Painting signed 'Grandma Moses' expected to sell for up to $150,000 at Victoria auction

A naïve-style painting signed Grandma Moses is drawing attention from people passing by the front window of Lunds Auctioneers and Appraisal Specialists on Fort Street.

Titled Grandma Goes to the City, the work is coming up for sale at Lunds TopNotch auction on June 26.

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Lunds estimates the oil painting will sell for between $100,000 and $150,000.

The 20-by-24 inch painting is owned by a Victoria man. The owner is a descendant of W. R. Ballard and his wife, of Ontario, who bought the painting in 1980 for $40,000 from a New York Gallery, Lunds president Peter Boyle said. The name of the painting’s owner is confidential.

Lunds has had the painting for nearly two weeks. Boyle is busy trying to find out as much as he can about it. He has copies of the sales receipt and customs documents from the 1980s transaction. On the back of the painting is a photo of Grandma Moses and a paper from Galerie St. Ettiene, of New York, which represented her and was instrumental in developing her reputation. It dates the painting to 1944.

The 1980 sales documents show that the gallery, Sandra Werther Ltd., sold the painting to its previous owner.

Lunds provides as much information as it can on an item, but does not authenticate paintings, Boyle said. “It doesn’t matter what Lunds thinks necessarily, it is what the purchaser thinks.”

Books about Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses are stacked on Boyle’s desk.

Grandma Moses was an American folk artist began painting in her 70s. She died at age 101 in 1961.

Today, her works are celebrated and found in prominent galleries.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is one of those galleries. It was announced this year that the Kallir family would be donating 10 works by Grandma Moses to the Smithsonian. Otto Kallir founded the Galerie St. Ettiene, which represents the estate of Grandma Moses.

One of the paintings donated to the Smithsonian is a 1946 piece titled Grandma Moses Goes to the Big City.

Boyle opens a catalogue of works by Grandma Moses that was compiled by Otto Kallir. He points to the painting donated to the Smithsonian, which is larger but — as in many cases with her paintings — is similar to the painting in Lunds.

He flips to another page showing an image of a painting called Grandma Goes to the City. The reference states that painting is slightly larger than the one in Lunds’ possession. Boyle said, “That seems to be the only discrepancy I can find.”

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