Robert Jenkins Onderdonk Plaque, ca. 1880

Value (2013) | $12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail

This was a gift to my father in 1957. He was an attorney in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin. He handled people's estates. And he was handling a woman's estate, and she wanted him to have something. She said, "When I die, my daughter is going to sell everything, so please take something. Take that picture." So he took the buffalo picture off the wall, brought it home and it's hung in my parents' house until they passed away.

Okay. So what do you know about it? What kind of research have you done?

The only thing is on the computer. We believe it's a Texas artist. He's done some other paintings I think that hang in the state capitol and also in the Texas Museum. I know he was a teacher. In 2007, my brothers had an appraiser come in and she priced it at $7,500.

This is by a Texas artist, and his name is right over here. He's signed his signature. It says "R.J. Onderdonk." And that stands for Robert Jenkins Onderdonk. He was born in 1852 in Maryland and studied at several places in the East Coast, including New York City at the Art Students League. He studied under several important artists, including William Merritt Chase.

Oh, okay.

He decided to move to Texas in about 1878, and he died in 1917. Now I had never heard of or never seen a porcelain plaque painted by Robert Onderdonk. And so I was quite surprised to see this one. One interesting thing about porcelain plaques and American artists is it's not that unheard of for American artists from this period to paint on porcelain, but the marketplace generally prefers their paintings on canvas. Now, I did some calling around to people who are kind of experts on this artist, and I found someone who actually had heard of and seen a couple of these porcelain plaques, and they were all of buffalo.


And apparently, he painted these in St. Louis sometime in the 1870s or 1880s. Despite the fact that they're not a Texas scene, at least it's a western scene, which is good in terms of subject matter. And buffalo are always popular. We've got some canine animals here. They're kind of menacing the buffalo. It's an interesting subject matter. My guess is, in talking with different people, that a retail price, in a gallery specializing in Texas art or western art, it would fall somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000 for a retail price. I mean, this would be an interesting addition to a collector of western art.


Appraisal Details

David Lackey Antiques & Art
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2013)
$12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Richmond, VA (August 17, 2013)

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