John Henry Hopkins & Family Portrait, ca. 1825

Value (2004) | $25,000 Auction$35,000 Auction

This man is the painter of the picture, and he was John Henry Hopkins, the first Episcopal bishop of Vermont... his wife, Melusina, and his family. This is the sister of his wife, who never married and took care of all the children. John Henry is my great-great-great-grandfather, and this is my great-great-grandmother. The story of the painting used to be on the back of the painting, and it is now here, and it has been transcribed by someone in the family in 1907. We also have a couple of photographs of the bishop and his wife.

It is a painting, watercolor, that was done in the first quarter of the 19th century. Now, you've suggested that it was painted by the Episcopal bishop himself.


And I would suggest that given the quality of the picture, that that's maybe some family history, but maybe not necessarily the case.

Well, it is said that he also painted these pictures, and he was a painter.

Now, there's a lot going on in this picture. The reason I love it-- and it gives me goose bumps to see it-- is the fact that it has so much information about a 19th-century interior-- 1825 vintage, and we see the kinds of things that people bring in on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. You see this wonderful thumb-back Windsor that the spinster aunt is sitting in. You see an Empire mahogany roundabout table or game table here, which the baby is sitting on. This is a ship scene, and then also a landscape, but framed just the way they would be in the 19th century with a gilt frame and a black ebonized liner around. She is sitting at the spinet piano, which again is done in the Empire style. On the floor there is ingrain carpeting. This is before photographs, so the only way we can tell what an early 19th-century American interior looks like is from these watercolors, and they're quite rare and very, very sought after. It's just charming. Also the palette is... is incredibly done. Look at the shadow in the back of his head. I mean, the person who painted this was a... although we call it folk art and a primitive painter, they knew what they were doing. They painted many, many, many pictures. Now, I am sure that if we had more time we'd be able to research this picture and figure out who the artist was, because it's just such a knockout. It's just really tremendous. We've got these other portraits. They're cabinet photographs of the sitters. So we see them in the 1820s. Then we see them again in the 1860s. And this written history about the picture itself, I think the year 1907 is key. That is a time in our history... They call it, sometimes, the Colonial Revival. It's when we as Americans collectively start thinking about our history, and someone took the time to write down. They realized that there was information that they had that they wanted to preserve. I would encourage you to try to get this conserved, because it is on a paper that... that will be fugitive and will disappear over time. Given the fact that I'm not sure who it's by yet, I would estimate it at $25,000 to $35,000.

Oh, my goodness. Oh, dear, I thought it was probably worth between $500 and $1,000.

Well, you know, I'd give you 500 just for that little kitty alone. He's so sweet. I mean, the detail in this picture is the knockout I mean, it just is a total turn-on for folk-art enthusiasts, and I think that that figure could certainly increase when we're able to attribute it. It's just wonderful. It's one of my most favorite things I've seen on the show.

Well, I'm very happy about that.

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2004)
$25,000 Auction$35,000 Auction
Portland, OR (August 21, 2004)
Folk Art

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