John F. Long Paintings Sell In Adamstown

January 19, 2017

John F. Long (1894-1984) of Reinholds, Pa., by profession was a carpenter and house painter, but was widely known for his reverse painting on glass. Long was a self-trained artist and produced over 1,000 reverse paintings on glass over the course of a 60-year period. He spent his entire life in the rural Pennsylvania German West Cocalico Township community of Reinholds.
On Jan. 2, Art Pannebecker and Brad Wolf Auctioneers Inc. of Denver, Pa., sold a dozen paintings by Long at Renninger’s Market in Adamstown, Pa. The regional folk art has a small, but devout following of collectors.
Long’s technique was to first sketch an outline of the subject on thin tissue paper, then turn it over, with glass on top, transfer the image by painting it in acrylics. He would paint the foreground first and background last. Long would frame with the clean side of the glass facing outward, and the reverse painted subject became the true image. He made his own frames, sometimes incorporating parquetry, and at times embellishing his frames with things such as acorn caps and also macaroni shells, which he often painted gold.
In 1981, at age 87, Long was still actively painting. At that time, he was living with his daughter, Amanda Stephan. Long held an auction of 100-plus paintings at a Nov. 14, 1981, auction. He died in 1984 and on Sept. 1 of that year, 500 more paintings were sold at his estate sale held at the Reamstown Fire Hall. Many sold between $50 to $75 each.
At the Jan. 2, 2017, sale, a range of his work was sold. A vertical tinsel painting (incorporating colored foil) of orange daylilies with a painted double interior border of nut shells or acorn caps, dated “1983” sold for $24.20. A scene with boats in a marina, an unusual topic for the artist, sold for $121. A rural landscape scene with a covered bridge and gold shell caps in the interior frame sold for $165. It was the highest priced item in the group.
Long was known for painting Cocalico Valley landmarks. A winter scene of the Black Horse Tavern dated “1978” brought $143. Long lived a short distance from the building on Route 897. It was torn down in September of 1978. He salvaged lumber from the tavern and made frames out of it. A popular subject, Long did many versions of the once historic building - one as it appeared at the turn of the 20th century with its long balcony, and a later version as it was when demolished. The later version was when the balcony was gone, and the structure had been plastered/stuccoed.
A winter scene inspired by a Currier & Ives print sold for $154, and a scene depicting a European castle went for $82.50.
Prices reported include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.
The photos showcase the diversity of his work and what each painting sold for.


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