Posted 2 months ago
Some of my favorite mystery paintings from my collection, which I have had for quite a few years. The theme in this post is winter and fall. Appropriate as it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit here last night. I have three pages of mystery paintings on my art collection web site, but these are some of my favorites and I look at them frequently. I have spent many hours researching them, to no avail. Some are very good art and some I just really like. The text below is just cut and pasted from my web site. I may do a couple more posts of my mystery paintings...
First painting. unnamed, Spragg, 12" x 16", oil on board. No idea who this artist is, but I love this painting, and it is one of my favorites. I purchased it from a seller in Townsend, MA, who estimated the board it is painted on to be pre-WWII. It is a small painting in a really nice vintage frame, was cheap, and I am a sucker for bleak winter scenes, especially with a small pop of color like the red in the woman's shawl. The frame is period and was in bad shape as the glue joints had failed. I took it to a framer who did a good job of putting it back together.
Second painting: "unnamed" by W. Bartsch, 15" x 18", oil on canvas. This painting was offered as a "very early work by German artist Wilhelm Bartsch". I am very dubious about this attribution, for a couple of reasons. First, the painting is on an American made canvas and bears a stamp that says "The Pfleger Pat." with an 1886 date and a Chicago, IL address. I have found no indication that Wilhelm Bartsch ever traveled to the U.S. Second, all of the paintings that I have seen that are attributed to Bartsch are signed "W. Bartsch" in cursive. There is some similarity in the "B" in Bartsch on several of these paintings, in that the bottom of the letter is open. One painting, dated 1941, bears a very ornate signature that is unlike any other signature claimed for Bartsch. What I can say about this painting is that it is a very old painting, judging by the toning on the back of the canvas and the age of the stretchers. Another thing that makes it seem certain that this painting is by an American artist named W. Bartsch is that the size of the canvas is indicated on the stretcher as "15" on one bar and "18" on another bar. I purchased this painting because I love bleak winter scenes. My guess would be that this painting dates to the early part of the 20th century, or a bit later. It does appear to be in a European style, but there were numerous Bartsch men of German extraction in the U.S. in censuses in the early 1900s whose first initial was "W" who might have been the artist.
Third painting: unnamed, unknown, 22" x 28", oil. I don't often buy unsigned paintings because it is usually very hard to find out anything about them and it thwarts my enjoyment in doing research. I am a sucker for winter paintings though, especially colorful ones, so here we are. This one was purchased by the previous owner at an estate sale in Hopewell, NJ in early 2009 and described as in the New Hope School style and guesstimated to be 1930s vintage. I tend to agree on the age, judging by the board it is painted on and the frame it is in. The board is canvas board that has a built in paper backing that is darkened and quite brittle. The scene could certainly be 1930s-1950s. It is a mixture of naive and fairly sophisticated painting, obviously done by a painter of some experience, though perhaps not formally trained. I don't have any "hope" that I will be able to find out more about it. Just planning to enjoy it on those hot, Midwestern July afternoons.
Fourth painting: unnamed, unknown artist, 9" x 12", oil on wood panel. This is an ebay find. It is unsigned but has a fairly uncommon color palette, so I thought I would take a chance and see if I could identify the artist, because it is a fairly high quality painting. I am surprised that the artist did not sign it, so it could be a study, though a pretty detailed one. It is painted on a wood panel with grain similar to that I have seen on furniture imported from SE Asia, so it may not be a commercial art board. A sheet of brown paper was glued on as backing. I have never been able to capture the golden glow of the foliage in the tree, but it gleams on my wall. The seller was located in Woodland Hills, CA which is near the Santa Monica Mountains in the San Fernando Valley, so this may be the work of a local artist. It was placed in a nice, but somewhat generic, re-purposed oak frame. There are signs of a previous backing and cryptic numbers and letters on the frame that likely have nothing to do with this painting. I paid $98 shipped for this painting, which is much more than I would typically pay for a painting by an unknown artist, but the color and brush work is so bold and confident that I couldn't resist it. Pretty sure that it is not the work of an amateur artist. I thought it might be the work of California artist Karen Winter, since there are similarities to her work, but she says it is definitely not her work. She agreed, though, that this was once her color palette. The search goes on....