This large painting appeared three or four years ago at an auction in Connecticut, and although it bore no visible signature, knowledgeable bidders recognized that it could only have been painted by William L. Sonntag, an accomplished 19th century American artist. Regretfully, a misguided attempt by an amateur restorer to "improve" the sky during the 1950's or 60's caused the painting to sell at a fraction of its value, and certainly scared several potential buyers away. Had any client of mine asked my opinion at the time, I most likely would have advised them not to bid, since any future attempt to remove the modern green sky was a very risky proposition and there was no way to tell at the auction if any of the original sky existed under the thick green modern paint.
By the time a client arrived at my door with the painting the check had cleared and there was no turning back. Using a scalpel, cotton, solvents and a great deal of skill and time, Jackie Trombley, our Senior Conservator was able to remove all of the modern restoration paint and reveal the entire original sky. It was found to be in perfect pristine condition with hardly a scratch! The painting did not even need lining or any major restoration in any other areas of the painting. For all practical purposes this was a pristine example of the artist's work, and it was later appraised by a knowledgeable dealer for several times the price paid at auction.