"Late Afternoon Light at Artist's Point, Yosemite Valley" by Thomas Kinkade (1958-2012)
For years, a hand-retouched, signed and numbered, Thomas Kinkade 1992 cotton-fiber artist’s canvas print of “Late Afternoon Light at Artist’s Point, Yosemite Valley” hung in our hallway. With its dark location and short viewing distance, I often passed it by without notice. When some filigree scrollwork on the Brandy frame required repair, for the first time in almost a decade, I brought the 18" X 24" canvas into the light.
Regarding the original painting, Thomas Kinkade wrote, “Nowhere on Earth am I more aware of the sheer awesomeness of God’s handiwork than Yosemite Valley. This painting depicts the valley as seen from the little known place called ‘Artist’s Point’, named in tribute to the many 19th century artists who favored it as a sketching ground. In 1989, the National Park System selected ‘Yosemite Valley’ as their official print. I was thrilled with the honor, but after all, God alone deserves the credit for the beauty and majesty of Yosemite Valley”.
On the back of our frame, I found a Collector Fact Sheet and a Certificate of Authenticity. Our Kinkade is “No. 533/980 sn Canvas”. On the lower right corner of the print is the lithographed signature of Thomas Kinkade (1958-2012). Below that, hand-signed is the unintelligible signature of the artist who highlighted our canvas in oil. The net effect is a canvas print that looks like an original Kinkade oil painting.
Although a Master’s Canvas Edition of twenty hand retouched, signed and numbered prints was available in 1992, Kinkade’s own retouch and signature in oil made them too expensive for us at that time. In comparing our “sn” print with a Master’s Canvas Edition, the two look uncannily alike. That was part of Kinkade’s appeal. Through the economy of scale, and with added handiwork, Kinkade marketed “original art” at affordable prices. Since Kinkade personally trained all of his retouch artists, each of them retouched within the master’s concept. Thus, a well-kept “sn” can look every bit as good as Kinkade’s highest price offering at the time.
With Kinkade’s original art often retained in his own collection, lithographs and canvas prints are the only way for most of us to own a “Thomas Kinkade Original” painting. With its customary dryness, Wikipedia describes Thomas Kinkade thus: “Thomas Kinkade was an American painter of popular realistic, bucolic, and idyllic subjects. He is notable for the mass marketing of his work as printed reproductions and other licensed products via The Thomas Kinkade Company”.
After examining our own Thomas Kinkade “Yosemite Valley”, I could see both sides of the Thomas Kinkade legacy. Upon close examination, our Kinkade is indeed a hand retouched canvas print. Yet, when I photographed the print in natural light, it became a painting before my eyes. In the warm light of afternoon, the canvas shone with yellow, orange and brown. In later light, the sunlight faded and the Alpenglow of sunset displayed upon the clouds behind. With fuller light, the painting exhibits "morning light".
How one canvas could take on so many different visual aspects was at first a mystery to me. Then I remembered that early in his career, Thomas Kinkade had dubbed himself, “The Painter of Light”. Although the moniker had sounded pretentious to me at that time, my story is different now. I realize now that even a reproduction of Kinkade’s work can reflect light in interesting ways. With my renewed interest, our Thomas Kinkade now hangs lighted, in a place of honor on our walls.
With a collection of other paintings now crowding our wall space, we have decided to sell our Thomas Kinkade to an appreciative new owner. With only nine hundred eighty original canvas prints of the “sn” type ever produced, perhaps our “Late Afternoon Light at Artist’s Point” will soon grace the walls of your living room. For condition information and secure payment through PayPal, please click HERE.
at 05:57 PM |
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An Energy Bridge to the 1930's Opens at Gandria Village, Lake Lugano, Switzerland
Accompanying a recent email from Julia and Lowel Wise of Huntsville, Alabama were images of their Costantino Proietto original oil painting. While stationed as a service member in Stuttgart, Germany during the 1950’s, Lowel’s parents had purchased the painting. Lowel went on to write, “I was excited to see this on the Internet. We had searched back in 2006, but could not locate the artist by name”.
We live in Huntsville, Alabama. The Space & Rocket Center are located here, along with NASA, at the government military installation Redstone Arsenal. It is there where my father was last stationed, and then retired here.
The painting has traveled to many locations with us; from Germany where it's acquisition took place to Ft. Polk, Louisiana (my birth place) and back to Germany, and then back to Ft. Rucker, Alabama, and then to Ft. Wainwright, Alaska for five years, and finally here to Huntsville, Alabama. The painting was purchased on my father’s first tour to Germany, before I was born in 1956 and my older sister’s birth in 1955. She was born in Stuttgart, Germany where my father served two tours in the Army. My father (David J. Wise) served in the Korean War and then the Vietnam Conflict/War where he was an Explosive Ordinance Disposal instructor. After returning from Vietnam at the end of 1972, he retired. My father and mother (Gwinda A. Wise) are deceased. We acquired the painting after my mother’s departure in 2001, and my father’s passing was in 1988.
Since I was a child, the painting has been of particular interest to me. Sometimes, I would sit and stare at it and then wonder… What it would have been like to live in that location and what life would have been like there… Just a simple way of dreaming as any child would do. My father and mother would tell all four of their siblings how they struggled to save and buy one of C. Proietto's paintings while he was on his first tour to Germany. Again THANKS for the information.
In 2006, little if any information about the artist Costantino Proietto (1910–1979) existed on the internet. Not until 2011, when I began writing a series of eleven articles and founded a website about the artist did C.Proietto become widely known. I also met Mr. Nunzio LoCastro, first cousin to the artist, now living in New Jersey. With Nunzio’s help, I compiled an accurate biography of the artist, now published on AskART.com.
Since then, several owners of C. Proietto original oil paintings have sent images to me. Via internet searches, I discovered other examples of the artist’s work for sale in Europe and the United States. Since the Wise family C.Proietto represents the fourth known painting of the same village, I am now publishing images of all four paintings.
In July 2012, I purchased a Costantino Proietto painting identified only as “Villa di Lago”. Although my new painting bore strong resemblance to two C.Proietto paintings of “Lago di Lugano Gandria”, which I had found on the internet, I could not be sure. The artist’s Italian and Swiss lake scenes often contain ancient villas, snowcapped mountains and villages on far shores.
Using the Wise family C.Proietto painting as a guide, I can confirm that both their and my paintings are of Gandria Village, Lake Lugano, Switzerland. By comparing landscape and architectural details with those from the internet images, we now have four confirmed C.Proietto paintings of Gandria Village.
The Wise Family C.Proietto displays the 4:3 width-to-height ratios (27" X 18.75") typical of the artist’s early works. Yet, both it and one later example of the artist’s work depict the same stairs and doorway on the right side of the image. Other old photos show letters above that archway reading, “Ristorante Crivelli, Lago di Lugano-Gandria, Switzerland, 19”. The later C.Proietto painting, probably from the 1960’s, displays a wide-angle format, similar to a Cinemascope movie screen. Even so, because of a near-identical point of view, both paintings likely used the same 1930’s photo as their model.
From Nunzio LoCastro we know that the artist painted in his Stuttgart studio, using photographic prints to model his scenes. During the late 1930’s, the artist traveled extensively in northern Italy and Switzerland. During World War II, Costantino Proietto emigrated to his future lifelong home in Stuttgart, Germany. Using his German-made Leica camera, Costantino Proietto documented a soon to be bygone era. Having seen and photographed the major peaks and lakes of Italy and Switzerland, Tino Proietto was later able to depict with accuracy a simpler, more tranquil time and place. Although the simplicity of the artist’s work appears fanciful to some, I have yet to see evidence that Tino Proietto painted from anything other than real life, or his own photography.
With its lack of markings on the back, the Wise Family “Lugano Gandria” painting (top) is clearly the oldest of the four paintings pictured here, probably dating to the early 1950’s. In the late 1950’s, the artist affixed paper tags to the backs of his paintings. By then, he would often write the subject matter on the frame, in pencil. Later still, he affixed wax seals to the tags, indicating their authenticity. By the late 1960’s, the artist also wrote descriptive captions on the frames, often using a red felt-tipped pen.
With the publication of each new painting, we expand the body of work attributed to twentieth century master impressionist, Costantino Proietto. To keep this expansion going, I invite owners of Costantino Proietto original oil paintings to forward images (front, back, signature and details) to me via email. Please identify purchase location, past and current ownership, plus any details that might help to tell the story. Over time, I will be happy to authenticate and publish images of any newly found C.Proietto impasto oil painting.
at 12:46 PM |
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A Costantino Proietto Masterpiece Passes to a New Generation
In November 2012, Mrs. Shelly Jenkins of Orlando, Florida wrote to me about a Costantino Proietto painting that she had recently inherited. Her great, great aunt, Ms. Marian J. Fortune of Brevard, North Carolina had died in May 2012 at age seventy-nine. In her will and bequeathed to Shelly Jenkins was one of only two known Costantino Proietto original oil paintings of Bad Kreuznach, Germany. The other features the medieval and marvelous bridge houses, built over the Nahe River.
For eight years during the 1950’s and 1960’s, Ms. Fortune was a Physical Education Teacher for the U.S. Department of Defense School for American Dependents, in Bad Kreuznach. After World War II, the artist exhibited his paintings at Allied bases and later at NATO base post exchanges. On the back of this painting reads, a “DM 360.” pencil marking might represent a price of 360 Deutschmark.
According to cousin, Nunzio LoCastro, as early as 1951, a Costantino Proietto’s painting could command a price of 200 Deutschmark. If Marian Fortune was in Bad Kreuznach in 1964, the “Pro 11364” pencil marking on the back might represent a purchase date of November 3, 1964. With inflation and ongoing recognition of the artist’s work, DM 360 would be a reasonable price for a 40” X 20” C.Proietto original oil painting at that time.
If such was the case, it is likely that Costantino Proietto himself sold this painting to Ms. Fortune. After all, Bad Kreuznach and the artist’s studio in Stuttgart were little more than two hours away from each other. The tag and wax seal affixed to the back of the painting are consistent with his other 1960’s works. The 40” X 20” (a 4:2 aspect ratio) is similar to other Tino Proietto 1960’s “CinemaScope” style paintings. Most of his earlier works had a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is similar 35-mm film. The flattened horizontal lines within the artist’s signature are consistent with his later works, when his signature became more stylized.
Although many C.Proietto landscapes display a romantic or timeless quality, to my knowledge the artist painted only real places. Although I am not aware of its exact location, the painting probably depicts a river scene in Bad Kreuznach. Since the artist worked from both photographs and sketches, this painting may have originated from either or both of those sources.
Even when darkened with dust or soot, Tino Proietto’s paintings age with grace. Although there is some darkening in the sky and several small chips or spills on the canvas, a good technician could remove those without damaging the overall piece. Older canvases may be dry and brittle, so avoiding impacts to their surfaces is especially important. By mixing cigarette ashes into his pigments, Costantino Proietto often “pre-aged” his paintings. For that reason, I would not suggest a full-scale restoration of the painting. Doing so may destroy more value than it creates.
Looking at the back, frame construction appears to be of particleboard, which was inexpensive at the time. In order to bring out the full beauty of the painting, I suggest a professional re-framing. The framer should use extreme caution while separating the canvas from the frame. Upon separation from the frame, some long-dried paint may lift from the canvas.
This painting of Bad Kreuznach exhibits Proietto’s penchant for foreground (water grasses), middle ground (various buildings) and then a fade into the background (mountains/sky). The two red-tiled buildings in the upper-right and the blue-roofed building on the left received a heavier dose of impasto (palate knife) technique. Note the red flowers on the balconies and walls. Almost every C.Proietto landscape features red flowers somewhere in the canvas. Also, note the realistic appearance of the buildings in the center of the painting. Close inspection shows that the artist used very few strokes to create the effect. To see a C.Proietto painting in all of its glory, I suggest good natural light and a viewing distance of about ten feet.
As with each C.Proietto I have ever seen, this is a timeless and beautiful painting. As a collector of the artist’s work, I pictured it hanging on my wall. After I made an offer to purchase the Jenkins Family C.Proietto, Shelly Jenkins wrote back, saying, “We were so thrilled when we heard that Marian Fortune willed the painting to us. We did not get much opportunity to visit with her during her lifetime and her thought was memorable”. Although Shelly Jenkins would not sell her C.Proietto mid-century masterpiece, I thank her for offering to share her painting with the world.
at 06:34 PM |
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A Published Biography for Twentieth Century Master, Costantino Proietto (1910-1979)
In July 2012, I received an email from Ms. Erin-Marie Wallace, M.A., Director of the Fine Arts Department, America’s Auction Network. While researching an original Costantino Proietto oil painting that was coming up for a televised auction in August 2012, Erin had come across my articles on the artist. At the time, she was pleased to find my original research, but could find little else about C.Proietto on the internet.
As a member of the subscription website AskArt.com, Erin Wallace is able to submit biographical information on any “listed artist”. Until now, most art-related websites list the artist as “Constantino Proietto”. I offered to write a short biography on “Costantino Proietto”, which is the proper spelling of the artist’s name. In order to confirm my facts, I spoke with Nunzio LoCastro, a cousin of the artist. From 1951 until the artist’s death in 1979, Nunzio LoCastro knew “Tino” well.
If you go to AskArt.com today, you will find the following biography of Costantino Proietto, as submitted by Erin-Marie Wallace M.A. and written by James McGillis, “an independent researcher for Costantino Proietto”.
Costantino Proietto (1910 - 1979) – Twentieth Century Italian Impressionist Painter. Born in Catania, Sicily and apprenticed to Prof. Fernand Cappuccio of the Academy of Art, Florence, Italy from 1924 until 1942. During Cappuccio’s restoration of the Basilica of Saint Mary, in Randazzo, Sicily, apprentice Proietto received on-the-job training from the master. In the central vault of the ancient basilica, Proietto’s palette knives restored frescoes and other artwork dating back to the thirteenth century.
During World War II, Proietto took the unusual step of emigrating from Italy to Switzerland, to France and finally to Stuttgart, Germany. While in Paris, the artist painted fabric patterns for a commercial fabric house. In 1942, the artist began his independent career in Stuttgart, Germany, where he settled for life. Among local residents and military patrons in Stuttgart, Proietto found a ready market for his self-described “spaddle work”.
Proietto’s photo album included prints of romantic locations throughout prewar Italy and Switzerland. When the War curtailed travel, the artist referred to his photo album for new subjects to paint. Other than one early watercolor, perhaps of his common law wife, Gisela, there are no brushstrokes in any known C. Proietto painting. Having earlier mastered the palette knife, the artist’s impasto techniques brought depth and drama to his many landscapes.
By the 1950’s the word “Kunstmaler”, which is German for “production painter”, appeared on the artist’s business card. Throughout his career, Proietto painted daily at his atelier, which was only a short walk from his apartment. While painting, Proietto wore slacks and a starched white shirt.
Typically, the artist might complete a small painting in a single day. A larger work might take a second day to finish. Such was the speed at which Proietto often worked. Known for his landscapes, the artist featured timeless architecture in every composition. By scraping away or omitting paint on the face of a canvas, Proietto added backlighting to many of his scenes. Although an accomplished portrait artist, Proietto landscapes rarely include more than a tiny human form.
From the early 1940’s, until well into 1970’s, the artist continued to paint six or seven days each week. In the early years, he took off for only enough time to market his works. After the War, he broke from his work twice each year. Loading his automobile with unframed works, he would then tour Germany, selling paintings as he traveled. By the early 1960’s, various Allied military bases in West Germany conducted art exhibitions. At those exhibitions, many U.S. and Canadian service members bought Proietto paintings to take back home.
Never painting directly from a tube of paint, the artist personally mixed every color that touched his canvases. At times, the chain-smoking artist would flick cigarette ashes into his mix of paint. In the tradition of his cathedral restoration, ashes pre-aged and accentuated the darker colors in his early paintings. In the 1950’s, with the advent of brighter, more durable paint formulas, the artist’s paintings brightened up, as well.
In 1957, Proietto visited the U.S., spending time with American cousins on either coast. By then, he had gallery representation and exhibitions in “New York, Los Angeles and Hollywood”.
In his later years, Costantino Proietto purchased vacation property at Sanremo, on the Italian Coast. With the strap of his 35-mm Leica camera always around his neck, “Tino” Proietto continued to search for new scenes to paint. Some later C.Proietto paintings depict the Italian Coast at Sanremo. Others, both early and late, depict the Capuchin Convent along the Amalfi Coast.
While in his early forties, the artist once told his American cousin, Nunzio LoCastro, “If I died tomorrow, I would regret nothing in my life. I have lived, loved and enjoyed every minute of every day”. True to his word, Costantino Proietto enjoyed each day of his life to the fullest. The artist painted until a year or two prior his death. At age sixty-nine, Costantino Proietto succumbed to an illness caused by toxic lead from his early paints.
Proietto’s career spanned at least thirty-five years. With a conservative estimate of one hundred-fifty new paintings each year, that would bring his career total to over five thousand signed originals. With that amazing productivity, the epitaph of Costantino Proietto might read, “Never a bad day; always a great new painting”.
On August 6, 2012, I was simultaneously online and on the telephone with America’s Auction Network. Shortly after midnight, EDT, the Costantino Proietto original oil painting came up for auction. After five minutes of furious bidding against another telephone bidder, I placed the successful bid. Until I receive the alpine landscape painting, I have only the photo provided by America’s Auction Network to publish here.
With two similar paintings having surfaced over the past year, we know that my new painting includes rural buildings and the Dolomite Mountains in Northeastern Italy. Of the similar C.Proietto paintings, the Karns family owns one and Nunzio LoCastro owns the other. Each painting features different buildings in the foreground, but the rural pathway and the Dolomite Mountains are their unifying elements. When I receive my new C.Proietto alpine painting, I will publish its image and other details here.
at 04:28 PM |
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