News-Antique.com - Jul 05,2012 - New York ----"I was in New York's South Bronx on an errand when I spotted one of those 'we buy junk, we sell antiques' shops,' " states Rudy Franchi, long time appraiser on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow. "While rummaging behind a scruffy dresser, I spotted a pair of watercolors signed Harris and a few soft gongs sounded."
"I paid the $75 asking price ( never bargain over a bargain ) and then proceeded to do some research."
Ben Jorj (aka Jorg) Harris was a noted African American artist ( 1904 - 1957 ), related to Joel Harris (author the Uncle Remus stories) who specialized in
airbrushed watercolors. The back of this pair of his works was stamped "Newman Decor 1948." Harris was one of a stable of artists who supplied original watercolors, usually in pairs to Newman, a high end interior design firm that
decorated apartments during the late 1940s housing boom. The original art work would complement the fabric selected as coverings or, as in this case, the
overall mood of the decorations.
These examples of Harris' work took on a New York
theme, highlighting two of the City's famous hotels framed by two of its monuments.
The first depicts the Brevort Hotel at 1 Fifth Ave, with Stanford White's Washington Square Arch in the background. The second features The Plaza Hotel and the Pulitzer Fountain by Thomas Hastings.
The Ben Harris watercolors come up for sale of July 25th at Phil Weiss Auctions of Oceanside, New York. http://weissauctions.auctionflex.com/showlot.ap?co=6845&weid=24956&weiid=9135277&archive=n&keyword=harris&lso=lotnumasc&pagenum=1〈=En
"They carry a rather modest estimate of $600 to $800," said Franchi. "But this find is both about money and about saving strong examples of mid 20th Century
design and technique so they may be purchased by an institution or collector and thus be rescued to circulate in the art world mainstream"