Oct 08, 2019 - Sale 2518

Sale 2518 - Lot 33

Price Realized: $ 75,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 75,000
HUGHIE LEE-SMITH (1915 - 1999)
Landscape with Figure.

Oil on masonite board, 1952. 603x762 mm; 23 3/4x30 inches. Signed and dated in oil, upper right.

Provenance: Arwin Galleries, Detroit, MI; private collection, Detroit, MI; private collection, North Carolina (1986).

This beautiful but desolate lakeside scene is an excellent example of Hughie Lee-Smith's painting from the early 1950s. This Detroit period was critical in the formation of Lee-Smith's oeuvre - a body of work in which he found his own voice and gained national recognition. Lee-Smith earned his bachelor's degree in fine art from Detroit's Wayne State University in 1953. That year, his painting The Piper won top prize at the Detroit Institute of Art and was purchased for the museum collection.

Lee-Smith's experiences on the shores and beaches of Michigan and Ontario shaped this key stage of his paintings. Unspecific and largely created from his imagination, Lee-Smith's scenes reflect the existentialism of youth in the 1950s. His scenes often revolve around an isolated central figure - here a young woman is silhouetted against the ruins of a house like an actor on a stage. Lee-Smith beautifully defines the space and mood with many of his signature elements: a coiled wire, brick walls, wire suspended between poles, a boat on the horizon and a beautiful but forbidding sky of cumulus clouds.