Oct 06, 2011 - Sale 2255

Sale 2255 - Lot 72

Price Realized: $ 108,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 90,000 - $ 120,000
HALE WOODRUFF (1900 - 1980)
Rape of Europa.

Oil on canvas, circa 1958. 1295x1613 mm; 51x63 1/2 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; private collection, New York; thence by descent to a private Detroit collection.

Rape of Europa is one of Hale Woodruff's largest known Abstract Expressionist canvases, as well as an important work in the artist's move from figuration to abstraction in the 1950s. This work is the apparent sister work, with its almost identical size and palette, to Europa and the Bull which sold at Swann Galleries on Februrary 19, 2008. There are only four known oil paintings from the Mythic series--including the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami's same-sized Europa and the Bull, and the smaller Africa and the Bull in the Studio Museum in Harlem. Both of these works are painted in grisaille, in black and white. The Studio Museum catalogue also mentions a Leda and the Swan from this series.

Woodruff was a professor of art at New York University since 1946, and had just participated in the exhibition Eight New York Painters at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in the summer of 1956 at the time of this series. With the important 2007 exhibition at Spelman College, Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy, Woodruff's undated abstract works are being reconsidered; this phase occurred just before his Celestial Gate series. Amaki pp. 117, 177 and 180.