SAMUEL COUNTEE (1909 - 1959) Woman by the Fountain.
Oil on artist board, circa early 1930s. 610x457 mm; 24x18 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.
Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; private collection, Texas; thence by descent to the current owner, private collection, Michigan. The artist's mother and the owner's grandmother were friends, as was the artist and the owner's aunt.
This is a very scarce painting by Samuel Countee, one of the first modern African-American artists from Texas. It was most likely painted while Countee was a student at Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and is only the third painting by the artist to come to auction.
Samuel Countee was born in Marshall and grew up in Houston where he studied art through high school. A year after graduating, in 1929, he enrolled at Bishop College. Countee majored in art and paid his way through school by painting the portraits of faculty and administrators. In 1933, Countee was named him 'Artist in Residence' at Bishop College, a title of distinction made possible by the prestigious William E. Harmon Award. His career was launched with his painting Little Brown Boy's acceptance to an exhibition of the Harmon Foundation in 1933 and later published in Alain Locke's seminal A Pictorial Record of The Negro Artist and of the Negro Theme in Art.
Countee graduated in 1934, and was awarded a scholarship to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Countee exhibited in several significant exhibitions of African-American art in the 1930s in New York. His painting The Guitar was exhibited in the The Hall of Negro Life in the 1936 Texas Centennial in Dallas. Countee moved to New York and continued to show his artworks through the 1950s — winning first prize in the Eleventh Annual Atlanta Exhibition art competition in 1952. Biographical notes courtesy of the Texas State Historical Association.