On February 13 Swann Galleries’ African-American Fine Art department will offer a curated sale titled Shadows Uplifted, which highlights the development of African-American artists in the 19th century and early 20th century.
Above: Edward M. Bannister, Untitled (Landscape with Woman Seated by a Stone Wall), oil on canvas, 1881. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000. Upper left: James A. Porter, Self-Portrait, oil on canvas, circa 1935. Estimate $12,000 to $18,000.
The auction includes paintings, sculpture, drawings, fine prints and photographs by artists who emerged from the shadows of academic and genre painting, and defined a new visual culture during the Harlem Renaissance and Works Progress Administration (WPA) era.
The title of the sale is taken from Frances Harper’s 1892 book, Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted, one of the first novels written by an African-American female author. The struggles faced by African-American visual artists at the turn of the century mirror those of the book’s protagonist—a young woman in the antebellum South.
William H. Johnson, On A John Brown Flight, color pochoir and screenprint, circa 1942-45. Estimate $50,000 to $75,000.
Highlights include two works from one of the earliest successful landscape painters, Edward Mitchell Bannister, whose Providence Art Club helped launch the Rhode Island School of Design; two fine works by Charles Ethan Porter; the first work by early modern sculptor Nancy Elizabeth Prophet to come to auction and three small oil studies by Hentry Ossawa Tanner. From the Harlem Renaissance era are works by Malvin Gray Johnson and Augusta Savage; while the social realism that defined the WPA era is found in paintings by Hughie Lee-Smith, Eldzier Cortor, Charles White and Margaret Burroughs.