Thursday, October 04, 2012

Glades Mystery Lady Found?

By Austin Moorhouse
We have received our first and only response with regard to the portrait of the mystery lady of the Glades County Public Library. We were grateful for the e-mail from Don Browne of Labelle, Florida, which reveals that a very similar portrait was auctioned earlier this year in Manheim, Pennsylvania. 

It is obvious that this is a portrait of the same lady as our mystery lady. It was signed “J. C. Magee” in the lower right-hand corner of the portrait and on the back of the portrait the inscription read, “Lillian G. Magee painted by her father J.C. Magee, 1920.”

Further research on the Internet revealed that an artist by the name of James C. Magee (1846-1924) painted many, many scenery and still-life oil paintings, some of which were apparently sold. I am assuming that this is the same artist who painted the portraits of our mystery lady. 

Some possible evidence of that is that the time period is just about right. I was unable to find any solid biographical information on the personal and family life of James C. Magee. He was born in Brooklyn in New York and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1896 to 1902. He became an accomplished Impressionist painter, exhibiting and winning numerous awards at the major institutions of his day. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1924. 

Considering that the portrait of Lillian that was auctioned in Pennsylvania earlier this year and that the artist, James C. Magee was also from Pennsylvania lends some credence to the possibility that he was the father of Lillian Magee.

The mystery still remains. How did this portrait wind up in our library? And who donated the picture? Once again, any information leading to the answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Mary Booher at the Glades County library desk or call her at 863-946-0744.

Editor's Note: John Hollingsworth of Port LaBelle found an auction sale listing of a similar painting in Pennsylvania. The painting depicted the same lady and was by the same painter, allegedly her father. The two paintings were almost identical except for the dress worn by the subject. Now, how did the painting get to Moore Haven and who donated it to the library?


  1. Anonymous5:55 PM

    The mystery unravels ... I wondered if anyone would find any info on this painting . Way to go !!

  2. Update: On January 14, 2015 I received an email from Sharon Lynch of Orlando with documents of the McGee family tree. It appears that the painting subject was Lillian Galbraith McGee. She was born Lillian Galbraith MacAfee daughter of James MacAfee and Isabella Galbraith and Birth 16 Dec 1904 in Lorneville Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada and Death 1 Nov 1975 in Los Angeles, California. She was married to Richard Ray McGee, Birth 16 May 1906 in Oklahoma, Death 3 Aug 1993 in Lancaster, Los Angeles, California.

    Her father was listed on her birth certificate as a California Farmer/Fisherman. Her sister may have been who gave the painting to the library as she lived near Tampa, Fl. while the other family lived in CA. She was Jennie Myrtle MacAfee (Milne), Birth 30 Jul 1898 in New Brunswick, Canada, Death 19 Feb 1972 in Selfner, Hillsborough County, Florida.