Edward Henry Potthast Works of Art, ca. 1890

Value (2012) | $41,000 Auction$63,000 Auction
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GUEST:
Well, I brought some Potthast... a Potthast painting and two Potthast sketchings. This one was given to my husband and myself when we were married 40 years ago. Then when my father died, I inherited this one and then the far one. Potthast is my grandmother's uncle.

APPRAISER:
Oh, wow. He's really one of Cincinnati's favorite sons when it comes to fine art in the 19th and 20th centuries, as you probably know. Potthast lived from 1857 to 1927. He studied in Germany, he studied in Paris, and in Paris, he becomes involved with what was called the Grez arts colony, and two artists in particular, Roderick O'Connor and Robert Vonnoh, influenced him a great deal and by 1889, 1890, really turned him on to impressionism. In terms of dating these, certainly circa last quarter of the 19th century. So we really know him as a full-blown impressionist.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
And of course we know him best for his beach scenes, like we see here. This is a crayon, it's on paper. This painting, which is obviously not a coastal view, not a sea, but does have a lake with sailboats. It's a wonderful impressionist painting, very colorful. The 12-by-16 size, which was one of the standard sizes that he painted. This one shows small vignettes of the children on the beach executed with pencil, watercolor, and what appears to be gouache, which is sort of a heavy watercolor, an opaque watercolor. We've got all of these great scenes, some of them a little bit more sketchy than others. But we noticed that we had seen a number of these compositions that we can recall seeing in larger paintings. So clearly, these are more than just sketches; they're really almost more fully-realized studies. Now, the back of the work is equally intriguing, isn't it?

GUEST:
It's a surprise on the back.

APPRAISER:
It is a surprise. But again, we've got studies of infants that are a little bit atypical of what we think of when we see Potthast. We've got more studies on the side here in blue. And then finally, we've got this fantastic group of children. But it shows just what a draftsman he was. It also shows the thought process that went into how he created the figures. One of these had been appraised.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Which one was that, do you recall?

GUEST:
This one right here with the sailboats. Back in '74, it was appraised between $2,000 and $3,000.

APPRAISER:
Today, for auction purposes, we would value this painting at $15,000 to $25,000.

GUEST:
Wow, that's wonderful.

APPRAISER:
It is, it's gone up quite a bit.

GUEST:
Oh, that's wonderful.

APPRAISER:
The sketch, the crayon on paper, for auction purposes, we'd value at $6,000 to $8,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my word!

APPRAISER:
Now, how do we value this piece? I'm flipping this over. It would be very important to keep all this together, to not damage the integrity of the work as a whole. But we now have the technology where if one wanted to, even though this is relatively thin, one could subdivide the front and the back and make two boards.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
So if you were looking purely from an economic standpoint, dollars and cents, you might say, "Might it not make more sense to do that?"

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Further, some of these are so good in and of themselves, one could literally cut these out of the board and individually frame and mat each and try to sell each if you were a dealer, for example. Just looking at it that way, even some of these small ones would be $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, some less.

GUEST:
Oh, my word.

APPRAISER:
So while we have a little bit of a difference of opinion as to how we would value this in full, and given that there really isn't much by way of a comparable for something like this, for auction purposes, we would say $20,000 to $30,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my word. That's... that's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2012)
$41,000 Auction$63,000 Auction
Event
Cincinnati, OH (July 21, 2012)

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