$228k for one of the greatest African-American artists

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.

Malvin Gray Johnson's Swing Low, Sweet Chariot sold for $228,000

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).


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