Artist Malcolm Parcell's work expected to fetch more than $25,000

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Like many artists, Washington County-based painter Malcolm Parcell lived long enough to see his work draw enthusiastic praise, fall out of favor in the 1950s and '60s, then enjoy a resurgence that began in the 1980s and continues to the present.

On Sunday, a Parcell allegory titled "Cursed Confusion" will go up for auction at Dargate Auction Galleries in McKees Rocks. The estimated sales price for the 71-by-431/2-inch painting ranges from $25,000 to $50,000.

Also on the block is a single lot of 47 gouaches done by Erte, a talented Romanian graphic artist and costume designer who lived in Paris and created costumes for ballets during the 1920s and '30s. His real name was Romain de Teartoff, and his work surged in popularity in the late 1970s when art deco enjoyed a rebirth in popularity. The estimated sales price for the 47 gouaches is $400,000 to $600,000.

Between 1920 and 1950, Parcell exhibited at the Carnegie International, the region's most prestigious art exhibition. "Cursed Confusion," a large oil on canvas shown in the 1950 Carnegie International, represents a period when Parcell painted allegorical scenes. The picture shows four shrouded figures and is supposed to symbolize human beings' response to problems in the world. For years, it hung above the door to Parcell's studio.

"It was the last painting that he ever exhibited at one of the Carnegie Internationals, said David Arnold, who manages Dargate.

He said Parcell painted three versions of this picture -- one is owned by Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. He believes the one to be auctioned was a later copy because it was dated 1951.

Last year, Concept Art Gallery in Regent Square sold two Parcell paintings. "Eventide," painted in 1920, sold for $24,000 plus the buyer's premium. "Something About Fall," which was exhibited at the Carnegie International in 1939, brought $6,500 plus the buyer's premium.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg owns 27 works by Parcell, including scenes of Western Pennsylvania and female nudes. But "Cursed Confusion" is not in the museum's collection. Parcell died at age 91 in 1987.


Marylynne Pitz: or 412-263-1648.


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