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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Fritz Stehwien, River in Winter

Fritz Stehwien, River in Winter (1968), oil on canvas

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 36. The Case of Fritz Stehwien

I first became aware of the paintings of German-Canadian artist Fritz Stehwien (1914-2008) when a friend of mine purchased the River in Winter at an auction several years ago. She later confessed she didn’t know anything about the artist or his work, but liked the painting very much, especially its traditional mode of composition, use of colour and subject matter.

I did some research on her behalf and became familiar with Fritz Stehwien. Trained at the Hansische Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg, Germany, he served as a soldier in France and Russia from 1939 to 1946. He resumed his studies after the war, taking advanced classes at the Kunstschule Burg Giebichenstein in Halle and participating in art shows in Dresden, Berlin and Halle. In 1958 he and his family escaped from Communist-ruled East Germany and settled in Doffingen, West Germany, and in 1968 they immigrated to Canada and settled in Saskatchewan. The date on this painting is also 1968 and may have been one of the very first paintings Stehwien completed in Canada.

During the course of his 40-year painting career in Canada, Stehwien painted mostly views of Saskatchewan and had many exhibitions including one at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Stylistically, his work is typical of the works associated with the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. So why have Stehwien’s works not shown up at fine art auctions?

Are views of the landscape of Northern Ontario more representative of authentic Canadian painting than landscape views of Saskatchewan? It would appear that Stehwien’s works conform to the national ideal of what a Canadian landscape painting should look like, yet his works have not appeared in the Canadian fine art auction market.

As most frequent attendees of Canadian fine art auctions held by the major art houses in Vancouver and Toronto will no doubt attest to, by far the large majority of artworks for sale are by a select group of well-known Canadian artists who have a prior history of sales at auction. The membership has remained substantially unchanged over the last 50 years and includes members of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries.

Only recently have Canadian fine art auction houses included more contemporary Canadian artists such as members of Painters Eleven, the Regina Five, Les Plasticiens and Les Automatistes, all well documented and academically sanctioned within the art history community as representative of the best in period Canadian art. One would suspect the reason for this anomaly is partly due to the shortage of traditional investment-quality work and also a desire on the part of auction houses to create another market. People like my friend who purchased Stehwien’s painting because the artwork reminded her of the long winters of her youth seem to be unique.

Next: The Case of Resale Royalties

 Fri, Jun 7, 2013