|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data
compared to the extensive information about American artists.|
Relative to the confusion of two artists using the same name of K.E.
Felix, the following is from an article which appeared September 5, 2011
in The Meadville Tribune, Meadville, Pennsylvania:
Former local 'ambassador' uncovers art mystery
By Jean Shanley
Special to The Meadville Tribune
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — A painting purchased at a garage sale for $5 has
resulted in a former Meadville man learning there are two artists from
different countries with the same initials — and one often gets credit
for the other’s work.
George L. (Joey) Custard, a son of Skeet and Wanita Custard of
Meadville, was visiting New Jersey with his friend, Daniel Biron, a New
Jersey native, when they went to a garage sale in 2006. They found what
Custard considered an “interesting painting.” It was
sitting on the ground, leaning on a table with the backside out. “I
thought it looked interesting so I turned it around. To me, it looked
like a serious painting,” Custard said.
He and Biron decided to purchase the seascape.
The painting is signed “K.E. Felix.” Custard went to the Carnegie
Library Art Department and staffers there helped him look up the artist
and found him as “listed artist” Karl Eugene Felix. It was Custard’s
first step that led to an interesting discovery.
He found auctions with paintings by K.E. Felix on eBay and the Internet,
and that kept him interested in finding out more about the artist. He
learned Felix was born in Vienna, Austria, and was a portrait and genre
painter. His works are on display in many
museums, both in Vienna and in the United States, and sell anywhere
from $600 to several thousand dollars. Felix died in 1906.
Custard also went to the website Ask Art, which features paintings,
artists’ biographies and auction results. There are some paintings by
Karl Eugene Felix, but very little other information.
In August 2010, he took the painting to a show called “Pittsburgh’s
Hidden Treasures,” similar to PBS’s “Antiques Road Show,” where people
take antiques to experts for information and appraisal. Custard said the
painting was examined by an art gallery curator/dealer
who saw the work was signed “K.E. Felix.” Based on previous
information, Custard told her it was Karl Eugene Felix. She found
comparable works on her computer and appraised the painting at between
$1,800 and $2,500.
She also told him the painting was probably not in the original frame,
which looks like it is 1920s-era — but Karl Eugene Felix had died more
than 10 years before that.
Custard previously had posted an inquiry on Ask Art, stating he had gone
to the event and had the painting appraised. In searching the web,
Custard also noticed that not all the signatures of K.E. Felix looked
the same. One was more block-looking, the other
A Florida Felix
One woman posted in 2009 that she had original paperwork dated 1924
involving land purchased by a K.E. Felix in Florida, but Custard didn’t
pay much attention to it at the time. This summer, still intrigued,
Custard went back to the Internet to see if he could
find anything else about this painter. That’s when he paid more
attention to the posting from 2009 that involved the land purchased in
“Being an amateur genealogist, I found this interesting because I know
that land records can be researched because they are a matter of public
record,” Custard said. However, he knew the date 1924 did not match up
with the lifespan of K.E. (Karl Eugene) Felix.
“I had no way of knowing if he (Felix) even visited the United States,
let alone lived here.”
Custard didn’t give up. He found a New York Times article from 1911,
which reported an estate dispute involving Grace Felix Lesster and
mentioning her sister, Mamie C. Lesster. The article said they were the
“daughters of K.E. Felix, a marine painter.”
He continued his research for the K.E. Felix with daughters named Grace
and Mamie. Checking U.S. Census records, he discovered that this other
Felix painter was probably Kanute E. Felix, who resided in New Jersey in
1900. He was born in Sweden in 1852, later
moved to New Jersey and had several children, including Grace and
Mamie, and his occupation was listed as artist.
Since the Florida property date was given as 1924, Custard decided to
find a date on the death of K.E. Felix sometime after 1924. He searched
the Latter Day Saints genealogy website and found Kanute E. Felix, who
died May 25, 1935, in Florida.
Custard also found it interesting that he and Kanute share the same
birthday — Jan. 13 — although they were born 105 years apart.
He realized that the information about Kanute Felix matched the Census
information, and he called the cemetery office where K.E. Felix was
buried and found the information to be accurate.
“That explains why my painting is in a later frame — because (this) K.E.
Felix was living until 1935 — likely it is in the original frame,”
Custard did further examination and found a copy of the signature of
Kanute E. Felix and realized it matches the style of the capital F used
in other paintings he had seen signed K.E. Felix.
Art pros get it wrong
Custard found that Kanute Edwin Felix is not listed as a credited
painter. However, his paintings with two styles of signature (cursive
and block print) have been and continue to be erroneously auctioned as
the works of Karl Eugene Felix (Austrian painter).
“Art dealers and auction houses have not done their homework as far as
researching the artist in this case,” Custard said. “Buyers are
purchasing paintings by Kanute Edwin Felix, believing they are the works
of Karl Eugene (K.E.) Felix.
The research was time-consuming but interesting, Custard said, and he
thinks his investment of $5 and time is well worth it. He hopes that
Kanute Edwin Felix gets credit for his beautiful art work — a piece of
which now hangs in Custard’s home in Pittsburgh.
Custard is former local ambassador
George L. (Joey) Custard, a graduate of Meadville Area Senior High
School, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Edinboro
University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in theology and adult
education from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
In 1975, he was the Meadville Area Community Ambassador to Israel and
subsequently directed the ambassador program for several years.
He has resided in Pittsburgh since 1983 and has been employed by Mercy
Behavioral Health for 10 years and a prevention educator and counselor
on HIV disease and Hepatitis C in drug and alcohol/mental health
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