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Painting found in New Hampshire thrift store could sell for $250,000



She bought the painting for $4 at a thrift store in New Hampshire, unaware that it was by a famous American illustrator. Now he’s heading to the auction.

NC Wyeth’s painting, Ramona, was bought for $4 at a thrift store in New Hampshire. Today it could be sold at auction for $250,000. Courtesy of Bonhams Skinner

One person’s trash could be a New Hampshire woman’s $250,000 salary, after she unknowingly bought a renowned artist’s painting for $4 at a Manchester thrift store.

The customer bought a painting by NC Wyeth, a famous Needham-born early 1900s American illustrator, from a Savers in 2017. She didn’t know what she had, although she sometimes thought, even jokingly. , it could be something special. Time passed and the painting moved from the wall of his bedroom to storage.

It was during a home renovation this year that she found the painting, and this time she decided to seriously check out what it was. So she asked Facebook users what they thought.

The post caught the attention of Lauren Lewis, a Maine-based art conservator who previously worked for the Wyeth Study Center, a department that manages the works of Andrew Wyeth and the work of his family, including his father, NC Wyeth.

In her profession, she is used to being asked if a work of art is a real deal. This is usually not the case.

Painting found in New Hampshire thrift store could sell for $250,000
Courtesy of Bonhams Skinner.

Then she saw the back of the board – the red artist board was a Weber “Renaissance” board, the one Lewis knew NC Wyeth used.

“It made me look a little closer,” Lewis said. “I just suspected it was something different.”

She met with the painting’s owner to take a closer look and also got a second opinion from the Brandywine Museum, home to the Wyeth Study Center. The museum is located in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where NC Wyeth lived for many years until his death in 1945.

Sure enough, the painting the New Hampshire woman found dusted and wedged between old posters at a thrift store was one of NC Wyeth’s works of art, “Ramona.” According to Bonhams Skinner, the auction house now responsible for selling the painting, the price is estimated at $150,000 to $250,000.

“When I looked at it, it’s in very good condition,” Lewis said. “There are a few scratches… but overall it is in excellent condition. It’s really a mystery where he has been for the past 80 years, but someone has taken care of him.

And the mystery is part of the charm of the painting.

It was one of four illustrations made by Wyeth for a 1939 edition of the book “Ramona” by Helen Hunt Jackson. The famous illustrator often drew illustrations for magazine covers – like Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth also did illustrations for Saturday night message – and novels.

The painting shows a tense moment between the young woman, Ramona, and her adoptive mother on the left. He loved melodrama in his work, depicting friction or even fights, said Kathleen Leland, specialist in American and European art at Bonhams Skinner.

Of the four paintings in this series, only one other had resurfaced so far.

Painting found in New Hampshire thrift store could sell for $250,000
Courtesy of Bonhams Skinner.

While they don’t know where the other two are, or how this particular painting ended up in a Savers store, it was typical for N. C. Wyeth’s illustrations to be sent to publishers by train or end up in the author’s estate. .

But in Leland’s experience, a painting like Wyeth’s is usually brought to Bonhams Skinner by someone who has inherited the work or by an art dealer.

But this example “is quite rare”. And although the story has exploded online and appeared in several publications, the woman who purchased the painting has yet to come out with her name publicly.

What’s next for the painting and its thrifty New Hampshire shipper? It will be auctioned at Marlborough on September 19. The auction is live, and while Leland said it’s much more exciting to bid in person, interested parties can bid online.

Most of the profits will be donated to anonymous buyer Savers.

“It’s been a crazy few weeks here with his auction,” Lewis said. “I hope whoever buys it loves it as much as the woman who owns it now.”


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