The Artists of the WPA: Auction Highlights February 2021

Paintings, Prints, Photographs, Posters, Books & Related Ephemera by Artists Whose Careers Were Sustained by the WPA

At Auction February 4, 2021

Lot 154: Walker Evans, Country store near Moundville, Alabama, Summer, silver print, 1936, printed 1960s. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.

We’re pleased to present this curated auction of WPA-era artwork, photographs, and related material. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and its related agencies represented an unprecedented investment in art and artists, setting the scene for the twentieth century’s art movements, and establishing the careers of diverse creatives, including women, Black artists, photographers, and muralists.


Further Reading: Etched in History: Printmakers of the Federal Art Project

Lot 103: Norman Lewis, Comrades, lithograph, 1943. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.
Lot 82: Howard Cook, Lower Manhattan, lithograph, 1930. Estimate $7,000 to $10,000.


Lot 26: Leon Bibel, The Flood, oil on canvas, circa 1939. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.
Lot 216: Albert Pels, New Years Celebration, oil on canvas. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

Mural Studies

Lot 185: James Daugherty, Horseless Carriage, Study for Mural, charcoal and white chalk, 1937. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Lot 184: Edward Millman, Fresco Detail, St. Louis, MO Post Office, tempera on masonite, 1942. Estimate $3,000 to $5,000.

Vintage Posters

Further Reading: Favorite WPA Posters from a Vintage Posters Specialist

Lot 14: Lester Beall, A Better Home / Rural Electrification Administration, partial silkscreen poster, 1947. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.
Lot 163: Joseph Binder, New York World’s Fair, poster, 1939. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

Works on Paper

Lot 220: Louise Emerson Ronnebeck, Singers, tempera and color pencils, circa 1937. Estimate $5,000 to $8,000.


Related Reading:

The Social Document: Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’

Beyond Migrant Mother: Five FSA Photographers to Know

Lot 22: Pare Lorentz, The River, group of 30 production stills, silver prints, 1938. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000.
Lot 42: Dorothea Lange, Sugar beet lifter in older settler’s field, Oregon, ferrotyped silver print, 1939. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.

What You Need to Know on Auction Day

This auction will be held live and conducted remotely.

There will not be bidding in the room, though we accept order bids, and interested buyers will be able to participate live via the Swann Galleries App. The app is available in the App Store and on Google Play, which can also be accessed on a desktop at

Please note: phone bidding registrations will close the day before the sale at 4pm. 

At this time, our exhibition and auction location at 104 East 25th Street is closed to the public. Private viewings are available by appointment only, and must be arranged in advance. To make an appointment please contact the specialist.

Lead Specialist

Harold Porcher

Director, Modern & Post-War Art

(212) 254-4710 ext. 67

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