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Lionel Barrymore

His Artwork | Awards | Article | Downloads | Image Credits | IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

His Artwork:
A number of people have emailed me about Lionel Barrymore's artwork, and I have to admit, I know very little about it, nor have I been able to find many resources to help me.  I have discovered the following however:
  • Lionel Barrymore studied painting in Paris between 1903 and 1907.
  • He attended Art Students League of New York.
  • Even after settling on acting as a career path, he frequently made etchings, composed music and painted at his home in California.
  • He published a novel, "Mr. Cantomwine", at some point during his life, although I don't know the date.
  • According to Valenda's Obsessive Collective:
    • "There are a lot of Barrymore prints around. It may look like a woodcut but if upon close inspection, (use a jewelers loop) you see tiny dots, it is a lithograph of a wood cut. If you do not find the dots and feel you have something of Value your best bet would be to call Christie's in Manhattan. They are very reputable an would evaluate the print for a small fee. It can be sent insured by mail. Barrymore lived on Long Island during the summers in 1917 or there abouts. He lived in Rocky Point and played baseball here in our little town of St. James on an actors baseball team. He also donated his talents for local fundraising events."
  • A few of the names of his artwork people have asked me about have been:
    • "Coldwater Canyon" (etching)
    • "Courtyard, Venice" (2)
    • "Dry Dock" (painting)
    • "Fishing Banks" (etching)
    • "Harbor Shelter" (etching)
    • "Home Port" (2) (described as both etching and painting by different owners)
    • "Little Boatyard Venice" (print)
    • "The Nantucket"(4) (etching)
    • "Old Boat Works"(4) (described as both etching and painting by different owners)
    • "Old Farm" (reprint made by Stand. Pkg. Corp.)
    • "The Old Red Bank" (2) (etching)
    • "Old Red Barn" (2)
    •  "Point Mugu" (5),
      • "Point MaGoo, CA" (woodcut print)
      • "Point Mugu" (oil)
    • "Point Pleasant"
    • "Purdy's Basin" (7) (etching)
    • "Quiet Waters" (1) (etching)
    • "Rocky Point"(3) (etching)
    • "San Pedro" (8) (etching)
    • "Seaworthy" (2)
    • A set of four prints (7)
    • "Shoreside Farm" (2) (etching)
    • "Spencer Tracy" (oil)
    • "Water Front"

I realize this isn't much information, and anything anyone else would care to contribute to this brief collection of knowledge would be much appreciated.  


May 2, 2000:

Over 70 people have emailed me about Mr. Barrymore's artwork since I put up my site about him, and I have tried to find out what I can about his paintings and etchings. While I don't have a whole lot of information, I can give you a quick summary of the avenues I've pursued researching this.

I have inquired at both Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses in London for any information about this artwork and its potential value. These auction houses maintain vast artwork databases and employ a number of experts whose job it is to know art well enough to be able to appraise it, and determine that the pieces they sell at auction are not fakes or forgeries. However, the experts at neither auction house had any knowledge of Mr. Barrymore's artwork, or even of him as an artist--only as an actor. Thus, they were unable to give me any information and said that even if someone brought a Barrymore piece in to be appraised, they would have a hard time putting a value on it. The difficulty stems from whether this art has any aesthetic value as art, or whether it is only noteworthy because Mr. Barrymore--a famous actor--did it. A lady at Christie's told me that "some years ago" they had done an auction of artwork by celebrities that had proven very disappointing, and that now they "don't touch it".

Christie's referred me to the Cinema Museum and Ronald Grant Archive in South London as well as the British Film Institute, but neither of these sources were able to tell me anything about Mr. Barrymore, the artist, or his artwork. The Cinema Museum did suggest that my next lead should be the Association of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library, Special Collections Department in Los Angeles, but the AMPAS charges for this kind of research, so I have not yet placed a formal inquiry with them.

Thus, it appears that to get any sort of valuation on one of these pieces would probably require someone paying for an appraisal, which would force one of the auction houses or other art experts to look a little deeper and come up with something about Mr. Barrymore as an artist--even if it's just to decide that he wasn't very good. To the best of my knowledge however, no one has done that yet.  In the meantime, about all I can say about approximate valuations is that prints of his etchings seem to be selling for anywhere from $3.00 to $30.00 (depending on framing, condition, etc.) on eBay.

Return to the Lionel Barrymore main page.

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Last updated: October 19, 2010.
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