News & Politics

A New Record Price for Washington Artist Max Weyl

An 1878 view of Arlington House went for $19,000 — almost twice the previous record for the DC painter.

Photograph courtesy the Potomack Company.

An auction last month set a record price for a painting by the Washington, DC, artist Max Weyl (1837-1914). Weyl’s Potomac River View of Arlington House with Shanty and Sailboats, which he painted in 1878, sold for $19,000 in “competitive bidding,” according to a spokesperson for the Alexandria auction house Potomack Company. The previous record for a Weyl painting was $10,500, the spokesperson tells Washingtonian.

Weyl was born in Germany and opened a jewelry store in Washington in 1862. (Sources differ on the location of the shop—some say it was Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street, others say it was on 7th Street, Northwest, where HipCityVeg is today.) He was self-taught and hung his paintings in his shop windows, where he attracted buyers with local landscape paintings—he was particularly fond of the Potomac flats and the land that would eventually comprise Rock Creek Park. He eventually founded the Washington Landscape School with other artists who favored painting en plein air.

A detail from Weyl’s work.

The painting that set a record shows Arlington House, the onetime base for the Custis and Lee families that the Union seized in 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, and that became a national military cemetery three years later. (The mansion’s portico was the symbol of Arlington County until 2021.) Potomack House says Weyl painted it from somewhere near the current location of the Kennedy Center, though it seems possible that the artist may have viewed it from the south end of Little Island or Analostan Island, which we now call Roosevelt Island.

The Weyl record is one of a number of records set at the Potomack Company recently: Milena Pavlovic-Barili’s Juno and Vulcan was knocked down at $95,000, far above the Serbian artist’s previous record of $21,250; and a humidor by David Linley, whom fans of The Crown will be delighted to recall is the son of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, went for $50,000.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.