1977 Frank McCarthy "On the Owl Hoot Trail" Oil Painting
I grew up in the state of Kansas, in a little farming community west of Dodge City. And this particular painting always hung in the living room of my mother- and father-in-law's home, over the television. And I always liked it, thought it was a beautiful painting. In my father-in-law's later life, he says, "Gary, would you like to have that painting?" And I said, "Of course." And so that's how I acquired it. And at that time, he was not able to recall all the details of how he acquired it. So I don't know much about how all that happened.
And who's the painting by?
It's by Frank McCarthy. He's one of the Western artists, or cowboy artists. I've researched him some on the internet. He was very prolific, you know, during his career. So I was hoping that you could tell me more than I know.
The title of this painting is “On the Owl Hoot Trail.” And an owl hoot trail was the trail that the outlaws used to go into their hideout. And so there's always been a question in my mind as whether these are the outlaws going home, or the sheriffs coming after them.
Well, I hope to answer some questions. I'm not going to be able to tell you whether or not those are the good guys or the bad guys.
Frank McCarthy, as you said, is known for his Western material, but he didn't start doing that. He really started as an illustrator. And he started in New York, and then ended up out in the West, much like Frederic Remington, right? He had a very rigorous training, and he did a lot of illustration work, a lot of book covers. He did a bunch of James Bond covers, if you can imagine.
Yeah. And then one of our security staff was talking to me earlier-- he also did a lot of Louis L'Amour book covers.
Oh, yeah, my father used to read those books all the time.
That was his start to the West, was those illustrations for Western book covers. But the big moment for McCarthy was in 1973. He had a show in Arizona, the story goes, of 23 paintings, and he sold them all in 20 minutes. So he did what you or I would do, and in 1974 he moved to Arizona, where he painted for the rest of his career. This particular picture, you'll see down here, is signed, McCarthy, and then "CA", that's "cowboy artist," and then the C with the circle, and then "77" So it's after he's moved to Arizona. Right now, at auction in 2016, I think a conservative auction estimate would be on the order of $20,000 to $40,000.
For this painting? Wow. Well, I don't know how much it was acquired for, but that's... that's a big number.
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