William Norton Painting, ca. 1900

Value (2004) | $12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction

GUEST:
This belonged to my mother-in-law and she recently passed away. She kept telling her children that it was worth a lot of money, but never could give us a really good history of it, except that her father won it in a poker game. Now whether that was true or not we don't know.

APPRAISER:
That's a good prize. You know about the artist or the painting?

GUEST:
Well, I didn't know anything. We have a little difficulty in reading the name because there's a lot of smoke on the painting.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
And I looked him up on the Internet and found out that he has four paintings hanging in the Smithsonian.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
One which looks very similar to this one.

APPRAISER:
And he has paintings in other museums, also.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
The artist is William Norton. And he's known as a nautical painter. This one in particular has some interesting things about it. First of all, it's a good size painting for him. Some of his works are smaller. This is a decent sized painting. The other thing is, it's nice to see the ship facing towards you. It's a clipper ship. All the sails are rigged, big full sails. But you're right, it does have some condition issues. It was very smoky. It could be cleaned up here. You see this? This should be white. And you can see here that's it's very yellowed. All of this crack can be cleaned out? The craquelure itself-- they'd have to realign it. They take another canvas and they adhere it to the back, and that'll flatten that out and save it from flaking off.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Another thing about it, though, that makes this specifically interesting, is the fact that it's identifiably around New York. People would like to know if this is by Boston or New York, a specific place-- rather than just a generic place. And we know that because there's the Sandy Hook lightship. And that was known outside of New York Harbor. And it was also depicted in many, many paintings. The other thing that helps is you have the American flags. There's one here, also one on the back of the Sandy Hook lightship. So those things add to its value. If it didn't have those, or was small or without that, it might be about a $5,000 or $7,000 painting. But because of the fact of the size, the fact that it has the American flag prominently displayed, and we know where it is, this would be worth about $12,000 to $18,000.

GUEST:
You're kidding. Okay, it's no longer a family joke.

APPRAISER:
Yeah. Well, it was probably a good poker game, then, I think.

GUEST:
Right, right.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, NY
New York, New York
Appraised value (2004)
$12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction
Event
St Paul, MN (June 26, 2004)

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