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Estimate: $ 80,000 - $ 120,000
ROMARE BEARDEN (1911 - 1918) Early Morning.
Collage of various mixed printed papers on masonite board, 1968-69. 229x305 mm; 9x12 inches. Signed in ink, upper left.
Provenance: Cordier and Ekstrom Gallery, New York; Sheldon Ross Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan; private collection, Michigan, with the labels on the frame back.
This collage is a wonderful example of Romare Bearden's seminal work in collage in the late 1960s. Early Morning is an important subject for the artist which he interpreted in various media, beginning with the photomontage projections of 1964. The central figure raises a lit candle to illuminate an interior scene with a female nude on the left and a male figure on the right - an image that recalls both Old Master compositions and memories of his youth in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
Bearden's various interpretations of Early Morning have been exhibited widely and are found today in various museum collections. The earliest collage version, Early Morning, circa 1964, collection of Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, was included in the 2003 National Gallery of Art traveling retrospective organized by Ruth Fine. Also included in that exhibition was a later variant of the composition entitled Sun and Candle, 1977, collection of Tougaloo College, Mississippi. The 2012 Mint Museum traveling exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections included that 1977 collage with a very large version of Early Morning, circa 1967 (44x56 inches) from Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Bearden also interpreted this subject in his experimental collagraph prints, including Untitled (Sun and Candle), 1969, and Early Morning, circa 1980. Fine pl. 35-36, p. 37, pl 29-30, p 60; Corlett pl 37; p. 70; Hanzal pl. 92-93, p. 109.