Apr 05, 2018 - Sale 2472

Sale 2472 - Lot 25

Price Realized: $ 118,750
Show Hammer Price?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 30,000 - $ 40,000
WILLIAM H. JOHNSON (1901 -1970)
Jitterbugs III.

Color screenprint and pochoir on paperboard, circa 1941. 406x279 mm; 16x11 inches. With another proof impression on the verso.

Provenance: Annie Davis, New York and Savannah, GA; gifted to a private collection, Savannah, GA. With a Harmon Foundation label sticker, lower right verso, with the inventory number "FO-259 (4)" in blue ink.

Jitterbugs III is a very scarce and excellent example of an important American print and an iconic image of the Harlem Renaissance. While living in New York in the early 1940s, William H. Johnson printed his screenprints, depicting colorful images of both the rural South and Harlem. His Jitterbugs series are based on his paintings of the popular dance in Harlem music halls - both Johnson's same titled oil on paperboard and watercolor, both circa 1941, are in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Jitterbugs I-V is a series of five images, and a significant part of the only 17 known screenprint images Johnson made. He worked with screenprinting for only three years until tragedy struck in 1943--his Danish wife, Holcha, was diagnosed with breast cancer and died months later.

This is the first time this print has come to auction. We have located only four other impressions of Jitterbugs III in public collections - two in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and other impressions in the Library of Congress (identified as Jitterbugs I) and the Amistad Research Center (identified as Jitterbugs II). These are experimental and painterly prints, using both screens and pochoir (hand-colored stencils). Each impression is proof like, and has a slightly different registration, and are often printed on various type of paper or cardstock.