1951 Anton Refregier Print
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:19)
Prints & Posters
Director, Works of Art on Paper
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: This is from a series of paintings in the Rincon Annex. This one has to do with the '34 longshore strike. Harry Bridges, over there in the center.
APPRAISER: This is Harry Bridges in the...
GUEST: Right. Anton Refregier did this whole series of paintings. And if you want to know, this is what things were like before the strike for the workers and on that side it's after they got a hiring call.
APPRAISER: Things got better.
GUEST: Things got better.
APPRAISER: This is a mural that was painted in a local post office?
GUEST: One of a series of murals in a local post office.
APPRAISER: Now, the artist is Anton Refregier.
APPRAISER: He was born in 1905 in Moscow.
GUEST: Oh, my God.
APPRAISER: And he trained in Paris before coming to New York in 1920. And he worked primarily in New York, although he did this post office mural in San Francisco. The mural was actually commissioned in 1941 and it was completed in 1948. At the time, it was the most expensive government commission, and the government paid $26,000 for the job.
GUEST: For the whole series?
APPRAISER: Exactly. Right. This is... This print, which is a color screen print, reproduces one part of the mural. The images in the mural were not necessarily pretty images-- as you've referred to here-- showing the waterfront strike in 1934 in San Francisco. So he wasn't representing very nice images.
APPRAISER: And, uh... quite a few politicians were upset with that being painted on the walls of this government building. Actually one of whom, Richard Nixon, tried to have it covered up. Did you know that?
GUEST: I know that, yes, yes.
APPRAISER: Um, basically, the color screen print was first used in the 1940s by artists.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: It's a fairly recent process. And you can see down here, the title is printed "San Francisco '34 Waterfront Strike." And then the artist signed the print in ink in the lower right. Now, how did you acquire this?
GUEST: Well, my husband knew Anton Refregier.
APPRAISER: They were friends?
GUEST: They were friends. He was a longshoreman and, of course, these were longshore... He was also a photographer. So, um... I don't know-- it was before I met him, so I don't really know. But he gave it to my husband and somewhere on the back it may say, "To Leo, From Anton," but I don't know.
APPRAISER: Well, the murals were completed in 1948. This print was made in 1951, so he must have given it to him shortly after that, I would imagine.
GUEST: I imagine, yeah.
APPRAISER: And you have not had the print valued, have you?
APPRAISER: Never. Do you have any idea? Would you care to guess?
GUEST: I'd love to know, but I haven't a clue.
APPRAISER: The condition of the print is very good-- the colors are strong, as you can see. Often these prints are susceptible to scratching and fading and this one has stayed fairly clean. At auction, I would estimate the print at $3,000 to $5,000.
GUEST: Really? Huh. Okay.
APPRAISER: And expect it to sell strongly within that estimate.
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