Mar 31, 2022 - Sale 2599

Sale 2599 - Lot 33

Estimate: $ 30,000 - $ 40,000

Oil on linen canvas, 1949. 1016x762 mm; 40x30 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.

Provenance: private collection, Washington, DC.

Illustrated: Cedric Dover, American Negro Art, plate 64, p. 140.

Interlude is a significant oil painting of James Lesesne Wells - a scarce, large example of his 1940s modernist painting. While known primarily as a printmaker, Wells established himself as a talented modernist painter early in his career. Wells first gained national recognition with the Harmon Foundation award for his 1931 oil painting Journey to Egypt. This painting and Wells's Journey into the Holy Land were acquired in 1931 and 1935 by the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC - the first African American artist acquired by the collection. Interlude is illustrated in Cedric Dover important 1950 survey American Negro Art and is listed in Cederholm's Afro-American Artists: Bio-bibliographical Directory. Other oil paintings from 1949 include his Still Life which was once in the Evan-Tibbs Collection, Washington, DC.

In 1949, Wells was in the center of the growing visual artist community in Washington, DC and rose to the position of associate professor at Howard University. He'd taken a sabbatical the previous year to study intaglio printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17 in New York, and began making wood engravings. In 1950, Wells had a solo exhibition, Paintings and Prints by James Lesesne Wells at the Barnett-Aden Gallery in Washington, DC from April 1 - May 31.