Not Lost Jacob Lawrence Wartime Painting

Jacob Lawrence USCG, USO ‘Show‘ [aka Entertaining The Troops], 1945, watercolor and gouache on paper, 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 in., selling as Lot 36 on 18 April 2024 at Christie’s New York

The last time we had news of pictures from Jacob Lawrence’s wartime service in the US Coast Guard was 2021, when press images of some Coast Guard paintings and installation photos from Lawrence’s MoMA exhibition turned up at Swann Galleries.

Lawrence painted either 17 or 48 paintings while in the Coast Guard; I think 17 are known, including five images that have come to light since Lawrence’s 2000 catalogue raisonné was published and all but three are lost. This turns out to be one of those three.

Though Lawrence wrote U.S.O. ‘Show’ on the back by his signature, this painting of two dancing white ladies surrounded by faceless soldiers has long been shown with the title, Entertaining The Troops. It first showed up at Princeton in 1976; made its way through the Hammer Galleries in 1995; and by 2001 was being shown in local Florida museums, because it was owned by Dr Mark & Irene Kauffman of Sarasota. They did real estate after retiring from orthopedic surgery.

But that’s literally not important now; what is most interesting is that first step in the provenance from United States Coast Guard, Washington DC to the Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York. How and when did that go down, I wonder? Dintenfass opened her gallery under her own name in 1959, and represented Lawrence for 25 years [The gallery records in the AAA date from 1963-1981.]. Did Lawrence keep some of his Coast Guard paintings himself?

Lot 36, 18 Apr 2024: Jacob Lawrence, USO ‘Show’, est $100-150,000 [update: sold for $88,200] [christies]

Previously, related:
Find The Lawrences: USCG Paintings @ Swann
Wait, How Could There Be Lost Jacob Lawrence Wartime Paintings?