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James Bolivar Needham Sold at Auction Prices

b. 1850 - d. 1931

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    • James Bolivar Needham, 1850-1931, Chicago Harbor
      Dec. 02, 2023

      James Bolivar Needham, 1850-1931, Chicago Harbor

      Est: $8,000 - $10,000

      James Bolivar Needham 1850-1931 Chicago Harbor 1914 oil on canvas-wrapped cradled panel 9-1/2 x 14-1/2 inches signed; dated and with artist's diamond-shaped insignia verso, inscribed November 26 Provenance: private collection, Dallas, TX Needham's work is very rare, and this is an excellent example. REF: Chicago Modern 1893-1945, Pursuit of the New, Greenhouse and Schulman, Terra Museum. This exhibition from 2004 highlighted the work of Needham, and presented 8 oils of the Chicago River/Harbor. Needham was described as a shy and humble man who painted strictly for his own pleasure. He was born in Chatham, Ontario, a stop on the Underground Railroad. He worked on lumber ships that sailed the Great Lakes. He arrived in Chicago in 1867 and earned his living painting houses and other decorative projects. In his free time, he painted all along the Chicago River. At that time, the river was the bustling maritime heart of the city. The real life environment of this area was noisy, dirty, and generally unpleasant, but Needham recorded the views to be something beautiful. He wrapped boards in linen and cradled the boards to prevent warping (this was a common technique among old master painters). Daniel Schulman writes, "the small paintings have the freshness and immediacy of French impressionist painting." p. 134. Robert Henry Adams Fine Art (Chicago) produced an exhibition and catalog of the artist's work in the 1980s. The catalog includes a transcript written in the Chicago Daily News in 1931, shortly after Needham's death. BAA has a copy of the Adams catalog in its library and could scan and email that article to interested parties on request. The buyer of this lot would also receive a complete photocopy file related to the artist (as the information is not that easy to come by).

      Black Art Auction
    • JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Chicago River Scene).
      Oct. 07, 2021

      JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Chicago River Scene).

      Est: $7,000 - $10,000

      JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Chicago River Scene). Oil on linen canvas, mounted on wood panel, 1905. 191x254 mm; 7 1/2x10 inches. Signed in oil, lower right recto. Inscribed within a diamond "7 1/2x10 inches" and "55" and "1905" in blue paint on burlap mounted on the verso. Provenance: the Center for African American Decorative Arts, Atlanta; private collection, New York. This charming nautical scene is a wonderful and scarce example of the painting of early Chicago artist James Bolivar Needham. Painted on the scene, these small paintings are Needham's immediate observations from the city's lakeside docks. Needham was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, a terminus point of the Underground Railroad. He left at the age of 14 and worked his way to Chicago on lumber schooners, via Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. His brother Will Needham recalled that he spent some time at the Chicago Art Institute - yet there are no records to support this claim. Needham has only had one documented exhibition - in a Central Art Association show in 1895. He worked in obscurity throughout his lifetime. A retrospective was held at Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, February 28 - March 20, 1998, and several of his paintings from the collection of the Chicago Historical Society were included in the 2004 exhibition Chicago Modern 1893 - 1945 at the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago. Schulman pp. 132-34.

      Swann Auction Galleries
    • James Bolivar Needham, 1850-1931, Chicago River Scene, Oil on Board, 10 x 11-1/2 inches
      May. 16, 2020

      James Bolivar Needham, 1850-1931, Chicago River Scene, Oil on Board, 10 x 11-1/2 inches

      Est: $12,000 - $15,000

      James Bolivar Needham 1850-1931 Chicago River Scene Oil on Board 1905 Signed 10 x 11-1/2 inches

      Black Art Auction
    • James Bolivar Needham 1850-1931): View on the Chicago River
      Nov. 03, 2018

      James Bolivar Needham 1850-1931): View on the Chicago River

      Est: $800 - $1,200

      Oil on canvas, c. 1903, unsigned, inscribed 'August 14' on the reverse.11 x 8 in., 14 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (frame).Exhibited: Washington County Museum of Art, Hagerstown, MD, African American Artists, February 2002; Muscarelle Museum, Williamsburg, VA, African American Artists: In the Mainstream, February 2003; Walters Art Musuem, Baltimore, MD, Long term loan February 1, 2005-2015.

      Stair
    • JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Sailboat on Chicago Waterfront).
      Feb. 13, 2014

      JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Sailboat on Chicago Waterfront).

      Est: $5,000 - $7,000

      JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Sailboat on Chicago Waterfront). Oil on linen canvas, mounted on wood panel, 1900. 229x216 mm; 9x8 1/2 inches. Signed in oil, lower right recto. Inscribed within a diamond "8 1/2x9 inches" and "1900" and dated "July 4" in orange paint, verso. Provenance: private Maine collection, acquired at a recent estate auction. Early Chicago artist James Bolivar Needham is known for these small paintings of the city's lakeside docks. Needham was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, a terminus point of the Underground Railroad. He left at the age of 14 and worked his way to Chicago on lumber schooners, via Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. His brother Will Needham recalled that he spent some time at the Chicago Art Institute - yet there are no records to support this claim. Needham has only had one documented exhibition - in a Central Art Association show in 1895. He worked in obscurity throughout his lifetime. A retrospective was held at Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, February 28 - March 20, 1998, and several of his paintings included in the 2004 exhibition Chicago Modern 1893 - 1945 at the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago. Schulman p. 132-34.

      Swann Auction Galleries
    • James B. Needham, (African American; 1850 - 1931)., Chicago marine scene., Oil on board., 6" x 7 1/2".
      Oct. 15, 2011

      James B. Needham, (African American; 1850 - 1931)., Chicago marine scene., Oil on board., 6" x 7 1/2".

      Est: $1,000 - $2,000

      James B. Needham (African American; 1850 - 1931). Chicago marine scene. Oil on board. Artist's monogram on verso with date (1903). Needham's intimately scaled views of activity on the Chicago River were brought back to prominence after an exhibition in Chicago in 1997. His work is included in both "Chicago Painting: 1895 to 1945" by the University of Illinois Press and "Chicago Modern - Pursuit of the New: 1893-1945" by The University of Chicago Press. 6" x 7 1/2".

      Ripley Auctions
    • James B. Needham, (African American; 1850 - 1931)., Chicago marine scene., Oil on board., 6" x 8".
      Oct. 15, 2011

      James B. Needham, (African American; 1850 - 1931)., Chicago marine scene., Oil on board., 6" x 8".

      Est: $1,000 - $2,000

      James B. Needham (African American; 1850 - 1931). Chicago marine scene. Oil on board. Artist's monogram on verso with initials and date (1908). Needham's intimately scaled views of activity on the Chicago River were brought back to prominence after an exhibition in Chicago in 1997. His work is included in both "Chicago Painting: 1895 to 1945" by the University of Illinois Press and "Chicago Modern - Pursuit of the New: 1893-1945" by The University of Chicago Press. 6" x 8".

      Ripley Auctions
    • JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) A Morning with the Yachts & Houseboats.
      Feb. 17, 2009

      JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) A Morning with the Yachts & Houseboats.

      Est: $12,000 - $18,000

      JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) A Morning with the Yachts & Houseboats. Oil on canvas, mounted to a painted wood board, 1896. 310x390 mm; 12 1/4x15 1/2 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower right. Provenance: to the current owner by the wife of a descendent of the daughter of Orlando Wesley Aldrich. Exhibited: West End Woman's Club, Chicago, with a hand-written entry of the title, artist, and address "Abbott & A"on the printed label, pasted on the painting back. A Morning with the Yachts & Houseboats is an unusually large and very scarce view of Chicago's lakeside docks by this early African-American painter. Only a few of his paintings are known to have survived a fire at the artist's studio. Needham rarely signed his paintings - he generally made a mark on the back of his paintings, a black diamond on an orange field, noting the location and number of boats painted. This painting bears a scarce exhibition label, likely written in his hand. Needham has only had one documented exhibition - in a Central Art Association show in 1895. James Bolivar Needham was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, a terminus point of the Underground Railroad. He left at the age of 14 and worked his way to Chicago on the lumber schooners, via Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. His brother Will Needham recalled that he spent some time at the Chicago Art Institute - yet there are no records to support this claim. He worked in obscurity throughout his lifetime - only recently was a retrospective held at Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, February 28 - March 20, 1998. Schulman p. 41.

      Swann Auction Galleries
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