Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Still Life with Frying Pan and Red Cabbage 1979 
Image: © The estate of Louisa Matthiasdottir
I recently appraised an interesting painting by the artist, Louisa Matthiasdottir, which was inherited by client’s parents who lived in New York City in the early to 1950’s.

The prices for modern paintings by women artists have been steadily increasing. While historically, works by their male male counterparts have always been more valuable on the art market, that is changing. Paintings by Helen Lundeberg, Emily Carr, and Georgia O’Keeffe demand some of the highest prices in The American art.

Louisa Matthiasdottir was born in Reykjavik, Iceland. She became known for her striking portraits, self portraits, still lifes, interiors, and Icelandic landscapes, all distinguished by their simple, geometric shapes and flat planes of crisp, bold colors.

She came to New York in 1942 and had her first solo show at the Jane Street Gallery in 1948. Shortly after her arrival in the United States, she met Leland Bell, whom she married in 1944. Sometimes they had double exhibitions together, and both showed at Robert Schoelkopf Gallery where she had seventeen solo shows between 1964 and 1991. (Source:  Askart.com)

Louisa Matthiasdottir’s uses a palette of tones of grey, white, and greens. Characteristic of Matthiasdottirs’s paintings, “Still Life” is a realistic, yet modernist depiction of a classic still life for which the artist is best known. She also painted horses. Her swift brushstrokes and shadowing create a representative image, yet use some modernist elements of color and flattening.

Matthiasdottir has a body of work and is acknowledged by the fine art community as an important and valuable artist. This painting is representative of her mid-career style for which she is well know. A recognizable still life such as this would inspire a competitive demand on the market, especially for a work of this condition, quality by the artist.  

The scarcity of Matthiasdottir’s work to the market, as well as the fact that this piece is part of a significant private collection (not exhibited in many decades), makes for a strong market. The painting is mid-size in scale, is in excellent condition, and is a recognizable subject. Matthiasdottirs’s values have been steadily rising in value over the past 20 years. 

Matthiasdottir’s work has been auctioned approximately 25 times in the past 20 years. Currently the highest auction record for the artist is $43,750 for “Three Horses “ (high auction price date 6/13/2017) and “Still life with Chinese eggplant and squash” (auction on 8/22/2018). Both of these work were more modernist in style than the appraised work. Most of Matthiasdottir’s artworks sell for an average of $5,000-$8,000. Gallery pricing is up to $40,000.

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