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Rare Georgian Edinburgh Livestock Masterpiece to Sell at Auction

23rd November 2016

Unearthed in an Auction Mart storeroom, a unique study of Farmstock at an Edinburgh Fair by renowned Scottish Artist James Howe, to sell at Jedburgh Auction

Swan and Turner fine art auctioneers and valuers, part of Harrison and Hetherington Ltd, are offering for sale ‘Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill’, an original painting by the noted Scottish artist James Howe. This huge oil painting which hung in the John Swan & Sons Edinburgh boardroom for many years was unearthed in the Wooler livestock mart offices after it was acquired by H&H Group last year.  The painting shows the outline of the Castle, and other buildings of old Edinburgh, together with a busy animal fair, filled with sheep, horses, cattle, and a throng of buyers and sellers.

Howe was a popular artist whose love of horses in particular was familiar to the Georgian scene.  In its original frame, Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill, owned by H&H Group, is a very good example of his work, and is in exceptionally good condition.  The painting will be auctioned as part of their Autumn sale of paintings at Swan and Turner’s sale rooms in Jedburgh on Friday 25 November with a guide of between £15 – £25K.

Frank Forrest, Auctioneer at Swan and Turner, commenting said: “This is a magnificent painting and after finding it in the mart storeroom, we really felt that it needs a home where it can be appreciated and enjoyed by a much wider audience.  It really would be most appropriate if it were to return to a magnificent boardroom or drawing room within the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.”

In giving comment on the painting itself, Frank said:  “Howe loved and painted a lot of livestock fairs, particularly horse fairs and markets.  This is of Old Hallows Fair, which took place on the Calton Hill in Edinburgh and it truly encapsulates the day to day livestock trading the time.  This is before Calton Hill was a place for Classical Temples and Buildings.

“As he was not too prolific, Howe’s paintings are sought after and do not come onto the market very often.  There have been very few of his paintings sold on the open market in the recent past, so we are expecting it to be of considerable interest.”

The history of this painting sized, 118cm x 221cm, includes a lengthy stay on the walls of a company Board Room in Edinburgh.  It came into the possession of John Swan and Son Ltd, the Mart Company, in 1956 and eventually found its way to the walls of their auction mart in Wooler.  The company, which also owned St Boswells’ mart, was recently bought by the Carlisle-based H&H Group who operate nine auction marts across the Scottish Borders and the north of England.

James Howe, who lived from 1780 – 1836, was best known as an animal painter.  From Skirling in Peeblesshire, horses were his main subject, as is the title of the most extensive biography – ‘The Man who Loved to Draw Horses’.  In 1824 fourteen of his drawings were printed in ‘Drawings of the Horse’.  His major sporting pictures depicted the Leith and Musselburgh Races, which he painted at least three times.

Swan and Turner provide a complete auction house service, holding five antique auctions a year.  The sales programme includes regular auction sales of fine art, antique and collectables, which are interspersed with occasional specialist sales.

A full catalogue of the sale can be downloaded from www.swanturner.co.uk or by contacting the auction rooms on 01835 863445 or email the Auction House direct.