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Case Auctions
Live Auction

2024 Summer Fine Art & Antiques (Day 2)

Sun, Jul 7, 2024 01:00PM EDT
Lot 750

Helen La France Farm Scene Painting

Estimate: $2,000 - $2,400

Bid Increments

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$0 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $200
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

Helen Lafrance (Kentucky, 1919-2020) oil on board farm landscape painting, depicting two children sitting on a fence, watching three boys climb a large haystack, while a farmer and two horses plow a field in the distance. Signed lower right. Board - 18"H x 30"W. Frame - 20"H x 33"W 

Artist biography: African American artist Helen LaFrance is best known for her "memory paintings," based on her 101 years of life in Graves County, Kentucky. Her parents, James Franklin Orr and Lillie May Ligon Orr, were tobacco farmers, and Helen spent most of her life no more than ten miles from her birthplace in Mayfield. Her mother taught her to draw and paint, helping her mix colors from wildflowers, berries, and laundry detergent, but she did not begin painting full time until her 40s, when she started selling her work at local art shows and fairs. Her subjects mostly focused on scenes of ordinary rural life, such as church picnics and river baptisms, although she occasionally portrayed dramatic events in the life of her community, such as tornadoes and floods, and African scenes inspired by her family's ancestral heritage. LaFrance's work (which also comprised quilts, wood carvings, and dolls) began attracting nationwide interest in the 1990s, and with a burgeoning market of collectors that included famous names such as Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King and Bryant Gumbel, she continued painting well into advanced age. In 2011 she received Kentucky's Folk Art Heritage Award. Her work recently became the subject of a retrospective at the Speed Museum in Louisville, and is also in the permanent collections of the St. Louis Art Museum and the Owensboro KY Museum of Fine Art.

PROVENANCE: Private Nashville collection, acquired directly from the artist. 


Excellent condition. 

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Private Nashville collection, acquired directly from the artist.