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A friend of mine asked me to find out what I could about a painting that he aquired. I'm unsure of it's origin or even how it came to be in his posession but it is currently in the midwestern United States. I have virtually no knowledge of modern art and can tell you only that this is an oil  painting on canvas, it appears to be very old, and that it is apparently unsigned unless it is covered by the frame.
The frame is very old as well however a sticker on the back reads as follows;  
Harris & Sons Established 1770
Picture Frame Makers, Gilders,
Picture Dealers, Picture Restorers,
Cornwall Plymouth Stationers.
Painting with frame is aprox. 3x4 ft.
I have no idea even where to begin so even if you are unable to provide the name of the artist, any information such as stylistic period would be helpful and would get me pointed in the right direction.
         Thank you,
         Tim

Answer
Greetings Tim,

The painting appears to depict the Madonna (Mary) and Child (Jesus) with St. Anne (Mary's mother) and John the Baptist.  [Recall: Jesus and John the Baptist, close in age, were cousins ... and John the Baptist is often depicted kneeling to Jesus.]

There is no way for me to tell the age based on a digital image, and that the frame has a sticker from a company established in 1770 bears no relation to the content of the frame.

My suggestion -- without reference ro guarantee -- is that your friend contact a licensed appraiser who can, in addition to attmepting identification of artist and age, could also provide a valuation.

Best wishes, sincerely,
Jay Heuman  

Fine Art

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Jay Heuman

Expertise

Modern & Contemporary (1900 to the present) artists/schools, criticism/theory, media/techniques, subject/content.

Experience

10 years experience in non-profit art center/museum profession; currently Curator of Exhibitions (formerly Curator of Education) at a contemporary art center; organize exhibitions of artworks by local, regional, national and international contemporary artists; active in publishing, conference/symposia presentations, guest lectures, jury/selection committees, etc.

Organizations
Amreican Assocaition of Museums; National Art Education Association

Publications
15 Bytes; Light Leaks; NAEA News; Recherche d'Art Canadien/Canadian Art Review (RACAR); etc.

Education/Credentials
BA (Visual Arts / Art History) and MA (Art History); specialization in Modern & Contemporary Art

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