L. Magill after Walter Hunt Oil, ca. 1915

Value (2013) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

My parents bought this in Scotland, I believe in the 1950s, from an antique store. I don't know how much they paid for it. About ten years ago, it was passed down to me. I've had it ever since.

Did they ever say who it was by?

No, they just told me that they bought it in an antique store. I tried having it appraised, but they never found a signature, so it's been a mystery.

So did anyone ever mention who they thought the artist could be, possibly?

I tried researching it recently and I had an appraiser tell me that he believes it was painted by David Gould. And the only thing I've found, there's some print in the bottom of the picture, and he told me that he thought that that was the name of the two cows.

When I saw this painting, I immediately thought of the artist Walter Hunt, who's a specialist in doing barnyard scenes and stables and specializes in animals: calves, dogs, chickens, et cetera. And he's known for this very soft focus, very fuzzy, and all the different textures. And you see that here in this painting. You see these calves. You almost want to come up and touch that fur that they have on them. And then the beautiful roosters and chickens. And then little chicks, you know, and they're soft and fluffy. And then my favorite, all the way by you, is the dog sleeping in that sort of a feed box there. But it's very much attuned to the Victorian sensibilities, very sentimental and sweet. Well, you mentioned the writing that is here, and it's not actually the names of these calves. You get down here, and I was right about Walter Hunt. If you look down here very carefully, there is a "W", and then an H-U-N-T.

Right, I did see that.

Unfortunately, it's not a signature. If you probe down there and you go in closer, you'll see between there, there's something... There's "L. Magill."


And between the two underneath here-- and it's been sort of obliterated, that's why you might have missed it-- there's A-F-T-E-R, "after." So this is a person by the name of L. Magill painting a copy after a Walter Hunt painting. So Walter Hunt did an original much like this, and then this person Magill painted the copy.

When was it painted originally, do you think?

Hard to say. If I look at the back, I would think in the first quarter of the 20th century, between 1900 and 1925. I'd say this is a fairly large oil-on-canvas painting. Now, Magill is a painter in his own right, but we don't know enough about him. But his works show up at auction, and the last couple I've seen were small paintings of dogs, which makes sense-- he's an animal painter, he painted these dog paintings-- and they were running about $2,000 for a small painting like that. So I would think this, painted on this grand scale and a great subject-- you know, people love these things, there's always a market for cute calves and dogs and things-- I would think this is probably worth about $8,000 to $12,000 at auction.

Wow, that's wonderful.

Unfortunately, I wish it were the original Hunt. If it were the original Hunt, you'd be talking about $50,000 to $70,000.

Right, right.

Appraisal Details

Bonhams, NY
New York, NY
Appraised value (2013)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Richmond, VA (August 17, 2013)

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