jacob lawrence


Following one of its most successful years in the category of American Art, Christie’s announces that two sales of American Art will be offered this February – the annual mid-season sale on February 26, along with the first online-only sale for the department, Jacob Lawrence: Works From The Collection Of The Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Trust. The live auction will offer 180 lots, spanning the 19th and 20th century, with such notable artists as Milton Avery, Jane Peterson, N.C. Wyeth, and Stephen Scott Young, among others. The online-only sale, open for bidding from February 21 through March 4, will feature 40 works by Jacob Lawrence from the Estate of the artist’s wife of nearly 60 years, Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence (1913-2005), who was also an artist herself.

Over the past few years, Christie’s has made a significant commitment to building its e-commerce platform to support internet exclusive sales and has successfully piloted numerous online-only sales for Wine, Fashion, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Asian Art, and Pop Culture with great feedback and enthusiasm from our clients. The expansion of online-only sales into the American Art category is a testament to clients’ support of the internet-exclusive platform as a regular and integral component of Christie’s business.



Spanning decades through the artist’s career, from the late 1940s-1990s, the online-only sale of Jacob Lawrence: Works from the Collection of the Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Trust offers a variety of media and themes of work by the important twentieth century African American artist Jacob Lawrence. Lawrence is renowned for his work’s modernist aesthetic that is fused with depictions of everyday realities he observed in his community. The artist’s brightly colored palette and distinctive style is evident in a selection of works available in the sale that balance the twin elements of Lawrence’s art, content and form.

Lawrence explored both historical events and contemporary experiences. His first large series of work, painted in 1938, was on the life of General Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led Haiti to independence, and the The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture series is represented by a selection of screenprints available in the sale, including Toussaint.

One of Lawrence’s most iconic themes was of that of the builders, a subject matter he explored throughout his career. Rather than showing builders toiling on laborious tasks in a negative light, the artist’s builders works are optimistic and developed overtime to depict integrated groups of people working together in harmony. The online sale includes several vibrant works from the artist’s last painted series of builders, such as Builders—Men on Ladders, as well as several drawings.

Men playing games like chess or cards was another frequently depicted theme in Lawrence’s work, especially toward the end of his career, and several of these paintings are available in the sale. The final games series is imbued with the artist’s fully developed style using fragmented planes and a bold palette, such as Games—Throwing the Dice.


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