Haitian Study from Now Destroyed Port-au-Prince Cathedral Mural Added to Bonhams Sale

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Haitian Study from Now Destroyed Port-au-Prince Cathedral Mural Added to Bonhams Sale
Rigaud Benoit, Nativity, c. 1950. Oil on masonite, 20 x 16in (50.8 x 40.7cm) Est. $8,000 - 12,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- A painting, contemporaneously taken from an important 1950 Port-au-Prince religious mural lost in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, is being offered for sale at Bonhams in New York on May 11 during the inaugural bi-coastal Modern, Contemporary and Latin American Art auction.

The oil on masonite painting titled Nativity, which will be unveiled to the public at Bonhams in Los Angeles on April 30, was painted by leading Haitian artist Rigaud Benoit. The work was produced around the time Benoit was commissioned, along with three other leading Haitian artists, to paint a monumental mural series in the apse of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, located close to the National Palace in Port-au-Prince's main square.

Importantly, this commission likely marks the first time in the country's history that local artists were invited and paid to create art in a public space.

With the original mural now destroyed, this painting carries a significant artistic legacy. The consignor has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the painting to the charity Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief. Additionally, Bonhams will contribute a significant portion of the sale proceeds to this Haiti relief group.

Patrick Meade, Chief Operating Officer of Bonhams, says: "Bonhams is pleased to offer a historically significant Latin American work, such as Nativity, during the inaugural bi-coastal auction of Modern, Contemporary and Latin American Art - and the company is honored to continue its rich tradition of supporting and encouraging charitable causes around the globe."

Estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, the work has been consigned from a private Minnesota collector and depicts a Haitian Madonna flanked by angels and surrounded by worshipers in a local village setting.

The original commission was the brainchild of renowned Haiti scholars and collectors Dewitt Peters and Selden Rodman. Once they secured financing with the help of the Episcopal diocese of Haiti, and they invited the leading Haitian artists of the day, Rigaud Benoit, Philomé Obin, Castera Bazile, and Gabriel Levêque, to each paint a panel in the apse. It marked the first public commission that was created solely for and by Haitians.

Bonhams | Patrick Meade | Contemporary and Latin American Art |

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