Swann Auctions is the route through which a number of Charles White’s works are brought to the marketplace. The catalogues that accompany these auctions are always a treasure trove of high quality reproductions of work by African American artists, together with descriptions of varying lengths, biographical information, and guide prices. The Swann African-American Fine Art catalogue of December 15, 2015 offered for auction several works by Charles White, including Juba, 1951, pen and ink on illustration board, 622 x 419 mm; signed and dated in ink, lower right. Accompanying text as follows:
This exquisitely rendered drawing is a stunning example of Charles White’s work in pen and ink. It is a scarce example – one of only several large pen and ink drawings from the early 1950s that he exhibited in New York. While White had done a series of social realist pen and ink drawings in the late 1940s, including The Trenton Six and Frederick Douglas (sic) Lives Again, he primarily drew in charcoal and crayon through the early 1950s. Juba was part of his second solo exhibition at ACA Gallery dedicated to African-American women with six paintings, three prints and three other drawings. This large drawing just predates another pen and ink drawing, Preacher, 1952, ink on board, which was acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Both display White’s mastery of cross-hatching which expresses not only form but a strength of character.
Juba is a name of a West African dance that was brought to the Americas by slaves and incorporated into African-American culture. It is also better known as the title of White’s popular 1965 drawing and lithograph – another striking image of a woman, this time in profile with her hair wrapped.
Note: This is not the same 'Juba', that graced the inside title page of Charles White's Images of Dignity (Ward Ritchie Press, 1967). That particular 'Juba' was a lithograph dating from 1965. (There were in fact several works by Charles White, titled 'Juba')
Also offered for sale in this auction catalogue were the Charles White works, John Brown, lithograph, 1949, and Young Woman, lithograph, 1963