William H. Beard Painting

Value (2005) | $15,000 Insurance

I inherited it from an aunt that passed away on my wife's side of the family.

Uh-huh. Where was she from? Was she from this area?

She lived in Florida all her life.

It's a wonderful painting. It's by the artist William Holbrook Beard and he was an early American artist-- he was born in 1824 and died in 1900. Early on in his career he did portraits. But I think portraits were a little too tame, because what he decided to do after that was to paint animals. But animals with human hearts, and not always good hearts. Beard's animal paintings are really very desirable and collectible, and they often show sort of the seven deadly sins of bad behavior. And this is beautifully seen in this little painting. We have the signature and the date, lower left, and also this wonderful period plaque from the 19th century, "Haven't Seen Your Hen." And what we have going on here is a very, very sly fox, probably having taken off with the hen. This is a great example of his work, but what you would really want to see is a dancing bear. He was most popular for his bears dressed up as traveling salesmen or artists and... Those paintings can sell in excess of $150,000. The painting is basically in very good original condition. My recommendation would be to have this area retouched. It's oil on artist board, so it shouldn't be a problematic fix. And also, cleaned up, you're going to see some wonderful, wonderful details and even more expression in that wonderful fox's face. But it really doesn't affect the value of the piece because it's in good, original and quite stable condition. Given that and the subject matter of the piece, I would think of an insurance value for it around $15,000.


Yes. He is a sly fox.

Yes, indeed, yes.

Appraisal Details

Colleene Fesko Works of Art
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2005)
$15,000 Insurance
Tampa, FL (June 25, 2005)
19th Century

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