An important painting in the history of African-American visual art featured alongside this very unique Sargent Claude Johnson sculpture at Swann Auction Galleries' African Americana Printed & Manuscript auction, last Tuesday (February 23).
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is not only artist Malvin Gray Johnson's (1896-1934) best-known work, it was also one of the first modern paintings to be recorded in the canon of African-American art and culture.
Due to Johnson's sudden death, aged just 38, his works are very scarce. This was the artist's first painting to come to auction.
The 1928-29 painting launched Johnson's career and placed him alongside Aaron Douglas and Henry Ossawa Tanner in the pantheon of greatest African-American artists of their time.
It also made him a star at Swann, surpassing its lower $200,000 estimate with a final hammer price of $228,000.
Elsewhere, Sargent Claude Johnson's sculpture Untitled (Standing Woman), an innovative and important depiction of an African-American woman, sold for $44,000.
Meanwhile, a collection of African Americana encompassing rare historical manuscripts and photographs went under the hammer at Swann on Thursday (February 25).