Feb 17, 2009 - Sale 2169

Sale 2169 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 10,800
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 12,000 - $ 18,000
A Morning with the Yachts & Houseboats.

Oil on canvas, mounted to a painted wood board, 1896. 310x390 mm; 12 1/4x15 1/2 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower right.

Provenance: to the current owner by the wife of a descendent of the daughter of Orlando Wesley Aldrich.

Exhibited: West End Woman's Club, Chicago, with a hand-written entry of the title, artist, and address "Abbott & A"on the printed label, pasted on the painting back.

A Morning with the Yachts & Houseboats is an unusually large and very scarce view of Chicago's lakeside docks by this early African-American painter. Only a few of his paintings are known to have survived a fire at the artist's studio. Needham rarely signed his paintings - he generally made a mark on the back of his paintings, a black diamond on an orange field, noting the location and number of boats painted. This painting bears a scarce exhibition label, likely written in his hand. Needham has only had one documented exhibition - in a Central Art Association show in 1895.

James Bolivar Needham was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, a terminus point of the Underground Railroad. He left at the age of 14 and worked his way to Chicago on the lumber schooners, via Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. His brother Will Needham recalled that he spent some time at the Chicago Art Institute - yet there are no records to support this claim. He worked in obscurity throughout his lifetime - only recently was a retrospective held at Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, February 28 - March 20, 1998. Schulman p. 41.