Rare painting found in the storeroom at Wooler Mart

Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill, by James Howe.
Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill, by James Howe.

A rare painting unearthed in a storeroom at Wooler Mart is to go under the hammer, where it is expected to make thousands of pounds.

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 work 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 is a very good example of his work and is in exceptionally good condition.

Sized 118cm by 221cm, it will be auctioned at Swan and Turner’s sale rooms in Jedburgh on Friday, November 25, at 2pm, with a guide price of between £15,000 and £25,000.

Frank Forrest, auctioneer at Swan and Turner, 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.

“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.”

A full catalogue of the sale can be downloaded from www.swanturner.co.uk or by contacting the auction rooms on 01835 863445 or info@swanturner.co.uk