I'm the colleague. And to update today’s activities, I thought $200 (+ $123 shipping, though I asked for a rebate as I’m sure it will be cheaper) was a decent price for a cowboy era painting from a known artist (which Dan initially believed he discovered).
Today, however, I did some digging and found that a Wm. Hildreth was one of the possemen who was involved in the 1896 Skeleton Canyon shootout, which caused me to rethink that the painting might have been done by the William Hildreth in that event, certainly a rancher but not known as a painter so far as I am aware.
Dan came back and did some digging and found this man was named William A Hildreth, same name as the artist, and strengthens my belief that may be the actual artist, though I have yet to find his date of birth to confirm he or perhaps a son or father could have done any painting in 1877.
I’m less concerned with who the subject is than the artist. If the posseman is the artist, that makes it desirable to me as there is a tie-in to the Western lawmen and outlaws of the time.
So more research needs to be done. My original thought and reason I bought it was that it would look good in my sister’s salon, which is in an Old West building locally, but if it has any ties to a man who was involved in the shootout, I really like that.
Here’s a record of Hildreth’s experience from Jeff Milton:
Bill Hildreth got in behind a tree and they were shooting and the bullets would knock the bark off on one side and then the other. And old Bob told me himself, 'Milton, did I run. I had one of these old long barrel rifles and I used it for a jumping stick,' when they got to shooting at him. Old Bill was the only one left then and was smoking them. Do you know, I can't understand how a man can shoot at a fellow six or seven times and don't kill him. I don't understand. When old Bill got a chance to run, they were shooting both sides of the tree—he got out. He remembered this fellow and went back and got him.
So that’s what I know to this point. Unsure of the artist, unsure of the subject, but possibly painted by a guy from a historical event. Or maybe a New England seascape painter.
I hope to find out. Still think it will look good in the salon.