Without experienced auction appraisers or reputable dealers fanning out forgery or poor-condition, eBay may not be a primary source for fine art and antiques collectors. Here a lack of hands-on experience forces the decision to be made soley on a few amateur photos under dim lighting. But great finds are abundant. In particular, quite often eBay prices tend to fall short compared to major auction house results. (In the past I have seen paintings sold on eBay that later appeared in major auction houses.) Two days ago, a painting by Charles Warren Eaton stood out as an example.
What distinguished this painting from other Eaton’s paintings on eBay is the subject matter and the unique exhibition label which shows the provenance.
Lauded as the “Pine Tree Painter,” Eaton’s signature subject paintings are blue-chips in most auction houses. In general, his large pine tree paintings fetch between $15,000 to $30,000 while smaller ones tend to reach at least $5,000.
Here is a short list of recent auction records for Charles Warren Eaton. The sample only selects oil paintings by Eaton with pine trees as the prominent subject. Other paintings such as Bruges landscape are not considered in the sample list.
The figure below shows that the smaller sized (in most cases, 8 by 10 inches) paintings are substantially more pricey. The average price of small pine tree paintings sold at auctions within the last two years is about $7,000.
The painting bears a label indicating it was exhibited to the State Fair of Texas in Dallas on Oct 6 to 15, 1922. To travel a great distance to the state of Texas to be included in the “ 17th Annual Loan Collection of American Painters.”
The exhibition shows Eaton’s status and the validity of this small gem to represent his artistic achievement. The original owner’s name can hardly be deciphered, but the address is 59th Street, which was close to many artists co-op buildings at that time.
The painting has been placed behind the glass. Without being able to see in person, it is tentative to conclude information about the condition.
The bidding didn’t start until the last minute. Starting from $2,500, it was sold for 4,302.52. I won’t be surprised if this painting shows up in some major auction house in the near future.