1953 James Kenneth Ralston Painting

Value (2010) | $15,000 Insurance
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GUEST:
The man on the horse is my grandfather. He was a neighbor of J.K. Ralston on the Missouri Breaks. Culbertson is across the river from there. And he was also a neighbor of Charlie Russell. When my grandfather died at a fairly early age, my grandmother requested that Kenny, as they called him, would paint a picture of my grandfather, which he did. And that was in 1953. My grandfather died in 1924.

APPRAISER:
The artist we're dealing with is John Kenneth Ralston. And your grandfather must have known him when he was a much younger man. Ralston was born in 1896.

GUEST:
Oh, yes.

APPRAISER:
But lived a long time, until 1987. So he's recalling some of his youth. It's a Western painting, and it's a painting that has a lot of associations here in Billings.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
You mentioned he's a neighbor of Charles Russell, who was a very famous Western artist.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And he has a lot of things in common, I think, with Russell. He's a younger generation. But one of the things is the closeness to the land. Ralston's family were ranchers. His first love, his first vocation, was cattle ranching…

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
…before he became a painter.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
We see your grandfather here on horseback.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
I guess he had a distinctive handlebar mustache.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And is this the brand for the family?

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
Now, it looks like he has horses. Did they have horses or cattle?

GUEST:
He had horses.

APPRAISER:
Horses. Billings is important because Ralston has his studio here in Billings.

GUEST:
Right. There's a log cabin studio.

APPRAISER:
That's a very common thing to have out here, out west. You had the studio of Charles Russell here in Montana, Remington down in Wyoming. The frame is a Western frame. It's fairly plain, but I don't think I would change it or anything. It's a family painting. It's not something I think you would ever part with.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
He's a lesser light in the firmament, but he's still a good, competent painter. And I would think if you were to insure this I'd probably insure it for about $15,000 these days.

GUEST:
$15,000?

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Great, yeah. That's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, NY
New York, New York
Appraised value (2010)
$15,000 Insurance
Event
Billings, MT (June 26, 2010)
Period
20th Century
Material
Paint
June 27, 2011: In this segment, appraiser Alan Fausel mistakenly said that the first initial in artist J.K.Ralston's name stood for John. In fact, the "J.K." stands for James Kenneth.

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