A months ago, while surfing around Ebay, I stumbled across a painting of a Scottish Loch that caught my attention. My husband and I have traveled to Scotland twice since 2013, so I was interested in buying an antique painting that reminded us of our trips there. We were especially enamored by the Quiraing in the Isle of Skye. If you’ve ever been to Scotland and visited Skye, you know what I’m talking about. The views are breathtaking, and it’s hard to put into words all of the feelings that well up inside you while on that trail on the Quiraing.
I was actually looking for an old oil painting of these views, when I stumbled across this painting from the 1880’s by a J. Mennie. I liked this painting, and it’s impressionism. I ended up buying the painting because it was so cheap and figured that it didn’t matter who the artist was, only that I liked the painting.
Usually, when you buy an antique painting, you know a little about the painter, and the more information that is available on a painter, the more the painting is worth. There was absolutely nothing online about this painter! Only one website referenced him and the art that they had of a James Mennie born in 1825. The painting is titled, “Haddon Hall, Derbyshire c. 1877” it was donated to The Lytham Saint Annes Art Collection in Lancashire UK, and the painting was located in the same area where I bought mine.
It’s noted on St. St. Anne’s webpage, here that the artist was known as a “lithographer master”.
Here is some info from their site about his Lithography –
“The Aberdeen Herald and General Advertiser of the 23rd May, 1857 wrote-
“Plan of Manchester – We have received through Messrs. Gifford , a very beautifully designed plan of Manchester, with views of all the principal buildings in that city artistically arranged around the margin of the plate. The plan is the work of Mr. James Mennie, a young draughtsman belonging to Aberdeen, now engaged in one of the principal lithographic establishments in Manchester, and, its execution bears out the promise which he early gave of being the possessor of no common ability.”
These detailed maps and buildings, designed and drawn by J. Mennie, may be seen on The University of Manchester Library website.
I wasn’t sure if the painting that I had was the same artist, so I put an email out to St. Anne’s to ask. They were going to have their curator check the signatures for me but it was going to take a week or so to get an answer. While I waited for their response, I tried comparing the 2 signatures myself. I had to play around with the exposure and brightness in Photoshop on the painting from St Anne’s to see his signature correctly.
See the comparison below:
It’s pretty hard to make out Mennie’s signature on the left because the painting was so dark, but I’m pretty sure that they are the same painter! Look at the “M” and ‘e” and “n” Very similar.
Once St. Anne’s returned my phone call they sent me a photo of the signature on their J. Mennie painting, and I’m confident in saying that they are the same painter! Below is the photo of their painting’s signature. You can see that the “J” and the “M” and the “e’s” are all the same. I was so excited!!
I had to do this same type of investigation when I was researching my grandmom’s John Moran painting, as the original appraiser said that her painting was done by a John Leon Moran. But her appraisal was done in the 1970’s and not much info and comparisons were out there about John Moran. Most historians only knew about his other distant relative John Leon. John Leon was known for his portrait painting, but his style was much different than John Moran’s. I saw this right away when researching, and fell across one of John Moran’s art pieces (which are very rare since he was a photographer, not a painter), and saw that his signature and style was exactly like the painting I have.
I think that being a graphic designer helps me with this part of my research, as in school we were taught to recognize typography and the very slight differences in text.
I’m proud to have found this painting, and I’ll forever cherish it as a piece to hand down to my own children.