Swann Galleries announce auction of African-American fine art Feb.16

. January 27, 2012 . 0 Comments

Swann Galleries will conduct their annual winter auction of African-American Fine Art, on Thursday, February 16, with highlights ranging from important 19th century landscape paintings to prints by celebrated contemporary artists. In all, there are more than 160 works by prominent black artists.

The lot with the highest pre-sale estimate is a significant Charles White drawing—the first from the artist’s famous J’Accuse! series to come to auction—J’Accuse! No. 10 (Negro Woman), charcoal on paper, 1966. A powerful depiction of African-American women, it was the cover illustration for a 1966 issue of Ebony magazine (estimate: $150,000 to $200,000).

Also among the sale’s top lots is the first William T. Williams painting to appear at auction, a large 1971 acrylic on canvas titled Eastern Star, which is an excellent example of the artist’s unique abstract vision ($75,000 to $100,000). And, there is a complete copy of Kara Walker’s monumental portfolio Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), with 15 screenprints and offset lithographs, 2005 ($75,000 to $100,000).

The auction offers a very strong selection of 19th century paintings, including two oils on canvas by Robert S. Duncanson: Winter Landscape, 1860, which provides an early view of Cincinnati ($75,000 to $100,000) and an oval-shaped Untitled woodland scene, 1860-65 ($50,000 to $75,000). There is also a very scarce 1865 painted photograph of Abraham Lincoln by David Bustill Bowser, from the collection of Robert Purvis, President of the Underground Railroad ($60,000 to $90,000); and paintings by Charles Ethan Porter and Edward M. Bannister.

Highlights from the early 20th century are Edwin A. Harleston’s portrait of Miss Bailey with the African Shawl, oil on canvas, 1930, which is one of the artist’s last paintings ($40,000 to $60,000); Hale Woodruff’s Black Boy, oil on masonite, circa 1930-35, one of only a few early paintings by Woodruff that have come to auction with an African-American subject ($12,000 to $18,000); Samuel Countee’s My Guitar, oil on canvas, 1936 ($35,000 to $50,000); Allan Rohan Crite’s Boston Street Scene, oil on canvas board, 1937 ($25,000 to $35,000); and Eldzier Cortor’s Untitled (Study for Southern Gate), ink wash and pan and ink on paper, circa 1942-43 ($25,000 to $35,000).

Master works from the mid 20th century include an Untitled circa 1946-49 oil on canvas by Charles Alston, which is one of the earliest abstract paintings by the artist ($20,000 to $30,000); a remarkable early Self Portrait by Hughie Lee-Smith, oil on masonite, 1952 ($10,000 to $15,000); a fine Abstract Expressionist oil painting by Norman Lewis, titled Birds ($30,000 to $50,000); a double-sided watercolor with monotype by Romare Bearden from his abstract period of the mid 1950s ($12,000 to $18,000); and Ellis Wilson’s En Route, oil on masonite, 1954, an excellent example of his celebrated Haitian period ($20,000 to $30,000).

There are several important works by female artists, such as a watercolor by Margaret Burroughs, Untitled (Portrait of a Young Woman), circa 1940, a scarce and early work by the WPA artist ($10,000 to $15,000); Augusta Savage’s Lift Every Voice and Sing, cast metal, circa 1939, after her life-size sculpture of the same name commissioned for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York ($10,000 to $15,000); two paintings by Thelma Johnson Streat; a selection of paintings by Loïs Mailou Jones, among them Rue Geoffroy St. Hillaire, Paris, oil on canvas, 1948 ($15,000 to $25,000); Alma Thomas’s March on Washington, oil on canvas, 1964 ($30,000 to $50,000); Faith Ringgold’s Night: Window of the Wedding 8, acrylic on canvas tanka, with printed and woven fabrics, 1974 ($20,000 to $30,000); and two mixed media pieces by Betye Saar. There are also two oil on masonite paintings by artist, educator and curator Delilah Williams Pierce, which are offered along with paintings by Richard Dempsey and Sargent Claude Johnson and a print by Charles White, from Pierce’s estate.

A selection of fine prints and unique works from the estate of west coast artist and illustrator Varnette P. Honeywood includes Elizabeth Catlett’s Sharecropper, color linoleum cut, circa 1952 ($15,000 to $25,000), Malcolm X Habla para Nosotros, color linoleum cut, 1969 ($8,000 to $12,000), and Roots, color screenprint, 1981, which has not appeared at auction in the past 20 years ($5,000 to $7,000); and Charles White’s Love Letter II, color lithograph, 1977, which also shows no auction history going back 20 years ($4,000 to $6,000).

From the estate of Jazz great Max Roach comes a very scarce group of four 1977 color screenprints by David Hammons from a Bruce Talamon photograph of Roach, designed for use as a record album cover, although it’s unknown if the project was ever realized. Three of the prints are on paper, one is on corrugated cardboard ($50,000 to $75,000 for the group). Another highlight of Roach’s collection is Romare Bearden’s A Portrait of Max: In Sounds, Rhythms, Colors and Silences, oil monotype on paper, 1985 ($15,000 to $25,000).

Rounding out the featured prints in the auction are scarce examples by Charles White, such as John Henry, linoleum cut on Japan paper, 1944 ($8,000 to $12,000), and the etching Nocturne, 1969 ($5,000 to $7,000); Catlett’s Restaurant Patron (For Colored Only), lithograph, 1946 ($6,000 to $9,000); Dox Thrash’s Figure on a Horse, carborundum mezzotint with handcoloring, circa 1940s-50s ($10,000 to $15,000); and Beauford Delaney’s Untitled (Abstract Composition), oil monotype, 1961 ($15,000 to $25,000).

The auction will take place on Thursday, February 16 at 2:30 p.m.

The works of art will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries on Saturday, February 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, February 13 through Wednesday, February 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, February 16, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Category: Fine Art

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