Hughie Lee Smith's Coal Breakers to headline African American art sale

Coal Breakers by Hughie Lee Smith (1915-1999) is to lead a sale at Swann Auction Galleries titled Shadows Uplifted: African American Fine Art.

The auction will take place in New York on February 13, with the work valued at $80,000-120,000.

Coal Breakers Hughie Lee Smith
Coal Breakers is an early example of Smith's work

The early painting dates to the late 1930s, and was produced soon after Smith's graduation from the Cleveland School of Art. It features many recognisable hallmarks of his style - manifest in its depiction of isolated figures in bleak and ruined landscapes.

Smith is recognised as an important figure in 20th century American painting, and his work regularly achieves impressive figures at auction. In 2013 a rediscovered painting titled Poet #4 realised $120,000 at Swann Auction Galleries.

Study for Disciples Healing the Sick (circa 1930), a painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), is valued at $60,000-90,000.

Tanner was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Paris in the 1890s, where he became the first African American painter to achieve international recognition.

The piece is a preliminary outline for a large-scale work, which is held in the collection of the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries.

In 1981 Bill Cosby's wife, Camille, paid $275,000 for Tanner's The Thankful Poor - which set a new record for a work by an African American artist.

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