The paintings have garnered virtually no attention for decades, hanging amidst family-created art on the wall of basement rec room in a Connecticut home.
On Sunday, though, the two oil paintings — lost treasures painted more than a century ago by Jasper F. Cropsey, one of the premiere Hudson River School artists – will be the star of the show, when they are are sold at auction at Clarke Auction Gallery in Larchmont.
“This is one of those big discovery moments,” says Clarke appraiser Nelia Moore, referring to the owner of the paintings’ recent finding that the art, long ignored on his parents’ wall, are museum-quality Cropsey creations.
Although Crospey paintings, which have fetched more than $1 million and are on display in museums, including the Met, periodically appear at auction, these paintings are particularly exciting because they have never been on the market, Moore says.
The scenic paintings, “Prospect Point, Niagara Falls in Winter” and “Autumn in America,” have been authenticated by The Newington-Cropsey Foundation, the organization in Hastings-on Hudson devoted to Cropsey’s work. The paintings have “conservatively” been valued between $40,000 and $60,000 each, Moore says.
The paintings first came to light earlier this spring, when the owner, a Westchester resident, brought them to an appraisal sponsored by the Larchmont Historical Society after cleaning out the home of his late parents. An individual overseeing the removal of items from the home offered the man $125 for each piece of art.
Although exactly how the paintings wound up in family hands isn’t certain, the owner does know that they were passed down through his grandmother. A New York City seamstress, his grandmother may have received them as a gift from a wealthy client during a time when Cropsey’s art had fallen out of favor, Moore says.
The paintings will be sold as part of a larger auction of art and furniture at noon on Sunday at the Clarke Gallery, 2372 Boston Post Road in Larchmont. The gallery is open for previews noon to 6 p.m. today through Saturday. The doors open at 10 a.m. on Sunday.