Fern Isabel Coppedge Oil, ca. 1930

Value (2012) | $12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction

May I ask how long you've owned this painting?

About 25 years. I found it at an antique mall in Tacoma, Washington. I paid $425. I guess you could say the painting spoke to me and I responded by stretching my budget to purchase it.

Were you aware it was signed, or no?

Yes, I did notice the signature but I had no idea who the artist was at that time.

But the artist is Fern Coppedge.


Have you done some research?

Yes, I've checked on the Internet and it states that she was an artist who lived and painted in Pennsylvania, and she was an American impressionist artist. But beyond that, I don't know much about her or her career or other paintings.

It's signed down here-- Fern, "I" for Isabel, Coppedge. And you're quite correct. She's best known for being associated with the group of artists the Pennsylvania Impressionists, also known as the Bucks County Artists or the New Hope School, and New Hope, of course, is where Fern Coppedge lived. She wasn't from there originally. People are divided as to when she was actually born. It varies from 1883, 1885, 1888, so we're not quite sure, but we do know she was born in Decatur, in Illinois, and from there went on to study in Chicago and then in New York. Ultimately, she ended up at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she was taught by Daniel Garber, who was another of the leading Pennsylvania Impressionists, together with Edward Redfield. But Fern Coppedge, of that group, was probably the best-known of the woman artists. So she studied there and really picked up more, I would say, in terms of technique from Edward Redfield than from Garber, because Redfield was known for painting outside, en plein air, and that's what she did, too. She was known to have wrapped up in these big bearskins and gone into the winter snows and set up her easel, tie her canvas to a tree and then do a painting. This clearly is not New Hope, of course. Do you know where it is?

She wrote on the back, "Sunday Morning, Gloucester Harbor," which I believe is Massachusetts.

That's absolutely right, and that's where she used to go for her summers. She also painted in Rockport, which is in Massachusetts. It's always a little hard to date Coppedge's work. She started off being an impressionist, then laterally became more of a post-impressionist and some might even say almost an expressionist. I think, given the use of color, this is probably a later work, so I'm thinking '20s, '30s, '40s. She died about 1951, so I think this is a mature work and probably later in her career. I believe the frame is original. It mentions in the back that it's $40, including the frame. It's the kind of frame she would have had. She is very much in demand, probably more so back in the early 2000s to mid-2000s, when the market for Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings was very strong indeed. Some of the steam went out of it after that, but it's starting to pick up again now. The winter scenes and the ones done around New Hope and Bucks County tend to be much more valuable than the ones that she did in Gloucester or Rockport. Having said that, this is a particularly nice example of the latter. Now, you paid...$425. What would you think it might be worth now?

Well, it sold for $40, I paid $425, I'm hoping to add another zero to it, but I have no idea if I'm being overly optimistic, but I'm hoping a few thousand, at least.

I think in this case, underly optimistic. I would say about three times that. So I would feel, at auction, I think about $12,000 to $18,000.

Well, that's very nice, very amazing.

Appraisal Details

Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2012)
$12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction
Seattle, WA (August 18, 2012)

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