“La Cañada Elementary did not have a large enough space to properly display the portrait,” said Sharon Hancock, office manager at the school and the catalyst behind the loan. “After researching the history, we felt Lanterman House would offer an appropriate place to display a piece of local history.”
The Lanterman Foundation was thrilled to receive it, said executive director Melissa Patton.
“There aren’t that many Seymour Thomas paintings in the valley,” Patton said.
George Stern, owner of the George Stern Fine Arts gallery in West Hollywood and an expert on California painters, said that Thomas was a recognizable name on the art scene at the turn of the last century, but his work is modestly priced today.
“Sometimes his things are interesting and can bring some value,” Stern said. “I think you are looking at a high-end range of $20,000 for something really interesting, but in general they are just a few thousand dollars.”
The painting — which is 40 inches wide and 80 inches tall — has not be professionally priced and there are no plans to sell it, Patton said.
It was one of multiple paintings that Thomas gave away in the years before his death in 1956. At one point, the portrait hung in the principal’s office at La Cañada Elementary School, according to former principal and local resident Don Hingst. It is also believed to have spent time in storage before ending up in a hallway by some bathrooms.
Hancock showed the portrait to Patton when she was making a presentation at the school in October.