A ripped and incomplete piece of paper on the bottom of the back of the frame gave a few clues about the piece Dave Alef recently brought to DuMouchelles downtown for appraisal. The artist’s name is torn and illegible, but some of the information is still readable on the back of the pretty landscape showing birch trees, a lake and a small boat.

“Born in Vienna, Austria, 1895, he attended the Imperial Academy of Arts from which he graduated cum laude,” it reads. “Landscapes were his specialty from the very beginning and his amiable fine treatment won early recognition.” From there, however, rips make it hard to decipher words, although some such as “fine treatment” and “exhibitions” can be seen.

The signature appears to read A. Wilscher and there’s a good chance the work came from the downtown JL Hudson store, Alef told appraiser Mallory Jamett at a recent session. “My father was given this painting by my mother’s uncle, John Reuter,” he wrote in the original email. “John Reuter was a management employee at the JL Hudson Department Store. My father told me that this painting was a gift from JL Hudson to John Reuter. After my dad passed away, the painting came to me.”

He was hoping Jamett could pass along more information about the artist, but she was ultimately frustrated.

“The struggle was real with this one,” she said with a laugh, unfortunately a common occurrence in the appraisal and identification world.  “I searched A. Wilscher on every website I could think of and found almost nothing about this artist. I even went to the page operated by the Imperial Academy of Arts in Vienna but found nothing.”

She said that piece is pretty and has quality, but wouldn’t bring large money at auction. “The art sold through Hudson’s is traditionally good,” she said. We have sold similar things for $200 to $400, so I’d price yours somewhere around there without clear attribution.”

“My dad always admired this painting,” he added. Family lore said it had once  heJL Hudson,” he added. “He said it was originally a retirement gift.”

Alef added that his mother was less than pleased when the piece was passed down to the family. “When my dad brought this home my mom was upset because we had a small house and she liked a tea cart instead.”

Alef said the piece is too large for any available wall in his house “Unfortunately, I just don’t have anywhere to put it but the basement,” he said.

Upcoming Appraisals in Troy and Detroit

Missed your chance to go to Antiques Roadshow? Still curious about your treasure? We are having appraisals at 10 a.m. July 17 at DuMouchelles and again on July 19 at the Michigan Design Center. If interested, please send an email to with the “Upcoming Appraisals” as the subject line. Tell me about your item, where you acquired it, and send a photo or two. If you are chosen, we will contact you with dates and details.

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?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Items: oil on canvas

Owned by: Dave Alef

Appraised by: Mallory Jamett

Estimated value: approximately $200





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