Beauford Delaney - 20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | Phillips
  • Self-Portrait, 1964, demonstrates Beauford Delaney’s longstanding usage of portraiture to explore the possibilities of color and expression. Formerly in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Self-Portrait was painted while the artist lived in Paris, and the same year of the artist’s celebrated solo exhibition at the Galerie Lambert in Paris. An iconic image, this painting is notably closely linked to the eponymous painting from 1965, which is housed in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and illustrated on the front cover of the seminal publication Amazing Grace: a Life of Beauford Delaney by David Leeming. 

    In the present work, the artist looks outward to the viewer with an inquisitive smile on his face. His face is painted with whirls of yellow undertones and brown overtones and the colors in the portrait are accented by a light infused pastel blue background. Throughout all of Delaney’s self-portraits, the artist was interested in how he could represent his inner emotions on his own terms. Self-Portrait is a striking and revealing expression of the artist’s more playful attributes and reveals the sense of liberation he experienced after moving abroad to Paris. As he exclaimed, “I belong here in Paris, I am able to realize myself here.”i


    Property from the Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr. 

    The present work arrives at auction from the collection of pioneering Virginia-based philanthropists Pamela and William Royall, prominent collectors of 20th century and contemporary art in the American South.  The collection reflects their broad interests, from well-known artists from the 20th century to emerging and established Black artists. Committed arts patrons and forces of change in Richmond, the Royalls spearhead the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’s recent acquisition of Kehinde Wiley’s sculpture Rumors of War as board members of the institution and were instrumental to the museum’s expansion of the diversity of its collection. Believing in a vision of greater inclusivity for Richmond, the Royalls established a non-profit art gallery for the collection, Try-me, which was open without charge to the public, which fostered a space for local artists and education. 

    i Beauford Delaney quoted in Stephen C. Wicks, Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door, Knoxville Tennessee, February 3, 2020, p. xxiv 

    • Provenance

      The Artist
      Louise Taylor, St. Michael (acquired directly from the above)
      Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York
      John P. Axelrod, Boston (acquired from the above)
      Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (gifted by the above)
      Swann Auction Galleries, New York, February 14, 2013, lot 73
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owners

    • Exhibited

      Andover, Addison Gallery of Art, Selections from the Collection of John P. Axelrod, August 31 - October 31, 1999

Property from the Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr.



signed, inscribed and dated "BEAUFORD DELANEY, PARIS 1964" on the reverse
oil on canvas
18 1/8 x 13 1/8 in. (46 x 33.3 cm)
Painted in 1964.

Full Cataloguing

$30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for $315,000

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York 8 December 2020