Edward Weston and Other Photographs at Sothebys – April 8

. February 8, 2008

New York – On April 8th, Sotheby’s will have the privilege of offering a group of photographs by Edward Weston and Brett Weston that have remained with descendants of the Weston family since their making. The more than 40 photographs by Edward Weston and the nine photographs by his son Brett were given originally to Mary Weston Seaman, Edward Weston’s sister, beginning in the 1910s and continuing through the 1940s. The photographs include representatives of all of the photographic styles that Weston embraced in his long and influential career: the soft-focus works of his early Pictorial period; the beginnings of Modernism in his Mexican work of the 1920s; his classic, formal work of the 1930s; and the new, more documentary style of his later years, exemplified by photographs made across the United States, first for his 1938 Guggenheim fellowship and then for his commission to illustrate Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass for The Limited Editions Club in 1941. The photographs have been held by Mary Weston Seaman’s descendants since her death, and have been the subject of two major exhibitions at The Dayton Art Institute, where the work has until
recently been on long-term loan. The collection, which will travel to San Francisco and Los Angeles in the spring before going on view in New York from April 2nd-7th, is expected to bring between $900,000 and $1.4 million*.

Denise Bethel, Director of Sotheby’s Photographs department, said: “We are thrilled to be offering this legendary collection of Edward Weston’s work, and honored to be representing the direct descendants of Weston’s beloved sister May. The market for Edward Weston’s photographs has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, and the breadth and beauty of this historic group will delight all of our passionate Weston collectors, among many others. The works by Brett Weston, sent to his favorite ‘Aunt Mazie,’ were a surprise to see, as they have never before been exhibited.”

Mary (“May”) Weston Seaman was nine years older than her brother, and when their mother died in 1892, Mary Weston became a second mother to the 5-year-old Edward at their home in Chicago. After she married John Seaman and moved to a suburb of Los Angeles in the early 1900s, May persuaded Edward to join them. Weston moved to California in 1906, a decision that would influence his life’s work in both style and substance. He opened his first photographic studio in Glendale in 1911, and aside from his years in Mexico in the early 1920s, he remained in California for the rest of his life. From the 1920s through the 1940s, brother and sister kept in constant touch, even as May and her family re-located several times throughout the United States. Weston’s continuous letters and postcards to May, as well as his
inscriptions to her on the backs of several photographs, show his unwavering devotion to and affection for his only sibling.

Among the Edward Weston highlights of the sale are three beautiful 1920s platinum prints of Mexican toys (one pictured on page 2, top, est. $40/60,000); a classic study of Dunes, Oceano, 1936 (est. $100/150,000); a famous nude, also from 1936, of Charis on the Dunes (pictured on page 2, middle, est. $120/180,000); an elegant, close-up study of Bananas from 1930 (pictured on page 1, est. $80/120,000); and several studies of the landscapes and architecture of the United States, from Arizona to Louisiana (one of Nevada pictured on page 2, bottom, est. $15/25,000). Also included in the collection are nine rare photographs by Edward Weston’s son Brett, dating from the 1930s to the 1940s, some with inscriptions to his favorite “Aunt Mazie” (one pictured here, est. $20/30,000).

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Category: Auction News

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