A pair of paintings that spent decades out of sight and shared a basement wall with paint-by-numbers canvases, sold at auction Sunday for a combined $840,000.
The pieces, by Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey, were discovered in March, when a man from Cortlandt brought them to the Clarke Auction House, in Larchmont, for an appraisal.
(A self-portrait of Jasper Cropsey. Photo by Carmen Troesser/The Journal News)
Nelia Moore, an auctioneer at Clarke, said the man, whose identity the auction house is protecting, paid $20 for the appraisal. The paintings had been in his family for three generations and had hung in the basement of his parents’ house in West Hartford, Conn.
One of the paintings, depicting Niagara Falls, sold for $552,000. The other, an autumn scene set in New Hampshire, sold for $288,000.
Two men, one a prominent dealer, the other a private collector, led a brisk bidding war for the pieces. Each man ended up with one of the paintings.
“They’re both gorgeous and striking” — if a bit dirty from years in the basement, Moore said of the artworks.
(“Winter Scene, Ramapo Valley,” By Cropsey. This is not one of the paintings that just sold at auction.)
According to the Newington-Cropsey Foundation, in Hastings-on-Hudson, Cropsey was born on his family farm on Staten Island in 1823. He made thousands of paintings, achieved significant fame and met Queen Victoria. He died in 1900 in Hastings-on-Hudson.
Moore said the two paintings sold for such high prices in part because of the story behind them.
“It’s one of those rare finds: untouched and undiscovered for so many years,” she said.
Cropsey experts had been aware of one of the paintings, they just didn’t know where it was. The other was a complete surprise.
“That’s what this job is all about,” Moore said. “To know that there are still things out there to be discovered.”