Fine Art/Painting



QUESTION: Hi.  This is an original in our family...wondering if you know the artist and approximate value?

Thank you.

ANSWER: Dear Kathryn,

Thank you for writing.  I am not able to identify the artist by the photograph of the work.  Do you have any information that would help us in this regard such as history of ownership, how the work was acquired, or similar works in your collection that are signed?

Sometimes there is identifying information on the back of the work.  If the back of the work is covered with paper or foam core, I would suggest carefully removing this material to see if there is a signature on the back of the canvas, exhibition labels, or any other identifying information.  You may also want to have your local framer carefully remove the work from the frame to see if it is signed in a place that is not visible.

Everyone has heard the expression that there are three factors that determine the value of real estate: "location, location, location".  There is a similar rule in art: "Artist, Artist, Artist".  SO, unfortuntely, without knowing the artist it is not possible to estimate the value of the painting other than its decorative value.  In order to give you an idea of the decorative value of a work such as yours where the artist is unknown, I would need to know the dimensions of the work unframed and the condition.

If you are able to provide any information that may identify the artist, please write back with the dimensions of the work and I will do my best to assist you with an estimation of value.

Cindy Charleston Rosenberg, ISA CAPP

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Cindy - thank you so much for your information.  I really appreciate it.  Due to my lack of experience, I just thought someone would recognize it...and I really should have sent you ALL the information up front.  I emailed my mother (it is in her house) and asked her for the artist's name.  

This is what she wrote back: "The name of the artist is William Ritchell and the one you found on the internet while I was there was the right one.  He painted primarily ocean scenes as depicted in the example on line; in fact Pat Ramsey has one or two of them hanging in her living room similar to it.  The story about the one I have, given to me by the gallery owner in Pacific Grove, was that he was a close friends with a painter from Europe (I believe he said France)  and that the picture I have (and he has a print of) was in the style of Ritchell's friend.  Ritchell only died in the last few years as he was still living in a house just blow the Highlands Inn (Carmel, CA). "

I was in Paris at Musee D'orsay and thought I saw nearly the EXACT same painting!  It wasn't until afterwards that I realized it was a little different...the man was standing in a different spot and the horse was doing something else.  But it was practically the same thing.  So my question is to verify the artist my mother is suggesting...and then I'm wondering who painted the painting hanging in the Musee D'orsay.  Naturally I neglected to take note of the artist while I was there, which was about 12 years ago.

Whatever you can offer will be received with gratitude.  

Sincerely, Kathryn Payne

Hi again Kathryn,

It really does help us to know the name of the artist.  Unfortunately, I was not able to find out any information about an artist by the name of William Ritchell.  Are you sure this is the right spelling?  If so, there are no records I can find of recent auction sales results, or galleries offering his work for sale.  This makes it difficult to assess the value.  I'm sorry I was not able to be more helpful.

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Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg


Our firm provides professional written Art Appraisal Services for formal functions such as donation, estate tax estimation, or insurance. Within the parameters of this site we are happy to answer general questions about art. Examples of such questions would be: "What does the "e.a." on my print mean?", "What does a fraction on the bottom of the image stand for (example 10/200)", or "How do I know if a certificate of authenticy is reliable". However, we regret that we are not able to provide the value of specific works without engagement. Clients who would like to engage us to advise them about the value of specific works of art are invited to visit our website at The "fees" link provides specific directions for how to obtain an informal evaluation, or a formal written report, depending on your specific needs. We are an independent art appraisal company and therefore we also cannot help clients who are looking for a dealer or broker to sell their artwork.


President and Founder: Art Appraisal Firm, LLC Founding Partner and Fine Art Consultant: The Appraisal Firm of Pennsylvania Art Appraisal Consultant to: Museums, Attorneys, Financial Planners, Trust Companies, Historical Societies, Prominent Auction Houses, and Galleries. Contributing Feature Writer for Art Matters magazine, covering fine art, auctions, and antiques. Featured Guest Speaker: Building a Fine Art Collection, Ten Elements in the Appraisal of Fine Art. Proprietor: The Charleston Galleries located in Chestnut Hill, Malvern and Wayne, Pennsylvania; and Lambertville, New Jersey. Specializing in estate paintings and sculpture, 1991-2001

Certified Member in good standing: International Society of Appraisers (ISA). Business Partner Sponsor: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Woodmere Art Museum. General Memberships: The James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown and New Hope; The Philadelphia Sketch Club; The Chestnut Hill and Cheltenham Historical Societies; Glenside Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer Activities: Group Facilitator, Safe Harbor Children’s Bereavement Program, Interfaith Houses for Humanity Project.

Art Matters Magazine

B.A., Human Services, Antioch College, 1979 Graduate Studio Courses: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1989-1991 Graduate Studio Courses: University of the Arts, 1989-91 Continuing Education: Appraisal Theory Changes and IRS Standards Changes: ISA, 2007 New IRS Tax Laws: ISA, 2007 Connoisseurship Seminar: ISA, 2007 Art History in Context: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2006 Philadelphia Library Symposium, Art and Religion, 2005 Art History Courses: The Impressionists of New Hope: The James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA. 2005 Masterpieces in Context: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004 American Indian Painting, ISA, 2001 Art Conservation Panel, ISA, 2001 Appraisal of Prints, ISA, 2001

Awards and Honors
Completion of the experience, continuing education, peer review, report writing, and qualifying examination requirements for the ISA Certification to Appraise Fine Art (CAPP) designation under the auspices of the University of Maryland. The CAPP (Certified Member) distinction is the highest level of recognition ISA can bestow. Certified ISA members must recertify every five years by demonstrating continued professional development in their specialty areas and must pass a recertification exam. Successful completion of coursework and required examination in the ISA Appraiser as Expert Witness Course.

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