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Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
BERNARD GOSS (1913 - 1966) Carter Godwin Woodson.
Oil on masonite, circa 1940. 965x711 mm; 38x28 inches. Signed in ink, lower right recto (with an indistinct earlier signature, lower right recto). Titled in ink on the verso.
Provenance: private collection.
This striking portrait is an unusually large and early painting by the Chicago Renaissance artist Bernard Goss. Carter Godwin Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950) was a historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African-American history, and a founder of the Journal of Negro History. This is very likely one of a series of portraits of important African-American figures that Goss painted for the American Negro Exposition in Chicago, 1940. Two other portraits from the series are also in a private Chicago collection. In the 2008 exhibition Convergence: Jewish and African American Artists in Depression Era Chicago, there was a similar painting of the inventor Elijah McCoy by Goss from this series.
Born in Sedalia, MI, Bernard Goss graduated from the University of Iowa in 1935. He soon moved to Chicago where he studied with George Neal and at the Art Institute of Chicago, and during the WPA period, served in the easel division of the Illinois Art Project. In 1939, he married Margaret Burroughs, who had lead the drive to create the Southside Community Art Center. Their carriage house home was an important meeting place for the group of founding artist members--this important Federal Art Project-funded center opened on Chicago's South side in 1941 and is the only surviving WPA art center today. Goss was part of a circle of artists and writers that included Joseph Kersey, Charles White and Richard Wright. Unfortunately, little of Goss's art work from this early period is known today, and this is only the third oil painting of his to come to auction.