Treasures: Value of Painting Could Change

This evocative painting was done by a well-known artist, but is it valuable?

This evocative painting was done by a well-known artist, but is it valuable?

Dear Helaine and Joe:

When my grandmother passed away she willed me a painting that I have loved since I was a little girl. My family was upset and maintained that I did not know how valuable the painting was. My grandma has been gone six years and I would like to know if the painting is very valuable and needs to be insured. It is signed by Mickey McGuire and is precious to me because of its memories.

Thank you so much,

S. M.

Dear S. M.:

To us you have the right attitude. As we understand it, this painting is valuable to you because you like it and because it holds memories of your grandmother’s house.

That is the way art should be appreciated and we applaud you. We note the comment you wrote with the picture you sent — “one and only original oil painting.” This is important because Mickey McGuire did produce prints, but these do not have a great deal of monetary value on the current collector market.

Up to the present moment, not much has been written about artist Mickey McGuire that we could find. He was born in Houston on March 22, 1939, and died on Sept. 2, 1993. He lived mainly in Colorado and we know he was survived by his wife, Verdia, who passed away on March 24, 2013, at age 71.

McGuire’s reputation is as a Western artist who focused on Native Americans, mountain lions and other wildlife, cowboys and landscapes that were depicted in all seasons of the year. Many of his works were quite small and might represent such things as Native Americans galloping on horseback with raised arms holding rifles. All this is often on a format roughly the size of a piece of notebook paper (81/2 by 11 inches).

Other McGuire formats were even smaller, but he also painted larger images that are more valuable than the smaller examples. Unfortunately, S. M. failed to tell us the size of her picture, so we are only going to be able to give her some parameters.

We feel certain that S. M.’s family appreciated this piece of art and felt like it was valuable because of the artist’s reputation. But sometimes in contemporary art, reputation is one thing and value is another. If the artist in question was/is prolific and there is a lot of his or her work on the market, prices can be rather low.

It is also possible that McGuire had not yet reached his prime when he died at age 54. In our eyes, there is something a little cartoony about his work, and in this case we see a wolf standing in snow next to a bare tree (birch? Or aspen?) baying at an unseen moon. It feels a little cliche to us, and the Native Americans with upraised rifles mentioned earlier look to us like the inspiration could have been a television drama.

In any event, McGuire’s work is appreciated by many, but at the present moment his small works retail in the $90 to $200 range and his larger works $300 to $400. Despite the low monetary value, S. M. should continue to enjoy this piece both for its appeal and the family memories. And someday its value could be higher.

View the full article online on the NJ Herald.


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