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Penguin

Yue Minjun oil on canvas Painted in 2000. Regarded as one of the leading representatives of Cynical Realism, a movement characterised by shattered idealism in the wake of the events in the 1980s, Yue Minjun articulates the highly recognisable humorous portraits of himself with the wide-mouthed expression of laughter in Penguin. In this distinctive painting, the iconic laughing character wraps his body around a furry penguin as if he is climbing or clinging onto the large flightless bird. Expressing a slight upward slant of the mouth and squinted eye, the penguin tilts its head back with its javelin-beak as if to share in the hysteric laughter alongside Yue and the viewer perhaps in reaction to the absurdity of the scene.As an artist influenced early in his career by Surrealism and Social Realist propaganda art, Yue masterfully embeds social commentary veiled behind the satirical mask of his guffawing faces to weave China’s tumultuous experience into his work with discretion. Riffing on the upbeat portrayal of proletariat and military heroes portrayed in Socialist paintings and propaganda that proliferated within the visual environment during the Cultural Revolution, Yue’s iconic smiles express the compulsory mask of satisfaction demanded in a society within which the appearance of the masses had become a state priority. (Nazanin Lankarani, ‘The many faces of Yue Minjun,’ New York Times, 5 December 2012). After creating a sensation at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, Yue gained international fame within both the contemporary art market and the permanent collections of numerous museums around the world. As such, the recurring theme of laughter within Yue’s oeuvre has been subject to a multitude of interpretations. Theorist Li Xianting describes Yue’s self-portraits as a “self-ironic response to the spiritual vacuum and folly of modern-day China.” (Li Xianting quoted in ‘Yue Minjun,’ Saatchi Gallery ) In the catalogue accompanying Yue’s retrospective show held in 2012 at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, François Jullien furthermore writes that the frozen laugh of Yue’s work “puts up a wall, makes any interiority off limits, bars any kind of feeling. As nothing more than a series of explosions, it shows that there is nothing to communicate.”(F. Jullien, “No Possible Subject,” in Yue Minjun and Hervé Chandès, Yue Minjun: L'Ombre du fou rire, Paris: Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, 2012, pp. 27-34).However, in contrast to Yue’s typically contorted and grotesque compositions, Penguin, moderated by its cool grey tones, exhibits a comparatively warm-hearted scene describing a figure embracing a soft endearing animal, albeit forcibly. Though Yue’s works often showcase manically cackling figures rendered in kitsch candy-coloured tones, the present lot describes a more nuanced approach to the artist’s infamously vacuous expressions. In response to the “post-New Era” of the 1990s that brought forth profound changes to the artistic praxis in China, the penguin resembles a large stuffed-animal toy, an index of the forms of materialism and globalisation pervading the visual landscape at the time. The global attention captured by Yue’s famous laughing characters attest to the artist’s popularity. Today, Yue Minjun continues to paint and sculpt in his studio near Beijing and is celebrated as one of the most influential artists of his generation.

  • HKGHong Kong SAR China
  • 2018-05-27
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'agassiz rock and the yosemite falls, from union point'

Mammoth-plate albumen print, mounted, the photographer’s letterpress label, with the title, series number 844, series title, and his ‘427 Montgomery Street, San Francisco’ studio address, affixed to the mount, the collector’s stamp on the reverse, matted, framed, the Monterey Museum of Art exhibition label on the reverse, 1878-81 Agassiz Rock was named in honor of the Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz, and was called by a variety of names in the nineteenth century.  Naef and Wood reproduce a Muybridge stereo view from the 1870s that carries the printed caption, Ten-Pin Rock, Union Point; and a Houseworth & Co. stereo view with the caption, The Magic Tower—On the Union Point Trail (figs. 79 and 81).  Browning points out that the name Agassiz Column was used by J. M. Hutchings in his 1886 volume, In the Heart of the Sierras; and mentions the use of Agassiz Thumb by others (op. cit., ‘Old Fanciful Names’). The name Agassiz Rock may have been coined by Watkins himself.  This dramatic mammoth-plate view is one that would have been difficult for Watkins to make when he first visited the Valley in the 1860s.  The Agassiz Rock is located near Union Point, an overlook on the old Four Mile Trail, which ran from the base of Sentinel Dome to Glacier Point.  The construction of the Four Mile Trail, the work of James Conway, was not begun until 1871. Now extending beyond four miles, the original trail took nearly a year of arduous work to complete.  That portion of the trail leading to Agassiz Rock, tricky to negotiate, is now inaccessible (cf. Browning, op. cit., p. 47; Schaffer, op. cit., pp. 166-7; and Russell, op. cit., p. 78.) A small, circular-format view of Agassiz Rock made by Watkins at roughly the same time as the present image is reproduced as the cover illustration for Weston Naef’s In Focus series volume on the photographer (J. Paul Getty Museum, In Focus: Carleton Watkins, Los Angeles, 1997).  Using this image as a prime example, Naef calls Watkins’s 1878 trip into Yosemite an ‘artistic watershed,’ in which the photographer began to see the landscape with new eyes (ibid., p. 60).   As Martha Sandweiss has commented, the present photograph of Agassiz Rock, ‘with its clear, sharply defined background and massing of near and distant forms, exhibits a self-confidence’ not found in an earlier photograph of the rock attributed to Watkins (in Palmquist, op. cit., p. xiv). Louis Agassiz (1807–73) was trained as a physician in his native Zurich, but in the 1830s, as a student of Cuvier in Paris, he developed a keen interest in natural history, a subject that would occupy his talents and intellect for the better part of his career. Agassiz came to the United States in 1846, and accepted a professorship of geology and zoology at Harvard in 1848.  From that time on, he made his home in America, founding the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard and devoting himself to ichthyology in both the waters of the Amazon and the coasts of the United States.  Watkins may have heard the famed scientist lecture in San Francisco in 1870; we know that he made a photograph of Agassiz, reproduced in carte-de-visite format in Naef and Wood, fig. 82. The singularly striking Agassiz Rock, poised high over the sweeping Yosemite Valley, was a fitting tribute to the enormous reputation that Agassiz enjoyed in his adopted country.  A genuine enthusiast and, by all accounts, a mesmerizing lecturer, Agassiz embodied the optimism with which science was regarded throughout much of the nineteenth-century.

  • USAUSA
  • 2004-04-28
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'Dunes - Oceano'

Mounted, signed and dated in pencil on the mount, titled, numbered '35SO,' and inscribed 'For Bill & Zelda with a large abrazo from Edward on Wild Cat Hill Aug. 1943' in pencil, and with a circular gold foil First International Photographic Exposition label on the reverse, 1936, printed no later than 1938 With its bold alternation of black and gray values, punctuated by near-white creamy highlights on the dune ridges, the photograph offered here is one of the most dramatically graphic studies made by Weston at Oceano.  Weston first photographed the regions massive sand dunes in 1934 and wrote of his short visit: I made several dune negatives that mark a new epoch in my work.  I must go back there,the material made for me! (Daybooks II, p. 282).  Westons most significant work in the area was done two years later when he returned with his lover and eventual wife, Charis Wilson, and this particular image was made at that time. The present masterfully-printed dune study was included in the 1938 First International Photographic Exposition at Grand Central Palace in New York, in a special invitational section of the exhibition that was reserved for the worlds leaders in black and white photography.  In this exhibition of past and contemporary photography, the work of professionals and amateurs were exhibited side-by-side.  Other photographs known to have been exhibited there are Westons Dunes Oceano (Conger 943, 43SO), Dunes Oceano (Conger 953, 59SO), and Clouds (Conger 913, 32CL), all later offered in these rooms (9 October 1991, Sale 6216, Lots 226 and 227; and 11 December 2014, Sale 9275, Lot 52). This photograph comes originally from the collection of William and Zelda Holgers, to whom it is affectionately inscribed.  Weston was introduced to William Holgers, an amateur photographer and part of the Bay Areas thriving Camera Club scene, through their mutual friend Willard Van Dyke.  Over the years Holgers acquired a small collection of prints by Weston and his circle, both as gifts and by purchase.  Holgers is perhaps best known in Weston literature as the photographer of the fine dual portrait of Weston and Wilson that appears on the dust jacket of Wilsons 1998 memoir, Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston.  A selection of photographs and books by Edward and Brett Weston from the Holgers collection was offered in these rooms in April 2002 and 2004. The print offered here, with Weston's robust, full signature and date on a slick white mount, represents the ideal early presentation of the image.  Extant prints of the present dune study are scarce and Conger accounts for only a handful in institutional collections.

  • USAUSA
  • 2017-04-05
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'alabama tenant farmer' (floyd burroughs)

On a modern mount, the photographer's 'Box 310, Rte. 3, Old Lyme, Conn. 06371' studio stamp, Lunn Gallery stamp numbered 'II' and '83,' reproduction rights stamps, and annotated 'please return the print to,' possibly by the photographer, and 'MoMA 83' in an unidentified hand in pencil on a section of the original mount affixed to the reverse, matted, 1936 This image of the Alabama farmer Floyd Burroughs was reproduced in both the first edition of Walker Evans’s and James Agee’s volume Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, published in 1941, as well as in the second of 1960.  This now classic book describes, in words and photographs, the daily lives of the families of three tenant farmers, Floyd Burroughs, Frank Tingle, and Bud Fields.  All three men were cotton farmers, all loosely related, and worked land adjacent to one another in Alabama’s Hale County.  The portrait of Floyd Burroughs offered here, and that of his wife, Allie Mae (see Lot 57), are two of the definitive images in the book. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men began with an assignment for Fortune magazine.  During the hardest years of the Depression, Fortune ran a number of articles on the life and circumstances of the working class.  For the fourth article in the series, James Agee was assigned to document the lives of Southern cotton tenant farmers.  Agee, excited by the prospect of returning to his native south, took the assignment and arranged for Evans to come along as his photographer.  In the fall of 1936 the article was submitted to Fortune and promptly rejected by the editors.  Not to be discouraged, Evans searched for a publisher, and Agee continued to write, the text growing to book size.  After five years, the book was published by Houghton Mifflin to much critical success, but lackluster sales.  It was not until after Agee’s death, in 1955, and his posthumously-awarded Pulitzer Prize for A Death in the Family, that the book was republished and hailed for its detailed and unsparing portrayal of Southern life during the Depression.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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January

Richard Lin oil and aluminium on canvas Executed in 1970. “White is the most ordinary of colours, it is also the most extraordinary; it is the absence of colour, it is also the sum of colours; it is the most majestic of colors, it is also the most common; it is the colour of tranquility, it is also the colour of grief.” — Richard LinBorn into a prominent Taiwanese family in central Taiwan, Richard Lin left his hometown at the age of 16 to study in Hong Kong in 1949. In 1954, two years after arriving in England, Lin was accepted at the Regent Street Polytechnic to study architecture and art. After completing his studies, Lin chose to remain in London, where he continued to develop his art for over five decades; it was not until 2002 that Lin returned to Taiwan. His works are often categorised as minimalistic, however, he once remarked that “when I started to create the white series, the term ‘Minimalism’ was not yet coined.” Founded in the the post-war era of the sixties, Minimalism began as a response to Abstract Expressionism, which had dominated the fifties’ art scene. The Minimalists believed practitioners of Abstract Expressionism were guilty of an excessive sentimentality and proposed to eradicate the artworks’ lyricism. Using simple forms and emphasising the expression of two-dimensional space, the new school of thought allowed viewers to perceive work in a direct and authentic manner. By employing straightforward quadrilateral shapes, stripes, or cubes, Minimalists strove to express and compose their work using correct proportions and involving minimum incidents. Additionally, they avoided the use of concrete forms in an attempt to eliminate transferring their consciousness to the viewer. The Minimalists used tools such as repetition and equal distribution to focus on a pure and artistic development while minimising personal expression. Ultimately, their aim was to lead art back to its fundamental form; by restricting the artist’s imposition of their consciousness upon viewers, Minimalists believed viewers might once again be able to take an active part in the construction of the work. The influence of Minimalism goes far beyond the art of painting, sculpture, and installation; it has also made an irrevocable impact on architecture, design, music, and literature. Lin first saw the works of British artist, Ben Nicholson (1894-1982) while visiting the Tate Modern upon his arrival in London in the beginning of 1952. Nicholson’s abstract compositions had a lasting influence on Lin. As a child, Lin learned the art of Chinese calligraphy, and between the ages of 6 and 12, he was placed under the tutelage of a family in Japan. Lin’s early immersion in Eastern culture cemented his way of thinking. During his time in England, he studied Western architecture and painting, and was influenced by the major artistic movements in the sixties and seventies — such as De Stijl (of which Mondrian is the most well-known), Bauhaus, Cubism, and Constructivism. Triggered by the American Abstract Expressionist movement, and with his idea of art informed by both East and West, Lin began to meditate on his own cultural background.Lin began creating art in the late fifties from the ideals of an Abstract Expressionist. In 1958, he began layering blocks of black and white on canvas to compare and contrast darkness and light. In the sixties, he simplified the elements of his creation; he made use of more precise lines and gradually abstained from color until white was all that remained. This period marks the establishment of Lin’s artistic style and the birth of his most iconic series — the White Series. He continued to develop this series until he declared in 1984 that ‘painting is dead,’ then turned his focus to three dimensional arts. When observing Lin’s work, one sees undeniable elements of Minimalism. His work departs from representational forms, using only lines and squares to create a precise and rational composition; and his execution is so meticulous and careful that brushstrokes are undetectable. However, Lin’s work is readily distinguishable from other minimalist works. One distinctive characteristic of Lin’s art is his multitudinous use of whites — rich or diluted, heavy or light — which he applies in lines of varying length and width. He then pairs aluminum plates and the occasional, yet ingenious, strokes of red, yellow, gray, and black. Lin does not necessarily abide by the standards of Minimalism — he is not regulated by the purely logical use of geometrical shapes, nor is he insistent upon removing all emotion or denouncing lyricism. In Lin’s paintings, we see a greater energy; we feel presence within absence, and we perceive a fluid sensibility that flows beneath the surface of the rational composition.In 1970, during one of Lin’s solo exhibitions in Belgium, the artist and the gallery’s owner, Rene Withofs, had a discussion about the work. The rigorous and succinct paintings, Lin stated, were deeply rooted in Eastern culture and invoked the fluidity and vigour so valued in the art of calligraphy. When Withofs interpreted Lin’s work as an embodiment of Zen, Lin clarified that it was instead Taoist. Further, Lin offered that instead of categorising his work as Minimalist, it would be more analogous to the work of Northern Song Dynasty artist, Mi Fu (1051-1107). Having received his training in Europe, Lin’s work takes on the appearance of Western art, but its true meaning and fundamental aesthetics are entirely Eastern. Despite the work’s external, minimalist qualities, Lin stressed that his practice was more sympathetic with Mi Fu. Lin maintained that this Song Dynasty master’s abstract landscapes, created some nine centuries ago, resonated more deeply with his work in their illustration of the difference between seeing with one’s eyes and perceiving with one’s spirituality. In a catalogue for Lin’s 2010 exhibition at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, the artist wrote the following words to reflect on his half-century-long artistic career: ’What is before us? There are not enough words to describe and no words to do so aptly. Anything can be something; there is no difference between anything, and anything is everything.’ These words perfectly elucidated the fundamental meaning of Lin’s art. Chinese painting differs from Western painting in that it does not concentrate on the techniques of focal points and perspective; instead, through the utilisation of ink’s wetness and dryness — its richness and diluteness — artists are able to create works that transcend time and space. Chinese aesthetics heavily emphasize a spirit and concept that cannot be seen, but only perceived. In Lin’s art, we perceive a unique artistic language, born from an amalgamation of Eastern and Western culture.

  • HKGHong Kong SAR China
  • 2018-05-27
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'breast'

Platinum print, tipped to a large tan mount, signed, titled, and dated by the photographer in pencil on the mount, inscribed '35' (crossed out) and '10.00' by the photographer in pencil on the reverse, framed, a Gerald Peters Gallery label on the reverse, 1922 This photograph was originally acquired from Weston by O. G. Jones, a concrete contractor in Southern California who was introduced to Weston in the early 1920s by their mutual friend, Ramiel McGehee.  When Weston told Jones that he was interested in photographing industrial sites, Jones arranged access for Weston to photograph several of the factories that he had helped construct.  Plaster Works (Conger 177), from 1925, is perhaps the best known of the resulting images.  Also in 1925, Weston made striking, modernist portraits of Jones (cf. Christie’s New York, 30 October 1989, Lot 575).  Jones remained friends with Weston, visiting him in Glendale and later in Carmel, buying prints from the perennially straitened photographer. Jones ultimately built an impressive collection of Weston’s work, including a number of the photographer’s industrial images, Pepper (2P), and the rare platinum print of Breast offered here.  These photographs were sold in the above-listed auction at Butterfield & Butterfield in 1984.  Weston's portraits of Jones are now in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Modern and unsentimental, Breast marks an abrupt departure in Weston's work from his heretofore Pictorial approach to nude studies.  While the focus in the image is somewhat soft, this nude possesses a straightforward physicality that had not been seen before in Weston's nudes.  The model for Breast is the same as that in another nude study, Refracted Sunlight on Torso (Conger 81), made during the same sitting in 1922.  Weston later recounted the unusual events surrounding the making of these two images to Nancy Newhall, who wrote: 'One day in 1922, a woman he did not know telephoned for a sitting.  Would he photograph her nude?  Considerably astonished, Edward said yes.  The woman came.  Perhaps the strangeness of the encounter sharpened his seeing' (quoted in Conger 81, note). Weston first photographed the woman positioned against a blank wall, with streaks of sunlight crossing her torso.  He then repositioned the woman, using the panes of a window as the background.  'Yet,' Newhall continues, 'as though the lyric nude marked the end of a way of seeing then, Edward found in the ground glass during the same strange sitting a close-up prophetic of his seeing for the past 12 years -- column of arm, hinge of shoulder, hemisphere of breast.  Flesh no longer is incorporeal; it has weight, it has form, volume, dynamics' (ibid.). Conger locates three prints of this image, all in institutional collections.  The George Eastman House has a non-vintage gelatin silver print made by the photographer's son, Brett, in 1953; the Museo Regional de Guadalajara, Mexico, has what is likely a vintage platinum print, perhaps purchased by the museum from Weston's exhibition there in 1925; and the Special Collections of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has a Project Print.  Additionally, there is a vintage platinum print of this image in a private collection.

  • USAUSA
  • 2004-04-27
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Elvis Presley 1974 Stage-Worn "Peacock" Jumpsuit

A centerpiece of our auction is this spectacular, beautifully appointed, concert-worn jumpsuit, nick-named the "peacock," worn by Elvis Presley extensively during a five-month stretch in 1974. Our research indicates that Elvis performed in the peacock jumpsuit for the first time during his matinee performance at the Forum in Los Angeles on May 11, 1974. It is quite likely that he took delivery of the peacock jumpsuit outfit that very day, as it was tailored expressly for Presley by Bill Belew, the renowned Los Angeles based designer. Belew, the man responsible for creating Presley's entire stage wardrobe between 1968 and 1977, beginning with the memorable black leather outfit and white suit worn by Presley on his 1968 comeback special, "Elvis," on NBC, was based in Hollywood with I.C. Costumes at the time. Presley kicked off his tour a day prior to the Forum appearance in nearby San Bernardino; the peacock making its debut at the evening Forum performance. Our research indicates that the peacock jumpsuit, said to be Elvis' favorite among all the fabulously ornate Belew creations, was concert worn nearly twice as often as any of the eleven different jumpsuits worn by Presley during the May to October tour; more than a dozen times in cities nationwide and, most likely, another dozen or more times during multi-week stands in Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. The peacock made its final documented appearance in San Antonio on October 8; the tour ending a week later in Lake Tahoe. After a five-month respite from touring, an entirely new and equally flamboyant, Belew designed wardrobe was unveiled for The King's adoring audiences in March 1975. Elvis Presley's onstage persona is undeniably defined by Bill Belew's stunning designs worn by the King of Rock & Roll throughout the final decade of his life. Presley himself humorously quipped in 1970, "If the songs don't go over, we can do a medley of costumes." Only a few of the nearly 125 outfits designed by Belew for Presley have appeared on the collector's market since Presley's death; the "peacock," by far being the most desirable. The "peacock," of course, is the most glaring omission from the enormous Graceland collection. The one-piece, zippered jumpsuit is appointed with a heavily chain-stitched, rhinestone bejeweled peacock design on the front and back with tail feathers tapering off as they cascade down the entire length of the legs that flare at the bottom. The tailoring label reads "I.C. Costume Co. Hollywood, Ca." The most expensive of all of the Belew creations, the cost of the garment was $10,000. The jumpsuit is in excellent condition; the zipper in need of repair. Presley can be seen wearing the peacock jumpsuit on the cover of his 1975 album and single "Promised Land." Extensive photographic and filmed documentation exists of Elvis wearing the peacock jumpsuit. One of several websites exhibiting photos of the peacock jumpsuit being worn by Elvis onstage is: www.elvisconcerts.com. Estimate $275,000-$325,000.

  • USAUSA
  • 2008-08-06
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'the pool -- evening: a symphony to a race and to a soul'

Platinum print, with hand-applied ink border, mounted to gray paper, mounted again to a large sheet of heavy buff paper, with the photographer's elongated, stylized monogram and titled by him in pencil on the mount, 1899; accompanied by a backboard from an earlier frame, with a Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibition label and a Gilman Paper Company label on the reverse ‘The Pool---Evening: A Symphony to a Race and to a Soul’ is one of the photographer’s earliest significant landscape photographs, made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when he was only twenty years old.  This lyrical study of woods at twilight was one of  Steichen’s first photographs to be included in competitive salons, one of his first to be published, and one of a select group of only three to be purchased by Alfred Stieglitz upon the occasion of his first meeting with Steichen in New York City in 1900.  The print of this image purchased by Stieglitz is now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and is inscribed on the reverse in Stieglitz’s hand, ‘Steichen’s first “Masterpiece.”’  The woods at twilight or evening is a theme that would occupy Steichen for the next two decades.  The ‘Pool—Evening’ belongs to a group of early woodland studies made by Steichen near his family’s Milwaukee home.  These photographs, reproduced in Naef 451 and 452, A Life in Photography, pls. 9–12, and Longwell, The Master Prints, pls. 3, 5, 6, and 7, show Steichen’s stated affinity for ‘chiefly landscapes, the woods at twilight and dusk, that appealed to [him]’ in his early artistic career.   Apprenticed to a lithographic firm as a teenager, the precocious Steichen was a talented draftsman who taught himself photography, first as an aid to his graphic work and later as an end in itself.   Keenly interested in painting and the world of ‘art’ that lay beyond the confines of Wisconsin, Steichen brought a painter’s ambition to his subjects.  From an early age, he had followed, as best he could, developments in the art world through the picture magazines in the local library:  ‘The Pool’ shows his awareness of trends both in contemporary Pictorial photography and painting, all gleaned from the reproductions in the art and photography journals of the time. As he stated in an oft-quoted sentence from his autobiography, ‘I was an “impressionist” without knowing it.’ The ‘Pool—Evening’ and its related studies are a testament not only to Steichen’s natural gifts for composition and design, but his innate ability to transform the seemingly ordinary into artistic statements of great flair and beauty.   He would use this gift for transformation throughout his long and varied career, from his earliest Pictorial experiments, to his first important portrait commissions, and then to his extensive body of popular photographs of the myriad personalities he portrayed for Condé Nast.  ‘The Pool—Evening,’ as he later wrote in his autobiography, ‘was, in fact, a picture of a puddle of water with mud clots protruding.’  The woods lay at the end of a Milwaukee streetcar line, and as Steichen wrote, ‘These became my stamping grounds, especially during autumn, winter, and early spring.  They were particularly appealing on gray or misty days, or very late in the afternoon and at twilight.  Under those conditions, the woods had moods, and the moods aroused emotional reactions that I tried to render in photographs. . . The haunting, elusive quality of twilight excited in me an emotion that I felt compelled to evoke in the images I was making.  Emotional reaction to the qualities of places, things, and people became the principal goal in my photography’ (A Life in Photography, unpaginated, Chapter 1). ‘The Pool—Evening’ is among the photographer’s earliest photographs to be shown in both national and international salons.  It may have been included in a group of pictures Steichen submitted to the second Philadelphia Photographic Salon of 1899, his first foray into the world of competitive exhibitions.  Impressed by reviews of that city’s first salon of photographs, held the year before at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Steichen carefully strategized which of his works would be best received by the next year’s jury.  Although Steichen later recalled that only two pictures were accepted, a contemporary review of the 1899 show indicates that there were three photographs by Steichen on the walls; Steichen biographer Penelope Niven speculates that the ‘Pool’ may have been the third, in addition to the documented ‘Self-Portrait, Milwaukee,’ and ‘Lady in a Doorway’ (Steichen: A Biography, New York, 1997, p. 57).  It is possible that the ‘Pool’ image offered here was the ‘Frost-Covered Pool’ accepted the following year by the first Chicago Salon, where it was favorably reviewed by the art critic Charles Caffin.  Soon after, Caffin published the present image in his classic 1901 volume, Photography as a Fine Art: The Achievement and Possibilities of Photographic Art in America.  Naef 453 lists six additional exhibition venues for this image, including Brussels, Turin, New York, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Vienna, from 1901 through 1904. Encouraged by his mother and emboldened by his success in the Philadelphia and Chicago salons, Steichen set off for Paris in the spring of 1900.  It was Clarence White, one of the judges of the 1899 Philadelphia Salon, who recommended that he stop in New York to meet Stieglitz.  This legendary first meeting of two of the giants of twentieth-century American photography is well-documented in the literature.   Steichen was astounded when, after reviewing his portfolio, Stieglitz chose three photographs for his collection, including the image offered here, and suggested a price of $5.00 each, far beyond what most photographers’ work would have commanded at the time.   Stieglitz proceeded to publish the image in Camera Notes in 1901, where it was the only photograph by Steichen selected for photogravure reproduction in the entire run of the magazine; and in 1903 in Camera Work Number 2, the first of three all-Steichen numbers of that periodical. The title of the present image appears to have evolved over the years, as evidenced by its variant titles in early publications and exhibitions; the meaning of the present print’s poetic subtitle---‘A Symphony to a Race and to a Soul’ --remains somewhat obscure.   In the January 1901 Camera Notes, perhaps the image’s earliest publication, it is given the generic title, ‘Landscape.’  In Caffin’s 1901 Photography as a Fine Art, it has become ‘The Pool—Evening.’  In 1902, it was exhibited in Turin as ‘Stagno’ (cf. Naef 453), and in Camera Work Number 2, it is simply ‘The Pool.’  As of this writing, no other examples of this image with the subtitle ‘A Symphony to a Race and to Soul’ have been located. The political and philosophical climate that surrounded the young Steichen in his early years in Milwaukee may help to explain the tone of the subtitle, if not its exact meaning.  In her article ‘Edward Steichen’s Socialism’ (History of Photography, Volume 17, Number 4, Winter 1993), Melinda Boyd Parsons describes in detail a particular brand of German-American socialism that was prevalent in certain immigrant communities at the turn of the century.  As Parsons relates, this socialism was anti-materialistic, championed the artisan-worker, and held in particular reverence the family unit and women in general.   Steichen’s sister Lilian was a committed socialist, as were a number of Milwaukee’s prominent citizens, many of whom were friends of the Steichen family.   Parsons draws convincing parallels between Steichen’s non-conformist streak—expressed in his involvement with artistic ‘secession’ groups, among other things—and the socialist society’s belief in the value of the common man.   Indeed, although Parsons’s article concludes with Steichen’s first trip to Paris, it is not too far a stretch to see some of these early socialist ideals implemented by Steichen in his most populist exhibition, the 1955 Family of Man. In another article, ‘”Moonlight on Darkening Ways”: Concepts of Nature and the Artist in Edward and Lilian Steichen’s Socialism’ (American Art, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 1997), Parsons  quotes extensively from the correspondence between Steichen and his sister in the early years of the last century, in which ideas of a ‘democratic art’ and socialism are intermingled.  In 1908, Lilian Steichen fell in love with a young labor organizer and poet named Carl Sandburg, and in her letters to him of that year, she described her close philosophical and spiritual connections to her brother: ‘You see brother and I are very sympathetic—we’ve watched storms come up together—we’ve made pilgrimages together on moonlit nights to birch woods listening in the silence for the heavy fall of the dewdrop—we’ve looked at his pictures together.  So he knows that our tastes are akin [and] that I too have some poetic insight. . . for Socialist propaganda and pilgrimages to birch woods have the same well-spring’ (quoted in Parsons, ibid., p. 75). Although Parsons’s articles do not point to an exact source for the subtitle of the present image, her texts refer to a number of socialistically-inclined authors, both American and European, whose works Steichen knew and whose philosophies may have influenced his idealistic sub-titling of the photograph. Most tantalizing is Parsons’s reference to another Lilian Steichen letter to Sandburg, in which she says that her brother’s ‘Whitmanic prints are yet to be done!’   Certainly the tone of Steichen’s subtitle echoes Walt Whitman’s poetry, and a simple search of the poet’s verse turns up several corresponding phrases, among them ‘Athwart my soul, moves the symphony true’ (from Abraham Lincoln, 1888-89); and ‘are gone in twilight, (Race of the woods, the landscapes free,  . . ),’ and ‘day over, the world, the race, the soul,--in space and time. . .,’  (both from Leaves of Grass). If Whitman is the philosophical source for the photograph’s subtitle, this would not be the only time Steichen was inspired by American verse.  As Joel Smith has noted, another of Steichen’s evening pool studies, the ‘Pond—Moonlight’ of Lot 6 was once reproduced under the title Solitude, which Smith relates to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem ‘Waldeinsamkeit,’ or ‘forest solitude,’ and the spirit of American Transcendentalism (Edward Steichen: The Early Years, Princeton, 1999, p. 44, fn. 78). The image offered here comes originally from a celebrated album of photographs, drawings, and photogravures given by Steichen to the photographer Gertrude Käsebier, the ‘first lady of American photography’ at the turn of the last century.  This legendary album was sold in these rooms in November of 1976.  For a discussion of the 1976 auction at Sotheby’s, cf. Beth Gates-Warren, Twenty Years of Photography at Sotheby’s, a supplement to Sale 6684, April 1995; and Naef, p. 160, where he speculates that the album was given by Steichen to Käsebier in August 1901. A founding member of the Photo-Secession who later became Steichen’s lifelong friend, Käsebier (1852 – 1934) had served on the jury of the second Philadelphia Photographic Salon in 1899, the first competitive exhibition to accept Steichen’s work.  She met Steichen for the first time in Paris in 1900, and introduced him to two young American sisters for whom she served as chaperone on their first trip abroad, Charlotte and Clara Smith of Missouri.  Clara Smith later became Steichen’s first wife (cf. Niven, op. cit., pp. 118-20). At the time of this writing, only three other prints of ‘The Pool—Evening’ have been located, all platinum prints in institutions: the print in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a gift of Alfred Stieglitz in 1933; the aforementioned print in the Art Institute of Chicago, a gift of Georgia O’Keeffe in 1949; and one in the Royal Photographic Society collection, now in Bradford, England, a gift of Frederick Evans in 1937.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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Selected resettlement and farm security administration images

A group of 32 photographs of Migrant Farm Workers in California and the West,  including ‘Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California’; ‘Stalled in the Desert, Facing a Future in California’; '"Give us this Day our Daily Bread,”  Sunday School for Migrant Children,' and many others taken for the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration, mounted to thick buff-colored or slick white board, 10 titled by the photographer in ink, 9 captioned in an unidentified calligraphic hand, and 10 with typed caption labels on the mounts, one with the photographer’s notations in pencil and several others annotated in an unidentified hand in ink on the reverse, 1935-37 (32 photographs on 30 mounts) This group of primarily large-format photographs, including Dorothea Lange’s most famous image, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, was intended for exhibition.  In the 1930s and 1940s, the Farm Security Administration made sets of the images produced under its auspices available to schools, libraries, and civic organizations.  Two groups of similar photographs, by Lange and other photographers employed by the Resettlement and Farm Security Administrations, were offered in these rooms on 18 April 1997 (Lot 170) and 27 April 2005 (Lot 48).  The group offered here is notable for the large number of images titled by Lange herself.  This suggests that these prints were made by Lange, rather than by the F.S.A. labs in Washington, D.C. These photographs belong to the descendants of Bill Hendrie, the Research and Development Manager at the San Jose, California, Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Hendrie, who had been born in Oklahoma and moved to California in the 1950s, discovered these photographs in a trash area in the Chamber of Commerce building during this time.  Realizing that they were about to be discarded, he rescued the prints and kept them for his family.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-11
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Rome, 1847

AMÉLIE GUILLOT-SAGUEZ (1810-1864) Rome, 1847 Exceptionnel et inédit Album comprenant 37 épreuves sur papier salé dont 5 signées ‘Photographe A. Guillot-Saguez Rome 1847’ à l'encre (sur l'image) et 7 signées et datées (dans l’image). Chaque image est légendée au crayon sur la feuille. Album portant un titre et une dédicace à l’encre en première page 'Rome - Souvenir à Madame L des Bordes’. Dédicace à l’encre sur une feuille libre : "Voici ma bien bonne amie, l’album que vous avez désiré. Toutes les épreuves ne sont pas aussi parfaites que j’aurais aimé à vous les donner. Vous savez qu’elles ont été prises à Rome et que nous n’avions pas la machine qui convient pour faire les vues. (Excepté l’académie, on nous en a prêté une ce jour là). Mais tel qu’est cet album, Veuillez l’accueillir avec notre indulgence accoutumée et vous rappeler que le cœur qui vous l’offre à l’occasion donnerait pour vous sa vie." In-8 oblong, reliure de l’époque (222 x 301 x 10 mm), maroquin aubergine à long grain, plats ornés d’un encadrement doré et à froid avec fleuron central avec initiales R.B. au centre du premier plat, tranches dorées album 22.2 x 30 x 1 cm. (8 ¾ x 11 7/8 x 0 3/8 in.) chaque image env. 12.5 x 17 cm. (4 7/8 x 6 ¾ in.) à l’exception de 3 épreuves de formats 21.6 x 16.2 et 25 x 19.5 cm. (8 ½ x 6 3/8 & 9 7/8 x 7 5/8 in.) ill.1 Portique de l’Académie de France Villa Medici ill.2 Porta Maggiore ill.3 Eglise de Santa Maria in Cosmedin dite Bocca della Verita ill.4 Amphithéatre Flavius dit le Colysée ill.5 Ruines du Temple d’Antonin et Faustine ill.6 Temple de la Fortune Virile maison du Tribun Rienzi ill.7 Cour du Cloître de San Pietro in Vincoli Puits construit par Michel Ange ill.8 Villa Borghese ill.9 San Pietro E Il Vaticano ill.10 Ambon (Style Byzantin) dans l’antique basilique de S. Lorenzo hors les murs ill.11 Le Tibre à Ripetta Dome de l’Eglise San Carolo dans le fond l’Academie de France ill.12 Torre detta di Cesare Borgia ill.13 Le Moïse de Michel Ange – Statue exécutée sur le tombeau du Pape Jules II (Eglise de S. Pietro in Vincoli) ill.14 Chanoines du Chapitre de St. Jean de Latran (Cloître de San Pietro in Vincoli) ill.15 Colysée pris interieurement ill.16 Casino di Raffaello nella Villa Borghese ill.17 Arc de Constantin près du Colysée ill.18 Le Forum, Temple de Jupiter Stator ill.19 Château St Ange St Pierre ill.20 Le Piefferaro Benedetto (modèle) ill.21 Borghettano. Frontière du Royaume de Naples et des états romains ill.22 La Giovanna Borghettana, frontière du Roy de Naples et des états romains ill.23 Benedetto Paysan des montagnes ill.24 Reproducton Photographique fragment d’une gravure ill.25 Fac simile photographique d’un dessin à la plume de Raphaël ill.26 Colonne antique sur la place Ste Marie Majeure ill.27 Le Pont de Ripetta ill.28 Non titré ill.29 Temple de Vesta sur le Tibre et dans le fond le Mont Palatin et les ruines du Palais des Césars ill.30 Jardin d’orangers sur le Tibre Autrefois Propriété de la famille de Béatrice Cenci ill.31 Non titré ill.32 Non titré ill.33 Fontana della Tartarughe ill.34 Colonne de Phocas Eglise et Dôme de l’Académie de St Luc Arc de Septime Sevère ill.35 Fragment de la Fontaine de Trevi ill.36 Porta Maggiore ill.37 l’Academie de France Villa Medici

  • FRAFrance
  • 2016-11-10
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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.