied the work of J.J. Audubon, who, of course, was the master artist of ornithological materials. He studied in school for a more formal career, but really loved painting and drawing animals. So he ended up illustrating many, many books, and also, in the late 19th century and even into the early 20th century, little trading cards of his animals would be put into Arm & Hammer Baking Soda boxes. So people would trade those little cards. He was very well known during his time. One of the things that he also did a lot of was to hire himself out as the artist for these expeditions.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
He was tremendous. A wonderful artist who was able to capture both the living and the not-so-living animals. This parrot is just such an animated idea of what he was able to capture. The piece is signed lower left, and also identified as being created during the expedition in Colombia, lower right, and is watercolor on paper. The other piece is a drawing, graphite on paper. And that also is signed and identified, lower right. Sketchbooks are very funny because there's no great way to present them or to discuss them because they're so intimate. But between your grandfather and Fuertes, they really captured the very, very best of expedition-style sketchbook keeping.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
This is a wonderful example of a study of a group of birds. This is my favorite.

GUEST:
Actually that's my favorite, too.

APPRAISER:
It has such a contemporary feel, with the writing and with the bird sort of squeezed into it. It's just a wonderful example. And this is something that you don't really see with Fuertes very much, which is the human figure. He was much happier with animals. In terms of the value of the pieces, Fuertes is a highly, highly collected naturalist artist.

GUEST:
Oh really?

APPRAISER:
He's done many, many birds. I would estimate the parrot at between $5,000 and $7,000...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
The hunt scene at $3,000 to $5,000...

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And the three sketchbooks, which also include other drawings, at $3,000 to $5,000.

GUEST:
Well, great.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Colleene Fesko Works of Art
Boston, Massachusetts
Appraised value (2011)
$11,000 Auction$17,000 Auction
Event
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Drawing, Sketch
Material
Paper, Pencil, Watercolor
July 09, 2012: After this segment aired a representative from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City emailed us regarding this Louis Agassiz Fuertes collection. After following up with their owner, Brian, and putting him in touch with the museum's ornithology department, we subsequently learned that Brian decided to donate Fuertes' sketchbooks to the museum, where they are now housed.

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