Auctions | September 18, 2014

The Richard A. Long Collection of African-American Fine Art at Swann Galleries, October 9


NEW YORK—On Thursday, October 9, Swann Galleries will conduct a 171-lot auction of African-American Fine Art that features more than 60 artworks from the estate of Professor Richard A. Long, presented in a separate catalogue. Long was known as one of the great pillars of African-American arts and culture, and taught at University of Pennsylvania, University of Paris, University of Poitiers, Atlanta University, Emory University, Morgan State College and West Virginia State College.

The works in his collection include many by Long’s artist friends, in particular Beauford Delaney and Romare Bearden. Among the highlights are a 1965 color pastel portrait of Long by Delaney (estimate: $15,000 to $25,000); two bold and colorful collages by Bearden, Brazil, circa 1978, which may have been a maquette for a poster ($35,000 to $50,000) and the small and intimate Untitled (The Trojan Horse), circa 1977 ($15,000 to $25,000); and two abstract watercolors by Alma Thomas, Untitled (Stripe Composition), circa 1971, and Untitled (from the Space Series), circa 1969-1972, inspired by the televised images of the NASA Apollo missions ($15,000 to $25,000 each).

There are exceptional early pieces as well, including works by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Lenwood Morris and Allan Freelon. Tanner’s Untitled (Study of a Standing Male Nude), charcoal and pencil on paper, circa 1891-93, is an extremely rare drawing—possibly the earliest and largest drawing of his to come to auction ($35,000 to $50,000). Another Untitled (Male Nude Study), this one by Lenwood Morris, oil on board, circa 1900, is a very scarce early African-American academic male nude ($15,000 to $25,000). The strikingly beautiful Untitled (Gloucester Coast), oil on canvas, 1925, by Allan Freelon is one of the finest landscapes by the artist to come to auction ($20,000 to $30,000).

Modern masters have a strong presence in the sale as well, particularly Norman Lewis. His large abstract oil on canvas, Untitled, 1953 ($60,000 to $90,000), in addition to four works on paper, highlight his important contribution to abstraction. One of three fine Hughie Lee-Smith oil paintings in the sale, his Untitled, oil on masonite, 1955, is a wonderful example of his existential landscapes depicting isolated figures ($60,000 to $90,000). Another watercolor by Alma Thomas, a large and vibrant 1971 Untitled work, from her Atmospheric Effects series, is a highlight ($20,000 to $30,000).

The auction has a very strong offering of sculpture, including Vernon, circa 1946-50, a large terra cotta head by William Artis, from the Long collection ($20,000 to $30,000). The sale also includes Augusta Savage’s Nude Torso, painted plaster, circa 1931, an extraordinarily scarce find, from the family of the model, and the first nude by the Harlem Renaissance artist to come to auction ($35,000 to $50,000).

Another tremendous discovery is Walk Among the Lilies, a carved and painted wood panel, circa 1935, by Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, only one of two known bas-relief sculptures by the artist ($25,000 to $35,000). The top lot in the sale is Elizabeth Catlett’s Singing Head, carved wood with painted details and inlay, circa 1977, a large and exquisite example of Catlett’s mid-career work ($120,000 to $180,000).


Finally, there is a very strong selection of modern and contemporary fine prints by such important artists as Catlett, Charles White, Kara Walker and Mickalene Thomas.

The auction will begin with the Long Collection at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 9, and continue with the remaining lots at 3:30 p.m.

The works will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries Saturday, October 4, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, October 6 through Wednesday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, October 9, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

An illustrated auction catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Nigel Freeman at 212-254-4710, extension 33, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Beauford Delaney, Portrait of Richard A. Long, color pastels on paper, 1965. Estimate: $15,000 to $25,000.

Second image: Romare Bearden, Untitlted (Trojan Horse), collage on board, circa 1977. Estimate: $15,000 to $25,000.