Thursday, October 7, 2010

ART FIND - Rembrandt or Wullbrandt?

(Published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine/ Fall 2010)

Doing art appraisals in California, I have a particular interest in local artists and how their art markets.  So when Carpinteria locals, Debra and Paul Aresco, submitted this painting by California landscape painter John Wullbrandt, I was eager to discover its worth.

The question is: Does this painting have any value in today's art market? I always tell my appraisal clients to remember that value is based on many factors. While family history or nostalgia seems to count for a lot, it’s not what substantiates value. An official art appraisal is based on market comparables and takes into account the artist, as well as condition, size, authenticity, provenance, and the current economy. An appraiser also has to consider the popularity of an artist’s style -- and whether the artwork is being sold at a gallery or auction.

All of us hope to stumble upon a masterpiece in our local thrift store. When our collector walked into the Catholic Thrift Store a few years ago she immediately recognized this painting by John Wullbrandt. She didn’t know if it was valuable, but remembered him painting it while they were in school together at Carpinteria High School in the 1970s. So she decided to buy it -- for $3!

What I discovered is that John Wullbrandt is a contemporary artist born in Santa Barbara, California. He is a self-taught painter known for his realistic landscapes and trompe l’oeil paintings. Wullbrandt spent many years establishing a career in Hawaii and returned to Santa Barbara to paint from his art studio on a local ranch. This painting, “Still Life with Pears” is an early work by Wullbrandt and has a likeness to Cezanne’s work. Utilizing cubist forms, muted colors, and flattened perspective -- Wullbrandt was experimenting with modernist techniques.

While Wullbrandt has no auction records, a number of galleries in California and Hawaii sell his work. “Still Life with Pears” is a large painting, which is in good condition. An early work of this quality would be highly sought after by collectors. While this $3 thrift store find may be a Wullbrandt rather than a Rembrandt, it’s a treasure indeed! In a gallery, this painting would be estimated to sell between $10,000-$12,000.
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Alissa J. Anderson is an art appraiser for Anderson Shea Art Appraisals in Santa Barbara, CA. She specializes in appraisals for insurance purposes, resale value, estate tax, and charitable donation. She is a member of the Appraisers Association of America (USPAP-compliant), qualified to appraise American and European paintings, drawings, and sculpture. Anderson also works as an art writer and independent curator. (www.andersonshea-artappraisals.com)

©2010 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.)

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