Feb 13, 2014 - Sale 2338

Sale 2338 - Lot 59

Price Realized: $ 23,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 12,000 - $ 18,000
AUGUSTA SAVAGE (1892 - 1962)
Lift Every Voice and Sing.

White metal with copper patina, circa 1939. Approximately 270x240x100 mm; 10 3/4x9 1/2x4 inches. Incised signature and "Worlds Fair 1939" at the base.

Provenance: private New York collection.

Augusta Savage was one of the most influential artists and educators of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Green Cove Springs, Florida, she received formal training at the Cooper Union School of Art from 1921-1924. Savage was the recipient of two successive Rosenwald Grants in 1930 and 1931, which enabled her to travel to France and study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. When she returned to New York in 1932, she opened the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in Harlem, where her students included William Artis, Jacob Lawrence and Norman Lewis. Augusta Savage became known for her sensitive and skillful modeling of the human figure in painted plaster and bronze - mostly small-scale portraits and busts like her celebrated Gamin. In 1935, she was a founding member of the Harlem Artists Guild, and from 1936-1937 she worked for the WPA Federal Arts Project as the Director of the Harlem Community Art Center.

A life-size version of Lift Every Voice and Sing was commissioned by the 1939 New York World's Fair committee in 1937. Savage left the WPA to work on this monumental project, inspired by James Weldon and Rosamund Johnson's anthem Lift Every Voice. Sadly, the original work was destroyed when the Fair was over, but a number of these smaller, souvenir versions were cast. When the commission was finished, Savage was left unemployed and destitute - she was forced to give up her career as an artist. In the mid 1940s, Savage lived a reclusive life in Saugerties, New York, where she began to explore her interest in writing. In 1962, Savage returned to New York City and died of cancer later that same year.