Art and Antique Appraisals



How a Family’s Passion Turned into Gold

Stacy Westland* fondly recalls a family vacation one summer in the 1950’s. She was twelve years old, and enjoying the leisurely drive through the mild New England region, with a little antiquing along the way. In a shop in Hartford, Connecticut, she fell in love with a large (38” x 58”) painting depicting an English hunt club, with riders in red hunting outfits astride their steeds, and a large pack of hunting dogs milling in the foreground. Stacy and her family were all equestrians, with riding lessons for the kids, and family rides on Saturday mornings. Stacy’s parents purchased the work, and it hung in the prominent position over their sofa, where it stayed for the next 50 years.

By the time Stacy called our firm to help with settling her father’s estate, the painting was more a fond memory of time spent with her family than a valued work of art. Only when we started examining it and extolling its fine quality and nature did she recall that her parents had paid quite a bit for it, “Several thousand dollars at the time”, she said. The scene showed that the artist was quite skilled in a variety of ways, as he shows human figures, animal figures and the landscape they are set in, all with an equally accomplished hand. A plaque affixed to the frame suggested it was the original framing, reading, “Presented to James H. Rutherford Esq. M.F.H. / The Members of the Linlithgow & Stirlingshire Hunt and other friends, in appreciation of his services for many years as Hon. Secretary and Master. 28th February, 1923.” Upon removing the canvas from the wall, we found inscriptions on the back that were thoroughly charming. Not only did we find the artist’s name, “Painted by H.F. Lucas-Lucas”, we found written behind each figure on the front of the canvas, their names on the verso, from the riders, to the horses, to each hunting dog in the club.

Research on the value of this work turned out to be surprisingly simple. Henry Frederick Lucas-Lucas was a prolific British artist who lived from 1848-1943. It appears he was a specialist on horse and dog portraits, and a favorite among hunt clubs. The Linlithgow & Stirlingshire Hunt Club was located in Scotland, not the artist’s native Britain, which speaks to his wide-spread reputation and popularity.

Because this appraisal was for estate purposes, we were looking for the Fair Market Value of the painting, using auction results as comparables. The majority of auction records were images of single horse portraits, or horse and rider portraits. These were not significantly comparable to the subject work, which showed a large group of horses, riders and hounds. Four works stood out as larger groupings, ranging from $10,000.00 - $44,000.00. All of these works were smaller than our subject work. The most recent, a group of hunting dogs belonging to the Percy Hunt Club had sold for $44,000.00, and measured 28” x 40”. With these comparables in hand, we felt confident in valuing the painting of the Linlithgow and Stirling Hunt Club at $50,000.00 for Fair Market Value.

In the end, though Stacy was pleasantly surprised that the painting turned out to be by a well-known sport portraitist with such valued works, she certainly wasn’t selling. After all, what price would you place on a memory? 

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