Records & Results: Modern & Post-War Art Featuring Alma Thomas & the Washington Scene — December 2022

Swann Galleries kicked the final month of 2022 off with a sale of Modern & Post-War Art featuring Alma Thomas & the Washington Scene on December 1 to great fanfare. The auction brought $1,408,016 with a 75% sell-through rate by lot.

Alma Thomas & the Washington Scene

Alma Thomas, Reflections, oil on canvas, 1960. Sold for $557,000.

The auction featured a special selection dedicated to the art of Alma Thomas and her Washington, D.C. contemporaries. The sale was led by Thomas’ Reflections, oil on canvas, 1960, at $557,000. Also by Thomas was a 1970s watercolor in her signature style with swaths of purple, blues and greens, which brought $37,500, and Carousel, an early-career work in gouache from 1946, at $25,000. Additional highlights from the offering included Loïs Mailou Jones with a 1953 watercolor of homes in Cabris ($10,625); a 1971 acrylic-on-paper composition in orange by Kenneth Victor Young ($10,000); and Fold Ten, a 1968 acrylic-on-canvas op-art piece in yellow by Thomas Downing ($21,250).

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Auction Highlights

Marlow Moss, Untitled, ink, pencil & tempera on board, 1950. Sold for $27,500, a record for a work on paper by the artist.

The top five highest-grossing lots of the sale were rounded out by Esteban Vicente with Blue, oil on canvas, 1970, bringing $100,000; Alexander Calder’s Large Crest, gouache on paper, 1973, at $87,500; Irene Rice Pereira’s oil-on-animal-parchment painting at $52,500; and Ernest Briggs’ Untitled (#220), oil on canvas, 1959—the cover lot for the sale—at $50,000. Also of note was British Modernist Marlow Moss’ 1950 ink, pencil and tempera-on-board constructivist work, which earned a record for a work-on-paper by the artist at $27,500.

Esteban Vicente, Blue, oil on canvas, 1970. Sold for $100,000.

Latin American & Latinx Art

Angel Botello, Iglesia de San José, San Juan, Puerto Rico, oil on plywood. Sold for $32,500.

Latin American art highlights included Angel Botello’s Iglesia de San José, San Juan, Puerto Rico, oil on plywood, earned $32,500; and Emilio Baz Viaud’s Untitled Pomegranates, tempera on panel, 1948, which brought $6,250.

Sherezade Garcia, Untitled (from Memories Afloat – Granada Series), acrylic, charcoal & ink, 2016. Sold for $6,500.

Continuing on the spring season’s featured category of Latinx Art, the December auction included 12 lots from seven artists. Most notable was Scherezade Garcia with two 2016 acrylic, charcoal and ink works from the Memories Afloat — Granada Series, at $6,500 and $3,500, apiece; Rodríguez Calero‘s Barrio Gurl, paper collage, 2019, at $1,500; and Lina Puerta‘s Galaxy 15, mixed media collage, 2017, at $1,500.

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“This new auction department, begun in the early months of the pandemic, has been small with a big punch, this season having only 148 lots and exceeding the million-dollar mark in gross sales.”

Harold Porcher, Director, Modern & Post-War Art