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Estimate: $ 6,000 - $ 9,000
RICHMOND BARTHÉ (1901 - 1989) The Jubilee Singer.
Cast bronze with a dark brown patina on a marble base, 1928. Approximately 108 mm; 4 1/4 inches high (not including the base). Incised with the artist's name and date near the base, verso.
Provenance: private collection, New York; thence by descent to the current owner, private collection, New York.
The Jubilee Singer is a charming, small bronze version of an important 1927 plaster head by Richmond Barthé. The Jubilee Singer was first made in Chicago just before Barthé was "discovered" as a sculptor in New York. Although he was studying painting at the time, Barthé described his inspiration after he heard Jubilee Singers from Fisk University perform at the opening of The Negro-in-Art Week exhibition in Chicago: "I went home and from memory did a small head of one of them - The Jubilee Singer" and "sold many copies of it." Samella Lewis vividly recounts this moment of inspiration that led him to sculpture, and also includes a photograph of the 1927 original painted plaster in her Barthé: His Life in Art. Margaret Vendryes describes how at the urging of Alain Locke, Barthé also gave copies to luminaries like Charlotte Mason, a wealthy patron, and W. E. B. Du Bois to gain support in Harlem. This plaster head was reproduced on the cover of Opportunity in November, 1928, and was one of four sculptures of his included in an exhibition at the Harmon Foundation in 1929. The warm critical and popular reception to the naturalism of hisJubilee Singer lead to future commissions and helped launch Barthé's career. Bearden/Henderson p. 139; Lewis p. 34; Vendryes pp 41-42; 173.