An Amateur Still Life Painting and a Colonial Revival Coffee Set
Q. I have had this painting in my family for years and have tried to find information on the artist, with no luck. Can you tell me anything about this artist and what it is worth?
A. This lovely still life of fruit, cake and drink is most likely done by an amateur artist from Southeastern Massachusetts. Executed in oil pastels and framed under glass, it is signed by the artist “J.H. Clark” in the lower left corner. The label on the back appears to be from the frame shop “Johnson Art Shop, Picture Framing, Second Street, Fall River, MA,” and has a date stamped November 12, 1953. The appearance of the frame seems very much like those sold in the 1950’s.
I could find nothing on a “J. H. Clark,” and although the rendering of the fruit in the foreground is well done, the cake stand and carafe seem almost unfinished. This leads me to believe that Clark was a local amateur artist who may have been a friend of the family, or perhaps it was received as a gift. I do not believe it was received framed but was framed by the recipient of the pastel. There may be some “foxing” or mold on the paper, though it is difficult to tell the extent of the damage (if any) as it is under glass.
Art works by amateur artists are difficult to value as it depends on medium, genre, execution and of course, condition. Unfortunately, I do not believe this would command a high price.
Q. I would love to know where you might think this pretty tea set is from. I was with my mother in Rochester, NY in the early 40s….at huge antiques ‘loft’, when she decided to buy it. I’m sure I was bored to death, as I was around nine years old. It held a prominent place in every home we lived in thereafter, and has been mine for years. I cherish it. Is it perhaps German? I could find no markings.
A .This is a tough call due to the lack of markings, and you have not made note of the size and dimensions of these pieces. My guess is it would have been made in America for the American market, or else it would have at least the country of origin stamp. The style appears to be Colonial Revival putting it circa late 1870’s – 1930’s. The simplicity of the bluebird and apple blossoms pattern and the simple pewter accents also fit the Colonial Revival style of the time. During this period, all things American became very trendy. In 1876 the country celebrated its centennial birth. This was the period that Colonial Williamsburg, Winterthur, and the Henry Ford Museum all came into being. Organizations like the “Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution” and genealogical societies also began during this period.
Your set, which includes a coffee pot, creamer, sugar bowl (missing cover?) and biscuit jar would most likely sell in the $125 range. Your memories that it creates of your mother may be worth more.
Karen Waterman is an antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter or e-mail with a question, you give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Att. Karen Waterman, P.O. Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.