Joseph Henry Sharp Oil Painting, ca. 1920

Value (2012) | $400,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
This was a wedding gift to my parents when they got married in 1940 in Chicago. A friend had this painting commissioned as a special gift to them. I got it when they moved out of Chicago, and they were moving to a smaller house. And some of the items in the house, I acquired. That was about more than 30 years ago.

APPRAISER:
Wow. Do you know much about the artist, Joseph Henry Sharp?

GUEST:
Not too much. I know he was an artist in New Mexico and painted scenes of, I think, Indians in Mexico... New Mexico.

APPRAISER:
The Taos School is a group of artists-- mostly American, although there were two Russian-born artists as well-- and they painted the landscape in and around Taos, as well as Native American life there. And so you can see in this painting in particular, we have a conversation between two Native Americans. Sharp actually was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a young boy he became deaf, but he did learn that he knew how to draw, so he went to the Cincinnati Academy of Art and learned painting. He also studied frequently in Europe. The first time he goes to New Mexico is in 1883. And he gains a reputation for some of the work that he painted there. He then also goes back in 1893 to Taos, and there he was commissioned by Harper's Weekly to do images of the scene in that area. He wasn't really able to make too much of a living or a full living at painting. So he went back to Cincinnati, and he was teaching at the Cincinnati Academy of Art. But during the summers, he would go out to Montana, and he'd paint the Crow and Sioux Indians there.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
His paintings were so successful that they were bought by the Smithsonian.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
And then even Teddy Roosevelt caught wind of it and had the government actually pay for a real cabin for him to paint.

GUEST:
The president?

APPRAISER:
Yes, the president. So that was neat. And then he really achieved his financial success when William Randolph Hearst's mother actually bought 80 of his paintings. And he ends up being in Taos, New Mexico, by 1912, where he lives full-time. Now, this scene that we see here is in Taos. Well, it turns out that Sharp actually lived across the street from Kit Carson's home site. Carson moved there in 1843 with his bride. And it was an adobe three-room house, so not terribly large. The painting is oil on canvas, and it has a very textural surface. We can see what we call impasto, or heavier areas of where the oil paint is applied. And of course, the glass that we see here has maintained the condition over the years. It's got his wonderful sense of light. All the light and shadow is really quite magnificent. It's also in superb condition.

GUEST:
What does superb condition mean?

APPRAISER:
It means it's in its original condition, and it doesn't seem to have suffered any damage. It doesn't have any holes, tears, paint losses, cracking. And so it really is in wonderful state.

GUEST:
It is.

APPRAISER:
Now in terms of value, did you ever have any idea what...

GUEST:
Yes, this is what I want to hear.

APPRAISER:
Well, have you ever had it valued?

GUEST:
I've never had it appraised. Somebody came to my house one day and saw this hanging at the top of my stairs. And they looked at that, and they saw the name, and he did a double take. He says, "Do you know what that is?" I said, "Yeah, it's a painting of an adobe or something," because I didn't have a clue. He says, "That's a J.H. Sharp picture. "You don't put that up here in front like that, exposed to light." He says, "You've got to protect that." So I thought, "I better go and find out what this is worth." Well, I never followed up on it.

APPRAISER:
Ah, okay. Well, the Taos School of artists are extremely... their works are extremely desirable in the marketplace. Western art has fluctuated over the years, but at the moment, and really in the last few years it's been very strong, and particularly for really good examples, as well as fresh examples to the marketplace. This painting, if it were in a gallery, I would expect it to sell in the range of $400,000.

GUEST:
$400,000.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
That's a lot.

APPRAISER:
Yes. It's a very exciting painting.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Collectors, they love to find things that have just come to market.

GUEST:
Thank you for your appraisal.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2012)
$400,000 Retail
Event
Myrtle Beach, SC (June 23, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Painting
Material
Oil
February 24, 2014: A viewer's email regarding appraiser Robin Starr's comment that Joseph Henry Sharp was "originally from Cincinnati" has prompted us to clarify that although he moved to Cincinnati at the age of 14 where he is said to have worked and studied art for eight years, Sharp was born in Bridgeport, Ohio.

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.