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THE PAPERS OF BREVET MAJOR GENERAL JOHN GROSS BARNARD (1815-1882)

A remarkable, largely unpublished career-spanning group of papers chronicling each phase of Barnard's professional life including his service in the American Civil War. The papers comprising several hundred personal and private autograph letters received by Barnard and copious drafts of his letters (many signed), diaries and copybooks, signed photographs, manuscript and printed maps, drawings, books, military appointments, documents, newspaper scrapbooks and more all chronologically organized at an early date and housed in several old file and newer archival boxes. Sizes vary from large folding maps to carte-de-visite sized photographs, the correspondence on a variety of stationery and found paper, many original stamped envelopes present. Usual folds and wear commensurate with age, use, and handling, occasional stains, tears or small losses, very few letters with clipped signatures or disbound from albums, in sound condition overall with most items in fine condition. A chronological inventory and descriptive essay available by request. Highlights of the papers include: Approximately Forty Autograph Letters Signed From Pierre G.T. Beauregard. Various places but mostly New Orleans, and West Point: 1835-1861, and 1876-79. Comprising mostly four page letters on single folded sheets. Barnard first encountered the Louisiana born future Confederate Major General at West Point and the two solidified a close friendship while working on engineering projects in New Orleans in the 1830s. The correspondence was abruptly halted during the Civil War and includes the poignant final letter between them before the War, an important letter from Beauregard written just weeks before Fort Sumter in which Beauregard illuminates his political stance and that his state "has called upon me for my services, and I have given them not a false ambition or desire to see my name (badly spelt) in print, but because I considered it my solemn duty to obey her mandates . only so long as my state forms a part of the Confederacy. But I suppose after all that I am speaking Greek to you, and you, Latin to me ... But whether the revolution results in peace or war, I will take as my only guide, a clear conscience and a fearless heart." The correspondence resumed after the War, and in one letter Beauregard provides a description of the Confederate defense of Petersburg, and there is much else of interest in this voluminous and unpublished correspondence. Approximately Fifty Autograph Letters Signed from William Tecumseh Sherman, with some related material bearing signatures. Mostly San Francisco, Lancaster, OH and elsewhere: 1853-60, 1863, and 1866-69. Mostly several page letters on the stationery of the "Banking House of Lucas Turner & Co, San Francisco," the later letters on Sherman's Army Headquarters stationery. In the mid-1850s Sherman opened and managed the San Francisco branch of the above mentioned bank. Barnard was in the area working on an engineering project at Fort Point, and made investments in railroad stock regarding which he and Sherman corresponded heavily during the crisis of 1855 and while Sherman was commander of the Committee of Vigilance in 1865: "Affairs here seem to be worse and worse all the time and now we in a state of Civil War or indeed under the Government of a Vigilance Committee the end of which no man can foretell." A remarkable record of Sherman's time in Gold Rush San Francisco. In the post-War letters there is some remembrance of the War such as: " I suppose you were so engrossed with the grand problem of making forts adapted to the defenses of harbors against the new Monitor and Iron Clads." A large, unpublished group of letters. The Civil War (1861-1865) Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Barnard was immediately assigned to the Department of Washington and made Chief Engineer of the Department under General Mansfield. Present from throughout the War are each of his transfers and appointments including his 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed appointment as Lieutenant Colonel in the Corps of Engineers. Barnard's papers from early in the war include pre-attack notes on the defenses at Fort Sumter, taken by the Confederates in the opening actions of the War in April 1861. But Barnard's colossal assignment was the defense of Washington, D.C. and Georgetown, vulnerably located just miles from the Confederate line in Virginia, and he immediately set out recommending bridge patrols and securing waterways. Despite his varied services during the War, Barnard is best remembered for overseeing the gargantuan engineering effort of arming, manning, and creating a communication system between the ring of dozens of Union forts surrounding the capital, and there is much present of engineering interest such as the manuscript and printed plans of the forts which were published in his post-War A Report on the Defenses of Washington. In the summer of 1861, Barnard worked side by side with General McDowell on the plan for what became the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major engagement of the War, a defeat for the Union which caused much controversy. Throughout the War, Barnard endeavored to set the record straight and present is much on the battle and the immediate aftermath including a sixteen page draft of his report on the Battle. Promoted to Brigadier General, and due to his previous service in the U.S. Coast Survey, Barnard was assigned to the Navy's Blockade Strategy Board and present are rare papers on the desire to recapture the U.S.S. Merrimac currently being refitted by the Confederates into the C.S.S. Virginia and in 1862 a plan of attack on Norfolk in advance of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Among other important associated items is a rare first hand account of the 1862 Battle of Shiloh from the controversial Colonel Thomas Worthington. Barnard accompanied General McClellan on portions of the Peninsula Campaign and present are drawings showing positions along the Chickahominy and James rivers. In early 1863, Barnard is critical of McClellan, writing in a letter: "By his mismanagement of the campaign on the peninsula, the first great failures ensued from which the subsequent disasters have been, to a certain extent, the inevitable consequences." Barnard's copybooks and diaries provide indelible insights to and a valuable day by day account of the War as it was fought. In 1864, Barnard was ordered to immediately report to General Grant and he was appointed Chief Engineer to the Armies in the Field for the remainder of the War. Barnard participated in Grant's Overland Campaign, and maps from this period show Confederate positions at Petersburg and much else. Finally, Barnard was one of the few men present at the infamous surrender of General Lee on April 9th 1865, which is recorded in Barnard's diary with a drawing of the McLean House where the event took place. After the War Barnard remained with the Army Corp of Engineers until the end of his life in 1882. These papers are a proud testament to a life of service. Long before the War divided them, Barnard was 2nd in the 1833 graduating class at West Point, where he was a member of an elusive group known as The Carroll Club, named for the recently deceased longest living of signer of the Declaration of Independence. The group was made up of the precocious members of the class which contained several notable and eventual Union and Confederate engineers and soldiers such as Henry Du Pont; Abraham Myers (Confederate, Fort Myers named for him); Daniel Ruggles (Confederate General); George Washington Cullum (Engineer & Brigadier General); Rufus King; William H. Sidell; and others. Barnard also succeeded Robert E. Lee as Superintendent of the Academy from 1855-56 and his papers are loaded with correspondence regarding the Academy from Lee, Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, the Academy's first graduate John Gardner Swift, and many other superintendents such as Richard Delafield, Sylvanus Thayer, and G.W. Cullum. C 

  • USAUSA
  • 2017-04-26
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'national junior interstate dance champions of 1963, yonkers, n. y.'

Flush-mounted, signed, titled, and dated by the photographer in pencil, inscribed with the Arbus Estate authentication number and signed by her daughter, Doon Arbus, in ink, and stamped on the reverse, framed, a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibition label on the reverse, 1963 As early as 1961 Diane Arbus made notes about a possible project to photograph winners of all sorts—‘the utmost, the winners, the most, the first, rituals, contests, fame, immortality, Secret Rites’—followed by a listing of events she considered worthy of investigation.  In her 1962 notebooks, Arbus jotted further thoughts, and by September of that year, these became the basis of her 1963 Guggenheim project proposal, American Rites, Manners and Customs. She wrote in her official statement,  ‘I want to photograph the considerable ceremonies of our present because we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it.  While we regret that the present is not like the past and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning.  I want to gather them, like somebody’s grandmother putting up preserves, because they will have been so beautiful’ (Revelations, p. 41). Between January and October 1963, Arbus was present at a number of contests, among them ‘Mother of the Year,’ ‘spaghetti eating,’ ‘Freckles,’ and ‘Miss Lo-Cal.’ The present image was made in February 1963 (ibid., p. 334). In 1967, Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions, Yonkers, N. Y., was chosen by John Szarkowski for the famous New Documents show at The Museum of Modern Art, the only significant exhibition of Arbus's work during her lifetime.  This landmark exhibition showcased the work of three contemporary photographers—Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand—and charted a radical new direction in what had previously been thought of as 'documentary photography.' Prints of Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions, Yonkers, N. Y., signed by Arbus are rare.  In addition to the present print, only one other lifetime print signed by the photographer is believed to have been offered at auction, a print sold in these rooms in October 1990.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
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Untitled (iron work)

Mounted on heavy paper, signed in pencil on the mount, the photographer’s ’12, rue Victor Considérant, Paris XIVe’ studio stamp on the reverse, 1931 This photograph comes originally from the collection of the designer, artist, and photographer Maurice Verneuil (1869-1942).  Verneuil’s small but choice collection of photographs, acquired in Paris in the late 1920s and 1930s, was sold in an historic auction in New York in 1998.  Comprised almost entirely of images made by photographers working at the cutting edge of the medium, the Verneuil Collection encapsulated a particularly exciting period in photography’s history.  Trained at l’Ecole de Dessin et Beaux-Arts, Verneuil became a major proponent of Art Nouveau: his work in this style included illustration, wallpaper, ceramics design, posters, and furniture.  On a 1922 trip to Java and Cambodia, Verneuil documented the indigenous decorative arts and cultures with a camera.  Verneuil exhibited and published these photographs upon his return to Paris and became increasingly involved in the city’s active photo scene.  It was during this period that he began to collect the work of other photographers. With its precise composition and surprising luminosity, Untitled (Iron Work) incorporates Miller’s sophisticated sense of design and her ability to locate the Surreal in the real world.  It is a remarkably accomplished image for a photographer to have made so early in her career, from both an aesthetic and a technical point of view.  In Miller’s print, with its deep, charcoal-black ironwork and bright white sunlit wall, an architectural detail is transformed into a lyrical, abstract study of tonal values. Early prints of any of Miller’s photographs are scarce.  The present print is the only example of this image believed to have come to auction.  All of the above-listed literature reproduces the same print, the one owned by the Art Institute of Chicago.  That print was originally in the collection of pioneering gallerist Julien Levy, who gave Miller her first solo exhibition in 1932-33, and also included her work in Modern European Photography, Exhibition of Portrait Photography, and Exhibition of Anti-Graphic Photography. 

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
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Yosemite Valley and Big Tree Views

A complete suite of 30 mammoth-plate albumen prints of Yosemite Valley, Mariposa County, and the Big Trees, Calaveras County, California, published by Lawrence & Houseworth, each mounted, with printed title and publishers’ information, and sequential number in pencil on the mount, the publishers’ letterpress ‘Photographic Views of California Scenery’ label on the reverse, 1864, printed no later than 1867; accompanied by a Victorian Carved Mahogany Standing Presentation Case with hinged lid and sliding brass locks and a fielded front panel carved with the following inscription, ‘Photographs of the YoSemite Valley, Presented to the Mercantile Library By Lawrence and Houseworth, San Francisco, Cal., A. D. 1867’ This suite of 30 photographs by the early landscape photographer Charles Leander Weed is, as of this writing, one of only two known complete sets of the published images Weed made in Yosemite and environs in 1864.  Weed had begun his association with the publishers Lawrence & Houseworth in 1864, and contracted with them to produce large images of Yosemite and adjacent areas.  By 1866, the firm listed his mammoth-plate photographs for sale in their catalogue, as follows: ‘Yosemite Valley and Big Tree Views, Negatives by C. L. Weed, Size 22 by 28 inches.’  A year later, in 1867, Lawrence & Houseworth donated the set offered here to the San Francisco Mercantile Library, which was founded in 1851 by local merchants for the educational benefit of working people.  In 1870, the publishers still advertised Weed’s photographs, albeit without mention of authorship, and their catalogue for that year lists the titles of the 30 available views, which matches exactly the selection and sequence of images offered here. Weed is widely believed to have been the first photographer to work in Yosemite, and his 1859 trip there, made under the auspices of publisher and Yosemite promoter James Mason Hutchings, yielded approximately twenty 10-by-14-inch views and forty stereo images.  For his 1864 photographic expedition to the Valley, Weed was equipped with a larger camera and larger glass plates, and was thus able to produce the impressive mammoth-plate prints offered here, in addition to a new series of stereo views.  It was these 1864 images that won the first-place bronze medal at the 1867 Paris International Exhibition.  This accomplishment is trumpeted in Lawrence & Houseworth’s 1870 Catalogue of Photographic Views of Scenery on the Pacific Coast: ‘This series of views, together with the stereoscopic collection, were awarded the bronze medal at the Paris Exposition, for their superior excellence.’ The only other extant full set of Weed’s 1864 published mammoth-plate Yosemite photographs is in the collection of the New York Public Library.  The contents of these two extant sets is nearly identical, with two variant plates.  The New York Public Library set, which does not bear the Lawrence & Houseworth imprint, lacks The Yo-Semite Fall, Near View (Plate 11), and The Mammoth Grove Hotel (Plate 27).  In their place, the Library’s set has photographs entitled South Dome—From Little Yosemite, and Little Yosemite Valley. Peter Palmquist, the dean of California photography studies, sets forth the most complete account of Weed’s life, while conceding that, because of the scarcity of biographical facts, the photographer ‘remains a shadowy presence’ (Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West, A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865, p. 585).  Born in New York State, Weed moved first to Wisconsin with his family and then to California, where he was associated with the daguerreotypist George W. Watson in Sacramento and then with Robert Vance.  It was while he worked for Vance that Weed learned the wet-plate process, and his 1859 Yosemite photographs were made with this new method. In 1860, Weed made his first Asia trip, photographing and setting up studios in Hong Kong and Canton.  By 1864, when he had returned to San Francisco, partnered with Lawrence & Houseworth, and made his second foray into Yosemite Valley, he was a more skilled and experienced photographer.  The difficulties of making mammoth-plate negatives on glass in Yosemite’s wilderness were considerable: wind, dust, heat, altitude, and the lack of water made the execution of an acceptable negative challenging. Weed overcame these impediments to produce images that are not only technically proficient, but aesthetically sophisticated renderings of the Yosemite landscape. In subsequent years, Weed would go on to photograph in Hawaii, China, and Japan, but his reputation as a photographer rests primarily on his work from the 1860s in Yosemite Valley.  The set of 30 photographs offered here has remained intact since it was given by Lawrence & Houseworth to San Francisco’s Mercantile Library in 1867.  This set, with its original ornate wooden presentation case, is a remarkable surviving artifact from the early history of photography in America. The plates are as follows: 1. Yo-Semite Valley, from the Mariposa Trail, Mariposa County, Cal. 2. Yo-Semite Valley, from the Coulterville Trail, Mariposa County, Cal. 3. The Bridal Veil Fall, and Three Graces, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 4. Cathedral Rocks, 3,000 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 5. Lower Cathedral Rock, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 6. El Capitan, 3,300 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 7. El Capitan, River View, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 8. The Three Brothers, 4,000 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 9. The Sentinel Rock, 3,270 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 10. The Yo-Semite Fall, 2,634 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 11. The Yo-Semite Fall, Near View, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 12. The Yo-Semite Fall, Front View, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 13. View down the Yo-Semite Valley. Mariposa County, Cal. 14. The North Dome, 3,725 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 15. The South Dome, 6,000 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 16. North and South Dome and Clouds' Rest, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 17. Mirror Lake and Reflections, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 18. The Vernal Fall. 350 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley. Mariposa County, Cal. 19. The Cap of Liberty and Nevada Fall, Yo-Semite Valley; Mariposa County, Cal. 20. The Nevada Fall, 700 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 21. The South Dome, Distant View, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 22. The South Dome, from the Lake, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 23. Mount Starr King, 5,600 feet high, Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 24. Looking up Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 25. Sugar Loaf Mountain, Little Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 26. The Cascade Fall, Little Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, Cal. 27. The Mammoth Grove Hotel, Calaveras County, Cal. 28. The Sentinels, 315 feet high, Mammoth Grove, Calaveras County, Cal. 29. The Original Big Tree, 32 feet diameter, Mammoth Grove, Calaveras County, Cal. 30. The Fallen Tree Hercules, 325 feet long, Mammoth Grove, Calaveras County, Cal. The letterpress label on the reverse reads, ‘Photographic Views of California Scenery, 22 x 28 inches; also, Stereoscopic and Album Sizes. Published by Lawrence & Houseworth, 317 and 319 Montgomery Street, San Francisco.  Catalogues sent to any part of the World free of Postage.’

  • USAUSA
  • 2012-10-03
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Self-portrait with die puppe

Mounted, signed in red ink on the mount, inscribed ‘La Poupée, par Hans Bellmer’ and initialed by André Breton in red ink and stamped ‘27’ and ‘792’ on paper labels on the reverse, framed, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., and Museum of Modern Art, New York, exhibition labels and an Ubu Gallery label on the reverse, 1934 This arresting and enigmatic Hans Bellmer self-portrait is from the series of photographs he made in 1933 and ’34, in Berlin, documenting the construction of his first Doll figure.  Bellmer published this image in his 1934 book, Die Puppe, which included 10 sequentially-ordered photographs of the figure’s creation.  Also in that year, he sent these photographs, through his cousin, to Paris, where they were shown to André Breton, from whose collection this print comes.  Breton was immediately impressed, and with Paul Eluard, published a suite of 18 Bellmer photographs, including this self-portrait, in the Winter 1934 number of the Surrealist journal Minotaure, under the title ‘Variations sur le montage d’une mineure articulée’ (‘Variations on the assemblage of an articulated minor’). Bellmer began work on the Doll in 1933, with the goal of ‘construct[ing] an artificial girl with anatomical possibilities which were capable of re-creating the heights of passion even to inventing new desires’ (quoted in Webb, p. 29).  Infused with his own brand of high-concept eroticism, Bellmer had next to deal with the logistical challenge of creating a figure that would, in its appearance and articulation, meet his high standards.  Working with his engineer brother, Fritz, Bellmer first constructed a wooden armature with hinged joints.  This was slowly and carefully covered with flax fiber and plaster and shaped to resemble a human form, and then fitted with an eerily convincing plaster face.  The photographs in Die Puppe document the transition of the work from wooden ‘skeleton’ to the disconcertingly lifelike finished figure.  Like the self-portrait, several images show preliminary designs for the Doll hung on the studio wall.  In these photographs, the Doll is indisputably an artificial thing, yet it is close enough, in some of its aspects, to a living being that its appearance is truly uncanny.  In the photograph offered here, for example, the Doll seems to react to Bellmer’s presence, and the viewer cannot help but project a narrative onto the image.  It was part of Bellmer’s genius that he knew how to use photography not solely as a documentary device, but more importantly as a tool to infuse his creation with life. Ultimately, Bellmer and his brother created a mannequin that was both a fascinating simulacrum and, surprisingly, a viewing device.  As a way of imbuing the Doll with an inner life, Fritz conceived the idea of installing a ‘panorama’ within the Doll’s stomach.  This circular device housed several painted scenes which could be viewed by peering through the Doll’s navel.  The viewer advanced to the next scene by pressing a button on the Doll’s left nipple. In the present photograph, the compartment for the as-yet uninstalled panorama can be seen. Although Bellmer officially joined the Surrealists in the 1930s, he conducted his earliest work with the Doll, and executed his photographs of it, in Berlin, in isolation from the movement.  Yet the complete novelty of the Doll, and its exuberantly transgressive qualities, made it an object of fascination for the Surrealists.  As Webb notes, ‘Looking for the first time at the photographs of Bellmer’s Doll, Breton, Eluard and their friends were confronted with the archetypal surrealist object.  An ostensibly innocent toy had been snatched from the hallowed, protected domain of the nursery, enlarged to child size, and converted into a garish fetish that arouses the most ambiguous, unavowable, and palpably erotic desires.  No surrealist object is more pregnant with riddles’ (Webb, p. 44). This is the only image from this series of photographs in which Bellmer himself appears.  While the artificial Doll is rendered here with solid clarity, the artist himself – who was in the frame for just a portion of the photograph’s total exposure time – is only half-present as a translucent, enigmatic form.

  • USAUSA
  • 2012-10-03
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'marmon crankshaft'

Mounted, signed and dated by the photographer in pencil on the mount, credited, titled, and inscribed with the photographer's '49 West 74th Street, New York City' studio address, annotated 'London,' and numbered in unidentified hands in ink and pencil on the reverse, matted, 1923 Paul Outerbridge was one of the most imaginative and technically-innovative photographers of his day.  Like his contemporary, Edward Steichen, Outerbridge was able to successfully adapt high-art ideas to his commercial work, and in Marmon Crankshaft we see elements of Cubism and abstraction, as well as the nascent Neue Sachlichkeit movement.  Outerbridge was an expert photographic craftsman, having mastered the difficult platinum print process and, later, pioneering new methods of making color prints.  His considerable artistic and technical talents are evident in the mounted, fully-signed platinum print of Marmon Crankshaft offered here. Outerbridge made Marmon Crankshaft relatively early in his career, in 1923.  In 1921, he had studied at the Clarence White School in New York, where he was inspired to embark upon a series of still-life studies in which he honed his lighting skills and his ability to create interesting, novel compositions with quotidian subject matter (cf. Howe, pps. 38, 40, 42, 43, 45 and 46).  In 1922, Outerbridge received his first commercial assignment, for which he produced his iconic Ide Collar (Howe, p. 35).  This image, published in the July 1922 issue of Vanity Fair, redefined the role of photography in advertising, where straightforward, descriptive images of merchandise had been the norm.  Having made a successful departure from conventional commercial photography, Outerbridge continually refined his craft and his distinctive style. The image offered here was created by Outerbridge for the Marmon Automobile Company.  Founded in 1902 by mechanical engineer Howard Marmon, the company became one of the top names in the young automotive industry.  Marmon cars were characterized by ambitious mechanical engineering and elegant design.  The Marmon Wasp won the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, and, in 1916, a team of drivers in the Marmon 34 broke the transcontinental record by driving cross-country in under 6 days.  The company’s signature car was the Marmon 16 Sedan, featuring a powerful state-of-the-art V-16 motor. The company ceased its operations in 1933, a victim of the Depression.  Marmon cars were produced in relatively small quantities, and are now prized by collectors of antique automobilia. The subject of Outerbridge’s photograph is the crankshaft of a Marmon engine.  The crankshaft is one of the most essential functional elements of the engine, and transforms reciprocal motion (the up and down firing of the pistons) into rotary motion (the turning of the transmission and eventually the wheels).  While the standard advertising approach would have been to photograph the entire automobile, Outerbridge took the unprecedented step of focusing instead on the very heart of the engine.  In Outerbridge’s clever composition, the crankshaft’s smooth metal form is deftly lit, making it seem almost monumental.  Set against an abstracted background of bands of gray, the object defies a sense of scale.  Like Ide Collar, Marmon Crankshaft simultaneously abstracts and celebrates its subject matter. Even though the First World War made platinum scarce, Outerbridge felt strongly that his photographs were most successfully printed on platinum paper.  For this reason, he printed even the best of his images in very limited quantities.  Aside from the print offered here, there are three prints of Marmon Crankshaft in institutional collections:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art (a gift of Outerbridge himself in 1929), the Ford Motor Company Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Julien Levy Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Another print is reproduced in Still Lifes and Portraits, Photographs from the Manfred Heiting Collection (Amsterdam, 2001, p. 92).  Two prints of this image have appeared at auction, one in these rooms on 17 April 1991 (Sale 6160, Lot 142), and one at Christie’s, New York on 6 October 1998 (Sale 8982, Lot 266).

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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'exasperated boy with toy hand grenade, n. y.'

Signed 'Diane,' titled and dated by the photographer in pencil on the reverse, matted, 1962, probably printed between 1965 and 1969 The photograph offered here, with its unforgettable, grenade-clutching boy, was taken by Arbus in New York’s Central Park in the spring or summer months of 1962.  It was around this time that Arbus stopped using her 35mm cameras in favor of a 2 ¼ twin-lens Rolleiflex, and it was the Rolleifex that was used for this shot. Tom Southall points out, in Diane Arbus: Magazine Work, that the larger camera gave her not only more clarity and definition in the negative, but also a new, square format; and, more important, a camera that was held at waist level, which allowed for crucial eye contact with her subjects (p. 159).  The ‘Exasperated Boy’ is among the first of Arbus’s images made with the Rolleiflex, and its characteristic square format would become her signature style in the years to come. The ‘Exasperated Boy with Toy Hand Grenade’ was one of seven Arbus images acquired by John Szarkowski for The Museum of Modern Art’s collection in October 1964. These were the first Arbus photographs to enter not only the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, but the collection of any museum (Revelations, p. 171).  Of the seven images in this very early museum acquisition, it is the ‘Exasperated Boy’ that remains highest in the Arbus pantheon.  Other photographs from this early museum group, such as ‘Miss Venice Beach’ are rarely seen; and even the ‘Retired Man and His Wife, Nudist Camp, New Jersey,’ picked by Arbus for her own Box of Ten portfolio, lacks the punch and grotesque humor of this cocky young boy. In 1967, the ‘Exasperated Boy’ was one of thirty Arbus photographs chosen by John Szarkowski for the famous New Documents show at The Museum of Modern Art, the only significant exhibition of Arbus’s work during her lifetime.  This landmark exhibition showcased the work of three contemporary photographers—Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand—and charted a radical new direction in what had previously been thought of as ‘documentary photography.’  Although the present image is best known today by the title, ‘Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N. Y. C.,’ the print in the 1967 New Documents exhibition was titled ‘Exasperated Boy with Toy Hand Grenade, N.Y.,’ corresponding to the title of the print offered here.  As of this writing, only one other vintage print of the image with the ‘Exasperated Boy’ version of the title has been located, in the collection of the University of Kansas Museum of Art. A contact sheet from the roll of film that includes this image shows the same boy in a variety of poses, some almost ordinary (Revelations, p. 164).  Southall (op. cit., pp. 28, 29, and 159) discusses the children’s fashion layouts that Arbus had been assigned in 1962, and some frames from the ‘Exasperated Boy’ contact sheet could almost be mistaken for these Harper’s Bazaar images.  Arbus’s pick from the contact sheet, translated into the large-format photograph offered here, is the most interesting and perverse of the group: the child as anarchist, fed up with things around him, ready to lob a grenade.  Arbus was known for her uncanny ability to interact and empathize with her sitters, and in this photograph she has entered the complex and brilliant world of the child with a vengeance.  In a 1981 conversation with Patricia Bosworth, Isabelle Boeschenstein, Walker Evans’s second wife, remembered his commenting, ‘”Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like giving a hand grenade to a baby”’ (quoted in Bosworth, p. 227).

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-11
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'Photographs Showing Landscapes, Geological and Other Features, of

(Washington, D. C.: War Department Corps of Engineers, 1874-75), an album containing 49 albumen prints by Timothy O'Sullivan and William Bell, many numbered in the negative, each on the two-toned Wheeler Survey mount, the photographers credit, title, plate number, survey information, and decorative cartouche in letterpress on the mount, 1871-73.  Elephant portrait folio, reddish brown 1/2 morocco, spine with semi-raised bands in six compartments, tooled and lettered in gilt, Library of Congress book-plate on the front marbled pastedown, all edges gilt; accompanied by 'Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N. M.' by O'Sullivan, albumen print, on the two-toned Wheeler Survey mount, the photographer's credit, title, 'No. 11,' and survey information in letterpress on the mount, 1873 (1 album and 1 loose print) Albums from the Wheeler Survey are extremely rare at auction.  At the time of this writing, it is believed that a complete set of 50 photographs has not appeared at auction in more than three decades.  In the years following the Civil War, the United States of America experienced a golden age of survey photography.  Large-scale government-sponsored expeditions led by Clarence King, Ferdinand V. Hayden, John Wesley Powell, and George M. Wheeler, employed photographers to document the opportunities for and challenges of continental westward expansion. In 1871, Timothy OSullivan joined Lieutenant Wheelers survey party exploring and documenting the geology of the United States west of the one-hundredth meridian for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.  William Bell joined the Wheeler Survey in 1872 when OSullivan temporarily transferred back to the King Survey to document the recently completed Central Pacific Railroad.  In 1873 and 1874, OSullivan replaced Bell and rejoined Wheelers survey team, producing some of the best images of the American West ever made. Recognized from the first as a monument of its kind, OSullivans photographs from the Wheeler Survey were praised by early historians and photographers alike.  Beaumont Newhall and Ansel Adams championed OSullivans Wheeler Survey images and re-introduced them to the public in the groundbreaking exhibition The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present Day held in 1937 at The Museum of Modern Art.  Of these photographs Adams said, A few photographs are extraordinary as fine as anything I have ever seen.  Adamss own copy of the Wheeler Survey album was in the exhibition, opened to OSullivans iconic image of Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle. In his essay Viewing the Archive: Timothy OSullivans Photographs for the Wheeler Survey, 1871-74 (The Art Bulletin, vol. 85, no. 4, 2003), to which this entry is indebted, Robin Kelsey describes in detail the complex history of the Wheeler Survey albums.  Between 1874 and 1875, 50 albums of 50 photographs were produced.  Each was comprised of 35 photographs by OSullivan and 15 photographs by Bell.  Smaller albums with only 25 photographs were also produced in a larger edition and with different plate sequencing.  The loose print of Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle offered here with plate number 11 in letterpress on the mount was likely originally from an album of 25 photographs. According to Kelsey, between 1875 and 1878, Wheeler sent bound albums of 25 or 50 photographs to nearly 30 government officials.  Noteworthy recipients include President Rutherford B. Hayes, the Secretary of the Department of Interior, and The Library of Congress.  Unlike other photographically illustrated volumes of the day, such as Gardners Photographic Sketch Book of the War, the Wheeler Survey albums were not available by subscription. Comparable bound albums with 50 plates have been located in the following institutions: The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.; The Museum of Modern Art, gift of Ansel Adams; the Gilman Paper Company Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection at Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, New Haven, acquired in 1876 from Alphonso Taft, Attorney General and Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant.  The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, acquired an album from Arnold Crane that was augmented (possibly later) with 10 plates from the 1874 survey.  Disbound or incomplete albums are also in the collections of The New York Public Library and The Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth.

  • USAUSA
  • 2017-04-05
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The brown sisters

The complete-to-date suite of 40 photographs from The Brown Sisters series, comprising consecutively the years from 1975 to 2014, each signed, titled, dated, and editioned in pencil on the reverse, 1975-2014, each from an edition of 50 (40) Nicholas Nixon began his series of group portraits of the Brown sisters – Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie – in 1975.  He had met Bebe in 1970, and they married in 1971.  At a Brown family gathering in 1974, Nixon made a photograph of Bebe and her three sisters.  Unsatisfied with the result, he made a second attempt in July of 1975, and this photograph became the starting point for one of the most remarkable continuing photographic series of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Nixon has continued to make photographs of the four sisters each year since 1975, working with an 8-by-10-inch view camera and contact-printing his negatives to capture the highest level of detail, and to document his subjects as completely as possible.    The 1975 and 1976 portraits were included by John Szarkowski in Longer Views: 40 Photographs by Nick Nixon at The Museum of Modern Art in 1976.  This was Nixon’s first solo exhibition and, fittingly, was the debut of images from his then-new project. Szarkowski also included Brown Sisters photographs in his important 1978 exhibition, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960.  In 1998 MoMA published a monograph devoted to The Brown Sisters; in 2014, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the project, MoMA updated this monograph to include the most recent annual additions.  Seen in its current entirety, the 40 images presented here offer a meditation on the passage of time, and on the unique capability of photography to freeze individual instants.  Nixon, in collaboration with his subjects, has created a highly detailed and compelling multi-decade portrait through 40 specific moments in time. This complete-to-date set of The Brown Sisters comes from the collection of Mary Robinson and her late husband, C. David Robinson.  After building a significant collection of minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s, the Robinsons became, in the 1980s, devoted collectors of photography, focusing on great individual images from the medium’s very early years through the 20th century.  Their photography collection was acquired by the National Gallery of Art in 1995, where it currently forms a cornerstone of the photography holdings. The Robinsons began collecting The Brown Sisters in 1985, when they acquired the initial images in the series, and then subsequently purchased each yearly portrait as issued by Nixon.  The Robinsons’ set is the largest group of The Brown Sisters ever to appear at auction.  It is believed that approximately 21 international institutions – The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and La Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, among them – own complete sets, and that approximately 12 private collectors acquire a print every year.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-04-01
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Georgia o'keeffe (nude study)

Palladium print, mounted to board, 1918-19 The series of nude studies that Alfred Stieglitz began of Georgia O’Keeffe in 1918 represents his only prolonged, and ultimately most significant, work with the female form.  The image offered here, with its bold composition and clean lines, is pure Modernism.  Its austere aesthetic does not negate its erotic charge.  O’Keeffe’s and Stieglitz’s romantic relationship was in first flower when this picture was made.  The two had met in 1915, and then began a gradually intensifying correspondence that culminated in O’Keeffe’s move to New York City in June of 1918.  Stieglitz’s consuming desire for O’Keeffe did not blind him to her talent as an artist or to the importance of her work.  With the help of his brother Lee, Stieglitz set O’Keeffe up in her own sky-lit apartment/studio on East 59th Street, where she could pursue her painting without distraction, and without the burden of paying rent.  It was there that he began to photograph her, as O’Keeffe later recounted, ‘with a kind of heat and excitement’ (O’Keeffe: A Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz, unpaginated).  As O’Keeffe’s and Stieglitz’s relationship became more physical, the photographs became more intimate. While eroticism and desire are present in these pictures, Stieglitz never failed to execute them with his characteristic technical and aesthetic skill.  This dedication extended to the prints he produced, usually on palladium or platinum paper with a smooth matte surface and a long tonal range capable of rendering the subtlest shifts in texture and shade.  The palladium print offered here is a prime example.  A slight reversal of tones in the dark areas suggests that Stieglitz may have solarized the print very slightly during processing to enhance its dramatic affect. In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs, Sarah Greenough locates only three examples of this image aside from the print offered here: at the National Gallery of Art, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and in a private collection—all platinum prints.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-04-02
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Hoboken

Flush-mounted, mounted again to Crescent illustration board, signed, titled, and dated in ink on the mount, 1955, printed no later than 1966 This early print of Robert Frank's Hoboken was acquired originally by photographer and educator Sol Mednick (1916 - 1970).  Born in Philadelphia, Mednick’s early interest in art led him to the Philadelphia College of Art, and later to the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where he studied design under the influential Alexey Brodovitch.  After World War II, Mednick worked as a freelance illustrator, designer, and photographer in New York City and Philadelphia.  In 1951, he began teaching photography at the Philadelphia College of Art, splitting his time between teaching and freelance photography jobs.  His connection to the commercial world enabled him to teach his students the skills they would need to become successful professionals.  Under his stewardship, the College Photography Department grew to ten faculty members and eventually included courses in film, television, and sound.  He was a founding member of the Society for Photographic Educators. The Sol Mednick Gallery at the Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts, was named for him. Mednick’s passion for photography led him to build an impressive collection of work by important photographers, including Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Eugene Atget, and Brett Weston.  He must have been personally acquainted with some of them: his print of Arbus’s Burlesque Comedienne, Atlantic City, N. J., was inscribed by Arbus to ‘Dear Sol, The First.'  In 1966, he donated a group of these photographs to the Philadelphia College of Art.  When it was decided that it was unfeasible for the college to store, maintain, and insure works of this value, however, the collection was sold at auction.  The photograph offered here was among that group.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-04-05
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* 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.

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