Oct 04, 2018 - Sale 2487

Sale 2487 - Lot 28

Price Realized: $ 75,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 75,000
WILLIAM H. JOHNSON (1901 -1970)
On a John Brown Flight.

Color screenprint and pochoir on tan wove paper, circa 1945. Approximately 406x610 mm; 15 3/4x24 inches. Signed in ink, lower right.

Provenance: Annie Davis, New York and Savannah, GA; gifted to a private collection, Savannah, GA. Inscribed with the artist's name, title, and a Harmon Foundation inventory number in ink, upper right verso.

On a John Brown Flight is a very scarce example of an important print. While living in New York in the early 1940s, William H. Johnson printed a handful of proof impressions from his screenprints, depicting colorful images of both the rural South and of Harlem. Out of the 17 known screenprint images Johnson made in a short period of the early 1940s, On a John Brown Flight is the only image of an American historical figure, and is the largest of any of his prints. Johnson also painted a gouache and pencil version of this subject, and a heroic image of the Abolitionist leader in the 1945 oil John Brown Legend; both are in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

This is the only the second impression of this print to come to auction - an unsigned impression was sold at Swann Galleries on February 13, 2014. We have located only four impressions of On a John Brown Flight in the following public collections: the Library of Congress, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution. These were experimental and painterly prints, using both screens and pochoir (hand-colored stencils) - each impression has a slightly different registration.