Charles White’s ‘O Freedom’ may rise to $300,000

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ African-American Fine Art is slated for April 5. On offer are works by marquee artists, with fine mid-century paintings, contemporary art and important discoveries.

Series Produces ‘O’Freedom’ Piece

O' Freedom painting

“O Freedom,” by Charles White, charcoal with crayon, circa 1956, carries an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 to the auction. (All photos courtesy Swann Auction Galleries)

“Tension on the High Seas,” the 19th panel from Jacob Lawrence’s 1954-56 series “Struggle . . . From the History of the American People,” depicts a British naval officer inspecting three bound and wounded captives. These people were seized from the American ship, the “Chesapeake.” The incident which took place in 1807, and led directly to the War of 1812.

“The Struggle…” series was envisioned as 60 illustrations for a book chronicling the history of the United States from 1776 to 1817. Ultimately, only 30 were completed; they were dispersed in 1959. Until now, the whereabouts of five of the panels has remained unknown. This fact causes frustration among institutions hoping to reunite the series. “Tension on the High Seas” is among lots eyeing to reinvigorate the search for the remaining four panels. It is estimated at $75,000 to $100,000.

Vibrant paintings by modernist New York artists include Beauford Delaney’s large “Untitled (Village Street Scene),” 1948, which depicts a Greenwich Village corner in bold citrine impasto and carries an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. An untitled mid-career abstraction by Norman Lewis, dating to 1956, explores a city crowd surrounded by thin veils of pulsating color ($150,000-$250,000).

Charcoal Portrait Speaks Volumes

A larger-than-life charcoal portrait by Charles White, entitled “O Freedom,” from 1956, depicts a young man framed against the sky in an open and uplifting gesture of hope. It leads the sale at $200,000 to $300,000, and it’s the first time the drawing is viewable publicly in 60 years. The realist master is additionally among a selection of prints, some unique, along with a vivid tempera “Study of a Pregnant Woman,” circa 1968-70 ($30,000-$40,000).

The complete catalog with bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com.

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