New York – Bonhams is pleased to present the collection of legendary Harlem gallery, Essie Green, with works from the leading contemporary Black artists, including Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, and Norman Lewis, across two fine art sales this November. Husband-and-wife duo Essie Green Edmiston and Sherman K. Edmiston Jr. built a program that championed Black patronage and community over the past 50 years. Cultivating relationships with their artists, collectors, and neighborhood was equally matched to their dedication to present works of art by Black masters. The Edmistons are remembered for their influence on the academic and institutional narrative of 20th century painting and the gallery’s Harlem brownstone is a fixture in the Sugar Hill neighborhood that remains today. Bonhams will present masterpiece examples from the collection across two sales: Post-War and Contemporary on November 16 and American Art on November 17.
Post-War & Contemporary Art
Presented in the sale are works by Sam Gilliam (1933-1922), Norman Lewis (1909-1979), and Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977). Harlem-born Abstract Expressionist Norman Lewis shares a similar unshakeable belief with the Edmistons in the power of art, which is exemplified in Untitled (Gathering) (1955), estimated at $700,000 – 1,000,000. Blue Unions (1972) by Sam Gilliam, estimated at $600,000 – 800,000, comes from one of the most illustrious moments in the artist’s early career, which can be reflected against today’s standards where Gilliam is recognized as a Blue-chip name with seminal works in the collections of major museums around the world. Undoubtable that the Edminstons would take favor to the work of Charles Henry Alston, whowas dedicated to arts and education, active during the Harlem Renaissance. Featured in the sale is Abstraction (Yellow) (1960), estimated at $60,000 – 80,000.
The following day, American Art will present the works of Romare Bearden (1911-1988), and Edward Bannister (1828-1901). The Edmiston’s relationship with Bearden dates back to 1979 and he is credited to encouraging the pursuit of championing Black masters as the foundation for the gallery program. Their relationship was one of deep admiration and mutual respect, as they worked harmoniously to promote Bearden’s work as a master of depicting modern life. Featured in the sale is Untitled (Woman in Landscape) (1968-70), estimated at $80,000-120,000. One of the best-known landscape painters in Rhode Island and the first Black artist to attain national recognition, Bannister’s work Figure on a Pier at Edge of Lake, is estimated at $30,000-50,000.