An Early Eric Sloane Mural

December 4, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on An Early Eric Sloane Mural

Here is an early mural by Eric Sloane, likely early to mid 1930’s.  Entitled “Toast to Progress”, indicating the strides made in aviation since the Wright Brothers.  Great theme over a bar!

How to tell if an Eric Sloane painting is real or a print

March 15, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on How to tell if an Eric Sloane painting is real or a print
October Gleaning by Eric Sloane
Note:  Images of Eric Sloane works of art included in this article are all prints, not original works of art.
          Many Eric Sloane paintings were turned into prints over the years.  For decades, it was a very lucrative market.  A problem with these prints were that they were made to look exactly like the original.  Not to suggest that they were “fakes” – they were just made to look like the original paintings.  Often, they were sold in furniture stores and large retailers like Macy’s as a decorative item.
   Cloud Symphony by Eric Sloane
          Eric Sloane prints, especially ones that were made c. 1950-1975, share some similarities to originals.  First, they are often framed.  Second, they were affixed to a mid weight board, very similar to the Masonite sheets that Eric painted upon.  Third, the printing technology used to create the prints produced vivid and realistic colors very similar to oil paints, and finally, prints often appear “varnished”, as a machine was used to “paint” a coating over the print to both protect it and to make it appear as an original painting.  Sometimes, the machine produced “varnish” will readily give the “painting” away as a print.  The machine produced “varnish” will often appear like small swirls of a paint brush – usually 1/2″ to 1″ wide per swirl.  These swirls will repeat themselves across the entire image.  When Eric varnished his paintings, he usually used as 3″ – 4″ house painting brush and the strokes were decidedly not uniform in appearance.
Nostalgic Summer by Eric Sloane
     These prints were VERY good and have fooled a lot of people, including art dealers.
Contrast the two prints above with the previous images.  Obviously, a print is easily detected when it is printed on paper.  However, many thousands of Eric Sloane prints were printed on paper, affixed to sheets of masonite, then received an application of what appears to be varnish, all before being housed in a frame.  The result can be very convincing and has lured more than one unsuspecting buyer into purchasing a print at original prices.
        There are several other methods to use to determine if a painting is an original or a print.  The most basic is to determine if the painting has a provenance, or a written chain of ownership, preferably back to the original purchaser.  The paperwork should reflect prices paid at any point when ownership was transferred (e.g. from an art gallery to a buyer).  Eric Sloane paintings were almost always expensive enough to warrant some type of sales record, even between private parties.
Fairfax Bridge by Eric Sloane
    Original Eric Sloane paintings have a much different “feel” to them than prints, and there many aspects of an Eric Sloane work that provide clues as to it’s authenticity, year created, and even the Sloane’s purpose for painting the scence.
October Gleaning by Eric Sloane
      One sure way to determine if a work by Eric Sloane is a print or an original is to examine it carefully under strong magnification.  Usually a hand held magnifying glass is not strong enough.  You’ll need a more powerful glass, a loupe works best of all.  
 This particular print is an interesting one as I have only ever come across it printed on a canvas-like material.  I have had several people tell me that they new it to be a print right away as Eric Sloane never painted on canvas.  In truth, while it is a print, Eric did paint on canvas early in his career, but ceased using it c. 1952.
      A loupe is often used by a jeweler or watch maker, and is usually found in a comparatively powerful magnification.  You can use one to examine the lighter portions of the image (white clouds are a good choice).  If you are examining a print, under magnification you will see “printer’s dots”, a term given to the  hexagon-shaped blobs of ink laid down on the paper to form the image.  These printer’s dots are so tiny that they aren’t usually visible to the naked eye.  Under magnification, they look something like a photograph printed at really low resolution – a “pixelated” image.  When examined under magnification, the pixels that make up the photograph are evident – to the naked eye that image appears normal.  The same is true for prints.  Under magnification, the printer’s dots are evident, but to the naked eye, all you see is a painting.  
    To be sure, someone owns the original from which a print was made.  In only three of the examples of prints shown in this article do I know who owns the original.  You never know if you have the original.  It pays to check – every one of these examples is listed routinely on ebay and rarely fetches more than about $75 in excellent condition.  The original oil painting from which any one of these prints was struck would be worth anywhere from $15,000-$45,000.
    Comments I made previously in this article bear repeating.  All of the images used in this articles are prints.  Some framed, most quite large, all stunning, and many appear to be original works of art by Eric Sloane.  However, keep in mind that, when these were made, Eric Sloane was a household name.  It is very difficult to believe that one would somehow end up at a Salvation Army, yard sale, attic, basement, etc. In over twenty years in this business, I have yet to come across anyone who had an “Antiques Roadshow” moment where they paid $5.00 for an Eric Sloane painting at a yard sale that is worth $45,000.  Unfortunately, my experience is to the contrary.  I receive an average of five calls or emails every week from folks who are convinced – or just really want to believe – that they have an original.

Eric Sloane and the Smithsonian

October 25, 2016 |  by  |  No Comments

Some great photographs can be found at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collections Division.  The photographs show the finished version of Eric Sloane’s Earth Flight Environment as well as some images of the artist at work.  I did not realize that there is another Eric Sloane mural, hidden currently behind a wall, in the Age of Flight section of the museum.  From the photograph, it looks like a great mural.  Has anyone seen it in person?

Eric Sloane and New England Stone

March 26, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

Author’s note:  This article appeared in the Spring, 2005 issue of Legacy, the newsletter of the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum.  It was written in support of the theme established for the 2015 programming season at the Eric Sloane Museum:  Eric Sloane and New England Stone.

                      The New England dry-laid stonewall: Eric Sloane’s Art

sloane stone walls 1

Stonewalls were often featured in Eric Sloane’s paintings, illustrations and books. In some cases, as in the illustration above, the stonewall was the subject matter. In other cases – and more frequently – Eric Sloane used stonewalls prominently in his artistic works that reflected a more generalized New England landscape. Eric’s treatment of stonewalls can be used to help identify an original oil painting executed by the artist, as well as to help determine when he painted a particular scene.

chapin stone wall

            In this detail from an original oil on panel Eric created in 1959, the treatment of the stone wall in foreground shows how he used dark brown oil paint to simulate gaps between the stones. Many of the stones throughout the wall are comparatively small in size, though there are a small number of larger stones that can be discerned as well. The top of the wall is painted in a nearly uniform height and shades of grays and blues predominate. Most of the stones show the effects of the artist scraping paint with the flat side of a razor blade, a technique Eric describes using in several of his publications. However, in this painting, as in many of Eric’s earlier works, he used the razor blade to smooth the final application of paint. These techniques differ markedly from ones Eric employed during the later years of his life, as evidenced by the detail of the painting below, which Eric completed in 1975:

sloane painting stone wall

          In this detail, Eric’s treatment of the stonewall in the foreground may appear similar to that of the first painting, yet subtle differences confirm a later date of completion. Generally, Eric created many more larger stones that appear much more dimensional than the stones he painted earlier in his career. No longer did Eric employ dark pigment to indicate gaps in the wall; later in his career his used an ebony marking pencil to draw in that feature. Eric also largely abandoned any attempt to create a uniform height in his walls. Stonewalls in Eric’s paintings began to look much more like “thrown” walls, or walls that had deteriorated over time. Two additional aspects found within Eric’s stonewalls that are significant is his use of color and the aforementioned razorblade.

           Throughout the 1970s, Eric expanded his color choices in depicting stonewalls to include browns and greens. The results are quite pleasing as both colors served to simulate moss and lichens found on older, established New England stonewalls. Further, Eric continued to use his razor blade technique to give his stonewalls depth and texture, but he modified it slightly to achieve a more loose, rather than a forced, look. Eric also relied more on an underlayment of pigment, which he allowed to dry before putting the final layer of paint to be worked. Unlike the earlier technique in which Eric only worked the final layer of paint, he was now using the razor blade to both add texture to his stone and to scrape of enough color on some of the stones to reveal the underlying colors.

Much like his treatment of the sky, one can tell an Eric Sloane painting almost immediately by his skill in painting stone.

Eric Sloane owned by the Cradle of Aviation Museum

March 1, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

image 1 image 2 image 3

Readers of this blog know that Eric Sloane painted a number of murals over his lifetime, perhaps his most famous being the one he executed in the lobby of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  I came across these photographs I took some years ago and thought I would include them here.

At the time these photographs were taken, the mural pictured had been rescued by some folks at what was being developed as the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island (  I was invited by Eric Sloane’s 5th wife, Ruth Hinrichs, to view the mural which, if I remember correctly, had just been re-discovered in a storage facility.  I believe that the mural was removed by some workers who were dismantling a hanger at the old Roosevelt Air Field.  The workers clearly cut it out of the wall – the nominal studs are still visible under the plaster.

The mural encapsulates neatly themes that ran throughout Eric Sloane’s career.  It is within this early mural that we can see Sloane’s interest in depicting the past and progress, as well as his playful sense of humor, evidenced by the treatment of the light switch and telephone at the lower left of the mural.


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Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum Receives IRS 501c3 Non-Profit Status

July 23, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

The IRS 1023 application submitted by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum has been reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service and the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum is now officially a non-profit organization!  The process was lengthy, difficult – and so worth the effort.  As a 501c3 public charity, the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum can accept monetary donations as well as donations of stocks, bonds, and securities, paintings, tangible property, and many other forms of donations.  As we have practiced since the inception of the organization, no one in the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum receives compensation in any form.  We are strictly a volunteer organization committed to the advancement of Eric Sloane and the museum he founded.

July 14, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

An image from the current exhibit The Artist Who Loved the Sky:  Cloudscapes, Weather, and the World of Eric Sloane, which will close October 3rd.  This wonderful exhibit chronicles Eric’s work with the sky and meteorology with a specific emphasis on his original art.  Some early and rare original works of art are included in this exhibit.

July 14, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

An image from the current exhibit The Artist Who Loved the Sky:  Cloudscapes, Weather, and the World of Eric Sloane, which will close October 3rd.  This wonderful exhibit chronicles Eric’s work with the sky and meteorology with a specific emphasis on his original art.  Some early and rare original works of art are included in this exhibit.

March 28, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

A more detailed photograph of the Eric Sloane-designed business card he was using in the 1940s.  These are extremely rare – I have only heard of another in existence, though I have never seen it.  This card is framed along with “Brewster F2A2” by Eric Sloane, N.A.

March 17, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

The Artist Who Loved the Sky:  Cloudscapes, Weather, and the World of Eric Sloane

Eric Sloane, painter of cloudscapes, c. 1940

            Irrespective of the subject matter, it is Eric Sloane’s ability to represent the heavens in oil paints that defines him as an artist.  It is impossible to pinpoint exactly when and how Eric Sloane learned to so skillfully paint the sky, yet it is my opinion that he was incredibly observant and gifted in his ability to translate what he observed to canvas or Masonite.  Eric Sloane knew, probably more from careful observation than the scant amount of artistic schooling he received, that the sky both reflected the landscape underneath and exhibited its own color gradations over distance (gradations that are completely the opposite of ones found in landscapes).

Eric Sloane said that he “discovered” the sky in Taos, New Mexico, but it took a stint painting murals at Coney Island to apply what he had observed and learned in earnest.  David Martin, owner of the Half Moon Hotel, met Sloane while he was at work on one of the large murals in the amusement park.  Martin obviously took a liking to the young artist, for he offered Sloane the position of “artist in residence” at the hotel.  In exchange for room and board at the Half Moon, Eric Sloane would be required to letter menus and signs for use in the hotel.  How much of that work Sloane was able to accomplish is not known, for Eric Sloane gravitated to the large, blank walls of the hotel.  Eric Sloane was inspired.  The Half Moon Hotel was close to Floyd Bennett Aviation Field, an important hub of early aviation.  Wiley Post, Roscoe Turner, Bill Odom, and other famous and not as famous aviators of the day would often choose to have lunch or dinner at the hotel, sometimes staying the night.  One can imagine the evenings at the Half Moon’s bar, of tales swapped of aviation triumphs and mishaps, all taken in by young Eric Sloane.

   Closing Fast, Republic Guardsman by Eric Sloane, N.A.

          Eric Sloane was able to convince David Martin that large murals of clouds – paintings from the pilot’s perspective – would be a good investment given the hotel clientele.  Of course, Eric would need to spend some time at the airfield researching his subject matter.  Within weeks, Eric Sloane was trading rides in airplanes for painting fuselage art on airplanes.  His perspective, and his artistic focus and direction, changed forever.

In the years leading up to the Second World War, Eric Sloane continued to fly in order to learn more about the world above the one more familiar to most.  Sloane also turned his attention to contributing illustrations to some works on aviation for aviation-related magazines.  He caught the attention of someone at Devin-Adair Company (whether through his association with pilots, time at the Half Moon and Floyd Bennett Field, his illustrations, or through another way remains unclear), the firm that ultimately published his first book, Clouds, Air and Wind (1941).  Sloane followed this volume with contributions to Assen Jordanoff’s Your Wings and Ernest Vetter’s Let’s Fly: An ABC of Flying.  All three volumes were written under the darkening clouds of the Second World War, and the military implications of each were not lost on the Army Air Corps.  Faced with the difficulty of training of young men quickly in the highly technical arts of combat theatre aviation, the Army Air Corps recognized immediately Eric Sloane’s ability to depict cloud forms and illustrate weather phenomenon.  Eric Sloane’s work with the Army Air Corps helped him to hone another skill set:  writing that was simple and engaging, coupled with cartoon-like illustrations that could relay the ideas behind pages of technical information into simple but memorable set of line drawings.   This was a crucial skill set to have, given the audience for which Sloane was writing.  The Army Air Corps used Sloane’s illustrations in several publications including Your Body In Flight (1943 Air Service Command, Restricted).

            Eric Sloane’s work for the Army Air Corps and for a number of civilian aviation related companies is a period in the artist’s life that deserves deeper study and scholarship.  His work was important – vitally so, I would argue – to the men and women (remember the W.A.S.P.s?) who flew during the Second World War and after.  Just this past year a gentleman who visited the Eric Sloane Museum spoke with the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum, telling us of his early years as a commercial pilot flying the South Pacific routes.  There was, he said, little in the way of information or training in flying these new routes.  Instead, he was handed a few books by Eric Sloane as an introduction – and he has been a great admirer of Eric Sloane’s works ever since.  How many pilots, civilian and military, have benefited from Eric’s work?

Following the Second World War, Eric Sloane continued to submit and have published various articles on aviation, clouds, and the weather.  He branched out, being published in magazines as varied as Air Trails, Popular Science, Rudder, and Weatherwise.  Much of his research and many of his illustrations were compiled into book form, spawning his career as an author.  His deepening research interests in the field of meteorology led him to presume that study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was in order, but a brief experience in a meteorology course riddled with mathematical calculations and dull scientific language cured him of that notion.  One of his professors suggested, tongue in cheek, that if Eric Sloane wanted to find “romance in the weather”, rather than mathematic and scientific concepts, Eric ought to consult the early American farm almanacs and diaries.  Eric Sloane took his professor seriously and began collecting in earnest.  It was this passing suggestion that launched Eric Sloane into the next phase of his career, a career for which he is better known – a painter of barns, covered bridges, and of farming scenes.

Eric Sloane never abandoned his love of the sky.  His clouds and weather still dominated his landscapes.  The sky became as central a theme as the landscape below.  He was a keen observer of the sky, of weather, of shadow, and of natural light.  He understood, if not in scientific terms than in artistic ones, how cloud forms and the color of light changed during the course of the days and the course of the seasons.  Winter or Spring, dawn or evening, Eric Sloane’s landscapes are so convincing as a direct result of the artist’s study of, and reverence for, the sky.

Autumn Clouds by Eric Sloane, N.A.  O/P, 38.25″ wide x 28.25″ tall by site

About the Author:  James W. Mauch is the author of Aware: A Retrospective of the Life and Work of Eric Sloane and a member of the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum.  Article adapted from the Spring 2014 issue of Legacy, the newsletter of the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum.