Late 19th-Century Gilbert Gaul Painting
The family story is that it was bought in New York City in a department store, and that's about all I know about the acquisition.
Any idea how much was paid for it?
No, none at all, other than my grandfather was renowned for always looking for a discount, so whatever he paid, I'm sure he embarrassed my grandmother in procuring it.
And what were you able to find out about the artist?
Well, I did a little Internet searching and, first of all, I could find him. That was encouraging. He seemed to be doing predominantly Civil War scenes. That's about all I know.
Well, the painting is clearly signed right here, lower left, Gilbert Gaul. He's an American artist. He was born in 1855 in New Jersey. And he is very famous for doing Civil War subjects, but he usually was sympathetic to the South, because the maternal side of his family was from Tennessee. He was also known for traveling around in the West. He spent a lot of time at army posts and Indian reservations and he even was one of the five agents who did the 1890 American Indian census, at which time he painted a famous portrait of Sitting Bull. In 1881, he inherited a family farm, and that's when he set up a studio in a barn and he painted a lot of these outdoor subjects. It's very reminiscent of another 19th-century artist, Winslow Homer. And I think what Gaul and Homer share is a kind of postwar nostalgia for a more innocent time. And it was a feeling that was prevalent in America in the 19th century. It seems to be in the original frame, which is gold leaf. It's interesting that it's under glass, because as an oil painting, they're not always under glass. But it's helped protect it and keep it very clean. So, do you have any idea what this might be worth?
I have none.
Well, I think if this were to be offered in a retail gallery, it might be around $45,000.
My goodness. You must be joking.
Well, my mother had said, "Take care of it." She thought it might be worth something, so she had good eyes.
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