Sample Antique Appraisal: Oil Painting by John Folinsbee

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Earlier this year a client contacted me to evaluate a painting that had been in his family since the 1940s. He knew the artist, but not much more.

After a little digging, I discovered the painting was an early masterwork by noted landscape artist John Folinsbee. The piece hadn’t been shown publicly in nearly 100 years and even the artist’s estate was unaware of its condition or current location. As you might imagine, the client was quite surprised to receive my report.

The piece is now being reviewed by the Folinsbee estate for inclusion in his catalogue raisonné. The client was kind enough to let me post my findings here:

Property Description

A horizontal, polychromatic, impressionistic oil-on-canvas landscape attributed to John F. Folinsbee depicting a small waterway with ice and snow on the left bank and three row houses on the right bank in the foreground and what appears to be a mill in the distance beneath several trees, lightly rolling hills and gray skies. The piece has a gesso frame.

Measurements

The piece is 47 inches wide and 37 inches high including the frame. The visible image itself is roughly 39 inches wide and 31 inches high.

Marks

The piece is signed “John Folinsbee” in dark paint in the lower right side. No other marks were visible.

Condition

The piece is in mostly excellent condition though it has not been cleaned since it was purchased or while in the client’s possession. The lower left corner shows some paint wear but other areas appear well-maintained.

Provenance

The client’s mother purchased the piece during the 1940s at an estate sale in Chicago and is likely the second owner besides the artist and it has remained in the client’s family since. No further documentation was available from the client. There are no known previous appraisals or outstanding offers.

Conclusions and Valuation

This piece is likely “Along the Shepaug,” a work that was purchased from the artist in 1919 by Mrs. C. Boynton, a collector from Chicago. Its location after that purchase was unknown until now.

Prior to Mrs. Boynton’s purchase, the piece was displayed in 1919 at the 32nd Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute, “Paintings by John Folinsbee” at the Ferargil Gallery in New York City, the 94th Annual Exhibition at the National Academy of Design in New York City, The Annual Exhibition of American Painting at the Art Association of Newport, Rhode Island, and a group exposition at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York.

In recent years, other Folinsbee works of similar size, subject matter and provenance have sold at auction between $342,204 and $42,209 when adjusted for inflation with the majority selling roughly between between $50,000 and $70,000. Given the new, more complete provenance of this piece, I believe it would likely sell well beyond the averages and within the higher end of similar pieces. This piece’s value also is aided by recent demand for Folinsbee’s works which has spiked in the last decade. Between 1915 and 1916, Folinsbee produced a smaller study of the same scene, titled “The Shepaug.” The Shepaug River cuts through Litchfield County, Connecticut, near Ruth Folinsbee’s family farm.

Based on these factors and recent comparable sales, it is my opinion this piece has a likely fair market value of $220,000 today.

Summary

1. “Along the Shepaug,” by John F. Folinsbee, fair market value of $220,000.

Total appraised fair market value of $220,000.