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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 5771
Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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I purchased a landscape oil painting from an estate sale

Customer Question

Good morning I purchased a landscape oil painting from an estate sale recently. It appears to be an English or Scottish scene ( rolling hills a lake ) . The signature is F.W.Mc. But I can't read the rest. The sellers purported it was purchased in the 1970's from the fine arts department at Marshall Fields in Chicago . I'm very interested in finding out about the painting since I like it very much - how do I send you a picture so you can take a look?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  Robert S. replied 1 year ago.

Hi Allison,

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to help with your painting.

Could you attach a clear close-up of the signature and I may be able to decipher it.

And also a photo of the back (no need to remove any backing paper or board).

Also, how big is it? (not including the frame)

Many thanks and wait to hear,


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The painting itself is 9 inches x 24 " with the frame it's 15.5 x 29
Expert:  Robert S. replied 1 year ago.

Thanks so much for all the photos, those are really helpful.

Is there any way you could make the photo of the signature a little sharper?

Use the strongest angled light you can find (not flash). If you are using an iPhone, touch the screen where you want the image to be sharpest and it automatically adjusts everything. If using a regular camera, select the macro setting (the little flower icon).

Hope this helps! I know it's tough taking close-ups!


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think this is the best I can do ...
Expert:  Robert S. replied 1 year ago.

Okay thanks, ***** ***** see a little more now. The signature shows the initials only "A.W.Mc".

Leave this with me and I'll see what I can track down. It's doubtful whether we'll be able to attribute a name as many of these painters who supplied works to Marshall Fields and the like were "furnishing artists" that signed in this way and have remained anonymous. Quite different from studio artists who made their living from regular exhibitions and private sales and who often establish a significant following of collectors.

More soon!


Expert:  Robert S. replied 1 year ago.

I've had no luck tracing this "A.W.Mc", I'm afraid, which is what I suspected. There is an "A.W. McDonald" that's listed as an artist that fits this time period, but very little is known about him other than the few signatures that appear on his paintings. Also, the style doesn't quite fit with that in your painting so I don't want to give the impression the two are definitely linked, but this is the closest I could come to a name.

It's certainly a very pleasing composition, a restful lacustrine and mountain scene in the Highlands of Scotland, it looks like, dating to the late 1800s, done by a competent hand and an academically trained artist. This is indicated by the use of what's called 'repoussior' features, the tall trees on the left hand side, deliberately placed to frame the composition and direct the eye towards the center of interest in the painting, namely the bright water and the figures in the small boat and the grazing cattle beyond. Another painterly 'trick' is the use of staffage, those two figures reclining by the water's edge, to give a sense of scale and perspective. Put your hand over them and all of a sudden it becomes so much harder to judge the distances.

The distant hills and the sky are also very carefully and convincingly done

All in all a lovely work with great tranquility and appeal. As for value, if you were to see it for sale in an antique store, it would have a full retail price tag of about $500. This is also the replacement value for insurance purposes.

I do hope this helps!

Best wishes,