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Estimate: $ 1,200 - $ 1,800
PHILIP EVERGOOD Queequeg.
Oil on board, double-sided, 1951. 301x605 mm; 12x24 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower right recto. With study of a woman in a dress in oil, verso.
Ex-collection private collection, Pennsylvania.
Through the Great Depression and World War II, Evergood's (1901-1973) works were socially conscious, influenced by the Ashcan School, and were considered highly controversial. His WPA mural, The Story of Richmond Hill at the Richmond Hill Public Library in Queens, New York was protested for its prominent depiction of the vast class divide. After World War II, Evergood retained his sympathies and would later be called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1959, though he employed more symbolism than outright depictions.
The current work, based on a character from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, is from Evergood's post-war period. Melville's novel (published in 1851) had finally gained recognition among critics in the 1920s. Moby Dick was the subject of a few movie adaptions through the 1950s and became symbolic of contemporary politics. Here Evergood's Queequeg, a native islander, sinks to his death while trying to capture the elusive White Whale, representing security and the American Dream, led by a mad captain who had dehumanized his crew, representing the American political machine.