June 13, 2014 at 1:00 am

Trash or Treasure?

J.L. Hudson's maritime painting a classic seascape

Edward Everett of Commerce Township with his seascape painting. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)

J.L. Hudson’s may be long gone, but the store’s artistic legacy lives on in the art they sold in their respected gallery, says appraiser Brian Thomczek, who recently examined a maritime painting that is believed to have been bought at the venerable department store. “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” he recently told Edward Everett, who brought in a piece that he inherited from his mother. “I get more than a little excited when I see art that has a Hudson’s label on the back. They were known for selling quality art, so I know I may see something good.”

The work in question, a 29- by 40-inch framed painting named “Meereswogen” (believed to be roughly translated as “Ocean Waves”), is by the artist Patrick Dunbar, a German artist who lived from 1892-1970.

Everett said it took him many years to identify the signature, eventually deciding it read “P. Dunbar.” Thomczek had little trouble confirming that signature. “The interesting thing is that this artist worked as Patrick Dunbar until around 1931, but later changed his name to Patrick von Kalckreuth, and worked under both names. The ones signed Dunbar date from his early period.”

A leading German maritime painter, Dunbar was the son of a German naval officer, Thomczek continued. When his mother remarried after his father’s death, his new father, Richard von Kalckreuth, adopted Patrick. Despite being in his early 30s, the artist changed his last name, signing his works with his new name after about 1931.

After a short career as a seaman, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, eventually living in both Dusseldorf and Berlin. Summers were spent along the North Sea in Cuzhaven, where many of his maritime scenes are believed to have been executed. Considered a master maritime painter, his works are displayed in many German museums, including in Hamburg and the north of Germany, such as the Historiches Museum in Bremerhaven.

Thomczek said that seascapes and maritime subjects are well-received worldwide and that Everett’s painting is a larger size that would appeal to many people. “He is known as a painter of really nice seascapes,” he told Everett. “These remind me of those done on the East Coast or Europe.” The bad news is that the painting is a bit dirty. “It could use a really good cleaning,” he told him, recommending he consider calling Ken Katz of Conservation and Museum Services in downtown Detroit. “It’s a really meticulous process, but it would help you get the most you could out of it if you ever decide to sell it. A good cleaning would help the magentas and the other colors in the sky really pop.”

He estimated the piece would bring $2,000-$3,000 at auction, but said that it could do even better in a well-advertised maritime sale. “Everything is right about this painting, and it should only go up in value if you decide to keep it,” the appraiser told a pleased Everett. Despite this, Everett said he was thinking about selling it but wanted to know more first, which is why he contacted Trash or Treasure. “I really don’t have a space large enough for it,” he explained.

About this object

Item: Maritime painting

: Edward Everett

Appraised by
: Brian Thomczek, independent appraiser

Estimated value: $2,000-$3,000, possibly more

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 615 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to trashortreas@aol.com. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Photos cannot be returned.