Feb 19, 2008 - Sale 2136

Sale 2136 - Lot 99

Price Realized: $ 9,600
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
SELMA BURKE (1900 - 1995)
Light and Shadow.

Cast bronze with a gold patina, circe 1960-1963. Approximately 160 mm; 6 1/4 inches high.

Provenance: ex-collection James A. Porter, thence by descent to Constance Porter-Uzelac. According to Ms. Porter-Uzelac, there is a cancelled check dated March 13, 1963, signed by James A. Porter and endorsed by Selma Burke on the back, in the James A. Porter archives. This check was likely the payment for this sculpture.

Selma Burke was one of the most distinguished African-American sculptors of the 20th Century. She worked figuratively in brass, stone and wood, especially nudes and historical figures - including, her most famous accomplishment, the portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the dime. In the early 1930s, Burke studied sculpture in New York at the Art Students League and Sarah Lawrence College before a Boehler Foundation Fellowship in 1936 allowed her to travel to Europe and study with such artists as Maillol and Matisse.

Upon her return to New York, she worked in the WPA teaching at the Harlem Art Center while continuing her studies at Columbia University, completing the masters program with the help of a Julius Rosenwald Award in 1941. In 1943, she won an international competition to design a portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt - the completed bronze plaque was installed in the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, DC in 1945. This is the same profile that now appears on the dime though the initials belong to the coin engraver, John Sinnock.

From 1940 through the late 1970s, she taught art and sculpture at Livingston, Swarthmore, and Haverford Colleges. In 1940, she also founded the Selma Burke School of Sculpture in New York City, and, in 1968, the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.