Paul Sawyier - Thanks to Bertc.com
I believe that art can help us to achieve the goals set by the Daryle Lambert's Antiques and Collectibles Club quicker then any other items. In fact, it should be a requirement that all our members be knowledgeable of the artists who come from their states or surrounding areas. You have read my many blogs about Kentucky artists and you can be assured that my knowledge of them has paid off for me handsomely, but not always, as you will read.
First, I would like to acquaint you with Paul Sawyier, a Kentucky artist who is also claimed by New York. Before I share stories of the opportunities that knowledge of him has provided to me, here is a biography for you to read.
Paul Sawyier was born on March 23, 1865 in Madison County, Ohio to Nathaniel J. and Ellen Wingate Sawyier. He was not the only Sawyier in his family to take brush in hand at the easel. His father was an amateur and his sister, Natalie became a professional painter. Nathaniel Sawyier moved the family to Frankfort about 1870. Frankfort had been the home of both, Nathaniel and Ellen when they were children. Sawyier attended Second Street School and the Dudley Institute during his formative years in Frankfort. Elizabeth Hutchins, a Cincinnati artist was employed to give lessons to the Sawyier children. During 1884, Paul attended the Cincinnati Art Academy. There he studied under Thomas S. Nobel, a known Kentucky artist. Using crayon, he began to paint portraits to supplement his income. Returning to Frankfort in 1886, Sawyier went to work at the Kentucky River Mill as a hemp salesman. A year later he gave up his job at the factory to paint scenes around Frankfort. His Old Covered Bridge series became popular when the bridge was closed in the winter of 1893. Sawyier moved to New York in 1889 and lived with his sister, Lillian and her family. He began to study watercolors under William Merritt Chase at the Arts Students League. Then returning to Cincinnati in 1890, Paul studied oils under the Frank Duveneck, a well known Kentucky portrait painter. Sawyier moved back to Frankfort and shared a studio with photographer, Henry G. Mattern. During this period he concentrated on landscapes, painting in oil, pastels and watercolors. Paul purchased a houseboat on the Kentucky River for his studio, which doubled as his home. He traveled up and down the river painting and selling his paintings. In 1913 he moved to Brooklyn, New York and again made his home with his sister, Lillian. There he was commissioned by New York art dealer, Edward Jackson. He moved to the Catskill Mountains and then to Fleischmann, New York where he died on November 4, 1917 and was buried. In June of 1923, Sawyier's remains were moved from Fleischmann, New York to the Frankfort Cemetery.
This biography was found on the Franklin County Kentucky Historical site.
Now that you know who Paul Sawyier was, I will share a few stories about him that have come my way. Most of them are missed opportunities. The first one is when I was presented the chance to purchase two small watercolors measuring about 8 x 10 by Mr. Sawyier at a Bunte's auction in Chicago. I knew they were good but I thought that, just to be sure, I would ask a good friend of mine his opinion. Well, he said not to go over $2500 each so that is what I did. Being the under bidder on each painting I have to admit to being a little disappointed. But that was nothing compared to when I learned they were sent to New York just a few months later and sold for $7500 each.
My next experience with a Sawyier painting came when I was invited to a lovely lady’s home. One of the things she had for sale was a painting measuring about 10 x 20 of an Ohio River scene by Sawyier. It looked as if it had been painted on the banks of the Ohio River in my home town of Owensboro. I asked what she would have to get for the painting and her answer was $7500. Because I was new to the upscale markets, this seemed a high figure for me so I asked if she would let me call the next day. Her response was “Sure”.
Getting home and doing my research, I couldn't wait for the morning to come to confirm the purchase. So early the next morning I called and to my surprise I was told that the afternoon before she had called one of the auction houses and had consigned the painting. I had broken one of my own rules “Don't leave a treasure when you have the chance to own it.” The money just scared me a bit.
Last but not least, is recently when a Sawyier was being offered by the New Orleans Auction Gallery with a $7000 – $10,000 estimate. I got busy and forgot the auction date on which it sold for only $7200. This was one of the largest Sawyiers that I have seen, measuring 20 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. In Kentucky, this painting might well have brought $30,000. Oh well.
I believe there are many lessons to be learned from my experiences with Sawyier paintings and I hope the next time I write about him, it will be a success story.
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