Oct 06, 2016 - Sale 2424

Sale 2424 - Lot 32

Price Realized: $ 10,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
ROBERT NEAL (1916 - 1987)
Untitled (Kitchen Still Life, Dayton, Ohio).

Oil on masonite board, circa 1940-45. 406x508 mm; 16x20 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.

Provenance: acquired from family descendants of the artist, Colorado; private collection, Colorado.

This charming 1940s still life is only the second artwork by this painter and muralist to come to auction. A native of Atlanta, Robert Neal was a student of Hale Woodruff's and became his studio assistant at Spelman College, working on the Talladega College Amistad murals in 1939. Neal transferred Woodruff's drawings to the canvas, and then installed the canvases to the walls after Woodruff had fallen ill. Neal's signature was even recently found on the verso of the mural canvas Repatriation of the Freed Captives, when it was recently restored for the museum exhibition Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College.

Robert Neal exhibited his own paintings at the same time. His work was included in two of the most celebrated national exhibitions of African-American Fine Art - the 1939 Baltimore Museum of Art's Contemporary Negro Art, the first museum group exhibition of African-American artists, and the 1940 Exhibition of the Art of the American Negro (1851-1940) at the Tanner Galleries in Chicago, the largest survey of African-American art at the time. Neal is also mentioned in two seminal art histories - Alain Locke's 1940 The Negro in Art: A Pictorial Record of The Negro Artist and of The Negro Theme In Art, and James A. Porter's 1943 Modern Negro Art. Robert Neal moved to Dayton, Ohio in the 1940s - the inscription "Dayton, O.", printed on the calendar, helps us date this painting. Unfortunately, little is known about the later life or career of this talented artist. Heydt pp. 80, 132.