Gallery Paintings for Sale from Sears
It was a surprise to us to learn that on October 6th, 1962, Sears unveiled an offering of original works of art for sale at its store in Denver, Colorado. Sears had commissioned famous actor and art collector, Vincent Price, to assemble a collection of art and gallery paintings that would be merchandised through its stores, making fine art more accessible to all Sears’ customers. They gave Price carte blanche to travel the world to put the collection together. After that first opening in Denver, the program was broadened with exhibits of art in ten additional Sears stores and after the first 1,500 pieces of art has been sold, it was expanded nationwide to all Sears stores. The program ended in 1971, but more than 50,000 original artworks had been sold during its time.
The Vincent Price Collection, as it was called, included gallery paintings and other works by Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso, Whistler and many contemporary artists of the day. It included a watercolor by Andrew Wyeth and a painting by Salvador Dali commissioned by Price.
Each work of art offered by Sears was guaranteed under a Sears warranty as “an original work of quality”. Prices ranged from as little at $10 to $3,000 with an installment plan available offering payments as low as $5 a month. Special Sears catalogs in 1963 and 1964 included works from the collection.
An informational video was made by Vincent Price for Sears to help their sales associates learn more about the artworks they would be selling. In it Price says that he believes that, “Art belongs to everyone,” and that “reproductions have a great place in the home. They teach and they satisfy a need for decoration. But, there’s no excitement in the world like the excitement of owning an original work of art.”
He continues, “Art is the visual experience of man—made exciting by talent, and the talent belongs to that rarest of all individuals—the artist . . . It is not done by strange fellows with long hair who live in attics and wear berets. It is done by extremely disciplined human beings who are trying to allow you, (as people, untalented people, like myself), trying to allow them to see through their eyes the visual beauty of this world.”
We were amazed at one of the more expensive offerings of 1962—a Rembrandt etching titled Angels Appearing to Shepherds. It was certified to have been created in Rembrandt’s studio during his lifetime (1606-1669) and was priced at $900!
We would enjoy hearing from any of you who may remember having seen the original artworks in your local Sears store.
We hope that you will join us on The Artist’s Road for more interesting articles, interviews with top artists, step-by-step demonstrations and discounts in the unique Artist’s Road Store.
–Ann and John