Famous Texas painting found in attic, headed for auction

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DALLAS — A famous Texas painting, lost for nearly a century, has been found covered with dust in a West Virginia attic. It now is expected to sell for $100,000 or more in a public auction to be conducted in Dallas and online by Heritage Auction Galleries (www.ha.com) on Nov. 20, 2010.

“It depicts the 1836 battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. It was painted in 1901 by H.A. McArdle (1836-1908), five years after he painted a large mural of that scene that still hangs in the State Senate chamber of the Texas Capitol building,” said Atlee Phillips of Heritage.

“This important painting of Texas history was lost to the art world for almost a century, but according to family lore McArdle was never paid by the person who commissioned this smaller version. So, it was brought to West Virginia when the family moved there in 1901. His descendants recently discovered it in the attic of the family’s home in Weston, W. Va. It was covered with nearly a century of dust, but in otherwise generally good condition.”

The family had no idea the 5-foot by 7-foot oil painting was anything of value or historical importance.

“I vaguely remember seeing the painting but never in the light of day in all the years I lived in that house,” said Lynn Bland Buell, McArdle’s great-granddaughter. Her son, Jon, McArdle’s great-great grandson, suggested the family might have something worth saving, and they contacted Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas.

“I was somewhat skeptical when I received the initial inquiry about this famous ‘lost’ painting,” said Phillips. “It seemed unlikely that such an important painting would have spent almost 100 years languishing in a West Virginia attic. But that’s what happened.”

Some experts believe it may be one of the best American art finds in decades.

“This is a stunning find of a work by one of the most important painters of scenes and individuals from Texas history,” said Sam Ratliffe, Head of the Bywaters Special Collections at Southern Methodist University’s Hamon Arts Library.

For additional information, contact Heritage Auctions at 214-528-3500, or visit online at www.ha.com. ?


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