Apr 04, 2024 - Sale 2664

Sale 2664 - Lot 7

Price Realized: $ 68,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 35,000 - $ 50,000
AUGUSTA SAVAGE (1892 - 1962)
Head of a Young Black Man.

Painted plaster, with a painted plaster base, circa 1931-35. Approximately 457x241x152 mm; 18x9½x6 inches (including the base). Signed "A. Savage" at the rear base edge.

Provenance: acquired at Sloans & Kenyon, Chevy Chase, MD, May 7, 2004; private collection, Chicago, thence by descent to the current owner, Illinois.

This beautiful bust of a young man is very scarce - it is the only life-sized head in plaster by the Harlem Renaissance sculptor to come to auction. Few large works in plaster by Augusta Savage are known to survive today. The modeling and finish of this head are similar to Bust of Dr. William Pickens, Sr., 1932-33, in the collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem, completed after Savage's trip to Paris. Theresa Leininger-Miller also describes how Savage returned from Paris with about twenty sculptures. In addition to Gamin, six other plaster busts from the 1930s and 40s were located and included in the recent retrospective Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman organized by Jeffreen Hayes.

Likely made in the early 1930s in her Harlem studio school, this head demonstrates her skill in naturalist portraiture and her classical training in figurative modeling. Savage's realism gave her the ability to convey, as Hayes describes, "the strength and nobility" of the sitters, "challenging the dominant images of Blacks in the 1930s".

By 1932, Savage was elected to the National Association of Women Painters, was represented by Argent Galleries and had founded the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem. Savage's students included such important artists as Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, Norman Lewis, William Artis and Ernest Crichlow. In 1933, Savage expanded her studio and founded the Harlem Art Workshop at 306 West 141st Street. By 1937, Savage was named the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center, under the auspices of the WPA.

Savage is the subject of an exciting, new documentary film; Searching for Augusta Savage, written, directed and produced by Audacious Woman Productions' Charlotte Mangin and Sandra Rattley, premiered on February 15, 2024. Farrington pp. 103-105; Hayes pp. 70-71; Leininger-Miller pp. 200-201.