On January 6, a Delaware native and his painting by American illustrator Frank Schoonover were featured on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, filmed at Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.

The owner’s family purchased the painting directly from the famed artist for $300 in June 1960. During the Antiques Roadshow segment, the owner 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, Delaware. He was then told his beloved family painting was now worth approximately $125,000.

The Delaware Art Museum is thrilled to announce that the painting will be displayed in the attraction’s American illustration gallery for the next six months.

The painting, originally published with the caption “At a Hail from the Boat He Went to the Rail,” is an illustration from the 1923 book Privateers of ’76, a tale of Massachusetts boy Stephen Claghorn and his adventures at sea during the American Revolution. It depicts the moment toward the end of the story when Claghorn, alone and adrift aboard a derelict ship, is rescued, improbably, by his Salem schoolmaster.

The Delaware Art Museum has a robust collection of illustrations by Frank Schoonover (1877-1972). Schoonover, a prominent artist of the Brandywine School, studied with Howard Pyle in the late 1800s, even receiving a coveted scholarship to study with him in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1899. Schoonover later moved from his native Philadelphia to Wilmington, Delaware to set up his studio, where he also conducted classes.

Schoonover 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 Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Heidi, 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 1972, after a career of over 60 years, he had produced about 2,200 illustrations for more than 130 books and numerous magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s Magazine, Scribner’s Magazine, Outing, American Boy, The Ladies’ Home Journal, and Collier’s. In addition to this loaned painting, the Museum currently has seven Schoonover illustrations on view. 

Be sure to pay a visit to this wonderful collection and more during your next #VisitWilm getaway

About the Delaware Art Museum

For more than 100 years, the Museum has served as the primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities that connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in its building and sculpture garden. The Museum is also home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.