Helena – When retired Gibsonburg art teacher Marto “Marty” Atkinson was growing up in Hudson, her mother kept a painting of Thomas Moran hanging on the wall. The so-called antique experts repeatedly told her mother that the painting had no value, but her mother insisted that the painting had great value.
Atkinson, who lives in Helena now, doesn’t know much about the history of the painting, only that her maternal grandfather somehow acquired it in Philadelphia. When her mother died, Atkinson inherited the painting, and always wondered if her mother’s hunch about it was correct.
Atkinson inherited a sketch artist whose work led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park
In 2005, Atkinson discovered her mother was right.
“My friend had tickets to Antiques Roadshow, and she called me and said, ‘Get the plate,'” Atkinson said.
They traveled to Cleveland where Antiques Roadshow was taped, and after the staff saw what I brought, Atkinson was invited to take part in the show.
“It was amazing to see behind the scenes. We were there all day, and they made us lunch.
Atkinson was not told the value of the painting until after it had been on camera, and what they told her led to it fading away. The painting was, at the time, worth $50,000. Today, it’s worth more than that.
“My mother would have been so happy. She knew it had value,” Atkinson said. “It was an amazing experience. People own these things that they will throw away because they think they are worthless. They have their own attic or basement, and find out on the show that they’re worth a lot.”
A retired art teacher planned to go to the Toledo Museum after her death
At first, Atkinson made arrangements in her desire to donate the painting to the Toledo Museum of Art after her death, but a group of friends had another idea. Every week, Atkinson meets in a coffee shop with Scott Michael, Ernst Hillenbrand, Bruce Hurt and Bob Taylor. As Atkinson was sipping an iced coffee one day and told them of her plans, they gave her this piece of advice: Why wait?
“They suggested I donate it now, while I’m still alive,” said Atkinson.
Moran traveled to Yellowstone with Cook’s expedition
Thomas Moran (1837-1926) was an American painter whose career progressed rapidly when Civil War financier Jay Cooke invited Moran to join an expedition team to the little-known Yellowstone region. Cooke was born in Sandusky and eventually built a summer home, Cooke Castle, on the island of Gibraltar in the port of Put-in-Bay. Drawings of Yellowstone made by Moran during the expedition helped convince Congress to create the nation’s first national park at Yellowstone in 1872.
When Atkinson contacted the Toledo Museum of Art about a possible donation, they sent an art expert to her home to review the painting. The museum was happy to accept the donation made by such a distinguished artist. The painting was restored at museum expense, increasing its value from $50,000 to $70,000.
Today, the object is listed in Toledo Museum of Art #2021.16 as “Landscape,” an oil on canvas by Thomas Moran, and the collection data reads, “Submitted by Marto Atkinson in memory of her mother.”
“It’s the best thing. I can go see it. It was a really good decision,” Atkinson said. “It’s absolutely amazing that it hangs in the museum. Who thinks this will happen? “
Atkinson visited the museum several times to see the painting, which hung in her family’s home.
“I always think of my mother,” she said. “She was right about how valuable she was, but people didn’t believe her. She’d take a picture of it at antiques shows, and people would say it wasn’t worth anything.”
Connect with reporter Sherry Trusty’s firstname.lastname@example.org.