Art Auction 2018 | Guy Pène du Bois


Guy Pène du Bois, N.A.

Oil on canvas, c. late 1930s
25 x 20 inches
Courtesy of Kevin Rowe and Irene Vlitos Rowe
Value: $7,000
Starting bid: $3,500
Staff Pick

Born to French-American parents living in Brooklyn, Guy Pène du Bois (1884–1958) was one of the most stylish of all American painters of the early twentieth century, a keen observer of the social scene who captured the era with subtlety and wit. His early works were strongly influenced by his teacher, the Ashcan School painter Robert Henri. When he found his distinctive vision, it was a sharply urbane perspective on the foibles and pretensions of his subjects. He was also a distinguished writer on art who published books on several of his contemporaries, including his friend Edward Hopper. The main study of his life and work is Betsy Fahlman’s Guy Pène du Bois: Painter of Modern Life, published in 2004.

Billy is a portrait of the artist’s son, William Pène du Bois, who was also a talented artist and writer. It was probably painted around the time he entered the army, aged twenty-four. After spending World War II with an artillery unit in Bermuda, Billy would pursue a career as an author and illustrator of mainly children’s books. His greatest success was a whimsical story entitled The Twenty-One Balloons, for which he won the Newbery Medal in 1948. In 1953 he was one of the founding editors of The Paris Review.

Selected collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Art Institute of Chicago
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.

Selected exhibitions

Various solo exhibitions, Kraushaar Galleries, New York, 1922–46
Robert Henri and Five of His Pupils, Century Association, New York, 1946
Guy Pène du Bois: Artist About Town, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., and other ventures, 1980

>> Click here to learn more about the artist.