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Lightning Strikes Twice: Another Lost Jacob Lawrence Surfaces

  • March 01, 2021

When Lawrence’s catalog raisonné was published in 2000, the whereabouts of seven of the 30 panels in the “Struggle” series were unknown. The collector Harvey Ross, who in 1996 began acquiring the paintings still in private hands, was thrilled when his wife spotted Panel 3 — titled “Rally Mohawks!” — in a 2008 Christie’s auction.

“I was shocked because nothing had come up in decades,” said Ross, who bought the panel for $206,500, the low end of the $200,000 to $300,000 estimate. Ten years later at Swann Auction Galleries, he snapped up Panel 19, titled “Tension on the High Seas,” consigned by an estate in Florida, for $413,000 — paying more than four times its high estimate. (The auction high for a work by Lawrence is just over $6.1 million, in 2018, for a major 1947 painting, “The Businessmen.”)

Ross has lent his 15 panels of “Struggle” to the exhibition and intends to work with scholars developing an educational curriculum based on the series.

The nurse who owns Panel 28 said she would consider selling it. (The couple that owns Panel 16 is not interested in selling at this time, according to Gordon, the Peabody Essex curator.)

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