Peter Leroy with the expensive and rare painting by Arthur Burdett Frost
Peter Leroy with the expensive and rare painting by Arthur Burdett Frost Blainey Woodham

“Holy Toledo!” Old painting is worth oodles

A COOLANGATTA man nearly fell off his chair in shock when he was searching the internet for a "rough price" valuation of an early 1900s A.B. Frost painting he has owned for 40 years.

Peter Leroy hit a US-based site called askart.com and got a very pleasant surprise.

"Holy Toledo, I thought," Mr Leroy said.

On his laptop screen was another Arthur Burdett Frost watercolour titled "Success" which sold at a Nevada art auction for more than $72,000.

"I couldn't believe what I was reading and my first thought was 'wow, what value does that make my Frost painting?'" he said.

"Success", painted by Frost in 1892 depicting two bear hunters with their kill, was put up for auction at Reno's Coeur d'Alene art auction with a reserve price of $30,000.

I then checked it out to see if it was authentic and everything seemed to be genuine as an original Frost painting.

But following frenzied bidding the reserve was quickly passed and the winning bid was $72,800.

"And to think I was only going to list my painting for $10,000 in my late mother's art exhibition," Mr Leroy said.

Mr Leroy said about seven years ago he emailed a Philadelphia art museum "just out of curiosity" to get an appraisal of his 100-year-old "Temper" watercolour, depicting a frustrated golfer playing a fairway bunker shot.

The reply email said that if it was an original it would be worth $9500.

"Even then I was over the moon with that valuation," he said.

"I then checked it out to see if it was authentic and everything seemed to be genuine as an original Frost painting."

Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) was a famous early American illustrator and sporting artist, perhaps best known for his charming and timeless renderings of Brer Rabbit and other characters from Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus book.

The Philadelphia-born artist was rated one of the great illustrators in the "Golden Age of American Illustration".

His illustrations appeared in more than 90 books and he produced hundreds of paintings.

From 1914 he was employed as an illustrator for Life magazine.

An ardent sportsman himself, many of Frost's favourite subjects were hunting, fishing and golfing.

Often his golfing subjects tended toward humour.

Mr Leroy is still undecided what price tag he will put on his Frost painting when it is hung on the walls of the Kirra Hill Cultural Centre Art Gallery this Friday.

The exhibition is in honour of his mother, artist Elizabeth Bousfield, who died last October in Sydney aged 88.

The painting will be on exhibition at the Kirra Hill Cultural Centre Gallery from May 31.


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