Porfirio Salinas Oil Painting, ca. 1935

Value (2013) | $75,000 Retail

This was my grandmother's, and it was passed on to me because I was the only granddaughter out of the set of children of three. All boys, only girl, so it became mine. So I was the lucky one.

And where did your grandmother get it?

My grandmother bought this in 1935 in San Antonio. She was walking by a print/frame shop, and this was in the window and she paid $100 for it. So I've seen this painting all of my life and absolutely loved it. It takes you back to the hill country.

What do you know about the artist?

Not a lot. We've never had it appraised, but I know that he is a painter that Lyndon Johnson really supported when he was in office.

Well, the name is Porfirio Salinas. He was born in Texas, 1910, and he was really a self-taught artist. By age 15, he was working as an assistant to another well-known artist, Robert Wood, and Robert Wood also painted Texas landscapes with bluebonnets, and Porfirio's job was to paint the blue bonnets, and supposedly he was paid five dollars for every painting. But by age 20, he was quite ambitious. He decided to go out on his own and paint professionally and not be an assistant anymore. And he was selling a lot to tourists. He was painting Texas landscapes as well. Then World War II came along, he served in the military, he was stationed at Fort Houston and never went overseas, but he was able to paint murals there in the fort and do other artistic projects the whole time he was in the military. So by the '60s, he was established, but he really was basically known in Texas to Texas collectors and to the occasional tourist who would buy his work. But in 1961, when Lyndon Johnson became vice president and subsequently president, his profile really was raised. Obviously, they hung his pictures in the White House.

Oh, I didn't even know that.

In an interview with The New York Times, Lyndon Johnson said that Salinas was his favorite artist. And they were quite friendly. He would often go and visit Johnson on his ranch. And sadly, he had painted a special painting to be given to JFK when he visited Dallas, but that was never presented to him. This would have been painted around the time your grandmother bought it in 1935, which would make it a relatively early work when he painted when he was 25. The work is an oil on canvas, and it's luckily and lovingly enough still in its original frame. And it shows a kind of rugged landscape of the hill country in Texas. Salinas was a master at depicting the changing seasons, the plants, the trees all very accurately and with the right palette for the season. So what's interesting now is that his work is so popular and it's not just the bluebonnet pictures that people like. So this is a very nice example you brought in. Do you want to make a stab at what it might be worth?

It's just part of our family, and it of course will go to my daughter, much to my son's unhappiness. (laughs) No, I have no idea, honestly.

Well, I think if this were to be sold at a retail gallery today, it might bring as much as $45,000.

Oh, my goodness.

So a little bit more than the $100 that your... GUEST (crying): My grandmother would be so happy! She really would. I'm embarrassed. I had no idea. Oh, thank you so much.

Well, I'm thrilled that you brought it in today.

Thank you!

It was so lovely to see it.

Appraisal Details

Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2013)
$75,000 Retail
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)

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