A large and important collection archived by a Howard University academic was the leading lot at Swann Galleries' sale of African Americana on Thursday (February 25).
Assembled by James Amos Porter (1905-1970), one of America's pioneering art historians as well as an artist and author in his own right, the materials were the source for his book, Modern Negro Art, published in 1943.
The product of five years' research, the collection was also the basis of Porter's courses, lectures and literally hundreds of articles in various publications over the course of his long career.
The archive includes correspondence from virtually every major African-American artist from the 1920s forward: Romare Bearden, Lois Mailou Jones, Meta Warwick Fuller and scores of others, with many of Porter's replies or queries retained.
These sold with hundreds of contemporary photographs of work by virtually all of the major black artists of the 20th century.
Porter's collection also included numerous exhibit catalogues - many of which are virtually unobtainable today.
This unique, singular and irreplaceable document of African-American art history surpassed its $30,000-40,000 pre-sale estimate, eventually realising $42,000.