Published: April 16, 2019
NEW ORLEANS — George Rodrigue’s 1971 oil on canvas “The Class of Marie Courregé,” is one of the Louisiana artist’s most significant paintings to come to auction and one of his most notable paintings overall. Offered at Neal Auction on April 13, “The Class of Marie Courregé” realized $152,500 with buyer’s premium, well above its high estimate of $120,000. Rodrigue (1944-2013) began a trajectory of recognition and success nationally and internationally with this painting. Through all the accolades, museum exhibitions and media attention, no other painting would quite reach of the heights of prestige as this one—the first to cement Rodrigue not only as a Cajun or Louisiana artist, but as an American artist whose work could compete on the highest stages in the world after its acceptance and honorable mention at the Paris Salon exhibition. “The Class of Marie Courregé” was inspired by a family photograph of his mother’s graduating class from Mount Carmel Academy in New Iberia, Louisiana, in 1924—the composition contains the group of figures within the artist’s archetypal Louisiana landscape against the backdrop of a dark oak tree and foliage. Rodrigue wrote, “Marie Courregé is my mother. [bottom row, third from right] I show her with her school class to show the unity of the Cajuns, their determination to go forward, their desire to embrace the flag of America.” A full review of the auction will appear in a future issue. For more information, www.nealauction.com or 800-467-5329.
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