1975 Buck McCain Oil Painting

Value (2011) | $2,500 Auction$4,000 Auction
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GUEST:
Found this painting at a garage sale. The gentleman was asking $100 for it and I ended up talking him down to about $50 for it.

APPRAISER:
Fifty bucks.

GUEST:
Yeah, he was a college student and needed some money.

APPRAISER:
It's an original oil painting, it's on a linen canvas, and it's unstretched. That is to say, not only does it have no frame, of course, but it is loose without a wood stretcher, which would be serving as a support for the painting.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
So when you bought it, did it look like this?

GUEST:
When I bought it, it was folded up.

APPRAISER:
Folded up?

GUEST:
In about four different sections.

APPRAISER:
Were there wrinkles in the painting that you saw? Were there...

GUEST:
Just creases. There was creases in it, we rolled it up and you can still see a little bit of the creases in it, some lines.

APPRAISER:
The signature is in the bottom right.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And my colleagues and I believe that it is the work of a Western painter called Buck McCain.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And Buck McCain now lives in Arizona by way of New Mexico. He was a fifth-generation cattle rancher from Southern California. He's an artist who is well-known in contemporary Western art circles. This is slightly enigmatic as an image. First of all, it is really visually overpowering.

GUEST:
It is.

APPRAISER:
The eye really doesn't know what to look at first.

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
What do you think is going on here in this painting?

GUEST:
It's the crucifixion of Christ, and you see the three crosses, as well as possibly Mary, located right up there, looking at Christ, and they're gambling for his garments.

APPRAISER:
McCain was largely a self-taught painter. I mean, his background, his family background, is in cattle ranching.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
He studied briefly in Switzerland for about a year, came back to the West, and focused largely on painting Western themes-- cowboys, Indians-- and you could say as part of a larger tradition, in that sense, of artists who are working in the 20th century... in the late 20th century and into the 21st century now, doing mostly Western themes.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
Now this is slightly different.

GUEST:
It's not Western.

APPRAISER:
It's not Western. (laughs) Because the artist is alive, it would be interesting to find out a little bit more about the painting.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Is it something that was used as an illustration, specifically for a book, for a story? McCain has successfully completed many, many commissions. Now while this was early on in his career, he would have been in his 30s. He's still very active in the 1970s and we think that's probably dated "McCain '75." It's atypical of the subject, which makes it a little bit difficult for we as appraisers to value.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Now at auction today, there's a robust market for good, contemporary Western illustration art.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
This is an excellent painting, it has wonderful technique. That it was folded in four, and hasn't retained more damage or crease wear or loss of paint is miraculous.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
It's probably something that could be lightly cleaned and then put on a proper wood stretcher. I'd recommend doing that.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
I think at auction today, we would probably value your painting by Buck McCain at $2,500 to $4,000.

GUEST:
Wow, that's great.

APPRAISER:
It's a really interesting painting. At his best, at auction, McCain has sold for a little over $30,000 for similar sized canvas, but of the subject that's more typical of what he's known for, that is to say a Western subject.

GUEST:
Correct.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2011)
$2,500 Auction$4,000 Auction
Event
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Material
Canvas, Oil

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