Thursday, July 18, 2013

Samuel Thal: American Scene Painter

Samuel Thal "Farm" circa 1940s, Oil on canvas

This painting by American artist Samuel Thal (1903-1964) is was purchased by a local reader through an online auction in Connecticut. These days, it is easy for anyone to find artworks at online auctions throughout the world. Our reader bid on this painting without even seeing it! Although it was estimated to sell between $800-$1,200, she snatched it up for $500.

Samuel Thal was born in New York City in 1903, as the son of Russian immigrants. He grew up on a farm in Hadlyme, Connecticut and studied art at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Thal spent most of of his life in Boston where he studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and spent many years doing architectural sculpture. By the 1930s Thal was working as a full-time artist.

He also assisted in the establishment of the art education programs under the WPA Federal Art Project. Thal also taught life drawing classes at Garland Junior College in Boston, the Boston Architectural Club and the Boston Museum of Modern Art.

This painting, "Figure in a Landscape" is a signature painting for Thal, depicting a figure overlooking his farm. Like the American Regionalists and Ashcan painters of the 1930s and 1940s, Thal depicted images of everday life in America including cityscapes, landscapes, and figures. Thal’s realist style and loose, expressionistic brushstrokes can also be compared to the style of Van Gogh's early work.

After a bit of appraisal research, I discovered that a number of Thal’s paintings have sold at auction. His auction records range from $600-$4,000 depending on subject, size, date, condition, and provenance. His strongest market is at auction with only a few galleries carrying his work -- but retail prices could be up to 50% higher in a gallery setting.

If this painting were appraised for Insurance purposes it would have a Retail Replacement Value of approximately $2,000-$3,000. *Retail Replacement Value is defined as the highest amount in terms of US dollars that would be requireda to replace a property with another of similar age, quality, origin, appearance, provenance, and condition with a reasonable length of time in an appropriate and relevant market. When applicable, sales and/or import tax, commissions and/or premiums are included in this amount.

* This is not an official appraisal. It is for informational purposes only. An appraisal is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert who has examined the artwork in-person and is paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object. This article is restricted-use and is intended for educational purposes only.