Friday, August 15, 2014

Who needs YouTube?

unnamed, unknown, 11" x 8", acrylic on MDF board w/etching

    I am always a sucker for cat paintings, and if there is a kitten in it too, well, what can I say?  This was an ebay purchase and was created using an interesting technique which might help to identify the artist. The painting is on MDF board. It appears that a gold colored base layer was laid down and then the images were loosely painted on top of that. The artist then refined the boundaries of the images of the cats and fish by etching the paint down to the gold under-layer. Of course, what appears to be a signature is really illegible. The frame may be a custom frame, since this is an odd sized painting. It appears to be of very good quality and could have been made by the artist. Any help is appreciated!
   The seller found this painting at an antique store in Roseville, CA. Maybe a California artist? I agree with the seller's assessment it probably dates to the 1960s or 1970s. Acrylic paint became widely used by artists in the early 1960s, so it can't be older than that. It has a kind of early 70s feel to me....

Framed painting

Signature? W. R/N.....?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Making a Nina out of a moleHIll?

unnamed, N.R. (Nina Hill), 10"x14", oil on MDF board, 1943

    This was one of several paintings offered by a North Carolina seller on ebay in October 2013. Some were signed "Nina Hill" and some had no visible signature, but all were undoubtedly by the same artist. I purchased this painting, which had no visible signature. Upon taking the painting out of the frame, I discovered a monogram, "NR 43". My guess would be, based on the fact that one painting was signed by Nina Hill and dated 1958, that she married a man named Hill after 1943 and before 1958, though the name change could also have been the result of a divorce. The sellers of this painting could not remember where and when they purchased it:

"I wish I could have more to tell you, we are in our mid 70s and have been to many sales over the years. We purchased the painting approx. 15 to 20 years ago. Possibly from a sale in the Pinehurst, N.C. area. I have no idea as to time of year."

    Several of the paintings were in Art Deco frames, similar to the one on my painting. There are a half dozen women named Nina Hill in North Carolina in the Social Security Death Index, though none were in the vicinity of Pinehurst. Note that the style of the trees in the 1943 and 1958 paintings are very similar, which may indicate that this artist's work and style were mature by 1943 and that she had been working for some time by then. The 1958 painting was later resold at auction attributed as the Nina Hill 1877-1970 who is weakly listed on This attribution seems very iffy, based on the lack of any other information about this artist on that site, or in the auction listing. There is also no Nina Hill with these dates listed in the Social Security Death Index. There are several paintings at various auction house sites attributed to a British artist named Nina Hill 1877-1970 and her work does bear some similarity to this artist's work but not similar enough, in my opinion, to conclude that all of these works are by the same artist. The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940 by Johnson gives the following information about the British Nina Hill:

"Hill, Mrs. Nina. Exh 1927-1936. Flower and still life painter. Reigate, Surrey, 1927; Westerham, Kent, 1933. L 1, RA 5, RBA 1, RHA 1, RI 12, RSA 2. "

Any help in sorting this out would be appreciated!

 Nina Hill monogram

Other Nina Hill paintings and signatures

Do you ken Helen?

unnamed, Helen Ken, 9"x12", oil on board

    This was an ebay find from some years ago. I am calling it a plein aire sketch. It is actually quite striking from the proper distance, and well done, IMHO. There is another painting, another sketch, verso, along with an inscription, all of which is fairly clear, except for the name of the town where it was painted in New York. The artist recorded that she painted this work while spending the summer with her "Aunt Lilian". I believe the artist's last name is Ken, but it might be Kent. I have not been able to find an artist by either name. The name of the town appears to be Braincliff, and I wondered if it might actually be "Briarcliff" but can't quite make that fit with the artist's scribble. It is possible that it is "Briarcliff" and was misspelled by the artist.  I found several Helen Kens in searching records on who are candidates to be this woman, but just don't have enough information to make the identification. Help!

Saturday, May 17, 2014


unnamed, Z?, 7" x 6", oil on  card

    Another little ebay find from several years ago. I like small paintings, because I don't have much (any) free wall space. So small is among the first things I liked about this work. Then I liked the colors and motion in it. And lastly, I liked the $9.99 price, which is what I paid for it. The signature is close to readable, and I thought (argh!) it would be a good research opportunity. The name looks like "A. Zosber" or "A. Zesber". It could also be Zesbet or Zosbet. It came in an interesting frame that makes me think it is a 1950s, or early 1960s work. Just a guess. The seller was in Gouldsboro, PA, but this kind of feels like a California painting to me. I have found myself standing in front of this painting many times, trying to decipher the signature. Help!

Friday, May 16, 2014

No clute who painted this!

 unnamed, Clute, 16" x 20", oil on artists board

    This painting was purchased at an auction in Allentown, PA. There were at least three listed artists named Clute who were active in New York City, which is not far away. One died in 1914, long before this painting was created. This painting probably dates from the 1940s. There may have been other artists with the same surname, so it is by no means certain that one of the two remaining artists created this painting. The bridge in the painting, if it is based on an existing bridge, may be a clue as to the identity of the artist. I suspect that the bridge is in either New York or Pennsylvania. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who recognizes it.

Montford, Eh?

 unnamed, unsigned, 4" x 5", oil on MDF board

unnamed, Montford, 4" x 5", oil on MDF board

I purchased these two small paintings on ebay from a seller in London, Ontario, Canada. The bridge scene is not signed, but there is a notation verso that says "R. D. Montford".  This may or may not have been added by the artist. I really bought these because I liked the winter scene. The paintings are in identical frames and well presented. They are in the same style and use the same materials, so I am attributing them to the same artist. I amusing the seller's crap images. I will get better images once I figure out my new camera.....

Tennesee Williams?

unnamed, Williams, 14" x 11.5", oil on canvas on plywood board

This painting is a bit unusual. It is an odd size, painted on a home made canvas glued on a thick plywood board, which may be a clue for those who know this artist's work. The signature is a bit unique, too, composed of upper and lower case letters. I like the simplicity of this piece and the color palate the artist used. It was purchased on ebay in March 2011 from the Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee.

Why I hate monograms!

24" x 26" oil on canvas

A local thrift shop find. I like this piece, but it has a really ugly (IMHO) monogram, which is also really cryptic, but indicates that this is a fairly recent work. I have had it for a while, so it was really fresh when I found it. Supposedly, this was on consignment from some folks who lived around Danvers, IL, but they would not respond to my questions about the artist. Any help appreciated!