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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beauford's Works at Christie's Paris

In July, Christie's Paris is auctioning an incredible selection of art works and personal items owned by Darthea Speyer.  The Darthea Speyer Gallery closed its doors permanently at the beginning of this year, and the Christie's auction is part of the total liquidation of the gallery's collection.

Beauford and Darthea
Invitation card for 1973 exhibit at Galerie Darthea Speyer
Courtesy of Galerie Darthea Speyer

Among the collection are six paintings by Beauford.  See pages 38-39 of Christie's e-catalog for a listing of these works.  Two of them are abstractions and the remaining four are portraits.  The price range for the abstractions is $2700 to $5300, while the range for the portraits is $11,000 to $20,000.  The portrait of Vassili Pikoula (see below)—displayed at the American Cultural Center in 1961, the Darthea Speyer Gallery in 1973 and 1992, the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1978, and the First American Triennal at Maubeuge in 1993—is the most expensive of the portraits available for purchase.

  Courtesy of Galerie Darthea Speyer

The astute observer will notice that there is an anomaly in the catalog listing for Entry 262, a vividly colored ink, ink wash, and aquarelle abstraction.  The dedication indicated for this painting—"Beauford Delaney Mallorca 1981 for miss Darthea Speyer"—is dated two years after Beauford's death!  In fact, Beauford visited Majorca in the summer of 1961, the year that he suffered a severe mental breakdown while on his way to Greece.  He was to have enjoyed an artistic "sabbatical" there, which had been arranged by Darthea Speyer.  After several days of hospitalization, Speyer arranged for Beauford to return to France. His dear friends Charley and Gita Boggs then took him to Spain to help him recover from that breakdown.  Either the person who provided the information for the Entry 262 misread Beauford's dedication, or Beauford himself was not aware of what year it was when he created this painting.

When I spoke with a representative of the Speyer Gallery in January of this year, I was told that the gallery would donate its collection of Delaneys to the Smithsonian Institute.  At the time of this writing, I do not know if some of these Delaneys were in fact donated so that the paintings on auction at Christie's represent the remainder of the Speyer collection, or if none of the Delaneys were donated to the Smithsonian.

The Christie's auction will be held on July 7, 2010 at 2 PM.  The entire Speyer collection will be on public display on the following dates:

Saturday, July 3 – 10 AM to 6 PM
Monday, July 5 – 10 AM to 6 PM
Tuesday, July 6 – 10 AM to 6 PM
Wednesday, July 7 – 10 AM to 12 Noon

For those living in Paris, or visiting during the first week of July, this represents a rare opportunity to see Beauford's works in person—an occasion not to be missed!

9, avenue Matignon
75008 Paris
Tel: 33(0)1 40 76 85 85

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