The first surprising part of this video is that Sears actually sold art; apparently the department store chain had been selling oil paintings since the the early part of the 20th century. I suspect that as the mass availability of affordable art reproductions became available to the middle class, Sears decided to rebrand purchasing original art for the home, with the help of that consummate sophisticated gentleman, Vincent Price.
Price was not only a household name, but an avid art collector and gallerist (think of him as the Dennis Hopper of the 1950s). The Vincent Price Art Museum in East Los Angeles houses the actor’s vast collection in a 40,000-sq. ft. Arquitectonica building that opened on what would have been the actor’s 100 birthday, May 27, 2011. From the Sears archives:
Price was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection. He searched throughout the world for fine art to offer through Sears. He bought whole collections and even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for this program.
At first, the idea of a large merchandising organization, such as Sears, maintaining a serious, top-quality art collection met with skepticism. But the public - and the artists themselves - soon learned that Sears would not compromise with good taste or artistic quality.
On October 6, 1962, the first exhibit and sale of “The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art” took place in a Sears store in Denver, Colo. Original works of the great masters - Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso, Whistler and more - as well as those of the best contemporary artists at the time were offered for sale in this first exhibit and throughout the program’s existence.