All auctions in one place

  • Photographs

    7 933 For sale

    112 268 Sold

  • 0—191 000 000 USD
  • 30 Oct 1989—10 Oct 2017

Filters

Clear all
- USD
image
Pick of the day!
Marc Newson - Lounge chair

Low estimate: 4 000 USD

Want your valuables appraised by experts?

Send in an object valuation push image

'balzac--the open sky'

Direct carbon photograph, signed and dated by the photographer in crayon on the image, mounted to thick board, signed and dated by the photographer in crayon, and with a printed numerical label on the reverse, matted, 1908 This powerful and imposing photograph of Rodin’s famous statue of Balzac was taken in the moonlight near the sculptor’s home at Meudon in October 1908.  Like ‘The Pond—Moonlight’ of Lot 6, the photograph offered here is believed to be one of only three prints of the photograph extant in this extraordinarily large size.  The photograph is a seminal image from an extensive series of studies the photographer made of the sculptor and his work, a series that includes not only other Balzac photographs, but also the famous double-negative study of Rodin posed in front of ‘The Thinker’ and other portraits of Rodin in a variety of processes, including gum prints, platinum prints, and autochromes.  Meeting Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917) and seeing his work were the inspiration for the young Steichen’s first trip to Paris in 1900.  Passionate, deeply committed to his artistic ideals, and above all controversial, the sculptor represented for Steichen all that was potent and revolutionary in modern aesthetics.  Rodin became one of Steichen’s closest friends, a friendship that ended only with Captain Edward Steichen’s presence, as representative of the United States Army, at Rodin’s funeral in 1917.  Soon after meeting Rodin for the first time in 1901, Steichen became the sculptor’s anointed photographer and was paid prices for his photographs that were far in excess of any at that time. Steichen not only photographed Rodin, he also worked to promote the sculptor’s work in the United States, arranging for shows of Rodin’s drawings at the galleries of the Photo-Secession in 1908 and 1910, for instance, and collaborating with Stieglitz to create a special issue of Camera Work devoted to Rodin, his sculpture, and his drawings.  For his part, Rodin referred to Steichen as ‘mon fils.’ In his Life in Photography, Steichen remembered the first picture he saw of Rodin’s Balzac: a reproduction in a Milwaukee newspaper in 1898.  Even in a newspaper reproduction, Steichen recounted, the Balzac ‘seemed the most wonderful thing I had ever seen.  It was not just a statue of a man; it was the very embodiment of a tribute to genius.  It looked like a mountain come to life.  It stirred up my interest in going to Paris, where artists of Rodin’s stature lived and worked’ (Chapter 2, unpaginated).  That a statue of Balzac could make the news in Milwaukee was testament to the controversy created by Rodin’s sculpture at that time. Commissioned by the Société Gens de Lettres some years before, the Balzac was first introduced to the public as a plaster cast at the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts of 1898, where it generated an outcry.  As Steichen remembered, the statue ‘was called a monstrosity by some and by others a sack of flour with a head stuck on top’ (ibid., Chapter 2, unpaginated).  The statue was ultimately refused by the Société that had commissioned it, but Rodin, in a characteristically dramatic gesture, built his own pavilion outside the gates of the 1900 Exposition Universelle, and there displayed selected examples of his own work, including Balzac. It was to this pavilion that Steichen and his traveling companion Carl Bjorncrantz rushed on the very day they arrived in Paris in 1900.   At the pavilion, they saw not only the infamous Balzac, but also caught a glimpse of Rodin, ‘a stocky man with massive head, almost like a bull’s,’ as Steichen remembered in A Life in Photography.   Determined to meet Rodin and to photograph him, Steichen wrangled an invitation to the master’s studio in 1901, through a painter who knew Rodin, the Norwegian Fritz Thaulow, whose children Steichen had been asked to photograph.  Steichen and the Thaulows bicycled to Meudon one afternoon, where an initial meeting turned into an invitation to dinner, and then an evening that concluded with a review by Rodin of Steichen’s portfolio of photographs.  Impressed, and perhaps recognizing in the young Steichen the spirit of a fellow revolutionary, Rodin assented to Steichen’s request for a portrait sitting.  Thus began a long and fruitful relationship between the two artists: it is said that Steichen photographed Rodin more than any other sitter, and that Rodin and his work were photographed by Steichen more than by any other photographer.  In the double issue of Camera Work devoted to his art, Rodin wrote, ‘I consider Steichen a very great artist and the leading, the greatest photographer of all time’ (Number 34/35, 1911). In the fall of 1908, during Steichen’s third sojourn in France, Rodin invited him to photograph the controversial Balzac.  Dissatisfied with other pictures of the statue, Rodin worked with Steichen to create an image that he hoped would show the Balzac at its most powerful, more than merely a prosaic document of the statue’s mass and lines.  Rodin had some months before moved the sculpture from his studio to a specially-built revolving platform in his garden, and Steichen was able to observe the statue from all angles, at different times of day and night, in many permutations of light and weather.  According to the photographer’s autobiography, it was Rodin who suggested photographing the statue in moonlight.   Having spent years developing his talents for photographing in just such light, Steichen rose to the challenge.  ‘I immediately went out to Meudon to see it, and found that by daylight, it had a harsh, chalky effect,’ Steichen wrote in A Life in Photography. ‘I agreed with Rodin that under the moonlight was the proper way to photograph it, I had no guide to refer to, and I had to guess at the exposure. ‘I spent the whole night photographing the Balzac.  I gave varying exposures from fifteen minutes to an hour, and secured a number of interesting negatives. . . . ‘In the morning, at breakfast, when I lifted the napkin from my plate, I found two one-thousand franc notes.  This was four hundred dollars, a fabulous present for a night’s work!   . . . Instead of showing Rodin proofs, I immediately made enlarged negatives and commenced printing. ‘It wasn’t until a week or so later, when I had fine pigment prints, that I turned up to show them to Rodin.  The prints seemed to give him more pleasure than anything I had ever done.  He said, “You will make the world understand my Balzac through these pictures.  They are like Christ walking on the desert.” ‘When Stieglitz saw a set of the Balzac prints later, he seemed more impressed than with any other prints I had ever shown him.  He purchased them at once and later presented them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. . . ‘During World War I, we had to leave my negatives behind, uncared for in our home in Voulangis when we left.  During the four years of the war, humidity and bacterial action destroyed the emulsions.  The plates were ruined’ (ibid., Chapter 4, unpaginated).   Weston Naef has pointed out that, as original prints of Steichen’s pre-1917 photographs exist in such few numbers, there were probably photographs at Voulangis that were destroyed as well (Naef, p. 458). In the spring of 1909, from April 21st to May 7th, the galleries of the Photo-Secession held a special exhibition of Steichen’s photographs of Balzac.  The centerpiece of the exhibition was the image offered here, flanked by two horizontal images.  In 1911, three photographs from the Balzac series, including the present image, were reproduced in Camera Work Number 34/35, the special issue devoted to Rodin and his art. The print offered here is believed to be one of only three extant prints, in this large size, of what is perhaps the most striking and dramatic image from the series.  It was recently analyzed by the conservation department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and found to be a direct carbon print.  The print of the image which Stieglitz purchased directly from Steichen, referred to above and donated to the Metropolitan in 1933, has also been recently analyzed by the Museum’s conservation department, and it, too, is a direct carbon print.  In 1986, a third print in this size, catalogued, but not scientifically analyzed, as an olive-green pigment print, was sold in these rooms and is now in a private collection (Sale 5453, Lot 372, 12 May 1986).  For more information on this third print and its origins, see Beth Gates-Warren, Twenty Years of Photographs at Sotheby’s, a supplement to Sotheby’s New York catalogue for Sale 6684, April 1995.  A smaller print of this image, measuring roughly 6 by 8 inches, is in the collection of the Musée Rodin (reproduced in the Musée Rodin’s 1898: Le Balzac de Rodin, Paris, 1998, pl. 164, p. 409). The present print comes originally from the collection of Paul Burty Haviland (1880 - 1950), heir to the Haviland china dynasty and an amateur photographer (cf. Lot 12).  Appropriately, it was Haviland’s purchase of a Rodin drawing from the Photo-Secession galleries’ Rodin exhibition of 1908 that was his introduction to Alfred Stieglitz.   Haviland later became an important source of support for Stieglitz and personally underwrote the rent for the space at 291 Fifth Avenue when money was short.  Along with Marius de Zayas and Agnes Ernst Meyer, Haviland also funded the important arts publication edited by Stieglitz, ‘291’ (see Lot 1).

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
Hammer price
Show price
Advert

Gloria swanson

The photographer’s ‘Photograph by Edward Steichen, 80 West 40th Street, New York’ studio stamp, and ‘page 101, Steichen, New York, Gloria Swanson, courtesy Vanity Fair’ and other notations in pencil and china marker on the reverse, framed, 1924 The photograph offered here is a rare, early print of one of the outstanding celebrity portraits of the 20th century.  A Steichen icon, it embodies the creative collaboration between photographer and sitter that characterized the very best of Steichen’s portraits.     In his autobiography, A Life in Photography, Steichen gave a vivid description of the sitting: 'The day I made . . . [these pictures] . . . Gloria Swanson and I had had a long session, with many changes of costume and different lighting effects.  At the end of the session, I took a piece of black lace veil and hung it in front of her face.  She recognized the idea at once.  Her eyes dilated, and her look was that of a leopardess lurking behind leafy shrubbery, watching her prey.  You don't have to explain things to a dynamic and intelligent personality like Miss Swanson.  Her mind works swiftly and intuitively' (A Life in Photography, Chapter 8, unpaginated). The photograph offered here is the definitive image from this session and was first published in the February 1928 issue of Vanity Fair.  The Vanity Fair caption read, ‘A Much Screened Lady—Gloria Swanson: The star has made a film version of Miss Thompson, the [Somerset] Maugham story which is better known as ‘Rain.’’ Rain, concerning a prostitute and a reformer, was one of Maugham’s most famous stories, and Swanson was nominated for an Academy Award for her starring role.  As Diana Edkins points out in her notes for this photograph, Swanson was, by the end of the 1920s, the highest-paid woman in the world.  In addition to her persona as a femme fatale, she was also a businesswoman who produced her own films for more than a decade. Edward Steichen was one of the few photographers to have made a seamless transition from the artistic realm of the Photo-Secession to the lucrative world of commercial photography.  Like Swanson, he was at the top of his game when this photograph was taken.  As chief photographer for Condé Nast, he continued the incisive, dramatic portraiture he had begun years earlier with such sitters as Eleanora Duse and J. Pierpont Morgan.  Even those critical of his move to the world of commerce conceded that his celebrity portrait photography was superb.  Of Steichen’s portraits for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Beaumont Newhall wrote, ‘These photographs are brilliant and forceful; they form a pictorial biography of the men of letters, actors, artists, statesmen of the 1920s and 1930s, doing for that generation what Nadar did for the mid-nineteenth century intellectual world of Paris' (The History of Photography, 1964 edition, p. 190). The print offered here was the actual print reproduced in the 1930 volume of Photographie, an annual published by the influential Arts et Metiers Graphiques in Paris.  Committed to the cutting-edge photography of the day, the Photographie annuals sourced a variety of imagery from America and Europe and presented it in rich photogravure.  In the 1930 volume, Steichen’s dramatic portrait of Swanson was reproduced alongside the avant-garde work of such artists as Man Ray, Brassaï, Maurice Tabard, André Kertész, Roger Parry, and Herbert Bayer.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-03-31
Hammer price
Show price

Album of Egypt and Algeria, 1852 - 1856

Album, contemporary green cloth with monogram gilt 'A.L.' on the cover, spine modern cloth, with 44 photographic prints individually pasted to blue albumen card. 43 prints by John Beasley Greene after paper negatives, 39 salt prints and 5 albumenised salt prints. 15 prints with the signature and reference number in the negative. Also included are drawings, watercolours and further handwritten documents in Arabic.   John Beasley Greene’s photographs captivate us by their sheer modernity in the form of audacious framings reinforced by a very ambitious treatment of light. His work has been called ‘proto-modernist’ and looking back it is evident today that his views of Egypt and Algeria are some of the most radical in early photography. In some cases his images are densely filled with architecture but often without any reference of scale, similarly the sense of scale is lost in this fabulously dense view of a waterfall in Algeria. Quite contrary to these, Greene constructs other photographs around the single line of the horizon with only the quintessence of an image at centre in an otherwise void image space, such as the often reproduced, spectacularly minimalist view of the Nile with an island at centre. The young Beasley Greene thus creates an incredibly vast photographic oeuvre in the span of just four years. A student of the great Gustave Le Gray, the son of a Boston banker is one of the rare American artists to have adopted the paper negative process with great mastery; his work includes views of Paris and the Fontainebleau forest – two forest scenes are included in this album – but the majority of his output depicts the land and documents the monuments and their inscriptions in Egypt, Algeria and Nubia realised during his expeditions as an archaeologist in 1853, 1854-1855 and 1855-1856. Acquired in Paris as indicated by the bookseller Alexandre Reichmann’s label on the inside front cover, the album was assembled by its first owner who participated in Auguste Mariette’s excavations around the Sphinx and then further up the Nile to the Second Cataract in 1853 during which he may have become acquainted with John Beasley Greene. Important holdings of John Beasley Greene’s photographs are today kept in the Institut de France, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Musée d’Orsay as well as in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Getty Museum and other American institutions. List of titles: 1 - ‘El Kantara Bridge, Constantine, Algeria’, 1855 – 1856 2 - ‘Forest of Fontainebleau, France’, 1852 3 - Mousky district, Cairo, Egypt, 1854 – 1855 4 - Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 5 - ‘Temple of Edfu, Egypt’, 1854 6 - ‘Second cataract, above Ghebel Abousir’, 1854 7 - ‘View of Karnak, from the west, Egypt’, 1854 8 - ‘Gezireh village, Thebes, Egypte’, 1854 9 - Egypt 10 - ‘Viaduct above the aqueduct of Cherchell, Algeria’, 1855 – 1856 11 - ‘Waterfall, Constantine, Algeria’, 1855 – 1856 12 - Egypt 13 - Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 14 - Constantine environs, Algeria, 1855 - 1856 15 - Constantine environs, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 16 - Constantine environs, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 17 - Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 18 - Egypt 19 - Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 20 - ‘El Kantara Bridge, Constantine, Algeria’, 1855 – 1856 21 - ‘Island of Philae, Egypt’, 1853 – 1854 22 - ‘Date palms, Nubia’, 1853 – 1854 23 - Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 24 - ‘Waterfall, Constantine, Algeria’, 1855 – 1856 25 - ‘El Kantara Bridge, Constantine, Algeria’, 1855 – 1856 26 - Algeria, 1855 – 1856 27 - Algeria, 1855 – 1856 28 - Algeria, 1855 – 1856 29 - El Kantara Bridge, Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 30 - Landscape, Constantine, Algeria, 1855 – 1856 31 - ‘Palace of Rameses III at Medinet Habu, second pylon’, 1854 – 1855 32 - ‘Photographer's camp on the banks of the Nile, Egypt’, 1854 33 - ‘Ghebel Abousir environs, Egypt’, 1854 34 - ‘Boat in Harbor, Cherchell, Algeria’, 1856 35 - Constantine, Algeria, 1855 - 1856 36 - ‘Ramesseum, Thebes, Egypt’, 1854 37 - ‘Relief of Ramses II, Egypt’, 1854 38 - ‘Date palms, Nubia’, 1854 39 - Palace of Rameses III at Medinet Habu, entrance to the first court, 1854 40 - ‘Gournah, Thebes’, 1854 41 - ‘First pylon of the Great Temple, Philae’, 1853-1854 42 - ‘Trees near Chailly, France’, 1852 43 - ‘The Propylon of the Temple of Khons, Karnak, Egypt, 1855

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2014-05-07
Hammer price
Show price

'moonrise, hernandez, new mexico'

Mounted to Strathmore board, signed by the photographer in pencil on the mount, matted, 1941, printed in 1948 The print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico offered here is one of the very few prints Adams made of his most famous image in the 1940s.  Made in 1948, the year that Pirkle Jones acquired it from the photographer, this print exhibits the subtlety of tone and high level of detail in the sky that characterizes the handful of prints Adams made of the image before the turn of the decade. Adams made the 8-by-10-inch negative for Moonrise in the late afternoon of November 1, 1941, while photographing in the Southwest on behalf of the U. S. Department of the Interior and the U. S. Potash Company of New Mexico.  Driving back to their motel after an unproductive day of photographing, Adams and his companions – son Michael and fellow photographer Cedric Wright – passed the tiny town of Hernandez.  Struck by the quality of light upon the town and its attendant cemetery, Adams immediately pulled the car over to the side of the road and hastily assembled his equipment.  Drawing upon his vast reservoir of photographic expertise, Adams made his exposure in the dying light without the benefit of his light meter.  Before he had the chance to make a second exposure, the sun sank behind a bank of clouds, and the light changed completely.  A full account of the taking of Moonrise, and its subsequent printing history, appears in Mary Street Alinder’s Ansel Adams: A Biography (New York, 1996), to which this catalogue entry is indebted. The resulting negative, made quickly and under trying conditions, proved difficult to print.  In order to make a print from it that met his high standards, Adams had to expend a great deal of time and energy in the darkroom coaxing the image through the printing process.  Because of this, Adams made only a few prints of the image in the early 1940s.  One was made for his friend Beaumont Newhall, Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art.  This print, now in MoMA’s collection, was used by Edward Steichen for reproduction in the 1943 U. S. Camera Annual.  Much handled over the years, the print is visibly worn.  Adams also made a print of the negative at David McAlpin’s request, and this is now in the collection of Princeton University Art Museum.  It is believed that there are two other early prints in private collections. Although Adams was reluctant to print the troublesome negative, by 1948 he had amassed a number of orders for it (most likely due to its publication in the Camera Annual).  Unwilling to toil further with the negative as it was, Adams undertook the harrowing step, in December of 1948, of reprocessing it.  After re-fixing and washing the negative, Adams submerged it up to the horizon line in Kodak IN-5 intensifier.  This increased the density in the image’s foreground making it comparatively easier to print.   That month, using his improved negative, Adams made a small number of prints, including the one offered here, owned by his assistant and friend, the photographer Pirkle Jones. Other prints made at this time include a print given by Adams to George Waters, inscribed and dated ‘1948’ by Adams on the reverse, now in the collection of the Getty Museum.  Another print, inscribed by Adams to Fred Ludekins, was offered in these rooms on 7 April 1998 (Sale 7112, Lot 101).  Adams sent a print to Beaumont Newhall and his wife Nancy, and this is now in a private collection.  Also in private collection is a print Adams made for a Mrs. Nichols. The tonal qualities of the few prints Adams made of Moonrise during the 1940s differ from those made later.  Early prints show numerous wispy clouds in the sky, in addition to a lustrous band of white above the mountains.   Adams printed this image with greater and greater contrast throughout his career, and his last prints show a dark black sky, differing radically from the more open, gray sky in the present print. Sotheby’s wishes to thank Andrea Gray Stillman for sharing her research on extant early prints of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-10-17
Hammer price
Show price
Advert

Vortograph

Mounted to deckle-edged paper, signed in pencil on the mount, mounted again to tan board, titled and dated in pencil on the reverse, framed, 1917 This surprising and dynamic image is one of a small series created by Alvin Langdon Coburn in 1916 and 1917 that are generally recognized as the first abstract photographs. An American, Coburn was a member of Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secession, and was hailed by Stieglitz as the movement’s ‘youngest star.’  While living in London, however, Coburn was swept up in the Vorticist movement, and saw in it an opportunity to move the art of photography forward.  Working with an assembly of three mirrors, and a selection of crystals and prisms, Coburn created entirely novel images that he dubbed Vortographs. Like the other proprietary ‘’graphs’  that were to follow in the coming decade—Rayographs and Schadographs, among them—the term Vortograph embodied not only a particular photographic technique, but an expression of one photographer’s visual imagination.  Spearheaded by the artist Wyndham Lewis and promoted by the American expatriate poet and critic Ezra Pound, Vorticism was the English response to the continental Futurist and Cubist movements.  A group exhibition in London in 1914 put the movement before the public, and a series of manifestos were published in Lewis’s graphically precocious journal BLAST.  In broad terms, Vorticist art is non-representational, vigorously geometric, and frequently characterized by dynamic diagonally-oriented compositions.  In this respect, Coburn’s Vortographs are very much of a piece with work by Lewis, Edward Wadsworth, Frederick Etchells, and other of the movement’s artists. Coburn’s introduction to Vorticism came through Pound, whom the photographer met in 1913 while making portraits for his book More Men of Mark.  Through Pound, Coburn also gained access to the London avant-garde. Coburn, keenly attuned to Vorticism and its parallels in Europe, felt that photographers needed to incorporate new ideas into their work in order for photography to remain relevant.  In an article entitled ‘The Future of Pictorial Photography,’ published in the 1916 edition of Photograms of the Year, Coburn asked, ‘. . .why should not the camera throw off the shackles of conventional representation and attempt something fresh and untried?  Why, I ask you earnestly, need we go on making commonplace little exposures of subjects that may be sorted into groups of landscapes, portraits, and figure studies?  Think of the joy of doing something which it would be impossible to classify, or to tell which was the top and which the bottom!’ It was with this sense of adventure that Coburn embarked upon his series of Vortographs.  The first images he made with his Vortoscope were of Pound, in which the poet is attended by reflections of himself and various angular, abstract shapes.  These set the stage for the fully non-representational photographs to come.  Coburn’s inclination to abstraction, hinted at in earlier images (e.g., The Octopus, 1912; Station Roofs, Pittsburgh, 1910) is fully realized in the Vortographs.  As Keith Davis writes, Coburn’s Vortographs ‘represent the first body of artistic photographs in history to embrace total abstraction. . . the best of these Vortographs are quite remarkable: boldly composed, mysteriously unreal, and intensely vibrant with light and energy. . . These images are, most importantly, about the idea of form and power, and come as close as any ever made to giving pictorial expression to thought itself’ (An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital, second edition, p. 118). The print offered here was originally given by Coburn to his close friend Leonard Arundale, with whom he shared an abiding interest in Freemasonry.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-03-31
Hammer price
Show price
Advert

Georgia o'keeffe: a portrait-torso

Palladium print, numbered '201,' possibly by the photographer, in pencil in the margin, annotated '2-31A' in an unidentified hand in pencil on the reverse, tipped to a mount, framed, 1918-19 The nude study of Georgia O’Keeffe offered here is one of only three prints of the image extant.  Austere, yet sensual, it signals a Modernist approach to the depiction of the nude that found its best expression in photography.   Similar in its aesthetic force to monumental bronze nudes created by Rodin and Maillol, the present image is wholly photographic, however, and delivers an experience strikingly different from nudes rendered in other media. This and other studies of Georgia O’Keeffe were part of the multi-faceted composite portrait Stieglitz made of the artist during the years they were together.  From 1917 to 1933, Stieglitz photographed O’Keeffe again and again—not only her head and shoulders, but also her hands, her feet, her arms, legs, and torso.   As the critic Herbert Seligmann observed, a portrait, as envisioned by Stieglitz, was no longer confined to the face:  ‘Any part of the body was seen in its revelation of the characteristic, timeless, essential being that the individual was;  and the moment chosen, the psychic state of the subject, the light of the month, the day, and the hour . . .  [all] played their parts in this arrestation of the fluid elements of experience.  Clearly here was something no other medium could even attempt and something no other photographer had dreamed of’ (quoted in America and Alfred Stieglitz, Garden City, 1934, p. 117). While  O’Keeffe’s hands reflected her artistic talents, and the face her intellect and spirit, the studies of her nude were the expression of the intimacy and passion she shared with Stieglitz, and thus an essential part of any portrait he might make of her. In 1921, Stieglitz held a show of his work at Mitchell Kennerley’s Anderson Galleries, a show that included a room of photographs of Georgia O’Keeffe.  The exhibition broke the Anderson’s attendance records—thousands of people passed through the Park Avenue galleries in less than a month—and among the most moving, and controversial, images in the show were the pictures of O’Keeffe.  ‘Hands, feet, hands and breasts, torsos, all parts and attitudes of the human body seen with a passion of revelation, produced an astonishing effect on the multitudes who wandered in and out of the rooms,’ wrote Seligmann.  ‘As for portraiture, traditional conceptions of it were shattered at one blow’ (ibid., pp. 116 and 117).  In her biography of her great-uncle, Sue Davidson Lowe has written that the public ‘was electrified,’ and of the O’Keeffe series in particular, that ‘women who saw the prints were often moved to tears’ (Stieglitz: A Memoir/Biography, New York, 1983, p. 241). Remembering the Anderson Galleries show, and the photographs of herself in particular, O’Keeffe later wrote, ‘Several men—after looking around a while—asked Stieglitz if he would photograph their wives or girlfriends the way he photographed me.  He was very amused and laughed about it.  If they had known the close relationship he would have needed to have to photograph their wives or girlfriends in the way he photographed me—I think they wouldn’t have been interested’ (Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz, New York, 1978, unpaginated). The photograph offered here is the only print of this image in private hands.  The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C., owns two prints from this negative (Bry OK 31 A): a platinum print (Greenough 524) and a palladium print (Greenough 525).

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-10-02
Hammer price
Show price
Advert

Two shells

Mounted to large buff-colored card, signed and dated in pencil on the mount, 1927 This rare and exquisite print of Edward Weston’s double shell photograph comprises the definitive early state of the image.  Printed on matte-surface paper and affixed to a large buff mount, the photograph precedes a numbered edition and carries only Weston’s early signature and date on the mount.  Later in the 1920s, Weston would make the transition to paper with a glossy surface, and these prints on glossier paper present a very different account of the subject. The significance of Weston’s shell photographs to his oeuvre and to the history of art cannot be overestimated.  His photographs of shells, placed before a plain, dark background, exemplify his achievement as an artist.  These deceptively simple arrangements belie the complexity of their conception and their making, the years of evolution in Weston’s own vision, and his countless trials with objects before the camera.   In a world inundated with photographic imagery, Weston’s shell photographs continue to resonate, both in the history of photography and in the broader category of twentieth-century art as a whole. Conger notes that this double shell image was included in important early Weston exhibitions, among them ones at the Seattle Fine Arts Society in 1928, the Delphic Gallery in New York in 1930, and the Morgan Camera Shop in Los Angeles in 1939.   The New York Times, in its fine review of the landmark Delphic Gallery exhibition, chose the present image as the lead illustration.   The reviewer, Frances McMullen, praised above all Weston’s transcendent photographs of the ordinary—vegetables, fruit, rocks, and shells.  ‘The result is a beauty that is entirely photographic,’ McMullen wrote, ‘relying for its peculiar quality upon exact rendition of the physical texture of things . . . The technique is one of detail . . . relentlessly intent ’(New York Times, 16 November 1930). This photograph was for several decades owned by the pioneering photographs collector James J. Rochlis (1916 – 2002), whose collection was offered in these rooms in October 2003.  One of Lee Witkin’s most important clients in the Witkin Gallery’s early years, Rochlis was a successful businessman with Chris-Craft Industries, as well as an accomplished photographer.   Provenance notes kept by Rochlis and his wife Riva indicate that the present print likely came from the collection of the artist Rockwell Kent.   From Weston’s California daybook, we know that Weston corresponded with Kent in the spring of 1928.  Creative Art magazine, for which Kent was a contributing editor, published an article by Weston later that year, illustrated with another of Weston’s double-shell photographs (Conger 545). Although there are few further published documents between Kent and Weston, Weston included Rockwell Kent in a list of sponsors for his first Guggenheim fellowship in 1936.  Physical aspects of the print’s mount may also confirm a Kent provenance. Weston recorded eighteen prints of this study in his negative log at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, but few early prints have been located at the time of this writing.  There is no print in the nearly definitive Edward Weston collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson.  Conger (F.3) lists prints in four other institutions, but only one is likely to be as early as the print offered here, that in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a gift of Albert Bender.   Other than the present print, no print of this image in this superb early state is believed to have appeared at auction.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-04-05
Hammer price
Show price

Georgia o'keeffe (in front of charcoal drawing)

Platinum-palladium print, with notations in an unidentified hand in pencil on the reverse, matted, in a modern white metal frame, 1918; accompanied by an earlier modern white metal frame, with Gilman Paper Company and Doris Bry labels on the reverse  In 1928, Alfred Stieglitz selected a group of 22 photographs that he felt were his best and most representative images to donate to The Metropolitan Museum of Art; these were the first photographs acquired by the Museum as art.  Of the many studies of Georgia O’Keeffe that Stieglitz had made up to that point, he chose 7 of these for the gift, including a print of the image offered here. Stieglitz gave Georgia O’Keeffe her first solo exhibition in 1917.  Special #15, the charcoal drawing seen in the photograph offered here, was included in this show at Stieglitz’s 291 gallery, and was one of a series of charcoals inspired by O’Keeffe’s visits to Palo Duro Canyon, in Texas.  It is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1916, while working as a teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, O’Keeffe sent a group of charcoal drawings to Anita Pollitzer in New York City.  Pollitzer, a friend and former classmate from O’Keeffe’s time at Columbia Teachers College in New York, was a frequent visitor at 291 and was acquainted with Stieglitz.  Pollitzer was impressed by the drawings and showed them to Stieglitz, who found them truly original and wholly absorbing.  It was through these drawings that Stieglitz first became acquainted with O’Keeffe, and the two began a correspondence.  In 1916, without asking O’Keeffe’s permission, Stieglitz mounted an exhibition of these drawings along with those of Charles Duncan and René Lafferty.  The critical response was tentative, but positive.  In April of 1917, Stieglitz offered O’Keeffe her first solo exhibition, in which Special #15 was included. Special #15 serves as the background for a number Stieglitz’s portrait and figure studies of O’Keeffe (cf. Greenough 471-482, 494-498).  It is interesting to note that Stieglitz’s earliest photographs of O’Keeffe, made in 1917, show the artist in front of her work.  These images focus primarily on O’Keeffe’s face and/or her hands, and show Stieglitz’s fascination with both her work and her person. Doris Bry, who was directly responsible for organizing the Stieglitz gifts to the National Gallery of Art and elsewhere, notes that the print offered here was described by Georgia O’Keeffe as a ‘black palladium’ or ‘black palladiotype’ print.  According to Bry, this terminology referred to prints that were characterized by strong, neutral dark tones, and were distinct in their appearance from tonally-softer platinum prints and warmer-toned palladium prints.  Recent examination has determined that the print offered here contains both platinum and palladium metals. In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs, Sarah Greenough locates in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., a platinum print (Greenough 478) and a palladium print (Greenough 479) made from this negative (OK 15 A).  In addition to these, there are 5 other prints of the image extant, comprising a platinum-palladium print at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; a platinum print at the Hallmark Photographic Collection, Kansas City; a ‘black palladiotype’ (likely a platinum-palladium print) at The Art Institute of Chicago; a gelatin silver print formerly in the collection of Paul M. Hertzmann, Inc., San Francisco, now in a private collection, and another print in a private collection.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
Hammer price
Show price

'corsets' (boulevard de strasbourg)

Printing-out-paper print, numbered '379' in the negative, titled and numbered '379' in pencil and with the photographer's 'Rue Campagne-Première, 17 bis' studio stamp, annotated '17 bis' in pencil, on the reverse, 1912 This photograph comes originally from the collection of Tristan Tzara (1895-1963), poet, writer, and a founding father of the Dada movement in Zurich.  Tzara likely encountered Atget’s work in the 1920s, while living near the photographer’s studio on rue Campagne-Première.  Tzara would also undoubtedly have seen the Atget photographs reproduced in a famous 1926 issue of La Révolution Surréaliste, André Breton’s definitive Surrealist journal of the era. Atget’s photographs, promoted by him as ‘Documents pour Artistes,’ were re-contextualized by the Parisian avant-garde, who saw in his images of Paris’s changing landscape, architecture, and street vendors, an unselfconscious, ‘automatic’ vision.   Man Ray, for instance, who also maintained a studio on rue Campagne-Première, met Atget in the mid-1920s and acquired a number of his photographs, images that Man Ray later described as having ‘a Dada or Surrealist quality about them’ (Looking At Atget, p. 54).  Among the Atget photographs that Man Ray and his fellow Surrealists favored were images of shop fronts, window reflections, and headless mannequins, as in the image offered here.  Three of Atget’s photographs were published without credit in the above-mentioned 1926 issue of La Révolution Surréaliste, including Corsets (Boulevard de Strasbourg), which illustrated Marcel Noll’s account of an erotically-charged dream. The Corsets image continued to be seen in a Surrealist context after Atget’s death.  A print was exhibited in 1929 in the avant-garde Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart and appeared as the first plate in the accompanying book Foto-Auge.  In 1936, New York gallerist Julien Levy included Corsets in his seminal volume Surrealism.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
Hammer price
Show price

* Note that the price doesn’t correlate with today’s value, but only relates to the actual end price at the time of the purchase.

Photography

This category includes all manner of photographs and prints, from early photographs and historical images to iconic shoots, portraits, and contemporary photographic art. The lots here span the development of both photographic technology, and of photography as an art form, from their invention to the present day.

Advert