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Case Auctions
Live Auction

2024 Summer Fine Art & Antiques (Day 1)

Sat, Jul 6, 2024 09:00AM EDT
Lot 174

Bill Sawyer Double-Sided Oil Painting, The Green Shanty

Estimate: $1,600 - $1,800

Bid Increments

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$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
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$5,000 $500
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$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

Bill Sawyer (American/Tennessee, 1936-2020), "The Green Shanty," c.1959, oil on canvas painting depicting a home with dilapidated storefront added to part of its facade. The sky above the structures is filled with a web of intersecting phone and electric lines, playing into the corner perspective of the painting. Signed "Bill Sawyer," lower right. En verso is a second painting, an expressionist landscape depicting bare trees against a dark, tumultuous sky, unsigned. The back of the stretcher reads, "Bill Sawyer / The Green Shanty / My first successful painting of the other half, and the beginning of wonderful things." Canvas: 18" H x 14" W. Housed in a whitewashed molded frame, 22" H x 18" W. 

Biography: Bill Sawyer was a self-taught artist from Nashville. He is said to have taken up painting while stationed in France in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s. His first exhibition was in Nashville in May of 1959 and he went on to have one-man shows at Daniel Orr's Gallery in San Diego, the Little Gallery in Memphis, TN, and the Parthenon in Nashville. Joseph Patterson, then the president of the American Association of Museums, arranged for a show of Sawyer's work at the Durlacher Brothers Gallery in New York in 1964. Sawyer was the first untrained artist to have a one-man show at the gallery, and his second show there, in 1966, sold out. Shortly after this time, Sawyer traveled overseas. After his trip, for unknown reasons, he seems to have never painted again. He sought privacy, living quietly in Nashville, where he passed away in 2020. After 1966, his work went on to be exhibited at the Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood and in the Art of Tennessee exhibit at the Frist Museum (2006).

PROVENANCE: By descent in the family of an early Nashville-area patron of Sawyer's works. 


Primary painting in overall good condition with a few small scratches and light grime. The secondary landscape painting en verso has some scattered flaking up to 1/2", and an area of craquelure near the center. Wear and losses to surface of frame. Painting is loose in the frame. 

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By descent in the family of an early Nashville-area patron of Sawyer's works.