RICHMOND BARTHÉ (1901 - 1989) Head of Boy (Black Boy).
Painted plaster, with a bronze-like patina, on a walnut base, circa 1929-31. 152 mm; 6 inches high (241 mm; 9 1/2 inches including base). With the incised artist's signature on the verso of the head.
Provenance: the estate of Edward Albert, Pacific Palisades, CA; acquired at New Orleans Auction Galleries on January 26, 2008 by the present owner, private New York collection. According to their auction description, the work was also confirmed by Dr. Samella Lewis at the time.
With its original, delicate patina and base intact, this head is an outstanding example of an early work by Richmond Barthé. At the time, the artist struggled to find commissions, but showed regularly at the Harmon Foundation exhibitions of 1929, 1931 and 1933. In works like this and Mask of a Boy, circa 1931, Barthé demonstrates a great sensitivity and expressiveness on a small scale. This head is possibly the same Head of Boy listed in the Harmon 1935 exhibition at Delphic Studios, which included 19 sculptures by the artist, in addition to the memorial exhibition for Malvin Gray Johnson. There is also another very similar mask-like head that Barthé later cast in bronze, titled Julius, 1942-43, in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Reynolds/Wright pl. 11, p. 158; Vendryes p. 53.