1880 Painting of Charles Dickens


NOTE: The value placed on this painting is not relative to any art valuation. I'm a book dealer and lover who greatly appreciates the painting and I've placed my value on it. The price is my "I don't want to sell" price; that is, the price at which I'd be willing to let it go.

In my opinion, an excellent Charles Dickens oil painting. Down to the smallest hairs, Mr. Dickens is regal, and remarkably well painted.

There's an inscription on the frame, dating to 1880 in Malden MA, which states that the painting was the work of Edwin T. Perry. This is confusing to me because Edwin didn't produce any other known works, and this painting seems very good.

At the bottom of the painting, there is a tiny "E. Perry" in red paint.

Per his May 24th, 1894 obituary, Edwin was a native of England, a compositor on the Boston Gazette, and a member of the Boston Typographical Union. In other words, he was into the printed word, and likely British authors!

He can also be found in the 1882 Directory of the City of Malden, on page 108, noted as a "Printer".

The painting first sold at an auction in Holbrook MA on August 20th, 2008 (Kelley Auctions), meaning it was floating around the Boston area since Mr. Perry.

My theory, the Dickens was originally displayed smaller, and Mr. Perry placed it in this frame later. The evidence for this is:

1. The creases in the canvas indicating a smaller display size

2. Indications that the frame was "tuned up" to display this work, and at one point this work was held in by tape only (corresponding white marks on the painting back and frame). Also, the edges of the canvas are held to the square by very silver staples (they don't look old).

3. The back of the frame having some holes where it would be really odd to hang this Dickens

Physical Attributes -

The entire frame/painting measures approx. 36.5 x 41.5 x 6.5 cm. The painting measures approx. 30 x 25 cm (measured at the rear).

Condition -

See pictures. Frame with chipping, loss of gilt, top-edge of frame darkened. Painting with the creases of being folded smaller at some point. Looks like one spot was repaired, at the rear (canvas patch). Some newer stakes in frame. Staples around edges of canvas look newer.

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