Quinn’s to Auction Train Art by Manville Wakefield

The history of the legendary New York, Ontario and Western Railway comes to life in the paintings of American railroad artist, historian and educator, Manville Burton Wakefield (1924-1975). Born in Grahamsville, N.Y., Wakefield spent his career studying and documenting the area surrounding Sullivan County, New York.

Four rare oil paintings by Wakefield surfaced recently in Sullivan County during an estate appraisal conducted by David Quinn, president and principal auctioneer at Quinn’s Auction Galleries. Quinn was struck by the exceptional quality of the images and immediately felt that the pictures warranted further research. As Quinn would learn, the paintings from the estate were commissioned works or had been offered for private sale by the artist in the 1960s and ’70s.

The late owner of the paintings first became acquainted with Wakefield at an art show in the 1960s. The conversation turned to trains and railroad history, and a friendship formed that would last until Wakefield’s death.

Most of Wakefield’s original paintings remain in private hands. “Wakefield did not keep sales records, and although he published two books of local history, little is known about his work on the secondary market,” said Matthew C. Quinn, vice president of Quinn’s Auctions. “Our Sept. 18th sale may be the first opportunity train collectors will have to bid on his work at auction.”

Wakefield’s quintessentially American depictions of trains – with their pluming smoke, and trails of steam – can be classed with the work of American industrial artists like Howard Fogg and Grif Teller, who produced railroad paintings and illustrations in neighboring regions.

Wakefield’s works have been exhibited at many prestigious venues, including the Smithsonian Institution, the New York State Capitol and the Grand National Show of the American Artists Professional League. In 1966, the American Association for State and Local History honored him with the Award of Merit “for his exceptional combination of talents in preserving local history.”

The four Wakefield paintings to be auctioned are part of Quinn’s Sept. 18 Fine and Decorative Arts sale.

Image: Manville Wakefield, The Mountain Railroad, depicting “The Mountaineer” emerging from a tunnel, bound for Summitville, N.Y. Estimate $600-$800. Quinn’s Auctions image

All forms of bidding will be available. For additional information, contact Matthew Quinn at 703-532-5632 or e-mail [email protected]


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