A painting purchased for a pittance at a New Hampshire thrift store has been identified as a work by renowned illustrator N. C. Wyeth worth up to a quarter of a million dollars at auction. The work was bought for just four dollars in 2017 by a woman browsing the home goods section at a Savers.
Believed to be intended as a frontispiece for a 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884Ramona, the painting garnered its current owner’s attention not for its stunning detail, rich hues, or emotional weight, but for the frame in which it was ensconced. Curious as to the work’s provenance, its new custodian performed a cursory Google search upon arriving home with the treasure, but turned up no information. The work remained in her home until this past May, when she posted a picture of it to a number of Facebook groups. Through one of these groups, titled “Things Found in Walls,” she made contact with Rockland, Maine–based art conservator Lauren Lewis, who drove three hours to scrutinize the painting in person.
“I am used to seeing copies of Wyeth paintings or paintings by other artists who might have been influenced by him being attributed to the artist falsely,” she toldBarron’s, “but there were things about these photos that caught my eye.” Lewis, who through the Farnsworth Art Museum had worked with the art of three generations of Wyeths, determined that there was a “99 percent” chance that the work was by N. C. Wyeth, father of artist Andrew Wyeth and grandfather of Jamie Wyeth. The painting is set to be sold September 19 as part of an auction of American art held by Bonhams Skinner in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
It is expected to hammer within a price range of $150,000 to $250,000..