Watching the reactions on the show Antiques Roadshow never gets old, especially when someone is told that the item they’ve found in an attic or purchased at a yard sale is actually worth a lot of money. In this case, a woman was stunned to discover that a painting that she inherited was worth far more than she ever could have imagined.
As this show goes, it’s interesting to find out the backstory of an item before the appraiser reveals the value.
This story was an interesting one, as the young woman explained how a mosquito had become stuck in the painting that she had inherited from her grandmother, so she decided to remove the glass and remove the insect. She flicked it away but had a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach when she touched the canvas.
She told master appraiser Meredith Hilferty: “I took it out to the front yard and I opened it up to get the mosquito out, so I could take it with me to college, and then it kind of scared me a little. I closed it back up immediately because it looked like it might be real.”
She further explained that she didn’t know much about the artist, French-born Henry Francois Farny, who moved to northern Pennsylvania as a 6-year-old boy. She was familiar, however, with his positive relationships with the Native Americans he came into contact with. Farny was adopted into a Sioux tribe who gave him the name Long Boots.
The painting, which depicts a group of Sioux riding on horseback on a rocky mountain trail, was passed down to the woman’s grandmother and it hung over her bed until she passed away.
The young woman noted: “Her dad, I’m guessing, would’ve given it to her after she spent the summer at a dude ranch when she was 19, in, like, the 40’s.”
She always believed it was probably a cheap reprint that wasn’t worth more than $200, but it turned out to be so much more valuable. She even explained that it had been appraised two times before and she was told it only had sentimental value, as she noted: “In 1998, it was appraised as a print at $200 and, in 2004, it was appraised at $250.”
Interestingly, the painting was worth a lot because of the peaceful portrayal of Native American life which makes the artwork in such high demand. It’s so highly sought after, in fact, that the appraiser told her it was worth between $200,000 and $300,000!
The evaluator explained that the piece “is really interesting because it’s a dense group of figures, which is very desirable in his work.” She added that “he did eventually spend a lot of time with the Sioux Indians and they did adopt him and gave him the name Long Boots.”
Hilferty further noted that “this is really his most prolific time. 1890 is about when we start to see some of his very best paintings. He represented Native Americans in a very kind of peaceful, tranquil way and you can see that in this painting.”
She added: “he didn’t ever really bring conflict into his work as some of the other artists from that time did… he really wanted to just show the Native Americans in their natural environment without too many other things happening besides the landscape around them.”
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