Personal Effects, Aug. 21, 2020

Published 4:00 pm Friday, August 21, 2020

Johnson Painting August 2020 Part II


(Editor’s note; This column is continued from last week’s installment)

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Your painting, who I think is by Eastman Johnson who was born in Lovell, Maine, in 1796, depicts a couple of young children gathered around a traveling knife sharpener. The kids almost have a European style to them. The green colors are cool and dark with the red hues popping to life and drawing attention. As with any artist of this period, children only add to it appeal, and value. 

The size that you provided me is in keeping with the size that he liked to work in. The signature and the 1870 date, put this in the height of his career. It has a lot of charm and depth to it.

Are the children servants or the children of servants? I’m in love with it.

Johnson works come up in the auction from time to time. You’ll see a lot of examples that are titled “Attributed to E. Johnson,” or, “In the manner of Johnson.” This means that people copied his works, but they didn’t sign it or they did it in his style. Think of it like a college art school project, on a really fine level. 

That leads me to something else. You’ll need to see if this painting is listed in the artists

oeuvre, that’s an artist’s body of work. Basically, it’s a book or reference that shows or discusses just about everything that an artist did in his or her lifetime. They can be lengthy. But your work, or notes about it, sketches and the like, must be or at least should be listed in this scholarly work. 

Again, another reason you’ll need a seasoned art appraiser to research this. It can be important, really important.

You said your cousin was a “dealer?” I’m assuming this means that he was an art dealer. If you have access to any of his records be sure to look for any paper work in regards to this painting. Establishing its history can increase its value.

I think this wonderful painting rings all the bells. But there are variables, like the

actual condition of the art and the canvas; has it been restored or does it need to be? Is it listed in the artist’s oeuvre? Is the signature right? and I think that it is. 

Incidentally, the frame is ghastly. It’s modern and nothing like it should have framed the painting. This will have a bearing on the value too. So, you see there is a lot that

I have to try to take into account. 

Bearing that in mind AND if all these aforementioned items ring true, in my opinion, I think this could have a replacement value of about $25,000. 

Now, in the hands of a qualified appraiser this could increase or decrease. That’s why I say you’ll need someone who is really skilled in appraising art, in the right market and

the right intended use. Thanks for a great question and I hope that this helps you and gives you some much needed information.

(Note: I was able to give contact information to the owner of this painting. She worked with a very skilled art appraiser, who provided her with a replacement value appraisal, that she used for her insurance policy. Its value, as I predicted, was significantly higher than I had quoted in this article.

However, she felt that the painting deserved a better home than she could provide and she consigned it to a New England auction house. It’s scheduled to be sold early this fall.)