This is a portrait of Mark Twain by F. M. Knowles dating to 1906. When I purchased this item, I was told it was an original work in mixed media of watercolors and gauche. I have no reason to believe that is not so, and in fact believe it is. However, I am not an art expert and have no expert authentication.
The painting is on a thin, brittle paper that is adhered to a piece of board. The board seems to be some type of hard pressed cardboard.
The artist’s signature is present at the lower left corner, but is not visible when in the frame. The name F. W. Knowles and the year 1906 are written on the back of the board on which the painting is mounted.
I have provided multiple images, including the painting in the frame; the painting outside the frame; a close-up of the signature; and the back of the board;
The painting itself presents quite well in the frame. It is dark (in color, not subject matter), as it depicts a steamship at night in the moonlight. It further features a portrait of Twain painted to look as though it is pinned onto the picture of the steamship at night. The artist’s initials can be seen on the portrait within the picture.
There are cracks, small chips, and a couple of small punctures in the painting. Some can be seen in the scans, but you should look closely. In the frame some of the flaws are not discernible.
I think it is likely the original frame. It is generally in good condition, but some chips to the wood which can be seen in the images provided.
Farquhar McGillivray Knowles was a well-known marine and portrait artist. His biography and work can be found on the internet.
Book ID 4965