Pleasing Pictures

Becoming a single parent changed the artist's focus

Thank you for sending me an image of your pastel drawing. It is a great picture that tells an interesting story. It is unsigned, but is most likely from the studio of the American artist William Henry Chandler (1854-1928) and it relates indirectly to last month's Treasure Hunt article about the Saint-Gaudens family.

William Henry Chandler and Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) both began their careers as cameo carvers (a cameo is a shell carved in relief, typically in the classical style, and set as a piece of jewelry). Chandler was born in New York and later moved to Chicago where he worked carving cameos. Augustus Saint-Gaudens started his artistic career as a cameo carver in New York. Sadly, Chandler's life and career changed course when he lost his wife and one of his daughters. He moved to New Jersey to be closer to his family and to get help from his sister in raising his other two daughters. In contrast, Saint-Gaudens flourished as a cameo carver and later traveled to Paris to further his study, ultimately becoming one of the most famous and influential American artists of his time.

Chandler's artistic career was dampened in sadness as he had to shift some of his artistic passion into practicality while raising his family as a single parent. He created a studio and worked with his brother to sell art through department stores across the country, such as Marshall Fields. Chandler employed a workshop to generate pastel landscapes inspired from the style of the burgeoning Hudson River School.

Never too expensive, Chandler's works were popular, sold well and gave him and his family a steady income. Most all of his works were signed, either by him or one of his employees, but some were not. Chandler was not out to create masterpieces; his mission was to create pleasing pictures that could be enjoyed by many.

Several years ago I handled a collection of approximately 100 pastels by Chandler and his studio. The prices ranged from $50 to $700 and nearly all of them sold.

Your drawing is exceptionally framed and of good size; I would estimate your picture's value at $350 as it is not a signed artwork.

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