Spectacular Auctions of Photographs from Various Owners at Christie’s

. March 25, 2010

Christie’s Auctioneers has announced its three Photographs sales this spring season will be held in New York on April 14 and 15, 2010. The three separate sales include two single owner collections, Three Decades with Irving Penn: Photographs from the Collection of Patricia McCabe, and Selections from the Baio Collection of Photographs as well as a Photographs (Various Owners) sale. Combined, the auctions will present the finest offerings in the category with a selection of works that range from the late 19th century through the 20th and 21st centuries, representing many standout examples in the medium and including a variety of subject matter. With over 300 lots across three sales, the works offered are expected to achieve between of $5.4-7.9 million.

Photographs (Various Owners)
The April 15 Photographs (Various Owners) auction comprises 181 lots with a total sale estimate of $3.2-4.8 million. The sale’s cover lot is the stunning silver gelatin print Portrait, Rebecca 1922 by Paul Strand (1890-1976), (estimate: $250,000-350,000). The image is a close-up profile of a woman in a deep pensive gaze, seemingly unaware of being photographed. This image draws comparisons to the work of Strand’s mentor, Alfred Stieglitz, in especially with his portraits of Georgia O’Keefe, and this particular print by Strand is extremely rare.

Another highlight is a rare gelatin silver print by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Bucks County Barn (estimate: $100,000-150,000). This work shows the new eyes Sheeler took to vernacular architecture in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (where he lived at the time). One of the most art historically important images from this period of his work, Sheeler later used it as a foundation for his 1932 painting Bucks County Barn which is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Vintage mounted prints with their original overmats such as this are very rare. Currently, only two other prints of this image are known, one offered by Christie’s in 1980 (selling for $15,000) and the other in the highly regarded Lane Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

From a private European Collection is an extraordinary, enlarged vintage print by Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976). Magnolia Blossom, 1925 (estimate: $250,000-350,000), belongs to an extended series of magnolia flower studies the artist created between 1923-1925. This image was originally in the collection of Cunningham’s son, Padriac.

Lewis W. Hine’s (1874-1940) iconic Mechanic at steam pump in electric power house (estimate: $70,000-90,000), belongs to the extended series of labor studies taken throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hine, who used his images to advocate social reform, was well known for documenting man’s contribution to the modern industrial society. The present lot depicts a man working with heavy machinery creating an intricate background for the human figure and is an image that would have a long-lasting effect on visual iconography in the modern era.

Among the rarest works being offered is a unique print by the great Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas (1834-1917) Self Portrait with Paul Poujaud and Marie Fontaine, 1895 (estimate: $30,000-50,000). Degas was known for working across multiple media and photography played an important role in his artistic production. The present lot is possibly the only extant contact print from the original negative. An enlarged print of the same subject is currently in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A celebrated landscape entitled Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California, 1944 is among the works by Ansel Adams (1902-1984) featured in the sale (estimate: $25,000-35,000). Taken during World War II, this stunning image was captured while Adams was documenting the Manzanar Japanese internment camp in the Owens Valley on the east side of the Sierra mountains. Early prints, such as this one, are extremely rare.

Other notable highlights include Irving Penn (1917-2009), Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Marrakech, 1951 (estimate: $300,000-500,000); Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989), Calla Lily, 1988 (estimate: $150,000-250,000), and Jaromir Funke (1896-1945), Kompozice, c. 1924 (estimate: $50,000-70,000).

Image: Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Bucks County Barn. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010

Category: Fine Art

Comments are closed.