Description1976 Thurman Munson Original Painting by LeRoy Neiman. When our consignor asked Neiman if he could purchase this extraordinary work of art that hung on display at Manhattan's Hammer Galleries in 1980, he was at first rebuffed. Munson's tragic death in an Ohio plane crash had occurred only months earlier, and the celebrated sports artist expressed interest in the production of a serigraph run utilizing the image before releasing the painting for sale. But, ultimately, both our consignor and LeRoy Neiman got what they wanted.
You've likely encountered the prints--if you Google "LeRoy Neiman Thurman Munson," you'll find various paper incarnations of the image. But there is only one original, and Heritage Auctions is proud to further burnish our reputation as the hobby's leading source for Neiman originals with the presentation of this absolutely exquisite oil on board. It's everything a Neiman collector craves--an elite subject, prodigious dimensions and a quintessential example of the expressionistic style that made the artist the king of the sports art genre.
One could even add "vintage" to the list of plaudits for this painting, as it dates to the finest season of the Yankee captain's career when he powered the pinstripers to their first pennant in a dozen years and earned the American League MVP Award for his essential service to that cause. The painting captures Munson as he has always survived in our mind's eye, the thick mustache and long sideburns, the backwards protective helmet, the massive, muscular forearms to gun down opposing baserunners. Surely no finer portrait of Munson exists.
At 48x35" of viewable surface, the painting finds Munson presented at something close to life-size, captured through Neiman's legendarily daring color palette and generous paint application. We love Neiman's handwritten caption at lower center right, an uncommon but most welcome trait for Neiman originals. His blue signature at lower right provides the "'76" vintage. A few minor chips and light scratches may or may not be part of the artist's intent and certainly do nothing to distract from the aesthetic power of the work. Framed dimensions are 54x41". Full LOA from PSA/DNA.
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