Louis Prang Co., Benjamin B. G. Stone and “HARVEST NORTH CONWAY” Again
Nearly three years ago I posted a summary of Prang’s chromolithograph of Benjamin Bellows Grant Stone’s “Harvest North Conway, White Mountains” autumn interval farm landscape. One may review that post found under the “Prints” label. In the post I mentioned that there are “MANY amateur copies” in oil paint copying Stone’s painting and generally using Prang’s print as the source for copying that painting. I also go on to mention how other print makers copied Prang’s Stone painting too. Further, I am concise in noting that Prang’s print was Prang’s more… if not most… profitable production, that they owned, as they state on their print label, the original painting and that this original painting was sold by them, is now lost AND that artist Stone was aware of all this.
Ever after that still popular post and about once a month an email query arrives of someone who thinks that THEY “have the original Stone painting” and “can I”… “help them prove it”.
No I cannot do the latter. Further, I advise, one most, most, most probably DOES NOT have the former (the original painting). I do not advise directly for either. I am too busy with MY OWN “I FOUND” “could be the original?” Prang – Stone PAINTINGS.
Is it me or, correctly, it is because my eye is so familiar with the scene that I “see” MANY copies “all the time”. Prompting this second visit post to Stone and Prang is I… I… finding a FABOULOUS specimen. Before elaboration on it I state upfront that I do NOT believe it is the “original” nor am I going to “try and prove that it is”. After lightly reviewing the painting I will add one “food for thought” notice about the “original” Stone painting worth filing away IN ADDITION to being the “best possible scenario” qualifier for THIS COPY that I FOUND.
My current Stone – Harvest North Conway… has ALL the right stuff… to OOZE the desire to have it be “the original”. Found by flashlight in a cluttered, closed, dark, dusty and undisturbed upper bedroom of an upper middle grade coastal Maine Victorian …generations and generations single owner always …home… we start off with “great” state of discovery. Brought home from the estate purchase carefully we have table topped it for a review that shows:
An oil painting in its original frame UNDISTURBED including the original square nails holding the painting into the frame UNDISTURBED that is a stretched LINEN canvas in place within a …by far better than average “not a cheap one” textured and molded gilt gold on gesso on wood “period” 1860-70’s Civil War era – early Victorian era frame with an old brass wire hanging set, etc. UNDISTURBED. That the actual painting is TOO, UNDISTURBED with a “never been touched” old dry and appropriately soiled surface showing a very carefully completely accurate and very well painted “identical” “copy” of the Prang print of the Stone painting. Note the last wording here please; “copy of the Prang print”. Since the Stone PAINTING is LOST, we only know what the PRANG PRINT looks like. DID the original Stone Painting look like the Prang Print? How do YOU know it did; please prove THAT thank you.
Returning to MY FIND…it’s a great package: The quality of the painting, the quality of the image, the quality of the construction of the painting, the quality of the frame and the completely undisturbed “OLD” state of all of these… as a package. “No problem” selling this one to… someone who knows EXACTLY what the bouncy story of this …still very pleasing inclusive of all iota… CLASSIC, HISTORIC 19th century White Mountains view… “is”. It… doesn’t have to be “THE ORIGINAL” because, as a whole package, “it is great”.
The food for thought: Stone, a struggling artist who knew very well that Prang had greatly profited on his painting… was still alive, still painting and… going nowhere financially when Prang’s success happened. WHAT, historically, have poor painters such as he… especially in New England villages outside of the artist …salons… of Boston… done (artists for example like H. B. Brown and Hathaway in Portland, ME)? They made pot-boiler copies… beautifully framed… of their “most popular” paintings… ready to hang up and …they sold them. “Like hotcakes”. Prove Stone did this with his Harvest canvas… and he most probably did do this… then there may be MANY MORE “original” Stone Harvest paintings around and… MINE could be one. Right? And… he wouldn’t have signed them for he didn’t own the copyright; his copies would be illegal without a Prang Co. signed off on legal blessing.
I am NOT going promote or try to prove ANYTHING with MY painting… at all. All I want to do is go back into ANOTHER old Victorian estate and find MORE paintings.