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Bill Traylor Work Auctioned for $507,000 at Christie’s

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An artwork by American artist Bill Traylor (circa 1853-1949) sold for a record $507,000 at Christie’s on January 17, far exceeding the estimated $200,000–$400,000. Sold to a private collector, the work, titled Man on White, Woman on Red, comes with star-studded provenance: it was a gift from Steven Spielberg to Alice Walker at the conclusion of filming The Color Purple, the film adaptation of Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Both auction house and consignor received a surprise when the work was unframed at Christie’s, revealing it to be double-sided. It had not been unframed since the mid-1980s when it was handled by gallery Hirschl & Adler. The back side revealed an equally powerful image in the Traylor canon, a large dog. The remarkable rediscovery firmly establishes this work in the top tier of Traylor's output for both rarity and exceptional imagery.

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Image credits: 

1) Bill Traylor (Circa 1853-1949), Man on White, Woman on Red / Man with Black Dog (double-sided), 1939-1942. Tempera and graphite on repurposed paper, 18⅞ x 24 in (48 x 61 cm). Sold for $507,000 on January 17, 2020. Courtesy Christie's.

2) The reverse side of the painting featuring the picture Man with Black Dog (double-sided), 1939-1942. Tempera and graphite on repurposed paper. 18⅞ x 24 in (48 x 61 cm). Estimate: $200,000-400,000. Property from the Collection of Alice Walker, offered in the Outsider Art sale at Christie’s New York on January 17, 2020. Courtesy Christie's.