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Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
ROBERT CROMARTIE (1929 - 2007) Portrait of an African American Solider.
Oil on linen canvas, 1954. 863x698 mm; 34x27 1/2 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower right.
Provenance: private collection, Philadelphia.
Executed four years after Robert Neal's Rearguard, this early portrayal of a Black man in service of his nation is poised with confidence and cool. Depicted in rich hues of green, yellow, and red during a period when there were few African American soldiers in military service, Cromartie paints this figure to illuminate society's selective memory and to remember the often missing narratives.
Robert Cromartie was born in Cumberland, South Carolina, in 1929, with his family later moving to West Philadelphia for improved living conditions. Cromartie completed his formal education in the Philadelphia Public School System, graduating from West Philadelphia High School. He pursued his love of art by studying the subject at the college level for two years. In 1951, Cromartie enlisted in the United States Army and was honorably discharged after two years of service. Following his military service, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service for many years. His true passion was art, and he opened Cromartie's Awards in West Philadelphia, at 60th and Chestnut Streets, where he would work on his art and teach the trade to his many apprentices. He married Myrtle Jones in 1956, and they traveled throughout Africa.