William Aiken Walker Landscape Oil Painting, ca. 1890
My mother-in-law bought this at a farm auction, and there was several paintings in a box, and she just bought the whole box. I have no idea what she paid for it.
How long ago was that, roughly?
I'm guessing 40 years ago. And I've got the box of paintings, and it laid in my closet for probably ten years. And I was going to have a garage sale, and I thought well, I'll just put this picture in the garage sale. And while the garage sale was going on, a gentleman came up and he picked this picture up. And he handed it to me, and he said, "Take this back in the house." I didn't even ask him why. And I... so I took it back in, and I put it back in the box, and put it in the closet.
Now there is a signature, "W.A. Walker", which stands for William Aiken Walker. And he was a most interesting artist because he was actually a Confederate soldier in the Civil War.
As a man in his early 20s, he enlisted in the Confederate army, but he was a member of an outfit called Hampton's Legion. He saw action, he was wounded, he was mustered out because he was too badly disabled. And then he got a job working for the army, a civilian employee around Charleston. Where he did sketches for military purposes. After the war, he traveled all over the South, and he did a number of paintings of rural life in the South. And this is a classic. They begin to appear about the 1880s. He painted till he died. He died in 1921. He was in his early 80s. It's an oil painting on an artist's board. I think it's about 1890s. The frame, I'd say, is around 1910. I was thinking it was probably 1890s, it might be a bit later than that. It's conceivable that this is the original frame, but there's no way to know that for sure. This is his standard size. They're always small because they were portable, and this is the classic view of a sharecropper and a sharecropper's cabin. They're usually African American, you see here, gathered around the cabin. This is unusually nice. I think there are more figures than you often see. It's very, very dirty. It'll clean up beautifully. What the color is going to look like is that. It's going to be a bright picture. In this market today, a painting of this size and type by William Aiken Walker would sell for around $10,000 at auction.
You're kidding me.
Sold in the South, cleaned up. It would perhaps sell for a few thousand more. It's a beautiful example.
Oh, my gosh. I better take better care of it.
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