Dear Helaine and Joe:
I have had this Whitney Hubbard oil painting for many years and would like to know its value. It is small, measuring 8 by 9 1/2 inches. I read that Mr. Hubbard would paint on old pieces of wood or anything that was available. I am afraid I haven't taken good care of the painting over the years and it has a couple of spots where the paint has chipped.
D. S., Little Rock, Ark.
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Dear D. S.:
There is no question this is a sweet painting by Long Island, N.Y., artist Whitney Myron Hubbard. The Impressionist style is right, the signature is right, the subject matter is right. And the paper label on the back –"June Morning – L. I. Sound by Whitney M. Hubbard, Greenport, Long Island, -. Y (the "N" is missing) – does not hurt.
The biographical data available on Hubbard is fairly basic, and the same information seems to be repeated time after time. He was born in Middleton, Conn., in 1875, his family moved to Greenport, Long Island – we believe in 1888 – but Hubbard returned to Middleton to attend and graduate from Wesleyan University.
From 1899 to 1902, Hubbard taught school on Long Island but decided he wanted to be a full-time painter. Hubbard became a member of the Art Students League in New York, and his teacher was Frank Vincent DuMond, who introduced Hubbard to plein air (outdoor) painting during summers spent in Lyme, Conn. It is said he may have studied with Childe Hassam, who arrived in 1903.
Hubbard exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Chicago Art Institute and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, but the Great Depression hampered his career. It is reported he was head of the art department at the Suffolk Conservatory of Music and Art from 1935 to 1940, and he and his wife lived a simple life in Greenport until Hubbard's death in 1965.
At his death, his art was not appreciated and sold for only a small amount of money. But art dealer Melvin Kitchin promoted his work, and today, his work does bring respectable if not spectacular prices. He painted landscapes and marine scenes associated with his home on Long Island. He also painted some portraits, and we found one cityscape of New York City.
D. S.'s statement that her painting had "a couple of spots where the paint has chipped" is a bit misleading because we see a large loss in the center of the scene that is quite glairing. We also observe what may be a loss on the rocks in the foreground. These are serious problems, and while we think they can be repaired, the job will be expensive, and this will reduce the value of the painting considerably.
Hubbard is known for his small paintings, and the size of the piece is the rule rather than the exception. It appears to be on artist board or perhaps Masonite, but we could find no reference to Hubbard painting on old pieces of wood. In perfect condition, this beautiful, impressionistic seascape with sailboat might have brought as much as $1,200 at auction. But with the damage, we feel that would be reduced by as much as three quarters.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.