Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Jane Peterson


Larkspurs by Jane Peterson
Medium: Oil on canvas
This piece is a perfect example of Jane Peterson's dazzling use of color and confident brushwork

My heart is filled with joy when I walk into a client’s home and see a work of art by Jane Peterson (1876-1965). It has been my privilege to appraise quite a few of her pieces over the years. Every time I work with her art, I fall more deeply in love. Her artwork is characterized by dazzling color, strong outlines and beautifully structured compositions. The subject matter runs the gamut of Venetian canal scenes, street scenes from Algeria, Egypt and Turkey, New England beach and marine scenes and lush floral and garden paintings.

The Early Years

Jane’s artistic journey began in 1893 when she took an artistic aptitude test at the Art Institute of Chicago. The test clearly revealed her artistic talent, and she was accepted at Pratt Institute. With $300 borrowed from her mother, Jane moved from Elgin, Illinois to New York to study art. Think of the courage and determination it took for a single woman of 19 to move to New York city in 1895. While studying at Pratt, Jane taught painting lessons to other students. She graduated in 1901 and quickly found work as a drawing instructor in the Brooklyn public schools. Over the next few years, she held several different teaching positions which took her to Boston and Michigan.

Leaning Tower of Venice by Jane Peterson
Medium: Oil on Canvas
This piece sold at auction at Coeur d'Alene, Reno, Nevada on July 31, 2021 for US $72,600 including the buyer's premium

The Turning Point

The turning point in her career came in 1907, Peterson was friends with Henry Snell, a fellow art instructor and his wife, Florence who was also an artist. They invited Jane to be part of an organized art trip to Europe that summer. She traveled to the Cornish coast of England, Holland, Northern Italy and Venice. This was the beginning of Peterson’s love affair with world travel. She went on to study in Paris and lived around the corner from Gertrude and Leo Stein. The Stein’s were known for their famous cultural salon parties which Peterson occasionally attended. There, she met artists the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Leger and Cezanne. In addition to Paris, Peterson studied in Venice, London and Madrid. It was during this time period that her work began to take on her dazzling color palette and bold patterns.


In 1909 Peterson had her first solo exhibition in the United States at St. Botolph Club in Boston. She received a positive review in the Christian Science Monitor which marked the beginning of a busy career. In 1912, she traveled to Paris and painted. 1914 was marked by an invitation to paint at Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s Long Island Estate and a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. 1915 found her painting in the American Southwest. In 1916, she traveled with Louis Comfort Tiffany in his private railcar on a painting expedition to the Canadian Northwest and Alaska. In addition, she traveled to the art colonies of New England (Ogunquit, Gloucester, Newport, Provincetown). During this time, she taught at the Art Student’s League in New York and returned to Europe almost every year to paint.

Gloucester Harbor by Jane Peterson
Medium: Gouache and Charcoal on Paper
Attribution: Wikimedia Commons

Her Broad Ranging Subject Matter

Peterson’s voracious appetite for travel resulted in a broad range of subject matter in her paintings: New York and New England street scenes, harbor scenes of Cape Ann, swaying green palm trees in Florida, street scenes from Paris, Istanbul and Egypt, vibrant scenes of boats in the Venice canal, slice of life paintings and lush, saturated floral subjects.

Roses & Candlesticks by Jane Peterson
Medium: Oil on Linen
Date: 1946
Framed in a handmade, carved and gilded frame
Measurements: 30"h x 40"w
Image courtesy of Shuptrines Gallery, 2613 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408
For more information about this piece call (423) 266-4453


Jane Peterson’s artwork can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama and the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN to name a few.


The record high price for one of her paintings was achieved in 2006. It is a large oil on canvas of Gloucester Harbor that sold for $520,000. The good news is that occasionally a small floral still life or a watercolor and gouache scene will sell at a small auction house for as little as $2500. In addition, her work can occasionally be found at galleries as seen in the image of Roses and Candlesticks which is being offered in our local marketplace!


Monday, March 21, 2022

Decoding The Mystery of British Sterling Hallmarks


Pair of Hallmarked London Sterling Silver Shakers

Could You Have a Valuable Piece of British Sterling Silver?

Could it be possible that you have a valuable and misattributed piece of silver at home? Most likely, you have some pieces of silver that are inherited and along with the silver came a story about its origin. These stories are the curse of the appraisal profession. True, these stories add interest to the objects, but quite often they prove to be untrue. Often, an appraiser must deliver the sad news that a piece is not as fine, valuable or old as family legend purports. The story usually unfolds with being handed a silverplate tray that is marked with pseudo hallmarks. It has been passed down as a fine piece of British sterling silver. But sometimes the story will prove to be true, or even better, the piece will prove to be finer and more valuable than you thought. By learning a few tips of the trade, you can discover when and where your silver was made, and who made it. Plus, you might discover a valuable piece of British silver at an estate or tag sale. These items are often overlooked because of the way they are marked and where they are marked. (The pair of Hallmarked London sterling silver shakers pictured above could have easily been passed off as silverplate since they are marked on the bottom edge rather than the bottom of the piece) This blog post will concentrate on learning to read British sterling silver hallmarks. Stay tuned….Future posts will cover American silver marks and confusing pseudo marks.

The ABC'S of Hallmarks

There is more to reading hallmarks on silver than knowing your abc's. Let’s begin with a quick background in why marking silver came about. Basically, hallmarks on silver were a way to assure the customer that the object he was purchasing had met standards of purity enforced by law. By 1238 in England, severe penalties were inflicted by the guild of the Goldsmith's Hall upon a craftsman whose pieces did not come up to the standard of 925 parts silver per 1000. Remember pure silver is far too soft to be useful. Through a process of trial and error, the ideal proportion of 925 parts pure silver to 75 parts copper was discovered. This combination is still in use today. When you hear the term “Sterling” silver, it means that the piece is 925 parts sterling to 75 parts copper. 

What to Look For

 You may have a piece of silver with a group of marks that looks somewhat like this:

The Crown signifies the city of Sheffield, lion passant indicating sterling silver, Letter n of a style dating the piece to 1905 and a maker's mark for Walker & Hall.
Credit for the image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_hallmarks.jpg The original uploader was Mrs rockefeller at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

In England, silver is marked with a walking left facing lion (often referred to as the lion passant), which indicates sterling silver. This is the first and most important mark to look for.

Lion Passant

Next, look for a mark representing the town where the piece was made. Here are the most common ones: 

  • a crowned leopards head (pre 1820 London silver)
    Crowned Leopard

  • a leopards head (post 1820 London silver)
    Leopard's Head

  • an anchor which represents Birmingham

  • a crown which represents Sheffield

  • three wheat sheaves which represents Chester
    Three Wheat Sheaves

Date Letters

Next, look for a date letter. British date marks range from A-Z. One letter represents an entire year and then it changes the next year. Styles of the letters change on average every twenty years as you make your way through the alphabet. This is where a reference book comes in handy. I will list suggested reference books and websites at the end…but first I want to unravel the mystery of all these different date marks. Don’t be overwhelmed! Once you learn this skill, it is easy and fun to discover the history of your British silver.

Go to the section of your reference book or website for the town that is listed on your piece. Let’s say a crown like the hallmark pictured at the beginning of the article. Go to the section of the book for Sheffield. Look for a matching date letter for you piece. Use a magnifying glass to see the mark clearly or take a zoomed in photo with your phone. You will notice that the letters font, capitalization and background or shield around the letter varies. Run your finger down the line of date letters until you find a match. Referring back to the hallmark pictured above. The date letter “N” pictured in that mark refers to a date of 1905. One additional note…sometimes you will see an additional mark of a King or Queens head. This is known as a duty mark. You will only see this mark in certain years. The good news is that it makes finding the date mark even easier.  

Maker's Marks

Part of the mark on your piece may be a maker's mark. These look like a group of initials. They can require quite a bit of research to find an exact match. It can be worth your time to track down the maker since who made the piece can be directly related to the value of the object. A few of the most famous are Paul Storr, Hester Bateman and Charles Ashbee.

My Piece Isn't Marked

Another question I hear is “I have a piece of silver, but it doesn’t have a mark?” The mark may not be on the bottom of the piece. They can be a challenge to find. Sometimes, a piece may be marked around the rim or around the edge base. If your piece has a lid, pull the lid off and look underneath. Anything that is detachable should bear the lion passant mark and the maker’s mark. 

Suggested Reference Books and Websites for British Hallmarks

Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks: a Guide to Marks of Origin on English, Scottish and Irish Silver, Gold and Platinum and on Foreign Imported Silver by Frederick Bradbury

 Discovering Hallmarks on English Silver by John Bly

Jackson’s Hallmarks: English, Scottish, Irish Silver and Goldmarks from 1300 to the Present Day by Ian Pickford

Jane Peterson

    Larkspurs by Jane Peterson Medium: Oil on canvas This piece is a perfect example of Jane Peterson's dazzling use of color and confid...