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Lot 195

Jack Kerouac's Personally Owned Icon of St. Paul, Estate-Certified

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Jack Kerouac's Personally Owned Icon of St. Paul, Estate-Certified


Jack Kerouac's Personally Owned Icon of St. Paul, Estate-Certified

A religious icon personally owned by Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the famous mid-century American writer who brought us "On The Road" (1957). Provenance: The lot will be accompanied by an estate certification signed by John Shen-Sampas, executor of the Kerouac Estate by descent. John Shen-Sampas is the son of John Sampas, who was the brother-in-law of Jack Kerouac, and the brother of Stella Kerouac, Jack's wife.

Oil on copper plaque depicting St. Paul, whose saintly attribute is the sword. The bearded apostle is shown wearing a green robe and red mantle, and his head is encircled by a nimbus, or halo. The plaque is pierced at top for hanging, but minor frame rubbing along the bottom edge suggests it was probably framed at one time. Expected wear including isolated surface loss. Scattered verdigris and varnish traces verso. Else very good to near fine. 6.875" x 5.5."

St. Paul is a major saint in the Roman Catholic Church, and the symbolism of his sword attribute is complex. The sword alludes to St. Paul's instrument of martyrdom (he was beheaded at the command of the Roman Emperor Nero); the cutting sharpness of the "the word of God"; and also St. Paul's invocation in Ephesians to arm the faithful against evil.

Jack Kerouac was a lifelong faithful Roman Catholic. His faith was instilled in him by his beloved French-Canadian mother, Gabrielle-Ange Lévesque Kerouac (1895-1973). Photographs from the interior of Kerouac's last home at 5169 10th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida show numerous religious icons scattered around the rooms and displayed on pieces of furniture.

Religious historian Jon M. Sweeney, in his book "Almost Catholic: An Appreciation of the History, Practice & Mystery of Ancient Faith" (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008) cites the following quote to demonstrate Jack Kerouac's intense piety: "'From childhood until death, Kerouac wrote letters to God, prayers to Jesus, poems to Saint Paul, and psalms to his own salvation'" (p. 158). Doubtless this icon of St. Paul carried special meaning for Kerouac.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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