Painting by Eleanor Douglass
One of the contacts over the summer (2007) was from a gentleman who was researching Eleanor Douglass on the internet and found my articles about her. He wanted to let me know that he has one of Eleanor Douglass’ paintings. He graciously sent me the above photo of it. He noted that he is an avid collector of American arts and crafts decorative arts and just loves the painting. (It looks like it has found a wonderful home.)
This gentleman, who preferred that I not use his name, said that he picked it up in an antique shop in Frederick, MD about ten years ago and that it is in a marked Charles Rholfs frame which is dated 1903. He further added that Rholfs was one of the leading arts and crafts furniture makers and from Buffalo, NY.
The year 1903 fits well into the time period that Eleanor was living in her little house in Willink, near East Aurora, and exhibiting in the Buffalo art shows. This painting is typical of those Eleanor painted and similar to the ones her second cousin, Carl Ahrens, patinted. Eleanor and Carl spent some months painting together on the Saugeen Indian reservation near Southampton, Ontario. They were related on the Gaukel side of the family. (Eleanor’s mother was Polly Gaukel)
If you would like to see some of Carl’s paintings, visit this website.
I am a relative of Eleanor Douglas. My grandmother was Helen (Douglass) Richardson, the youngest sister of Silas Douglass. As I grew up, Grandma had two paintings of Eleanor Douglas’s in her livingroom, and my mother also had one of her paintings. I don’t know what happened to my grandmother’s paintings after her death in 1996 because my uncle, her son, and I had had a falling out and have not reconnected. My mother’s painting, however, is now in my possession. From what I remember of those other two Douglases and from what I’ve found on the internet about her, this painting is quite moody and dark, but it is signed in the lower left-hand corner. While I am an art enthusiast–probably the only one in my family at present–I am far from being a connoisseur. I need to find out how to insure the painting and at what cost. How do I go about doing that? I now live in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Please advise.
I must apologize for my delay in responding to your comment on my website. From August through October I was on the road for weeks at a time and I only recently got back to my genealogy. In fact I just found your comment this morning.
You must be happy to have an Eleanor Douglass painting. It is a part of our family treasure, I would say, though I have no idea what its value on the open market would be. You would need to know the value or get an estimate. Perhaps a local museum curator would be able to help you with an estimate or send you to someone who could. Then as to insurance, home owner insurance policies can provide a rider to cover an artifact of value. The cost would depend on the value of the article of course. Even though we love Eleanor’s paintings, I do not think it would be highly valued (I could be wrong)
What you do have is good provenance, in other words, you know personally where it came from as it was in your family. Sometimes that is important in establishing art value. That is about the extent of my knowledge on the subject.
So good to hear from you and to know I have a relative in Nanaimo. I have a son in Seattle, so perhaps we can meet some day.
Thank you for your message. I wasn’t bothered at all by the wait. I am, however, glad that you made it home safely from your travels.
I did talk to an art dealer in Victoria, B. C.–one of considerable reputation, I found out after the fact–who said that, indeed, the painting isn’t even worth insuring separately from the rest of the household goods. Without having seen the painting itself, he estimated the insurance value at no more than $500 Canadian for a large canvas, and this one is actually quite small. Alas.
I am glad to have it, nonetheless. Few people in my family have the appreciation for art that I inherited from my grandmother, and I am quite fond of this one. It would be nice to see it get a home back in the Douglass family after my time on Earth, however. My daughter doesn’t share my enthusiasm for art in general, let alone this painting. So if we could keep in touch, I would very much appreciate it. It may be that she could deliver it to your children in years to come. That will, of course, be her decision, but I would rather get it back into the family than have it sold at auction.
You may also google my name to find out more about me. I am a writer and musician, and, since my immediate family and I have trouble relating to one another, perhaps a more distant relative is “just what the doctor ordered.”