Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I hate label removers!

"Near The Post Office", unknown, 13" x 16", oil on board

     I found this unframed painting at a local thrift shop for $3.77, including tax. I think it is London scene from the 1920s or 1930s, judging by the image and the board that it is painted on. I can almost make out the signature and suspect that it may be "V. Sozonov", and is by Russian painter Valerie Sozonov or Vsevolod Sozonov. Valerie is used as a man's name in Russia. I suspect that the several records I have found for these two men are actually for the same man. I have only been able to find a few examples of work attributed to this artist on the Internet, but could not find an image of a signature. I am researching a biography for these artists.
    The style is very similar to the couple of examples of this artist's work that I could find, and there were several mentions of English and London scenes in the auction records of his work. There are a few scratches and scrapes on this piece, but I really like the motion in the scene. I had almost given up on finding treasure that day and was literally on my way out of the door, when I saw it leaning, half hidden among some other items. Woo and Hoo. The remnants of a label and the pencilled title are verso. It is somewhat maddening that the label was removed. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who is familiar with this artist's work.

Volcanic mystery

 Glass vase, 8.5" x  6.25" x 4" (base)

A thrift shop find. Don't remember what I paid for it, but under $10. I am calling it a volcano vase. A nicely done mix of glass, maybe Murano? No signature, no other marks, except a couple of small circles on the bottom. Any help in identifying this piece is appreciated.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mystery fish.

unnamed, Milt Kahl, 4.5"l x 3.5"h x 2.5"w, pottery

Found these at a local thrift shop a couple of years ago. I wonder if these could be by the Disney artist of the same name? I couldn't find anything similar by him using an Internet search. The last name could be Kohl, not Kahl.  I did find a few mentions of a Milt Kohl using a Google search, but nothing indicating he was an artist.

 unnamed, Milt Kahl, 4"l x 3"h x 3.5"w, pottery

Milt Kahl/Kohl signature

Friday, July 20, 2012

Asian occasion!

unnamed, unknown, 11" x 10", watercolor on paper

unnamed, unknown, 10" x 11", watercolor on paper

These were an ebay find. Probably Southeast Asian, or maybe from the Philippines. They appear to be by the same artist as the signatures look the same, but are indecipherable. To me, at any rate. Quite well done, probably for the tourist trade, but maybe by a well known local artist, wherever "local" was. 

Indonesian inquiry.

unnamed, all 7.75" x 14.25", watercolor on paper

I found these at the local Goodwill store a few months ago. There are actually four of them but I have not gotten a picture of the other one, yet. All are similarly signed, with something like "G. Sedokna", but I can't quite make out the signatures. They were identically framed and had framing labels on the back in Indonesian, so I am guessing that is their origin. They are quite nicely done, so I suspect they are the work of a professional artist. I don't think they are more than 20 or 30 years old. Any help is appreciated.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Simply Simpkins?

unnamed, Simpkins, 3" x 5", oil on board

unnamed, Simpkins, 5" x 7", gouache on board

Mystery solved! I was able to identify these paintings as the work of Carmen Zitelmann Simpkins by comparing the signatures on my paintings to that on one on a work on FindAGrave.com, which was posted by someone who knew Ms. Simpkins.


The link also contains her lengthy obituary and other information contributed by a friend.

These two small paintings are an ebay acquisition. They appear to be by the same artist and came from an estate sale via the same seller. They are so different in style that I probably would not have guessed they were by the same artist, since I was only able to determine the signature on the abstract painting because it is relatively clear on the guoache. Both had the framing label of the Burrison Art Galleries, Philadelphia. This gallery apparently moved several times, as I found similar labels for at least three different street addresses. The signature on the gouache appears to be "S or C Z Simpkins". Possibly the work of Berlin born Cuban artist Carmen Z. Simpkins, 1913-2011. I have been unable to find any examples of her work or signature.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nice Jugs.

Red crackle glass jug, 6" x 3.5"

I found a version of this jug in red glass at a local thrift shop and thought it might be from a mom and pop glass maker, but when I searched ebay to see if anything similar was out there, I found this exact copy of the jug in red crackle glass from a California seller. The non-crackle version is more red and the crackle version has a bit of orange in it. After finding to nearly identical jugs, a couple of thousand miles apart, I now think it must be from one of the commercial art glass houses, like Pilgrim, Rainbow, Blenko, etc. Hard to date these. My first instinct was 1950s or 1960s, but now not so sure. The first jug I found had a cork in it, so these may have been intended to hold cordials or liqueurs, which is what I an tempted to do with them. I don't recognize the pontil mark, which is just a small circle and I could not find an exact match for the glass colors used in the two jugs amongst those I found on ebay. These are gorgeous little jugs, elegantly simple in design and in beautiful colors, so really interested in finding out who that maker was/is. I collected art glass for many years and really don't have space for more, but could not pass these by. Any help appreciated.

Sorry for the lousy image. This was the ebay image. I'll get a better shot.

Who Be Ware?

unnamed, J A Ware, 12" x 9", oil on board

This painting was purchased on ebay from a seller in San Diego who guessed it was a 1930s vintage painting. The only artist I can find with initials J. A. was John Angus Ware, about who little information is available, but whose work does not particularly resemble the work of this artist, being much more realistic in style. This piece appears to be in the original frame and is under glass, which is unusual for an oil painting. It could date to the 1930s, but could also be a bit earlier or a bit later. There is nothing about the painting that really helps to definitively date it. The signature is somewhat distinctive, though. Any help appreciated.

Krueger's fruit?

unnamed, Krueger, 10" x 11.75", oil on artist board

Not much to go on here, just a last name and date. I suspect that this is German, not painted by a German American. Not the work of an amateur, methinks. The signature may be the only clue, though, along with the style of the work.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jill Melanie Sosin watercolor

This painting has been identified as the work of Jill Melanie Sosin, thanks to the assistance of David Fallucco. Thanks, David!

Here is another thrift shop find. A very well done, and nicely detailed watercolor on Arches paper. I have found several artists named Sosin, but none with this artist's initials. A very accomplished artist and this is such a complex piece that there must be more work out there by this artist. Any help appreciated!

T.M. Sosin signature

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Roberts pottery.

unnamed, Roberts, 12" x 4" x 3", ceramic

    Here is a nice vase, a thrift shop find. Looking inside, it can be seen that this vase is was constructed using the coil method. It is decorated on both sides, with similar, though not exact, images of what I think are blue iris flowers. There is also a triple line around the bottom and what I read as the signature "Roberts", on the bottom. This is so well done and striking that I am certain that it is by an established artist. It does not appear to be too old, perhaps later than 1990. Any help in identifying this artist would be appreciated.

A really zwaal drawing.

"Huizen in Vreeland", P. Zwaal, 12" x 18.5", charcoal on paper

Another mystery solved! This drawing is the work of Amsterdam artist Pauline Johanna "Polly" Zwaal 1906-1993. She was a well known, academically trained, Dutch artist.

    Here is a nice mystery. This drawing, "Houses in Vreeland", is titled in Dutch and bears the signature of a Dutch artist, and was found at my local thrift shop. It was only passably framed with a poor attempt at a French Mat and badly mounted. I think that this is the work of an amateur Dutch artist, though pretty well done. No fixative was applied to the drawing, which would seem to indicate that it has not been handled much, as it remains in good condition. Any information on this artist would be appreciated. 

Title and signature


    The piece was created on good paper with a watermark which may be an indication of the date it was created. I have not been able to find out anything about this watermark, yet. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ring a Bell?

unnamed, N. Bell, 14" x 8", ink wash

    A thrift shop find. Nicely done pen and ink drawing that has been framed multiple times, so was valued by someone. There is residue of tape from two of the previous mountings verso, and a piece of folded scotch tape at the top which is on both sides. The multiple mountings may be an indication of age. The last time it was mounted and framed was by a Bloomington, IL framer who went out of business in the late 1980s. The only record I find of an artist named Bell with the first initial of "N" was a British artist named Norman Martin Bell (1907-1970). This artist was listed as a painter and was also an author. I have not been able to find any examples of his signature or work. Coincidentally, at the same thrift shop, about the same time, I acquired an etching done about 1925 by the British artist Dorothy F. Sweet. 

   An interesting thing about this drawing is that there is a number written verso on the drawing that was transferred to the framer's label on the back of the drawing. I am not sure of the significance of this number.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

B. Grant watercolorist

unnamed, B. Grant, 8" x 10", watercolor

The seller of this painting speculated that it could be the work of Blanche Chloe Grant (1874-1948), based on the signature and label from a prominent Boston art dealer. Grant is best known for western scenes as she moved to Taos, New Mexico in the 1920s, where she painted mostly in oils. She studied in Boston at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts and at the Art Students League, first, though, and worked as an illustrator with Howard Pyle.  My research shows that she won a prize for her watercolor work before 1920 and also travelled to Europe to study and paint before moving to Taos, so it is easy to understand this attribution.

 Label, verso

There are problems with this attribution, though. When I received the painting, I realized that it had been opened and that some modern materials, probably from the 1990s, had been used to mount this watercolor, so it cannot be confirmed that that this painting is original to this frame, or even that the label is original to the frame.


At first examination, I thought that the signature might have been done with a ballpoint pen, but close examination with a magnifying glass shows that it was more likely done with a fountain pen. All in all, a nicely done watercolor that could easily date to the 1920s, or before, and may, or may not, have origins in Boston, and may, or may not, be the work of Blanche Chloe Grant. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who is familiar with the early work of Ms. Grant and can confirm whether or not this is her work. In the mean time, this remains a mystery artist.