Famous Painting Nearly Given Away To Goodwill Sells For Over $100,000 At Auction

A hidden masterpiece once destined for a Goodwill donation pile raked in over $100,000 at auction. Julian Onderdonk’s “A Field of Bluebonnets, San Antonio” brought in $112,500 at Heritage Auctions last week.

Julian Onderdonk's "A Field of Bluebonnets, San Antonio."
Julian Onderdonk’s “A Field of Bluebonnets, San Antonio.” (credit: Heritage Auctions)

The piece from the “father or Texas painting” was literally on a trailer with other donations for Goodwill before being saved. The painting, a beautiful depiction of a field of bluebonnets, had been a gift to the woman, sent from a relative in Texas to Illinois to commemorate her birth in 1922. For nearly a century, it graced the walls of her home. As the moving truck was being loaded, the woman called out for the painting, declaring, “It’s too pretty to surrender.” And so, the artwork was retrieved, allowing her to continue enjoying its beauty in her final years.

After the woman’s passing, her daughter, living in Washington state, displayed the painting in her own dining room, still unaware of its true significance. It wasn’t until recently, when the daughter and her son began to investigate the artist behind the work, that they made a startling discovery: the painting was an original by none other than Onderdonk, the renowned Texas Impressionist.

Onderdonk is credited with inventing the entire genre of bluebonnet painting. His works capture the essence of the Texas state flower like no other artist, showcasing its vibrant presence on the Lone Star State’s landscape. The rediscovered painting was created in 1921 and represents Onderdonk at the peak of his artistic powers. He would end up passing away in 1922 at the age of 40.

The original owner’s grandson says they put the iconic painting up for auction so another person can “appreciate it.”

“It was a family heirloom all these years. But it was decoration. We hadn’t considered researching it. And now, it should go to someone who will genuinely appreciate it,” he said.

Two other Onderdonk paintings in Heritage’s Texas Art Signature Auction went for $106,250 and $93,750, respectively.

In 2013, Heritage sold Onderdonk’s 1914 “Blue Bonnet Field, Early Morning, San Antonio” for a record $515,000 — the most ever paid for an Onderdonk piece.

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