Thursday, October 22, 2009


(Once a month Alissa Anderson does an online art appraisal for one of our readers. Submit your art.)

Another Man’s Treasure

Is the painting you unearthed during spring-cleaning, the next Jackson Pollock? If you’ve seen Antiques Roadshow on PBS, you know digging around in your garage might just be the next great treasure hunt.

What makes art valuable? The answer is this: it depends. Value depends upon many things including the artist, the condition of the object, art market trends, and whether the artwork is sold at a gallery or auction. An art appraiser also has to consider authenticity, provenance, and style.

So when we asked our readers to submit a piece of art for an online appraisal, we discovered something exciting. Our Santa Barbara art collector inherited a painting from her mother, who spent many years in Claremont, California. She didn’t know much more that that. As an art appraiser, my first big clue was a signature and a date identifying it as painting by one of California’s watercolorists, Milford Zornes. Zornes began painting during the Great Depression, alongside Southern California artists Millard Sheets, Rex Brandt, George Post, among others. During the 1930s, the group formed the California Style of watercolor painting as an inexpensive alternative to oils. Watercolors and paper also enabled impoverished artists to transport their materials easily and paint on site.

As an art appraiser specializing in California art, I was able to discover that “Farm House” was painted in 1953 and depicts a scene from then-rural Riverside with the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains in the background. Demonstrating Zornes’s unique variation on the Watercolor Style, he utilizes large, swift brushstrokes and stark, unpainted negative space. Zornes lived to be 100 years old and painted almost all his life. He is widely regarded in the art world and his paintings are widely collected, making “Farm House” a desirable artwork. 

At auction this painting would be estimated to sell between $3,000-$5,000. A treasure indeed. . . 

Please submit your painting, drawing, or sculpture for next month’s ART FIND. To be considered, mail a photo and brief description to:

©2009 Alissa J. Anderson, Santa Barbara, California. All Rights Reserved. None of the contents of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanic, photocopy, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of Anderson Shea Art Appraisals, and the appraiser’s signature.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi my name is E.Rhodes I have a painting hanging in my bedroom with the name of the painter being J Mildford Zornes it is a painting of the Air Force Quarters in China.