Records Set at Swann Galleries Photographs Auction

Auction records for 19th and 20th century photographs were achieved on March 23 at Swann Galleries’ two-part auction of The Stephen L. White Photograph Collection; and Fine Photographs. The White Collection, which was exhibited at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum in 2001, consisted of just over 100 remarkable works depicting aspects of the American Dream. Record-setters from the collection included a half-plate daguerreotype of American statesman Henry Clay attributed to Montgomery P. Simons, circa 1848, which sold for $24,000; a signed and inscribed copy of Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal stop-motion work, Animal Locomotion, Author’s Edition, with 21 plates, 1872-1885, printed 1887, $57,600; James Wallace Black’s portrait of Kit Carson, the last known image of the frontiersman before his death, albumen print, 1868, $48,000; and one of Lewis W. Hine’s poignant images of a child laborer, Spinner, Cotton Mill, Augusta, Georgia, silver contact print, 1909, $26,400.

Other notable early works in the White Collection were two other works by Muybridge, his Mills Seminary, Seminary Park, Alameda Co., Cal., mammoth albumen print, 1873, $13,200, and a 1973 printing of a 13-part panorama of San Francisco, photographed in 1878, and offering a visual record of the city before the 1906 earthquake, $7,995; as well as Andrew J. Russell’s Golden Spike Ceremony with Flag and Camera, Promontory Point, Utah, documenting the completion of the transcontinental railroad, albumen print, 1869, $43,200.

Two striking images by Edward Steichen were Isadora Duncan at the Portals of the Parthenon, toned silver print, 1921; printed 1960s, $21,600, and Bergdorf-Goodman models dressed in Vionnet, silver print, used in Vogue magazine, 1930, $10,200.

Modernist works of note included Margaret Bourke-White’s Rims Stacked for Drying and Machining, silver print, 1934, $9,600; Imogen Cunningham’s Fageol Ventilators, Oakland, Cal., silver print, 1934, printed early 1960s, $6,000; and Brett Weston’s Untitled (trees in water), silver print, 1960, printed 1970s, $5,040.

Rounding out the highlights of the White collection were Yousuf Karsh’s well-known portrait of a bearded Ernest Hemingway, silver print, 1957, printed 1970s, $7,200; and Robert Rauschenberg’s Untitled (American flag, enough is enough), silver print, 1980, $12,000.

Part II of the sale, devoted to Fine Photographs from various consigners, also saw record prices: Mario Giacomelli’s portfolio entitled La Gente [The People], 18 silver prints, 1956-1968; printed 1981, $33,600; and Helmut Newton’s Woman Observing Man, Saint-Tropez, silver print, 1975; printed 1980s, $40,800.

Other eye-grabbing highlights by Newton were Woman Being Filmed, Paris, silver print, 1980; printed 1980s, $22,800, and Home Movies, Paris, silver print, 1980; printed 1980s, $18,000.

Works by Lewis Hine in this part of the sale included one of his iconic images of the construction of the Empire State Building, Worker, Empire State Building, silver print, 1930, $19,200; and the heartbreaking Waiting for the Red Cross Lady, Drought Area, Arkansas, showing a little boy peering desperately out a window, oversize silver print, circa 1933, $16,800.

Also of note were Lewis Carroll’s Margaret Anne and Lilian Brodie, arched-topped albumen print, 1860, $16,800; George Hoyningen-Huene’s stylized fashion shot, Divers, Horst and Model, Swimwear by A.J. Izod, silver print, 1930, printed 1990s, $12,000; and Dave Heath’s visceral Vengeful Sister, Chicago, silver print, 1956, $14,400.