1941 George Grosz Illustration

Value (2013) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

Eudora Welty was my aunt, and when she died, we were going through her home and my sister and I were the only two children of the family, and we were selecting items and we just saw this picture and my husband and I decided, "Well, we'll take that," and we brought it home.

And Eudora Welty, of course, is one of the major Southern writers to come from the Southern states and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

She is, absolutely, very well known.

Do you know anything about this drawing?

No, I really didn't. It hung for a while in one of our sons' bedrooms and then when we moved, we actually didn't have room and we put it under the bed. And so when we decided to come to Antiques Roadshow, I started going through and I pulled the drawing out and I looked up the artist and found out that this was an illustration of one of Eudora's stories, "The Purple Hat." And it was for Harper's Bazaar in 1941. My research told me he was a German artist known for his caricatures. He fled Germany in 1933 and came to the United States.

That's absolutely correct. George Grosz is, I have to say, one of my favorite artists. When I was a younger man, as an art student, I would borrow or steal shamelessly from his work.

Oh, you're kidding.

So yes, I was always a fan of his work, so I was very pleased to see this coming in today. Not so pleased to hear you've been keeping him under the bed for all this time. (laughing) Anyway, that's another thing. He was well known as a caricaturist and a really biting satirist and was very politically involved and originally was involved with the movement called the Dadaists. In 1932, he was offered a job in New York teaching at the Art Students League, and he came over. And then he was back in Germany, but he found out the Gestapo, the secret police, the Nazis, were trying to find him, basically. So he rather wisely left Germany in 1933, as you said, and moved with his family to the States. Now, conventional wisdom says that his work rather softened around then and he was more involved in teaching at that point. And this piece dates from that time. This figure here is quintessential George Grosz. I mean, that's the sort of thing you might even expect from his work back in the '20s. But I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but then you mentioned "The Purple Hat," so I guess that's... Well, this is, with the hat pin.

The hat, and the hat pin is in the story and this lady always comes into this New Orleans bar and has a purple hat.

Well, it's a wonderful drawing. It's in charcoal, and he's probably better known for his ink drawings. I'm at an auction estimate of around about $10,000 to $15,000.

And it was under my bed?

Yes, under your bed indeed.

It will not go back under the bed.

Good, it deserves to be on a wall. He's a wonderful artist.

Appraisal Details

Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2013)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)

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