It was an ornate, intricate, rather large gold frame that caught the eye of Stephen Burgess over the weekend as he walked by the artwork section in Value Village in the Comox Valley.
The piece inside the eye-catching frame also stood out for Burgess, who did a quick Google search while in the store to search for the artist’s signature - Wijmer.
He found links to the artist and knew right away he had stumbled not only upon an original oil painting but possibly a very valuable one at that.
The Comox Valley dermatologist visits thrift stores regularly, finding art and frames to add to his collection which will fit in his self-described “1970s-style house.”
“I like more classic pieces rather than the ultra-modern; those who thrift know there are some good bargains (to be found),” he explains, who paid around $120 for the piece.
He examined the work and noticed a discrepancy between the signature and a metal plate on the front of the piece with the artist’s name spelled incorrectly - A. Wilmer. Initially, he thought the artwork was a reprint, as online searches indicated they were mass-produced.
“I thought I’d just get it for the frame,” he notes.
However, on the back of the canvas, Burgess noticed a stamp from Munich, Germany, as well as oil brush strokes on the perimeter of the canvas behind the frame, which indicate the painting is an original.
According to online art auction sites, Wijmer was born in 1870 in the Netherlands. One of his most famous paintings - Mountain Mist - was sold at auction for $200,000 U.S.
He is often confused with the artist Wilmer, who was born in Germany in 1898. Despite the incorrect name on the front-facing plate, a ‘J’ can be seen in the artist’s signature in the lower-left corner of Burgess’ artwork.
Wijmer’s oils on canvas paintings are rare, and depending on condition and size, could be sold anywhere from $20,000 to $350,000.
Currently, the artwork is hanging in a room in his home on a wall surrounded by his children’s artwork.
Burgess is hoping to connect with a qualified appraiser to assess the piece and if indeed it is valuable, he would auction the artwork and donate the funds to the Comox Valley Hospice Society.
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