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Beauford Delaney, Bouquet de Mimosas, 1978

Beauford Delaney


Beauford Delaey

Bouquet de Mimosas, 1978

Gouache on beige paper

24 3/4 × 24 3/4 × 1 inches



Philippe Briet Gallery with original tag on verso of frame
Société Générale, NY (with signed receipt)
Private collection USA; acquired from the above


This Beauford Delaney gouache on paper painting was created in 1978 - the year before Delaney died –a nod to French painter Pierre Bonnard’s famous 1945 painting, Bouquet de Mimosas. Delaney’s eponymous work has superb provenance as it was part of the Philippe Briet Gallery collection. It is accompanied by a signed receipt dated 02/10/98. Fresh to market, and newly presented after 20 years in a private collection. Delaney, who was born in Tennessee, had a fascinating and tragic life that took him to Boston for art studies, then New York during the Harlem Renaissance, and ultimately to Paris where he would die in an insane asylum in poverty and relative obscurity. While in France, Delaney would become great friends with the famous Black writer James Baldwin, another American expatriate. Baldwin considered Delaney a mentor, and in 1985 he described the impact of the latter on his life, saying Beauford was "the first living proof, for me, that a black man could be an artist. In a warmer time, a less blasphemous place, he would have been recognized as my Master and I as his Pupil. He became, for me, an example of courage and integrity, humility and passion. An absolute integrity: I saw him shaken many times and I lived to see him broken but I never saw him bow." As the story was recounted by Briet to the present owner, Delaney was a guest at James Baldwin's home in St. Paul de Vence and, when introduced to another guest, was told by that guest, in so many words, "... oh yes, I've heard of you. You're finished” [as an artist] - at which time Delaney took a piece of art paper and in a matter of minutes created this work - Bouquet de Mimosas, showed it to the other guests and said - "is this the work of an artist who is 'finished'?" The present owner presumes it was Baldwin himself who recounted the story to Briet.
Philippe Briet (1959-1997) was a French gallery owner and publisher who was instrumental in the re-discovery and re-appreciation of the varied and subtle lyrical abstractions, portraits and landscapes of Beauford Delaney. From the late 1980s through the mid 1990s, Briet worked tirelessly to rescue Beauford’s works from obscurity and to promote his legacy - laying the groundwork for the monumental critical recognition and market appreciation that would come over the next two decades. Briet moved to New York from France in 1985, and opened his eponymous gallery in SoHo in 1987 where he got to know many people in the New York art scene including Jean-Michel Basquiat and other Graffiti and Pop artists. As the story goes, in 1988, Briet chanced upon a catalogue of Beauford Delaney's work during a trip to the Studio Museum in Harlem, and from then the young French gallerist became obsessed with sourcing, restoring and exhibiting Delaney's work - curating several landmark exhibitions of the artist's paintings. The Philippe Briet Gallery was financed by the New York branch of the French bank, Société Générale. However, after mounting losses and insolvency, in December, 1994, Société Générale eventually foreclosed on the gallery's inventory and consigned most of the Delaneys to the New York dealer Michael Rosenfeld. Before doing so, it offered 1st dibs on the works to all employees of the bank, including the bank employee assigned to work on the foreclosure. Bouquet de Mimosas is one of the works he chose for his personal collection. He was also present with Philippe Briet on that fateful and unhappy day of the foreclosure.
Tragically, in 1997, three years after the dissolution of his gallery, Philippe Briet was found murdered in his New York apartment at the age of only 38. He would not live to see the publication of the 1998 biography Amazing Grace: a life of Beauford Delaney by David Leeming, nor would he see the subsequent museum retrospectives and continued appreciation of Delaney's work - a vindication of the doomed gallerist's perseverance, foresight and, some might say, unhealthy obsession.
Framing Note:
When Société Générale’s New York branch moved from 50 Rockefeller Plaza to the McGraw Hill Building on 6th Avenue, they contracted with the Museum of Modern Art to do the interior decoration with mutually agreed upon works of art. The present owner befriended the consultants who offered to have Bouquet de Mimosas professionally framed for him for free. It was done by PSG Framing of Boston (their sticker is on the back of the framed Bouquet).
17.25 square inches
24.75 square inches

Very good condition other than minor handling marks to the paper (see photo)


Height:   17.25
Width:   17.25