Dec 15, 2015 - Sale 2402

Sale 2402 - Lot 6

Price Realized: $ 4,500
Show Hammer Price?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,000
ELIZABETH CATLETT (1915 - 2012)
Howard University Choir.

Pen and ink on two joined sheets of cream wove paper, 1932. 133x108 mm; 5 1/4x4 1/4 inches. Signed and dated in ink, lower right.

An added strip of paper with the musical notes covers a different musical phrase with an ink inscription "How-ard We Sing of Thee" on the original drawing.

Provenance: Loïs Mailou Jones, Washington, DC; private collection, Maryland.

This drawing was found in a portfolio of drawings and examples of artworks by Loïs Mailou Jones' students from Howard University. Recruited by James V. Herring, the art department's first chairman Jones joined the faculty of James A. Porter and James Lesesne Wells in 1930 to teach design.

This illustration is a very scarce work from her time as a college student, and is the earliest artwork by Elizabeth Catlett to come to auction. Elizabeth Catlett was a student at Howard University from 1931-35, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art, cum laude. Catlett likely drew this illustration while studying graphic design under Loïs Mailou Jones alongside other budding artists like Gwendolyn Knight. Melanie Herzog notes how Jones had encouraged Catlett to pursue her degree in design but then Catlett changed to painting in her third year. Catlett also studied painting and life drawing with James A. Porter and printmaking with James Lesesne Wells. At Howard, Catlett was also both socially and politically active - after joining the sorority Delta Sigma Theta, she later participated in the university's Liberal Club and the anti-war and anti-fascist National Student League. Herzog pp. 17-18.