Rare painting was found in auction mart storeroom

Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill, an original painting by Scottish artist James Howe is expected to sell for between �15 - �25,000.
Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill, an original painting by Scottish artist James Howe is expected to sell for between �15 - �25,000.

Unearthed in an auction mart storeroom, a unique painting of an Edinburgh fair by James Howe is about to go under the hammer in the Borders.

The huge oil painting, measuring 118cm x 221cm, hung in John Swan and Sons’ Edinburgh boardroom for many years, and it was found in the Wooler livestock mart offices after it was acquired by H&H Group last year.

Jedburgh auctioneer Swan and Turner, part of Harrison and Hetherington, is offering for sale the painting, called Old Hallow Fair on the Calton Hill, on Saturday, November 25, with a guide price of £15,000 to £25,000,

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.

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 of 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.”

Howe, of Skirling, between Peebles and Biggar, lived from 1780 to 1836 and was best known as an animal painter.

This particular painting came into the possession of John Swan and Son in 1956 and eventually found its way onto ae walls at its auction mart in Wooler.

The company, which also owned St Boswells’ mart, was recently bought by the Carlisle-based H&H Group, which operates nine auction marts across the Borders and the north of England.

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