Family’s Painting Pegged at $125,000 on Antiques Roadshow hits Delaware Art Museum

Claghorn at the Rail, 1923, Illustration for Privateers of ’76 by Ralph D. Paine, (Philadelphia: Penn Publishing Company, 1923). Frank Earle Schoonover (1877–1972). Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches. Private Collection, Native Son of Delaware

A painting purchased for $300 directly from legendary Delaware artist Frank Schoonover earned a six-figure appraisal that brought its owner to tears on the season premiere of Antiques Roadshow.

The hit PBS TV show had filmed in Delaware last summer, and the 17-time Emmy Award-nominated series kicked off its 2020 season with three episodes from their visit to the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library

Among the choice finds was a “$125,000 family treasure,” a painting by the noted Brandywine School illustrator adorned with the caption “At a Hail from the Boat He Went to the Rail.” The painting is from the 1923 book, Privateers of ’76, a tale of Massachusetts boy Stephen Claghorn and his adventures at sea during the American Revolution.

The work appeared in the January 13th episode and can be viewed online here: Introducing Winterthur to viewers, the show called Winterthur’s owner Henry Francis DuPont the greatest collector of his generation and said Roadshow found “the natural and humanly treasures to be inspirational.”

Items that were appraised in Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Hour 2: (clockwise from top left): Bobby Leach Niagara Falls Archive, ca. 1911 – $8,000 – $10,000; Gustaf Tenggren Snow White Watercolor, ca. 1937 – $50,000 – $75,000; Herter Brothers Aesthetic Movement Chair, ca. 1875 – $8,000 – $12,000.

Now Delaware art fans can see the Schoonover painting in person. The Delaware Art Museum announced this week that it will display the work in its American illustration gallery for the next six months, through July.

During the Antiques Roadshow segment, the owner (who has asked not to be identified) described his father’s love of illustrated books, and how his mother saved for two years to purchase a work from Schoonover’s Rodney Street studio in Wilmington.


When he learned of the valuation from the Antiques Roadshow expert, he exclaimed, “my father would be so thrilled to know that people were being turned on to illustrations, and my mother would be really thrilled with what you just said.”

Schoonover’s grandson John Schoonover, who is also proprietor of Schoonover Studios, commented that he “was very pleased to see my grandfather’s illustration on Antiques Roadshow, and glad [Roadshow expert and art dealer] Debra Force acknowledged the increasing interest in American book and magazine illustration.”

The Delaware Art Museum has a significant collection of illustrations by Schoonover (1877-1972), who was renowned for his illustrations of stories featuring pirates, cowboys, historical heroes, and other romantic adventurers. He produced covers and illustrations for classics of young people’s literature, notably KidnappedRobinson CrusoeHeidi, Hans Brinker, and Swiss Family Robinson. Schoonover also produced images of coal miners and other laborers, especially in industrial northeastern Pennsylvania.


Schoonover was one of the founders of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts (the predecessor of the Delaware Art Museum) and remained closely involved with the Museum and its teaching studios throughout his life. At his death in Wilmington in 1972, after a career of over 60 years, he had produced about 2,200 illustrations for over 130 books and numerous magazines, including The Saturday Evening PostHarper’s MagazineScribner’s MagazineOutingAmerican BoyThe Ladies’ Home Journal, and Collier’s.

In addition to this loaned painting, the Museum currently has seven Schoonover illustrations on view.

Antiques Roadshow episodes two and three have and will feature other Delaware discoveries including Stephen King first editions from 1974-1977, an Ilya Schor silver plate, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany oil, 1820 JJ Audubon portraits and a Ming Dynasty Xiwangmu figure. Valuations for some of these rarities range from $80,000 to $150,000.

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