Spring 2012 Catalog Auction > Sports > Boxing
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Lot 2: The Fight of the Century by James Montgomery Flagg (1910) World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson v James J. Jeffries The Great White Hope
The most important boxing painting we have offered. Gouache on illustration board depicting the physical and cultural battle between World Champion Jack Johnson and The Great White Hope James J. Jeffries. One of the high-points/low-points in American sports, the retired former World’s Champion Jeffries took up the mantle and was pushed through to clear the parade of bums that could not dethrone the cocky African American. In the eyes of establishmentary “White America,” Johnson was too big for his britches and needed to go down. Literally. This is by one of the great illustrators of the day James Montgomery Flagg. Flagg is best known for his creation of the American patriotic icon and mythic symbol Uncle Sam used in the famed "We Want You" campaign for WWI, the U.S. Army and beyond. This work is magnificent. It measures 60x24”. Signed on the verso in ink by "James Montgomery Flagg." Most interestingly it was painted from the perspective of an artist sitting in a separate area showing the area around him in a detail too much to have been created in the mind. It is likely that this was painted AT THE FIGHT. As one of the top illustrators of the day, Flagg would have been given his own “area” at the fight to strike this pose. The style is pre-Armory (1913) and consistent with the Arts and Crafts Movement with a nod to a slightly earlier Art Nouveau style. The influence of Toulouse-Lautrec is there, with the advertising in the foreground having the look of the Frenchman’s beloved Folies-Bergere. Flagg is well known for his famed panoramic painting of nearly life-size dimension of Jack Dempsey versus Gene Tunney which hung at Jack Dempsey's famed Broadway Restaurant in Manhattan for many years. It is now housed in the collection of the Smithsonian and will therefore never he be sold. Here is a chance to own a work of nearly equal dimension and magnitude that WILL be sold.
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