Oct 08, 2009 - Sale 2189

Sale 2189 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 7,200
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,000
RICHARD L. BROWN (1893 - 1917)
Mt. Monadnock.

Gouache on Whatman illustration board, 1911. 390x490 mm; 15 3/8x19 1/4 inches. Signed and dated in gouache, lower left recto. Titled in pencil and inscribed "$200.00" in ink verso.

Provenance: private New York collection.

Illustrated: "Negro Youth Amazes Artists by his Talent," The New York Times, March 17, 1912. With the caption, "one of the best examples of the young artist's work." Brown received a lengthy profile in this article on the eve of his first solo exhibition at Ovington Brothers on Park Avenue in New York City.

A remarkable rediscovery, this gouache is one of only three works by Richard L. Brown known today. He was one of the few African-American artists to achieve some critical and commercial acclaim in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century. Brown grew up in West Virginia. A self-taught artist, he found guidance in New York with the painter George DeForest Brush and officials at the New York office of the NAACP. Brown managed to capture the attention of art writers--soon his works were described in both The New York Times and small journals such as the 1918 The Negro in Literature and Art in the United States and the 1923 Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life 1. Alain Locke's Negro Art: Past and Present from 1936 and James Porter's Modern Negro Art from 1943 also record his early contributions. Porter describes Brown and Lenwood Morris as "two of the most talented men of this epoch [who] died in mid-career before fufilling early promises." Porter describes how Brown's reputation was built on the three landscapes, known from their New York Times illustrations, whose locations and titles were unknown--"each is spontaneous and delightfully simple. In design they rank with some of the vaporous landscapes of the Chinese masters." Brown is also listed in more recent reference works including the 2009 African American National Biography.