Jessica Willcox Smith Painting with Letter
I brought a painting of Jessica Willcox Smith. And it belonged to an artist friend of mine, and she had it for many years. She gave one of her paintings to Miss Jessie. So my dad, when she died, bought this for me. It was in a big, black, heavy frame, which I didn't think went very well with a little girl and a kitten, so I had it reframed. And when I did that, I found her letter to Miss Bess Cleveland.
First let's talk a little bit about the painting. This is an oil and charcoal on paperboard by Jessie Willcox Smith. And what's really wonderful is that we also have this letter. It's on Miss Jessie Willcox Smith letterhead, from Allen Lane in Philadelphia. She was born in 1863, she lived until 1935. And she really spent her whole career working in Philadelphia. This letter really gives us an inside picture of how these two women artists were supporting each other and working and admiring the work of the other. In the letter, Miss Smith references how Miss Cleveland sent her a painting, and in return she was going to sell a painting to Miss Cleveland. Now, the painting that Miss Cleveland chose was not available, but she said, "I have this painting called “Pals”, and the price of “Pals” is $150." And she doesn't know if Miss Cleveland would find that too expensive, but it was already framed and ready to hang, and probably in the black frame that it came out of. I find it really charming that in the letter, Jessie Willcox Smith said, "I find it interesting that you would like to buy the canvas of others when you can paint such good ones yourself."
I love that. HOST: And in terms of a date of this painting, I'm thinking it's late teens to early '20s, because this letter is dated January 1, New Year's Day, 1923. So it would have been painted before that. Jessie Willcox Smith was the premier woman illustrator from that period. Starting in 1918, she did hundreds of covers for Good Housekeeping. And so she really is the children's illustrator that's known for this style and made it so famous. Do you have any idea of the value? Have you had it appraised?
I had it appraised quite a few years ago.
And what was that appraisal?
$3,000. So because we have the letter and the painting together, you would find an auction estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.
I sort of got that idea from looking at ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. (both laugh)
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