This Old Thing: Striking portrait by Canadian artist and art teacher

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Q. This painting has been in my family for the past 50 years. It was painted by Canadian artist Adam Sherriff Scott and the title on the canvas back is “Old Philosopher.” The dimensions of the painting are 61 by 46 centimetres (24 x 18 inches). Can you tell me more about the painting and its value?

A. Adam Sherriff Scott (1887-1980) was born in Scotland. His initial studies included the Edinburgh School of Art and the Slade School of Art in London. With his arrival in Montreal in 1912, his career blossomed. He captured much of life in Canada with landscapes, genre scenes and portraits of all kinds. This often included winter scenes, Indigenous cultures, cityscapes, still lifes and interiors. Much of his portfolio was exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He also made a great contribution, teaching art and opening up his own school in Montreal. This striking portrait was painted circa the late 1940s or early 1950s. It certainly invokes deep thought. It is worth $750 today.

Q. I inherited this pair of 29-cm-high (11.5 inches) vases from my great-grandmother. They were a wedding gift and she was married in 1890 in New Glasgow, N.S. They have no cracks or chips. There are some painted underside markings. I would be delighted if you consider these for your newspaper column.

Bohemian opal glass vases

A. The 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. of Chicago advertised your vases as “made of Bohemian glass of a milky white colour and beautifully decorated. This makes a handsome ornament, and would be appreciated as a wedding or birthday gift. There is nothing nicer to give as a holiday present.” The vases were offered individually for 27 cents or the pair for 50 cents — a saving of four cents that, at the time would buy either a loaf of bread or a half-pound (225-gram) rib roast. Bohemia harboured some of the major glass-making centres of Europe. The markings on the base are those of the artist. Your vases are hand-blown opal glass. The hand-painted fruit, flowers and foliage might represent a member of the nightshade plant family, which includes plants used for ornament, food or even drugs. Your stately pair is worth $125.

Q. I have this blue glass lamp I found in the basement of an old house. It is 24 cm tall and 16.5 cm wide (9.5 by 6.5 inches). The house owner said it had been in her family since before hydro came in. I am wondering what you might know about the lamp and its value.

Princess Feather oil lamp

A. You have a kerosene oil lamp in one of the most popular selling patterns of its time — “Princess Feather.” It was made primarily by the Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company in Coraopolis, Penn., from 1894 to 1900. The lamp is found in clear glass and several colours — sometimes just the founts (the oil reservoir) are in colour. But cobalt blue, as in your example was, by far the most popular colour sold. The proportions of your lamp are distinctive of the “sewing” size, which holds the largest amount of oil of any in the several sizes in which this pattern was produced. Originally, it was sold complete with a chimney for less than one dollar. It is one of the most elaborate patterns in glass stand lamps of this era. “Princess Feather” is still quite popular in this colour and it is very difficult to find examples that are free of chips since the foot edges are quite prone. It is worth $250 today.

John Sewell is an antiques and fine art appraiser. To submit an item to his column, go to the ‘Contact John’ page at www.johnsewellantiques.ca. Please measure your piece, say when and how you got it, what you paid and list any identifying marks. A high-resolution jpeg photo must also be included. (Only email submissions are accepted.) *Appraisal values are estimates only.*


https://www.therecord.com/life/2022/05/21/this-old-thing-striking-portrait-by-canadian-artist-and-art-teacher.html

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